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B&W Flagship In-Wall CI800 Speakers Preview

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B&W CI800 Series Loudspeakers

B&W CI800 Series Loudspeakers

Summary

  • Product Name: CI800 Series
  • Manufacturer: Bowers & Wilkins
  • Review Date: September 26, 2012 12:05
  • MSRP: $800 - $3,000
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now

CWM8.3

  • Description: 3-way in-wall loudspeaker
  • Drive units: 1x 25mm (1in) Aluminium Carbon Braced Tweeter with Nautilus Tube™
  •                   1x 130mm (5in) woven blue Kevlar cone FST midrange driver
  •                   2 x 180mm (7in) Carbon Fibre Rohacell Bass drivers
  • Frequency range: 30Hz - 40kHz
  • Power handling: 200W
  • Sensitivity   : 89dB
  • Impedance : 8Ω (minimum 5Ω)
  • Frame outer: 880mm x 254mm (34.6 in x 10in)
  • Cut-out: 240mm x 240mm (9.4 in x 9.4in)
  • Cut-out allowance: 8mm (0.31in)
  • Protrusion: 8mm (0.31in)
  • Back box: 1328mm x 350mm 90mm (52.28 in x 13.78 in x 3.54in)


 CWM8.5

  • Description: 2-way in-wall loudspeaker
  • Drive units  : 1x 25mm (1in) Aluminum Carbon Braced Tweeter with Nautilus Tube™
  •                     1x 180mm (7in) woven blue Kevlar cone bass/midrange driver with anti-resonance plug
  • Frequency range: 35Hz  - 40kHz
  • Power handling: 120W
  • Sensitivity: 89dB
  • Impedance : 8Ω (minimum 5Ω)
  • Frame outer: 411mm x 247mm (16.2 in x 9.72in)
  • Cut-out: 395mm x 231mm (15.5 in x 9.09in)
  • Cut-out allowance: 8mm (0.31in)
  • Protrusion: 8mm (0.31in)
  • Back box: 1088mm x 350mm 90mm (42.8 in x 13.6 in x 3.54in)

 

CCM8.5

  • Description: 2-way in ceiling loudspeaker
  • Drive units: 1x 25mm (1in) Aluminum Carbon Braced Tweeter with Nautilus Tube™
  •                   1x 180mm (7in) woven blue Kevlar cone bass/midrange driver with anti-resonance plug
  • Frequency range: 35Hz - 40kHz
  • Power handling: 120W
  • Sensitivity: 88dB
  • Impedance: 8Ω (minimum 3.3Ω)
  • Frame outer: 351mm x 351mm (13.8 in x 13.8in)
  • Cut-out: 331mm x 331mm (13 in x 13in)
  • Cut-out allowance: 8mm (0.31in)
  • Protrusion: 8mm (0.31in)
  • Back box: 701mm x 343mm x 177mm (27.6 in x 13.5 in x 6.9in)

Executive Overview

Bowers and Wilkins has always received a lot of positive attention about their 800 series speakers, and now they are bringing that performance and technology to 3 new in-wall speakers. The CI800 series includes one in-ceiling model, the CCM8.5, and two in-wall models, the CWM 8.5 and CWM 8.3.

B&W has spent the last two years developing the CI800 line with the hopes of delivering similar quality to their 800 Series Diamond speakers.  They incorporated a relatively new Carbon Braced Tweeter that was previously only found on their PM1 bookshelf speaker. The Carbon Braced Tweeter extends break up to 40KHz, which B&W claims “has a dramatic effect on the audible frequencies below 20KHz”.  All CI800 series speakers also include B&W’s famous Nautilus Tube Loaded design, which is decoupled from the rest of the speaker.

The midrange drivers are the standard Kevlar design that B&W uses in many of their speakers, but the Kevlar is dyed blue rather than yellow to blend in better.  As opposed to a typical dust cap, each driver employs an Anti-Resonance Plug, a type of phase plug as it is commonly called.  Each speaker is also ported for added bass response.

 

B&W CWM 8.3

B&W CWM 8.3

In order to overcome the space limitations of in-wall/in-ceiling speakers, B&W designed large back boxes/enclosures for each speaker. The enclosures are designed using Matrix bracing technology and are made of highly glass-filled thermoset resin for added rigidity. The enclosure must be purchased separately for with each speaker, as they can be installed with or without it. If possible, it is best to use the enclosure but they are so large that they have to be installed before the wall is finished. If the CWM 8.5 or 8.3 are being installed horizontally, the studs will need to be modified to accommodate the enclosure. For existing walls or retrofit installations, the speakers can be installed without an enclosure. 

