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Bowers & Wilkins to Launch New Research and Development Center

by May 23, 2018

Bowers & Wilkins, the famous British audio brand, is announcing the relocation of its world-famous research and development center to a new and larger facility with cutting-edge equipment and tools. The move represents a significant investment to expand the team and accelerate the company’s ability to develop new capabilities that will drive innovation across its suite of luxury home speakers, headphones and performance car audio.

The new facility will be called, Southwater Research & Engineering (SRE), based on its location in the West Sussex town of Southwater, U.K. The new SRE will build on the legacy of its predecessor, the Steyning Research Establishment, and keeps the same initials as a tribute.

Every major acoustic innovation that has defined Bowers & Wilkins had its beginnings at the that original ‘University of Sound’, established by John Bowers in 1981. The original SRE lays claim to innovations including the Diamond tweeter, the Continuum, and Aerofoil cones, as well as iconic products such as the Zeppelin, the 800 D3, the PX noise-canceling headphones as well as the ground-breaking Nautilus speakers.

To clarify what goes into a new state of the art R&D facility such as the one Bowers & Wilkins is creating we sat down with their Chief Revenue Officer Richard Campbell:

AH: Can you tell me a bit more about the anechoic chambers? How large are they and how low in frequency are they able to measure?

Richard Campbell (RC): Anechoic chambers represent a significant investment in time and money: how long does it take to construct one, and, if you can say, how much does it cost to make an anechoic chamber, roughly? These are excellent questions however due to the proprietary nature of what we do we do not disclose this information publicly.  We are making a significant investment in the brand and the research space to further deliver world-class performance audio products to the market.

AH: Will the new SRE facility be used for product development alone or will B&W be using it to pursue any less commercial and more scientific research? If so, what lines of research does B&W want to explore?

RC: The primary function of the facility is to work on furthering innovations in the performance audio space.  We will always look to push the boundaries of what is possible.  We have exciting plans for the future of the brand and look forward to sharing that with everyone.

Expanding R&D Test Facility

The new facility will be more than twice the size of the original at nearly 30,000 sq ft (2,750 sq m). When it opens later this year, it will accommodate multiple anechoic chambers, a significant increase in the number of listening test rooms, a suite of product testing and engineering labs, and dedicated Headphone and Automotive Audio Labs. In recognition of the incredible legacy of John Bowers, it will also feature a near recreation of his original listening room to ensure that our sound remains true to his vision. The all-new SRE will also feature an experience center designed to showcase the product ranges to partners, press, and visitors alike.

For more than 50 years, Bowers & Wilkins has been defined by cutting-edge acoustic technologies complemented by beautifully designed products. Inspired by John Bowers’ quest for what he called ‘True Sound’, our engineers are dedicated to honoring and continuing that legacy today. The new SRE is an extension of our rich sound engineering tradition. It is designed to further the mission of crafting products that deliver incredible sound experiences and beyond to our customers and consumers.

- Gideon Yu, executive chairman and CEO at Bowers & Wilkins.

In anticipation of the move, Bowers & Wilkins has already increased the size of its R&D team by 40 percent over the past two years. Once the new facility opens later this year, the company will continue to recruit new top-quality engineering talent to join the expanding team.

Bowers & Wilkins’ commitment to audio excellence, precision craftsmanship, and innovation has allowed us to stay true to our promise of delivering the highest quality and most accurate performance audio possible. The team at SRE has more than 300 plus years of combined sound engineering expertise. The investment in the all-new SRE will ensure that our dedication to innovation continues for the next 50 years and beyond.

- Ken McAlpine, Chief Technology Officer at Bowers & Wilkins

We look forward to seeing what comes out of the new R&D lab form Bowers & Wilkins.  If they're as quiet about their new products as they are of the details of their new lab, they may have some cutting edge audio technology coming out in the near future for audiophiles to look forward too.


About the author:
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Tony is our resident expert for lifestyle and wireless products including soundbars. He does most of the reviews for wireless and streaming loudspeakers and often compares soundbars in round ups and helps us cover the trade shows.

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