bowers & wilkins

Three awesome-sounding on-ear headphones

I was shaken and stirred by the Bowers & Wilkins P5 on-ear headphones back in 2010. It set a new standard for sumptuous sound and build quality for very small, on-ear headphones. Designed with portable music players and phones in mind, the P5 was definitely a step up from most ear buds, and the sound was easy to listen to over the long haul. The P5 ($300) is still around, but B & W recently introduced a similar, but less expensive model, the P3 ($200).

When I unboxed the new one I decided to first judge it without directly comparing … Read more

B&W fills out its headphones line with sleek P3

Bowers & Wilkins' first two models of headphones -- the on-ear P5 and in-ear C5 -- have earned strong reviews from CNET. Now the company is extending its headphones line with a more affordable and more lightweight on-ear model, the P3, featuring a fold-up design and a hard-shell carrying case.… Read more

Bowers & Wilkins updates Mini Theater-series speakers

I've always been partial to Bowers & Wilkins' Mini Theater-series speaker systems, especially the orb-shaped PV1 subwoofer that came with the higher-end setup. B&W seemed to have managed a near-perfect balance of style, technology, and performance with those systems.

This year's updated MT-50 and MT-60D packages feature upgraded M-1 satellite speakers, which are said to have a "longer-throw mid/bass driver" to deliver improvements in low-frequency response. The new M-1 satellites are rated to reach 55Hz, which is a lot better than the 90Hz low-end of its identically named predecessor. … Read more

Cars that rock, and roll

These five cars have the best-sounding stereos we've tested all year.

To get good sound in a car, you used to have to visit an installer, who would rip out four tinny speakers and replace them with six-by-nines, a sub, and an amp. But now many automakers are partnering with known audio companies to put high-quality audio components in cars at the factory. These systems are designed specifically for each car by professional audio engineers. We picked out five cars with the best-sounding audio systems we heard this year. These systems produce the kind of sound that will have you driving around the block until your favorite song finishes playing.… Read more

B&W C5s review: Great sound for $180

First it was iPod docks. Then it was computer speakers and over-the-ear headphones. Now, Bowers & Wilkins, a brand once known for expensive high-end speakers, expands its product offering into the mainstream with the $179.95 C5 in-ear headphones.

Along with touting the C5s' "pristine, natural audio," B&W is highlighting its signature Secure Loop, "an ingenious innovation where a cushioned loop fixes quickly and comfortably in the inner ridge of the user's ear." The company adds that the Loop is "infinitely adjustable, so it works perfectly with anyone's ears."

That … Read more

BlueAnt's Embrace headphone will coddle your ears

The BlueAnt Embrace on-ear headphones ($200) look luxurious and, if you don't mind, adult. I sometimes think a lot of today's headphones are designed to look cool to 15-year-olds, with boosted bass and highs designed to dazzle young ears. The Embrace's demeanor is more, shall we say, reserved?

Maybe it's the all-black color scheme and lack of flash that first appealed to me, but then I fell in love with the thickly padded headband and pillowlike ear cushions. My ears and head appreciate being coddled like this. The sound mimics the Embrace's look and feel: … Read more

Bowers & Wilkins' C5 earbud is a winner

First things first: I think most in-ear headphone designs are pretty uninspired-looking things. Sure, ear-canal headphones are so tiny there's not a lot to work with, but I have to say Bowers & Wilkins' new C5 is a stunning piece of industrial design. The tungsten and aluminum headphone is the prettiest in-ear design I've seen to date.

The headphones' proprietary Secure Loop cable is a unique design element and can be adjusted to fit in the inner ridge of your ear to help secure the tip in place. My ear canals are bigger than average, so I don'… Read more

B&W intros loopy C5 in-ear headphones

First it was iPod docks. Then computer speakers and over-the-ear headphones. Now Bowers & Wilkins, a brand once known for expensive high-end speakers, is further expanding into the mainstream with a set of $179.95 C5 in-ear headphones.

Along with touting the C5's "pristine, natural audio," B&W is highlighting the earphones' signature design trait, the Secure Loop, "an ingenious innovation where a cushioned loop fixes quickly and comfortably in the inner ridge of the user's ear." The company adds that the Loop is "infinitely adjustable, so it works perfectly with anyone's ears.

The C5 comes with a Made For iPhone-compatible cable, which allows you to make calls, and a quilted pouch. For more specs, you can go to the C5's product detail page.

The C5 earphones will be available in August for $179.95 (U.S. & Canada). We'll let you know what we think of them as soon as we get our hands on a set. We're particularly interested in trying out that Secure Loop. … Read more

B&W Zeppelin Air with Apple AirPlay (review)

B&W, which is now branding itself by its longer, more formal name, Bowers & Wilkins, is known for its high-end speakers. However, a few years back the company dipped into the more mainstream consumer market with its first iPod speaker system, the $600 Zeppelin, followed by the smaller and more affordable Zeppelin Mini.

Now the company is back with a new version of the Zeppelin called the Zeppelin Air that shares many design traits with the original Zep but offers better sound and one very important new feature: support for Apple's AirPlay. That feature allows you to … Read more

Listening to B&W's $15,000 diamond speaker

I first wrote about Bowers & Wilkins updated diamond speakers in January, but I finally got to hear them a few weeks ago at Innovative Audio & Video, one of B&W's New York City dealers.

Specifically, I listened to the 802 Diamond speaker that sells for $15,000 a pair. The speaker has a big and beautiful, carefully honed design.  The 159-pound speaker stands 44-inches high by 14.5-inches wide by 22-inches deep. It has a 1-inch synthetic diamond dome tweeter, 6-inch woven Kevlar midrange driver, and two 8-inch Rohacell woofers. Rohacell is a super lightweight, yet highly rigid material that is ideal for woofers that need to move a lot of air without flexing.

The 6-inch midrange driver is housed in a teardrop shaped "head" that is crafted from inert Marlan composite material, a synthetic, mineral-filled resin. This granite-hard enclosure is sprayed with seven coats of hand-polished black lacquer. The head's internal cavity--a sphere closely coupled to a short tube--absorbs most of the sound from the back of the driver. On the outside, the teardrop shape smoothly disperses the sound around the speaker, creating a solid, three-dimensional stereo image.

The diamond tweeter is fitted to a tapering tube that is filled with absorbent wadding to control the energy that radiates off the tweeter's backside. The diamond tweeter doesn't look like a diamond at all, it's a dull gray dome, so it wasn't just used for show. B&W favored aluminum tweeters for its top models for years, but now uses  diamond domes because of their higher stiffness-to-density ratio. According to B&W, diamond gets closest to the sound of a hypothetically perfect tweeter.

I've heard my share of high-end speakers, but the thing that struck me first about the 802 Diamond's sound was its purity. It's the second-generation diamond model, the original version was the 802 D--the company changes it models every five to seven years. B&W offers a complete range of 800 Diamond Series speakers for hi-fi and home theater systems. … Read more