The CCM 8.5 in-ceiling speaker is a rectangular design, which is atypical for in-ceiling speakers. A 1” tweeter and 7” midrange driver are recessed at a 30–45 degree angle, allowing for the speaker to be pointed towards the listening position. It is generously rated down to 35Hz and 120W power handling. The sensitivity is relatively low at 88db, but we doubt anyone will buy this level of speaker and try to power them with an under-powered amp.

The CWM8.5 sports a single 1” tweeter and 7” woofer, is rated down to 35Hz and has a power handling of 120W. The CWM 8.3 sports one 1” tweet, one 5” midrange driver, and two 7” bass drivers, is rated down to 30Hz and has a power handling of 200W. The bass drivers in the CWM 8.3 are made of carbon-reinforced Rohacell, as found on the 800 Series Diamond. Both speakers have an 89db sensitivity. All of the CI800 speakers have an 8Ω (minimum 5Ω) impedance.

So, how much would you pay for B&W’s top of the line in-wall/in-ceiling products? Well, the speakers seem quite reasonably priced considering they are supposed to match the quality of the 800 Diamond series.  The CCM 8.5 in-ceiling speaker in $1,400 ea. And the enclosure is $600. The CWM8.5 is $800 with a $600 enclosure and the top of the line CWM 8.3 is $2,200 with an $800 enclosure

Conclusion

If you, or a client of yours, is looking for extremely high quality performance but is not able to accommodate free standing speaker, the new CI800 series speakers might be your ticket. The 800 Diamond Series is very highly regarded, and if B&W managed to get close to that performance with these speaker then we are sure these will a hit in the high-end custom install market.

For more information, visit Bowers and Wilkins

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About the author:

Cliff, like many of us, has always loved home theater equipment. In high school he landed a job at Best Buy that started his path towards actual high quality audio. His first surround sound was a Klipsch 5.1 system. After that he was hooked, moving from Klipsch to Polk to Definitive Technology, and so on. Eventually, Cliff ended up doing custom installation work for Best Buy and then for a "Ma & Pa" shop in Mankato, MN.

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Recent Forum Posts:

dagodstino zentopoulus posts on July 29, 2016 18:36
Many thanks for the help. I hope to do the speakers justice!
Patrick Butler posts on July 29, 2016 10:52
Hi Dago,

If you are building your own cabinet and already have the speaker and crossover (which as you know, is attached to the speaker), then you need nothing else. Sounds like a fun project!

Regards,

Patrick
B&W Group North America

dagodstino zentopoulus, post: 1147702, member: 79851
Patrick Thanks so much for your reply. Can you please elaborate. I understand you product is engineered to be installed in a specific manner but what I am trying to understand is if the crossover that is mounted on the speakers is all the circuitry that is required or is there some missing circuitry if the back box is not used. I am building a custom piece of furniture that these will be installed in. I understand that I may compromise the sound as designed by your engineers by not using the back box. My questions is do I have all the electronics required to hook them up. Thanks.

Dago
dagodstino zentopoulus posts on July 29, 2016 10:31
Patrick Thanks so much for your reply. Can you please elaborate. I understand you product is engineered to be installed in a specific manner but what I am trying to understand is if the crossover that is mounted on the speakers is all the circuitry that is required or is there some missing circuitry if the back box is not used. I am building a custom piece of furniture that these will be installed in. I understand that I may compromise the sound as designed by your engineers by not using the back box. My questions is do I have all the electronics required to hook them up. Thanks.

Dago
Patrick Butler posts on July 28, 2016 09:44
Hi Dagodstino Zentopoulus,

The CWM8.5 is not designed to be installed into a wall without the companion backbox, which retails for $600 each. Below is a photograph of the speaker and backbox for reference.

Regards,

Patrick Butler
B&W Group North America



dagodstino zentopoulus, post: 1146434, member: 79851
Hi all. I am always reading forums for general advice and usually gather enough info for my questions but this time im hoping someone can help me with a specific question. I'm in need of some help with these speakers B&W cwm8.5's. I got a really great deal on these and plan on installing them in a new wall/media center. I didn't get the back box since I am building these into a new wall and have built enclosures before. B&W says you must purchase the back box because it has an additional crossover inside but that makes no sense to me. Can anyone confirm if it's possible to install these without the box as noted in the above article and let me know how they achieved it. I think i can just use a bi wire and cut of the speed clip but want to make sure before I make changes to these speakers. Thanks in advance for any help.
dagodstino zentopoulus posts on July 21, 2016 15:36
There is a crossover on the back but B&W says that you need the box to get it to work something about the speed click connection inside the box connects to a LF crossover. I am going to connect with a bi wire and see what's going on.
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