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Bowers & Wilkins ASW12-CM Subwoofer First Look

Bowers & Wilkins ASW12-CM Subwoofer

Bowers & Wilkins ASW12-CM Subwoofer


  • Product Name: ASW12-CM
  • Manufacturer: Bowers & Wilkins
  • Review Date: August 31, 2009 05:40
  • MSRP: $2,000
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
Technical features 500W class 'D' power amplifier

Switch mode power supply
Description Active closed-box subwoofer system
Drive unit 1x f250mm (10 in) paper / Kevlar® cone long-throw
Frequency range -6dB at 18Hz and 40/140Hz adjustable (EQ at A)
Frequency response ±3dB 25Hz – 40/140Hz adjustable (EQ at A)
Power output: 500W
Rated power consumption: 94W
Input impedance: 33kΩ
Signal / noise: >80dB
Functions: Input Level (line in)

Input Level (speaker in)

Low-pass filter frequency

Low-pass filter bypass (line in only)

Bass extension

Bass roll-off alignment

Auto sense on/standby

Phase switch
Inputs: Line In (RCA Phono)

Speaker Level In (Binding post)
Low-pass filter Active 4th-order, variable cut-off frequency
Height: 325mm (12.8 in)
Width: 325mm (12.8 in)
Depth: 362mm (14.3 in)
Net weight 15.5kg (34.4 lb)
Cabinet Gloss Black

ASW12-CM_grill.jpgTo say that B&W speakers have a following is akin to saying that the housing market has been kind of down lately. Yes, quite a bit of an understatement. You won't be long in this hobby before the name Bowers & Wilkins comes up (usually with the words, "I wish I could afford" before it). They are beloved and be-envied both. Heck, the people that own them wish they could bump up to the next line and the people with the top of the line are too busy being rich to care how many people are plotting to finagle a listening session out of them. While we're sure there are some out there that don't like B&W speakers, they tend to keep those opinions to themselves as no to invoke the wrath of the fanboys.

Regardless of your personal opinion of B&W speakers, their new subwoofer offering is sure to turn some heads. The ASW12-CM sub sports a 12" Kevlar/paper cone driver and a 500 watt amp. The amp has line and speaker level inputs as well as a phase switch, a 12-volt trigger, and a variable (40-140Hz) crossover. The big addition is the three position "Bass roll-off alignment" switch which limits how low the sub will play. While you might be wondering why anyone would want to limit the low end of their bass response, if you are tuning your room and find that your room can't handle the lowest frequencies, you'll quickly learn that better bass is preferable to lowest bass. The switch allows you to roll off the low end at 18Hz (the -6dB point of the sub naturally), 23Hz and 28Hz (all that -6dB). 

The ASW12-CM is a closed design (which explains the high amplifier power) so you won't have to worry about port noise. The long throw driver is beefed up with a 3-inch assembly, dual suspension, and diecast metal chassis. When you're trying to dip down into the sub-20Hz range, you need to make sure your driver can handle it. With a sealed design, this is even more important.

The ASW12-CM is not cheap - it'll retail for $2000. Currently, it is only available in the US though that will probably change over time. Expect it to show up in stores by the end of September. As gloss black is by far the most popular color of just about any speaker, the AW12-CM will be available in all it's reflective glory. 


B&W looks to have a solid contender with this sub. As you'd expect from a sealed and expensive sub, it isn't large - just about a 13" cube. With its gloss black finish and sub 20Hz capability, those in love (or lust) with the B&W brand are sure to be salivating. While the price may be a bit steep, at this size, you could easily fit two in a room. Just make sure you bolt everything down first. 

For more information, please visit www.bowers-wilkins.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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