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3-Year Makeover

B&W Releases 8-Model Refresh of 700 Series Speakers

Bowers & Wilkins updated its mid-tier 700 Series loudspeaker line Wednesday, focusing on design, upgraded drivers and a new downfiring port in the flagship model. The result of the three-year makeover is an eight-model series that includes three floor-standing, three stand-mount and two center-channel speakers. Four models have the company's tweeter-on-top design.

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The latest 700 Series configuration has a slimmer cabinet with a curved front baffle and drive units mounted in external “pods” that borrow a design element from the flagship 800 Series Diamond range, Andy Kerr, director of product marketing and communications, told journalists on an embargoed launch webcast in July. The revised design reduces the impact of the loudspeaker baffle on sound quality by minimizing the effect the cabinet has on the music, Kerr said.

B&W didn’t have to implement design changes due to ongoing industry component shortages. "But we definitely had to plan, and some choices in certain cases were lengthened out more than we’d like them to be,” Kerr said, citing capacitor availability as a “surprise.” The company is fortunate to have its own manufacturing in Zhuhai, China, where it has been producing speakers since 2006 and has established partners and suppliers, Kerr said. The 700 Series has been in “full-quantity manufacture” since July, he said. The speakers’ Continuum drivers are made in the company’s Worthing, U.K., facility and then shipped to China for assembly, he said.

All three-way speakers in the range have B&W’s Biomimetic Suspension -- introduced last year in the 800 Series Diamond range -- which is said to reduce unwanted noise from the output of the speaker’s spider as the midrange cone moves. The speakers also feature decoupling for the midrange assembly, an aluminum drive unit chassis featuring tuned mass dampers for reduced resonance, fixed suspension transducer drive units and Continuum cone material, which are said to result in midrange transparency, Kerr said. Models with mid/bass drive units have new motor systems.

The flagship 702 S3 has a new configuration, introducing for the first time a downward-firing port, enabling it to fit into smaller rooms without concern for the effect of adjacent walls or boundaries on the sound, Kerr said.

Redesigned speaker terminals have a new nickel plate with a brass connector that enables improved conductivity, plus a new layout for use with spade-terminated speaker cable, said Kerr. All models in the range have updated, larger diameter Flowports that offer a more substantial output, ensuring a more expansive sound, he said.

Prices for the Series 700 center-channel speakers are $1,500 for the HTM72 and $2,500 for the HTM71; the previous starting price was $1,199 for a center-channel speaker in the series. Prices for the standard speaker line start at $1,800 a pair for 707 S3, followed by the 706 S3 ($2,220 a pair), 705 S3 ($3,400 a pair), 704 S3 ($4,000 a pair), 703 S3 ($6,000 a pair) and 702 S3 ($7,000 a pair); the line previously topped out at $5,999 a pair for the 702 S2.