Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4


in your style and in your reading

The oldest floor standing Bowers & Wilkins - 801 D4 - became the subject of study some time ago , and now it's time to take on, in contrast, the younger model in the already updated line for the fifth time.

And this is no less interesting and indicative, because it is on the example of a two-way system that one can more clearly identify changes in sound and character and formulate the very concept of the upgrade that has taken place.

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4
Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4 on test system

As in the case with the rest of the models of the series, it is not difficult to recognize the 805th - all the previously incorporated features are visible here. Changes in the design are also similar to the vector of development of older models.

The case of the acoustics was redesigned, the scheme of the stiffening ribs and the profile itself changed: now, like in the older models, the structure curved from multilayer plywood ends at the back with a massive ribbed aluminum panel.

From the inside, on this panel, the filter board is located vertically, and outside, there are two pairs of acoustic terminals. Also, by the design of the panel, you can understand that it is one of the key elements that ensure the rigidity of the case.

However, the most important change in the design, I would consider not it, but the top panel, also made of aluminum. In turn, this changed the mounting system of the tweeter enclosure. 

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4
Externally, the Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4 is similar to the previous model, but the changes are visible and noticeable.

As in other models of the new line, the tweeter has not changed - the same well-known and proven diamond dome, built into a machined aluminum tube. And the pipe here is not only a form, but also a principle of operation. So everything is recognizable. But the mount was altered in a significant way - and this is interesting.

On the example of the older model in the line, this was also noticeable by ear, so here we can expect certain results. And the protective cap can no longer be removed without a special tool. At first, a similar design was used on younger models, but now it is done on all models of the 800 series. In terms of dome safety and security, this is a useful innovation.

The rest of the Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4 remained very similar to the D3. The tweeter is paired with a small 165 mm mid/bass driver. The diffuser material is the already familiar Continuum Matrix layered construction, complemented by a soft center cap. The Flowport phase inverter port is brought to the front panel, and its surface profile is also recognizable.

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4
The diamond tweeter is now protected by a cap that cannot be removed without a special tool

As an addition to the acoustics, they also released new racks adapted specifically for this model. Racks are assembled from several parts on screws, have a backfill structure, and acoustics are screwed to them. In my understanding, this is important - especially the ability to put everything together and consolidate.

Unfortunately, at the time of the test, the racks had not yet been brought to Russia, so I had to evaluate the acoustics in tandem with other racks - not bad, but without filling and assembly. I suppose that in terms of sound accuracy and working out the lower part of the range, native racks would improve the result even more.

More variety

We listened to acoustics after some time of running-in, with different devices and more than once. According to the first observations, with virtually identical passport data D3 and D4, the new model seemed either a little less critical to amplification, or simply playing a little more easily, openly and plastically.

Another very significant point: compared to the previous model, the novelty has noticeably risen in price. Of course, absolutely everything is becoming more expensive today, but the fact remains.

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4
The rear aluminum panel of the case and the top panel are also made of aluminum. The fastening of the tweeter housing has been significantly altered

I first tried running the Primaluna all-tube speaker. The sound turned out to be moderately light, quite soft and closer to the chamber scale. In a room larger than the average room, the scale seemed insufficient.

However, if you try to transfer all the same to a small room, the picture will become more proportionate. However, judging by the previous model of this acoustics, it can play on a larger scale - I see no reason for changes here. However, in some cases, such enhancement is quite possible.

The sound is moderately soft and comfortable, but detailed. There is a good unity, a decent amount of overtones and - with a general intimacy - a good feeling of volume and integrity. Even with a compact arrangement, a sphere of sound with smoothly fading edges is obtained, clearly beyond the acoustics.

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4
The mid/bass cone has not changed much, the cone material and the suspension are the same, the mount and the central cap have been changed

However, in general, such a presentation could be suitable not only for a system in a small room, but also for a system whose owner listens more to chamber genres. For something more complex, I want a different presentation, more pronounced dynamics, attack and bass component.

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4

Accordingly, we take another amplifier. From the existing one, I chose the recently released hybrid Primaluna EVO 300, where only the preamplifier section is tube, but further amplification is transistorized. Here the scale is already larger, and the bass does not feel chamber - rather proportionate and quite convincing for such medium-sized acoustics. 

Put on Dr John's "Mercenary" CD. The rhythm is quite good and emotional, there is physicality and fullness, but at the same time there is no overabundance of density and the feeling of forced midbass. Everything is neat, even harmonious, but at the same time it does not contradict either the music or the recording. The sound is generally not bright, but not dull at all.

Knowing from previous listenings how this tweeter works, I can say for sure that it is quite possible to get a brighter sound from these acoustics - you just need to choose other components and a different system concept. In our case, there is no particular brightness, but the tops are informative, quite legible and natural.

The bass is confident, quite fast, but also not hard and not rough. The middle is closer to even - I did not notice any obvious elevation or tightness. Band stitching and range feel more coherent and cohesive than the previous model.

The scene, perhaps, is larger than expected - and plans are read well in it. Everything is in proportion - vocals and instruments in their places. The layers are well separated, air is present. I did not notice any holographicity - it turns out more naturally, in detail and musically, with an emphasis on the music as a whole, on the overall picture, and not on its individual components.

