Issue 91



16 May 2014


Bowers & Wilkins, purveyors of high-pedigree hi-fi and studio reference monitors has gone all doof-doof!

B&Ws draws upon all of its 50 years of acoustic experience to produce a brand new PA system that combines the “range and clarity of a top-end hi-fi speaker with the raw power required to deliver sound to thousands of festival-goers”. ‘Sound System’ is a one-off commission and will not be commercially produced.

Here’s the pitch: Imagine, the best sound you ever heard from a hi-fi system. Now imagine that sound scaled-up to the point where it can fill a 1000 capacity festival venue. That’s the promise of the Bowers & Wilkins Sound System, and while it is, for now, a one-off commission for Barcelona’s Primavera Sound (one of Europe’s most eclectic and innovative music festivals), it is being engineered with all the care and attention we would lavish upon a commercial Bowers & Wilkins product.

Sound System utilises a number of core Bowers & Wilkins technologies, including: Decoupled Double Dome aluminium tweeters found in the award-winning CM10; Rohacell bass drivers based on those in the CT800 Custom Theatre range; FST Kevlar midrange drivers from the 800 Series Diamond; Flowport technology to aid bass loading; and each of the encloses is constructed from birch plywood and braced with Bowers & Wilkins Matrix strengthening system.

Sound System is a four-way active loudspeaker design, which for its debut appearance at Primavera Sound in Barcelona will comprise four stacks. Each stack stands over 3.2 metres tall, and encompasses 12 separate enclosures, spilt into three frequency types, with a complement of 8 x 15-inch bass drivers, 8 x 10-inch mid-bass drivers, 4 x 6-inch FST Kevlar midrange drivers and 16 x 1-inch Decoupled Double Dome tweeters.

Sound System crossover frequencies are 80Hz, 350Hz, 3.5kHz with active DSP filters feeding multiple Class D stereo power amplifiers combining to produce an output totalling 30kW. A Sound System module of four LF enclosures is capable of 120dB at 8m. At Primavera Sound, the four Sound System stacks will be deployed in a 1000-capacity geodesic dome.

Reduced distortion: Sound System overcomes the problems of dynamic compression inherent in traditional PA systems by adapting the acoustic design of Bowers & Wilkins’ flagship hi-fi and studio speakers in a massively enlarged format. Conventional horn-loaded technology is replaced by hi-fi-style direct radiating transducers, resulting in “dramatically reduced distortion” and a much cleaner sound.

Hi-fi driver technology: Each Sound System stack features four mid/high frequency enclosures, incorporating an FST Kevlar midrange driver and four Nautilus tube-loaded high frequency drivers. As with Bowers & Wilkins’ most advanced hi-fi speakers, these drivers are decoupled from their cabinets to shield them from the effects of cabinet resonance and produce a sound that’s pure, detailed and precise.

Big bass: The foundation of each Sound System stack is its four rock solid, fully-braced low frequency enclosures, which incorporate established Bowers & Wilkins bass driver technology in the form of Rohacell bass drivers and multiple Flowports along with tried and tested Matrix reinforced cabinet construction. Capable of 120dB, Sound System delivers bass that’s not only “powerful but also totally controlled”.



Sound System stack stands over 3.2 metres tall, and comprises 12 separate enclosures, spilt into three frequency types:

4 x low-frequency enclosures:

8 x 15-inch (380mm) Rohacell bass drivers


4 x low/mid frequency enclosures:

8 x 10-inch (250mm) Rohacell mid/bass drivers


4 x mid/high frequency enclosures:

4 x 6-inch (180mm) FST Kevlar midrange driver

16 x one-inch (25mm) Nautilus Tube Decoupled Double Dome aluminium tweeters


With the festival rig featuring four stacks.


Bowers & Wilkins: or www.facebook/BowersWilkinsAustralia 



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Issue 91