A signature lends validity and authority. A signature speaks of authenticity. Appending a signature makes it official – “If you like it, you shoulda put a signature on it”, as the song so nearly goes.
Bowers & Wilkins has been occasionally launching ‘Signature’ versions of very select parts of its loudspeaker model ranges since 1991’s ‘Silver Signature’ standmounter. That model set the template: ‘Signature’ editions would be fully optimised, no-expense-spared versions of established models, with particular attention paid to crossover design and signal pathway. They would also come in for some extra consideration where finish is concerned – and in the case of the original ‘Silver Signature’, the result was a ruinously expensive, staggeringly capable and profoundly odd-looking loudspeaker.
Since then, the very few Signature editions Bowers & Wilkins has launched have followed the same template. Most recently, the company used its 40th anniversary celebrations in 2006 to launch the Signature Diamond floorstander – a speaker that defined a new Signature benchmark in expense, capability and unhappy aesthetics.
The thick end of fifteen years is long enough to have a proper think about things, even for a company as measured as Bowers & Wilkins. So three years after the launch of the 700 S2 series, two of the most popular models in the range – the 702 floorstander and this 705 standmounter – have been singled out for the ‘Signature’ treatment.
For the most part, the 705 Signature is very similar indeed to the 705 S2 loudspeaker it, well, not so much ‘replaces’ as ‘makes seem a bit humdrum’. At a glance you’d be hard-pressed to tell them apart – unless you’re an aficionado of sustainable real-wood veneers, anyhow.
The 705 Signature is a reasonably compact two-way standmounter with a rear-venting bass reflex port. It’s designed in line with Bowers & Wilkins’ long-standing conviction that taking the tweeter out of the main cabinet of the speaker and mounting it, in its own housing, on top of the cabinet both improves audio imaging and offers a fairly dramatic design flourish.
I find it discourages cats from sitting on top of the speaker too, but that may conceivably be a minority consideration.