Innovation has always been the hallmark of Bowers & Wilkins. And the five-year research project that led to Nautilus™ epitomises this commitment.
From the stepped baffle of the DM6 to the cool modernity of the Emphasis, Bowers & Wilkins' policy has always been to explore every avenue in the pursuit of accurate sound. This has allowed our engineers to follow leads, which even if they ended in disappointment, added to our expertise. At one point our energies were concentrated on dipole or backless loudspeakers, where rearward-travelling sound could radiate freely away from the drive units. But despite a variety of inventive baffles listeners could always identify the cone materials used in the drive units. Then came the breakthrough. While working on prototypes for Nautilus™ the engineers experimented with a traditional shape: the plain, tapering horn. Only in this case, a horn which is used not to transmit sound but to absorb it.
In an attempt to get rid of unwanted cabinet resonance around the upper midrange drive unit, Bowers & Wilkins engineers decided to use a rare earth magnet whose pole piece could be hollowed out to create extra space, freeing the path for rearward-travelling sound waves. But initial tests showed that the drive unit’s pear-shaped enclosure would then produce an unacceptably sharp peak in the response, known as a high ’Q’ resonance. By replacing the pear-shape with an inverted horn, the problem disappeared. The results proved remarkable. The combination of an acoustically transparent magnet and an exponentially tapered horn absorbs virtually all rearward radiation of sound – creating the nearest thing yet to an infinite baffle.
After discovering the transmission-line principle for the top three drivers our engineers originally thought a closed box would be fine for the bass. But listening tests showed a discontinuity between the bass and the other three drive units. To match the sonic purity of the tweeter, the treble and the midrange driver, the bass needed a wave-guide pipe – and this created a dilemma. The low frequency requirement dictated a non-tapering pipe 300mm in diameter and three metres long - clearly an impractical solution. In their relentless pursuit of true sound, the research team came up with another of Bowers & Wilkins' great technical advances. Experiments showed that a curled-up horn-shape would perform exactly as required but would occupy a much smaller volume than a straightforward pipe.
Every discovery our scientists make influences how loudspeakers all over the world are designed and built.Innovation
Zeppelin Air is the ultimate wireless AirPlay® speaker dock, and our best sounding iPod® dock yet.Zeppelin Air
The compact PM1 offers extremely high-quality performance and several Bowers & Wilkins technological innovations.PM1
Offers a unique chance to hear music exactly as recorded: detailed, vibrantly alive, full of power and unhindered by speaker distortion.Society of Sound