As one of the most storied names in British audio, they have pioneered several advancements in speaker design with many of their products finding homes with discerning audiophiles and recording studios alike. Probably the most iconic of B&W’s speakers would certainly be the 800 series. Originally launched in 1998, the flagship 802 model has garnered attention as the reference speakers of choice for such recording studios as Abby Road and Skywalker Sound.
Last year B&W introduced a top-to-bottom redesign of the entire 800 series. It was the culmination of a multi-year development program that left no stone unturned in looking for ways to improve every facet of the lineup’s performance. It’s said that, with the exception of the diamond tweeter, each speaker in the 800 series is completely new and different from what came before.
The prime focus of our interest in the 800 series is specifically the B&W 803 D3 floorstander. It is the third from the top of the line in the series and it has to be one of the most striking looking speakers that I have come across.
The decidedly Art Deco design is truly a stand out, with the teardrop shape to the midrange driver housing and the industrial aluminum spine running up the back of each speaker. As a matter of fact, aluminum is used extensively throughout the 803 D3’s structure. The aforementioned teardrop or “turbine” head as B&W terms it, is completely made of aluminum with additional aluminum ribbing inside creating a significantly more inert housing for the new midrange driver. The external diamond tweeter housing is milled from a single aluminum billet and it acts as a giant heat sink for the tweeter’s motor structure. The speaker’s internal construction and bracing also benefits from a move to thicker birch-plywood material rather than the original MDF.
While the diamond tweeter remains, the trademark yellow Kevlar midrange drivers from previous B&W speakers are replaced by a newly developed composite material called “Continuum.” The new material is said to provide a more open and neutral presentation. The bass drivers have also been redesigned to deliver better low frequency extension and control.
The changes I’ve noted are just the tip of the iceberg, but should be enough to get the point across that this is essentially not just an evolutionary model change but indeed a good deal more.
Initial impressions tell me that this is a highly resolving pair of speakers. The midrange and treble, in particular, are not just detailed or natural in the standard audio context. It’s almost as if they are a living, writhing thing with these speakers. Certainly, a different presentation than what I’ve come across in the past. It’s impressive to say the least but I’ll just leave it at that for now.
MSRP for the B&W 803 D3 loudspeakers is $17000.00 and expect a complete review, with measurements, on our website in the near future.