Trade/Sell Your Gear

New 801 Signature Performance Feature Rundown with Andy Kerr from Bowers & Wilkins

June 27, 2023

The new Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Signature models have officially arrived, unveiled at a ListenUp special event by Bowers & Wilkins’ own Andy Kerr. 

Building off the exceptional design of the 800 Series D4, the new Signature Series offers yet another evolution in performance and aesthetics. Comprising two new models—the 801 Signature floor-standing loudspeaker and the 805 Signature stand-mount loudspeaker—these new designs represent Bowers & Wilkins unwavering commitment toward building the best loudspeakers imaginable. And after spending the day with Andy going through the various upgrades, we have to concur—they deliver on that vision in many ways.

Let’s start with aesthetics. Both models are available in two new finishes consisting of California Burl Wood—a decidedly rich, opulent finish that recalls the dashboards of luxury automobiles from yesteryear. And Midnight Blue Metallic—a more subtle, modern look that reveals different tones and color expressions depending on the light. Both are beyond stunning—visual representations of loudspeakers that have reached the upper echelon of performance. 

Speaking of performance. There are some significant leaps with the new 800 series, beginning with a new aluminum top-plate on the 801 Signature. This has a new damping collar along with a series of machined-out holes in the structure, strategically positioned to change the resonant frequency of the aluminum. The smaller cabinet on the 805 Signature requires a different approach: here the top-plate is rigidly coupled into the top of the cabinet with two additional fixings when compared to the standard 805 D4. In both instances, the already rigid, damp cabinet is further optimized, leading to even less resonance and much clearer sound. 

Moving up to the tweeter, both the 801 and 805 Signature feature a new tweeter grille mesh design. The grille offers a carefully optimized combination of stiffness—necessary to protect the fragile diamond tweeter dome—and openness. The new design is more open than ever, which enhances both the resolution and spaciousness. It seems like a small upgrade, but when doing an A/B comparison with the standard 800 D4, the results are dramatic.

Building off the cabinet and tweeter advancements, the 801 Signature introduces re-engineered bass drivers, upgrading the specification of the steel in the top-plate and mid-plate to lower inductance, leading to lower current distortion.

In addition, the down firing port in the 801 has been redesigned. In the standard model the flowport flare is plastic, but in the 801 Signature it has been replaced with aluminum, tightening up bass response and improving the leading edges of bass notes. 

For the 805, the mid-bass driver has also been redesigned, featuring an upgraded pole on the magnet plus a larger vent hole for improved current distortion. 

Lastly, in both the 801 and 805 Signature, are upgraded crossovers, utilizing new bypass capacitors that produce better separation between high and low frequencies and, ultimately, cleaner sound. 

ListenUp would like to thank Andy Kerr for coming all the way from the UK to unveil the new 800 Signatures. It was a fascinating look inside state-of-the-art loudspeaker technology that has served as a reminder of why we are all on this HiFi journey—to experience truly beautiful sound.