Bookshelf Speakers

B&W 805 Diamond Bookshelf and HTM4 Center Channel Speakers


The Design of the B&W 805 Diamond and HTM4 Speakers

The 805D bookshelf and HTM4 center are the smallest members of B&W's flagship 800 series line. The 800 series encompasses speakers across a wide range of price points, from the $5000 805D's to the $24,000 flagship 800D tower speakers. Despite being the least expensive entries into the line, the 805D and HTM4 share many characteristics with their larger (and more expensive) cousins.

My shipment from B&W came in 5 boxes, which included the speakers packaged separately as well as matching stands for both the bookshelves and center. I took to the task of unpacking the 805D's first.

As I lifted the 805D out of its travel home I was immediately struck by two things. The first is build quality. All of the members of the 800 series are hand built in B&W's facility in Worthing, West Sussex, and the speakers exude the kind of craftsmanship one would expect would come out of the home office. This is an astoundingly solid speaker, with surprising heft for its size, weighing in at a solid 26 lbs each. Every detail, from the speaker posts, to the magnetic grill seems accounted for.

The second thing that can't be overlooked: these are one hansom set of speakers. B&W sent all three speakers in piano black, and while I'm not one to necessarily be won over on looks alone, there is no denying the units themselves certainly won't have any issue passing the aesthetics committee.

The HTM4 is shares all of these same characteristics with the 805D's. It's solid, impeccably built, and looked terrific sitting on top of my Bello Mirage stand.

Instead of running down all of the build characteristics of the HTM4 and 805D, I'll just throw you some of the highlights; the B&W website and 800 series brochure walk through all of the specifics of these units.

As I said above, the HTM4 and 805D's share many of the same characteristics as other members of the 800 series, the most prominent of which might be the floating diamond tweeter perched on the top of the cabinet.

Briefly, B&W had identified diamond as what it believes is the ideal as a material with optimal qualities for reproducing treble frequencies. The tweeter is housed separately from the main case and showcases B&W's distinctive "Nautilus" shape. This tapered tube, B&W says, allows for absorption of any sound that might radiate back, thereby reducing any possible resonances. The entire tweeter unit is mounted to the main cabinet by a flexible adhesive – you can feel the ever so slight movement if you try between the tweeter and the base. B&W believes that mounting the tweeter separate from the cabinet improves dispersion, reduces any interactions between in and the driver, and allows the Nautilus cone to do its job of absorbing background radiating treble frequencies.

Also shared by all members of the 800 series line is another B&W staple: a yellow Kevlar driver. In the 805D and HTM4, the Kevlar midrange is assigned with all frequencies that the tweeter isn't handling. B&W uses Kevlar because of its ability to absorb standing waves in the speaker cone and improved dispersal patterns.

Just below the main driver is a dimpled speaker port.

B&W says that the dimples act to minimize turbulence as air moves in and out of the speaker by creating a pillow of currents that allow air to move more smoothly. This results in cleaner bass reproduction. B&W includes two sizes of foam plugs that can be used to change the bass response of the speakers.

Both the HTM4 and 805D's are bi-wireable. The speaker posts are made of oxygen-free copper and are capable of accepting spades, banana plugs or bare wire.

Also included with each speakers is a box of accessories that contains the manual, a book about the 800 series and jumpers: interestingly B&W opts include jumper cables to bridge the bi-wire speaker posts instead of the more typical often gold plated plates that one typically finds with bi-wire speakers. Go to Page 3: Setup