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Bowers & Wilkins Steps Up Custom Efforts

9/10/2009 01:01:00 AM Eastern

CEDIA Expo 2009 Atlanta
- Bowers & Wilkins is raising its profile in the custom-install market with
a broad custom-speaker launch that follows what a spokesman called "the most
effort ever delivered by [our] engineers in terms of performance and
application requirements."

B&W's CI 700The 12
speakers in the new CI 600 series, priced at up to $1,200/pair, and the six
speakers in the CI 700 series, priced up to $1,500 each, are the company's first
custom speakers developed to be part of comprehensive groups, the company said.
They also deliver higher performance, less obtrusive design and simpler
installation compared with the company's previous models, a spokesman added.

The top-end
CI 700 series ships by the end of the year, followed in the first quarter by
the CI 600 series. They'll join 10 current models remaining in the line.

The CI 600 series consists of three 8-inch in-ceiling models
priced at $600, $850 and $1,200 per pair; four 6-inch in-ceiling models at $400,
$550, $700 and $1,000 par pair; two 6-inch single-speaker stereo models at $350
and $500 each; two 6-inch in-wall models at $550 and $750 per pair; and a
5-inch in-wall model at $550 per pair. All feature narrow bezels for
unobtrusive placement. The round in-ceiling models come with square-grille option.

The six CI 700 speakers consist of three 14-inch-square in-ceiling
models at $750, $1,000 and $1,500 each, and three in-wall models at $600, $800
and $1,500 each. Their visible bezels are 0.26 inches wide.

All CI 700 models come with enclosures whose internal volume
delivers deep bass yet fit through a wall cutout into a standard 2 by 4 stud
bay to allow for retrofit installations, the company said. To further simply
installation, the speakers were designed so that installers could first fit the
combination frame/enclosure into the wall cut-out, then place the one-piece
baffle/driver combination into the frame. The baffle is held in place by
locking pins. The ceiling models' enclosures use a curved back to add strength.

The three CI 700 wall models feature Flow Port
venting to boost efficiency and output, Nautilus tube-loaded tweeters and cast
bass-mid driver baskets. The three ceiling models are 14-inch-square models
that protrude little from ceilings built from 2-by 8-inch or larger joists. The
ceiling models also feature 45-degree baffles to direct sound to listeners. All
six models feature 88dB-90dB sensitivity.

In the CI 600 series, Bowers & Wilkins designed low-profile
speakers with "very thin" bezels for lower visibility. The bezel's visible edge
can be firmly cinched to the sheet rock to avoid gaps that plague other bezel
designs, the company added. The speakers lack grille scrims that redcue sound
quality, the company said.

To simplify installation, the 600 uses QuickDog mechanisms and
on-frame speaker terminals. Installers place the frame into a wall cutout, then
reach through the wall to push down the self-locking QuickDog mechanisms, which
tighten the frame more securely than conventional screw-down dogs, the company
claimed. Installers then snap the baffle and its drivers into place. Speaker-cable
terminals on the frame mate with terminals on the baffle to further simplify
installation.

As the 600-series speakers move up in price point, they get
Kevlar cones, Nautilus Swirl tweeters, larger voice coils and magnets, and cast
driver baskets. The step-up in-ceiling models also add tweeter that can be
positioned at 0, 15 and 30 degrees. That, combined with a three-position
bass-mid EQ switch, lets installers balance the response of a physically
directed tweeter with a fixed bass-mid driver, the company said.

Carryover speakers are the Signature 8NT and DS-8 models; the
angled flush-mount in-ceiling CCM-816 and CCM-818; the flat-panel-friendly
LCR-7; the CWM Cinema 6 LCR; the entry-level CCM616, CCM618 and CWM6120 models;
and the recently added ISW-4 subwoofer with SA-250 amplifier.

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