The advantages of large-scale manufacturing become immediately apparent on unpacking this loudspeaker; the quality of finish is in the Premier League and distinctly higher than is achieved by most smaller companies at this price point. Bowers & Wilkins call it a Datuk gloss finish, an ebony coloured veneer with strong figuring, which looks spectacular on the tall 702 Signature.
The 702 is one of two loudspeakers given the Signature treatment by Bowers & Wilkins, the other is the 705 stand mount. Both of these are based on the current equivalent 700 S2 models, but have upgraded parts and finishes that add just over a £1,000 to the price of this model compared to its S2 sibling. It shares the three Aerofoil section bass drivers, Continuum cone midrange and carbon dome tweeter in a solid body external housing with the 702 S2... and those elements alone give it a head start in the fiercely fought over middle ground of the speaker market place. All three are derived from technologies created for the company’s best loudspeakers; the 800 series. The 802 for instance has the same Continuum midrange with the FST invisible surround and a decoupling system to minimize energy transmission between driver and box. The 802 has larger and fewer bass drivers; two times 200mm rather than three times 165mm seen here. The full title of the 800 Series Diamond tells you that the tweeter is not carbon as it is on a 700 model; the latter was created to bridge the gap between the metal dome found in 600 series speakers and the diamond dome of the big guns. It is said to be good up to a first break up point of 47kHz.
The cabinet is a lot more straightforward than an 802 with its Turbine Head midrange enclosure, but that tweeter body on top is milled from solid aluminium in order to confer massive stiffness at the frequencies where this is needed. Earlier examples of this body that looked much the same had cast zinc housings that were measurably less calm under fire than the solid body type used here.
The changes most likely to benefit sound quality in the 702 Signature model are in the crossover where ‘specially treated’ upgraded Mundorf bypass capacitors, larger heatsinking and an upgraded capacitor on the bass section have been incorporated. The price premium therefore is largely allocated to the luxury finish, the crossover upgrades being an incentive for the sound conscious who might not be swayed by looks alone. There is also a rather nice Signature badge on the back above the bi-wire terminals that reinforces the premium aspect of this loudspeaker.