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May 9, 2007

Signature Diamond:

Pushing the boundaries of technology and design

Diamonds and marble are the materials at the heart of a new, limited-edition hi-fi speaker from British speaker specialist Bowers & Wilkins. Coupled with a bespoke look and feel from Kenneth Grange, one of the leading British designers of his generation, the Signature Diamond is a unique symbol of all that is best in UK design and engineering.

The striking design of the Signature Diamond is the result of a co-operative effort between Bowers & Wilkins’ Senior Development Engineer Dr John Dibb, and the company’s long-term industrial design collaborator Kenneth Grange CBE. Constrained only by John’s strict acoustic requirements, Kenneth had free rein to take a very personal approach to the design, unfettered by any particular customer profile. Each pair takes the equivalent of six months of man-hours to make.

Andy Napthine from Bowers & Wilkins said: “The result of John’s audio expertise and Kenneth’s design brilliance is the finest two-way floor-standing speaker we have produced in our 40 years of history. The Signature Diamond achieves new levels of musical clarity, image precision and detail retrieval.”

The technology which powers the Signature Diamond is enclosed in a 1-meter high Matrix™ braced cylindrical and elliptical form enclosure, finished in either white or a Japanese-inspired Wakame veneer. As well as expressing an aesthetic purity, the form of the Signature Diamond ensures a minimal acoustic footprint of both edge diffraction and mechanical resonance.

On top of the enclosure, the tweeter pod is carved from Italian Grigio Carmica or Belgian Black marble – a material not only beautiful to the touch and the eye, but perfectly suited to the mechanical and acoustic demands of its role. This is the first time marble has been used in this way in a speaker and means that, due to natural differences in the marble, no two speakers will ever be exactly the same.

The Signature Diamond uses the latest innovations in sound reproduction materials from Bowers & Wilkins. It has a pure Diamond Dome Nautilus™ tube-loaded 25mm tweeter in the decoupled top-mounted marble pod; a new Kevlar™ cone 180mm bass/midrange driver featuring an innovative new noiseless phase-plug; an ear-tuned first-order crossover network made possible by the extraordinary wide linear bandwidth of the drivers; and a Flowport™ equipped downward-firing reflex port.

The Diamond Dome Nautilus™ tweeter uses diamond crystals to strengthen the tweeter dome to produce a cleaner, purer sound.

Dr John Dibb said: “The simple curved lines of Kenneth Grange’s new design are also immensely stiff and acoustically ideal. Using a new and unique Kevlar bass-mid driver with a diamond tweeter and silver/gold crossover components, we have created a full-range 2-way system capable of enormous resolution and accuracy.”

Renowned designer Kenneth Grange – known for his designs for many well-known projects including the Intercity 125 train, the Wilkinson Sword razor and the Kodak Instamatic camera – has worked with Bowers & Wilkins for the past four years on the design of the Signature Diamond. His incisive design insights – for which he has won ten Design Council awards over his long career – add a unique additional element to the Signature Diamond.

Kenneth explained: “I’ve always been interested in the fact that B&W probably makes the best loudspeakers in the world. I know the degree of care and passion that goes into every component of a product.

“The cabinet of the Signature Diamond is made of formed plywood and it is a wonderful thing to see. The cabinet is oval in plan and it therefore stands rather distinctly as an object in space. And the speaker, which has to be relatively flat-fronted, penetrates it. I’m always nervous about calling anything I do ‘sculptured’ but it is, in a degree, a piece of sculpture.

“And the crowning treat is the tweeter. I’ve made it really quite a large and important part of the design and it’s using real, live, good old-fashioned marble which is a fantastic material in acoustic terms. The acoustic quality is absolutely consistent between one and the next, but the marble is quite distinctive. If you have a pair of these in your home, you have two pieces of marble that are unlike two pieces of marble anywhere else in the universe.”

The limited-edition of 1000 individually-numbered Signature Diamond speaker sets will be available through Bowers & Wilkins stockists worldwide from July 2007, retailing at £11,000 (including VAT).



Kenneth Grange CBE: Over a career spanning more than half a century, many of Kenneth’s designs have become familiar items. They include the first UK parking meters, Kodak cameras, Kenwood food mixers, Wilkinson Sword razors, type 3 and type 75 Anglepoise lamps, Parker pens and the exterior of the Inter-City 125 train. His designs have won him ten Design Council awards, the Duke of Edinburgh’s prize for Elegant Design in 1996 and in 2001 he was awarded the Prince Philip Designer Prize in recognition of a lifetime’s achievement. He has won the Gold Medal of the Chartered Society of Designers and is a member of the Royal Society of Arts’ elite faculty of Royal Designers for Industry.

Dr John Dibb began his working career in the aerospace industry, but a strong interest in music and music reproduction led him to the audio industry. John is currently celebrating his 20th year at Bowers & Wilkins. During that time, he has been responsible for the acoustic design of many of Bowers & Wilkins key products, notably the Silver Signature and Signature 30 models that celebrated the company’s 25th and 30th anniversaries.

All media enquiries including interview and photography requests, product loans and to arrange a personal Signature Diamond demonstration to: Nicki Perrin, PPR Associates Ltd, Tel: 07971 544728 / 01306 887515.

PPR Associates Ltd
Masters House
Guildford Road
Surrey, RH4 3NG

Tel Office: 01306 887515
Tel Mob: 07971 544728

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