Bowers & Wilkins 705 Speaker User Manual

may 2004 HI-FI CHOICE
Ultimate Group Test
Loudspeakers £700-£1,000
he most obvious similarity between
B&W’s earlier CDM-1NT (of the
CDM-NT-series which the 700-series
replaced) and the 705 is the external
tube-loaded tweeter. But whereas the former’s
chunky lines were starting to look a little
dated, the new 705 has a sleeker, more
streamlined look. It has classy real-wood
veneer, and neat front-to-back tapering to help
avoid the parallel surfaces that ‘focus’ internal
standing waves. The curved single-piece front
and top ensures great stiffness alongside good
acoustics. There’s also a significant price rise –
up to £900 from its predecessor’s £750.
The external tweeter provides wide
distribution for the high frequencies, while
also creating appropriate time alignment
between the two drivers. Below the 25mm
alloy dome tweeter is a 165mm cast-frame
bass/mid driver with 120mm diameter yellow
woven Kevlar cone. It features what B&W calls
a ‘balanced drive’ motor, with improved
magnetic field symmetry and reduced
variations in inductance. A front ‘Flowport’
reflex-loads the main driver, and a foam bung
is supplied to block this if preferred – possibly
useful if the speaker has to be close to a wall.
With an all-up weight of 9.5kg, it’s the
lightest in our test group, but still feels solidly
built. Our samples came finished in an
attractive cherrywood real-wood veneer, but
maple, American walnut, ‘rosenut’ and black
ash are other options. Twin terminal pairs
provide bi-wire/amp capabilities.
The first thing one notices with
this 705 is the sort of
freedom from ‘boxy’
colorations that’s
uncommon at any
price, and which
could probably give
B&W’s more costly
Nautilus 805 quite
a run for its money.
It’s solid evidence
that standmounts
offer their own
The 705 is really
best kept clear of
walls, in order to
take advantage of its
fine midband clarity, superior stereo
imaging and wide dispersion, even though
that might well leave the bass end a little
light and dry. However, as usual it’s worth
experimenting with positioning, as rooms vary
dramatically, and some wall reinforcement
might well be preferred in some cases here.
Given the ingredients, it’s hardly surprising
that this is no deep-bass excavator, and
indeed some may find it a little too bass-shy
for their taste. For movie replay, additional
subwoofery will certainly be required, but for
much musical material the little B&W’s bass
has an attractive clarity and lightness of touch
– one might describe it as a Kylie bottom end
– small, but beautifully formed.
The midband has a little extra emphasis, as
has the lower treble, while the presence –
typically of B&W’s models – is slightly
restrained. While the net result is not strictly
neutral, it’s a clever compromise that avoids
aggressiveness but preserves good detail,
alongside a notably wide dynamic range and
good expression. A crucial contributing factor
is that the top end has a sweetness and
delicacy normally associated with more costly
models, and this all adds up to a speaker
that’s both informative and easy to listen to
at the same time.
That, above all, distinguishes this speaker.
It’s always inviting and very easy to enjoy,
does very little wrong and most things rather
well. Ultimately it’s a very fine compromise,
which, after all, is what the art of speaker
design is all about.
B&W 705
Classy standmount with external tweeter and advanced enclosure
£900 per pair 01903 221500
B&W’s claim for 89dB sensitivity seems well founded,
and is accompanied by a relatively benign impedance
characteristic that stays mostly above 6 ohms and
never falls below 5 ohms, with just the merest hint
of perturbation at 1kHz. The port here is tuned to
around 41Hz, and its output seems well damped.
The overall tonal balance looks well enough
ordered, though it could have been smoother and is
not without certain obvious characteristics. The
midband is a shade prominent, 250-800Hz, while the
presence zone output, 1.5-3.5kHz, is a trifle shy. A
modest 4.5kHz peak will add some top end ‘zing’.
The bass below 200Hz is a little weak overall, though
decent extension is maintained down to 30Hz under
in-room conditions.
The 705’s crossover point is at 2kHz electrically
speaking, though the actual acoustic transition is
close to 3.5kHz. The pair-match here was
impressively close.
Measurement Rated Actual
Sensitivity @ 1m/2.83V 89dB 89dB
Impedance (nominal/mean) 8ohm 9ohm
Est. bass extension (-6dB, Hz) 38Hz 35Hz
1] Sensitivity
2] Bass extension
3] Ease of drive
4] Overall frequency balance
5] Response smoothness
SOUND >> 86%
BUILD >> 90%
>> 84%
This pretty little standmount is
always inviting and very easy
to enjoy. It lacks some bass
weight and welly, but is
otherwise a very good
compromise, with a fine
freedom from boxiness and a
sweet and open top end.
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