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Bowers & Wilkins DB Series Subwoofers Preview



  • Product Name: DB1D, DB2D, & DB3D
  • Manufacturer: Bowers & Wilkins
  • Review Date: March 03, 2017 07:00
  • MSRP: $4,500 DB1D, $3,500: DB2D, $2,500: DB3D
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

  • Design: Dual-Opposed, Sealed Subwoofers
  • Driver size: DB1D: 12”, DB2D: 10”, DB3D: 8”
  • Max Power Output: DB1D: 2000 watts, DB2D: 1000 watts, DB3D: 1000 watts
  • Frequency Response (-3dB centered on 100 Hz): 10 Hz - 350 Hz
  • Frequency Range (-6dB): 8.5 Hz - 500 Hz
  • Inputs: 2 x RCA, 2 x XLR, 2 x 3.5mm, RS-232 – 9-pin D connector
  • Weight: DB1D: 95 lbs, DB2D: 79 lbs, DB3D: 55 lbs
  • Dimensions (DxWxH) for DB1D: 16.1” x 16.9” x 18.1”
  • Dimensions (DxWxH) for DB2D: 14.2” x 14.8” x 16.9”
  • Dimensions (DxWxH) for DB3D: 11.8” x 12.6” x 14.1”

Bowers & Wilkins has recDB1D Whitecently expanded the high end of their subwoofer line by adding three new subwoofers. These new subwoofers are called the DB1D, DB2D, and DB3D, with woofer diameters of 12”, 10” and 8”, respectively. The venerable DB1 has stood alone at the top of B&W’s echelon since its release six years ago, but B&W has announced three new additions to the DB series. Like the DB1, they use a dual-opposed woofer design, meaning that the woofers are mounted on opposite sides of the cabinet. An advantage of this approach is the motion of the woofers negate each other’s momentum effect on the enclosure, so the cabinet should be completely free of any rocking motion. As one would expect from B&W at this price point, the enclosure build is heavy-duty, with their new dual 12” subwoofer weighing nearly 100 lbs, despite only being a roughly 17” cube. There are some advantages of placing two smaller drivers in a single enclosure over a single larger driver such allowing a smaller cabinet to accommodate more overall cone surface area. As an example, the two 12” cones of the DB1D have nearly the same surface area of a single 17” cone. Two drivers can also share a greater thermal load and can be less affected by thermal compression than a single driver.

DB1D Black GlossC  DB1D Rosenutc

The cabinetry and available finishes have not changed from the DB1 and as such look impeccable. But don’t let the same-styled exterior fool you: underneath the hood, much has changed from the DB1 design; specifically the driver designs. The new DB subwoofers all use the same type of dual-magnet motor system that is also used in the 800 series speakers launched in 2015, as opposed to the DB1 which used a conventional overhung motors. The dual-magnet motor system is a major departure from typical subwoofer driver designs (for a description of typical driver design, see: Loudspeaker Drivers: Identifying Legitimately High End Parts). In B&W’s dual-magnet motor system, there are two return circuits for the path of the magnetic flux, as opposed to only one in traditional designs. The voice coil is set in the middle of these magnetic fields created by sB&W_SS_805_SUBcetting two permanent magnets facing each other with the same polarity. B&W claims that this design reduces distortion since it makes the magnetic field more symmetrical around the voice coil.

Another change for the new DB subwoofers is the composition of the cone. As with the new 800 speakers series’ woofer, the DB subs use Aerofoil cones. These cones look to use some kind of carbon-fiber composition which uses variable thickness structure from the center to outer edges to reduce flexing or break-up of the cone itself. The DB1D is powered by a class-D amplifier rated in ‘Max Power Output’ for 2000 watts, and the DB2D and DB3D subwoofer amps rated for 1000 watts. We are not sure how ‘Max Power Output’ translates into the more traditional RMS wattage rating for subwoofer amplifiers. The amplifier can be controlled by a smartphone app; in fact, we don’t see any conventional panel controls at all (which add to the subwoofer’s sleek appearance). Among the features of the app are placement and set-up guides, trouble-shooting, and a room equalization program that uses the phone’s built-in microphone. The app is available for iOS and Android only.

B&W has packed a lot of new technology into a small and elegant package, but, of course, such a task is not an inexpensive one with the DB1D, DB2D, and DB3D priced at $4,500, $3,500, and $2,500, respectively. But for those seeking high performance from an attractive cabinet filled with cutting-edge technology, the new DB subwoofers from B&W might be well worth the cost.

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

About the author:
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James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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