Further included Keith Jarrett "The Celestial Hawk for Orchestra, Percussion and Piano". The piano sound seems a little more accentuated, although the overall picture is interesting, juicy and colorful. The detail is high, although with other components it could be even higher - and in this system the main accents fall on unity, melody and emotionality.

At the same time, the sound is large-scale, confident and completely devoid of any laxity. Perhaps there is a bit of warmth and a bit of softening, but against the background of good overall control, this is perceived interestingly and definitely comfortable for a not particularly corrosive listening.

What I especially liked is that this rather large, moderately powerful sound with a share of warmth does not at all contain any rudeness or slowness. But with some finesse, appropriate for this record, everything works out well. In comparison with the previous version of acoustics, the study of the material has become more accurate, precise and elegant.

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4

The next disc is "Music Composed by Nino Rota". Here the scene is written very effectively, with good depth and scale. And it is heard - perhaps even better than I expected. Somehow everything is thinner, more natural and more transparent.

The bass is at a very decent level, of good volume and scale, slender, not heavy and not slow. The sound has good attack and fullness, but it's all taken for granted, natural, without embellishment.

Emotions are also conveyed correctly: gloomy fragments sound exactly like this, while lighter and more joyful ones also sound the same way. I did not notice any repainting and rethinking due to acoustics.

A well-maintained rhythm is neither rough nor cruel. However, if there is a biting, you can hear it. After-sounds are also well audible, as is the naturalness of their attenuation. There is a healthy balance here.

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4
There are two pairs of acoustic terminals - bi-amping is also possible here

Recording Shape Of Despair ‎"Illusion's Play" liked in this reading. The dynamics are not bad, the details are audible, the sound is quite transparent and readable. A little softer than it could be, but this is a matter of priorities in the system. The effect of emotional inclusion and immersion is present.

The sound volume is more than expected, with good fullness and division into plans. The sound does not seem miniature and is not lost, although the system worked in a large room.

There is also no noticeable excess density. There is a harshness, consistent with the record, but not sharpness, and there is no rudeness or simplification either. Everything is in its place: quite exciting, but not intrusive.

The last recording listened to as part of the test is Orff's performance of Carmina Burana. Here, too, there was enough detail, although the sound turned out to be a little more velvety. But for a combination with a hybrid amplifier, everything is very good, and the potential of acoustics is quite understandable - there will be no other, clearly excellent tops compared to older models. And the middle turned out to be softer only in this particular case - and it can be varied at will, building a system for yourself. 

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4
Primaluna Evo 300 Hybrid is the main amp in our audition

The space of the stage turned out to be interesting, the scale for this recording is small, but everything is correctly and completely laid out in its place. In this case, the result will depend not only on the system, but also on the arrangement of acoustics: due to its size and design, the listener will be closer here than in the case of older models.

Therefore, the arrangement in the room must be selected individually - these can be options from parallel placement to installation with a significant turn of the speakers towards the listener. I would not be afraid to try to direct it to the listener more than usual.

As for the music, even on a complex recording and with rather soft amplification, a good balance of information content and emotionality is obtained here.


The conclusions are similar to those that I formulated when listening to the older model in the line. With all the continuity of the series, the changes here are exactly those that should have appeared. This is a new acoustics, the sound has become more accurate, slimmer and more intelligent. Genre, as before, in her style and in her reading, she can play any material, and a lot can depend on the system.

I suppose that those fans of the older Bowers & Wilkins who liked to draw the most powerful, assertive and muscular sound from the models, the new version may disappoint to some extent. On the other hand, those listeners who found the old sound somewhat redundant - perhaps even brash - will appreciate the changes as a move in the right direction.

musical material

Carl Orff - Carmina Burana - Gundula Janowitz, Gerhard Stolze, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Chor Und Orchester Der Deutschen Oper Berlin, Eugen Jochum / Esoteric Company - ESSG-90206 / SACD Hybrid

Dr John - Mercenary / Blue Note / EMI 0946 3 54541 2 3 / CD Stereo

Keith Jarrett - The Celestial Hawk for Orchestra, Percussion and Piano - ECM 1175 829 370-2 / Stereo

Shape Of Despair ‎—Illusion's Play / Season Of Mist SOM 115 / CD Stereo

Various / Music Composed by Nino Rota - 1999 / EMI Japan TOCT-24124 / CD Stereo


Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4

Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4 Specs

Type: 2-way speaker with bass reflex port

Drivers :

1x25mm (1")

1x165mm (6.5") diamond dome tweeter FST Continuum midrange driver

Frequency response: 34Hz-35kHz, 42Hz-28kHz ±3dB from reference axis

Sensitivity: 88 dB

Harmonic distortion:

2nd and 3rd harmonics (90dB, 1m on axis)

<1% 90Hz - 20kHz

<0.3% 120Hz - 20kHz

Rated impedance: 8 ohms (min. 4.6 ohms)

Recommended amplifier power: 50-120 watts into 8 ohms without clipping

Maximum recommended cable impedance: 0.1 ohm

Dimensions without racks (WxHxD): 240x440x373 mm

Weight: 15.5 kg

Finishes: glossy black lacquer, white, rosewood, walnut

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