History of B&W Speakers

Bowers & Wilkins, or B&W, is a British company that manufactures audio equipment, especially loudspeakers. It was founded in 1966 by John Bowers and Peter Hayward. B&W is currently part of the B&W Group Ltd., which also includes Classé and Rotel. Some of the B&W speakers Canada retailers offer include the 600, 700 and 800 series.


John Bowers began assembling speakers by hand in the back of an electronics store he ran in Worthing, West Sussex with his friend Roy Wilkins. One of his customers, an elderly lady named Miss Knight, was so impressed with the speakers he made for that she left him £10,000 in her will to start a business. The first speaker B&W developed was the P1, which featured a cabinet and filter made by B&W.


B&W achieved a number of milestones in speaker technology during the 1970s, including the company’s first use of Kevlar as a cone material. The DM7, released in 1977, was B&W’s first speaker that separated the tweeter from the main cabinet, creating more lifelike high frequencies. This decade also saw the launch of the 801, which quickly became the reference speaker for almost all of the classical recording studios in the world, including Decca, Deutsche Grammophon and EMI Abbey Road.


The 801’s enormous success allowed B&W to re-invest its revenue into additional research and development during the 1980s. Bowers created the Steyning Research Establishment (SRE) in 1981, which allows acoustic and electronics engineers to test speaker designs.


B&W launched multiple product lines across the price spectrum in the 1990s, primarily as the result of research at the SRE. The 600 series provided audiophile-quality sound at an entry price point for the first time in 1991. These B&W speakers are currently in their fourth generation and have received many five-star reviews.


Dramatic technological advances in subwoofers and tweeters allowed B&W to make a number of innovations during the 2000s. The Signature 800 series was first released in 2001 to celebrate B&W’s 35th anniversary, which features a beautiful “Tigers Eye” gloss finish that demonstrates the company’s cabinet-making skills.


B&W improved its Diamond tweeter technology during the 2010s and included it in more speakers. The Continuum cone was first used in 2015 for the 800 Series Diamond, allowing these speakers to deliver pristine midrange performance by negating break-up behavior.