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Sound System takes Bowers & Wilkins hi-fi speaker technology and develops it for a festival audience.

Bowers & Wilkins Sound System draws upon almost 50 years of acoustic excellence to produce a brand new PA system that combines the range and clarity of a top-end hi-fi speaker with the raw power required to deliver sound to thousands of festival-goers. Sound System is a one-off commission and will not be commercially produced.

Imagine, the best sound you ever heard from a hi-fi system. Now imagine that sound scaled-up to the point where it can fill a 1,000 capacity festival venue. That's the Bowers & Wilkins Sound System, and while it is, for now, a one-off commission for Barcelona's Primavera Sound (one of Europe's most eclectic and innovative music festivals), it is being engineered with all the care and attention we would lavish upon a commercial Bowers & Wilkins product.

Sound System utilises a number of core Bowers & Wilkins technologies, including: Decoupled Double Dome aluminium tweeters found in the award-winning CM10; Rohacell® bass drivers based on those in the CT800 Custom Theatre range; FST™ Kevlar® midrange drivers from the 800 Series Diamond; Flowport™ technology to aid bass loading; and each of the encloses is constructed from birch plywood and braced with Bowers & Wilkins Matrix™ strengthening system.

Sound System is a four-way active loudspeaker design, which for its debut appearance at Primavera Sound in Barcelona will comprise four stacks. Each stack stands over 3.2 metres tall, and encompasses 12 separate enclosures, spilt into three frequency types, with a complement of 8 x 15" bass drivers, 8 x 10" mid-bass drivers, 4 x 6" FST Kevlar midrange drivers and 16 x 1" Decoupled Double Dome tweeters.

Sound System crossover frequencies are 80Hz, 350Hz, 3.5kHz with active DSP filters feeding multiple Class D stereo power amplifiers combining to produce an output totalling 30kW. A Sound System module of four LF enclosures is capable of an extraordinary 120dB at 8m. At Primavera Sound, the four Sound System stacks will be deployed in a 1,000 capacity geodesic dome.

Reduced distortion Sound System overcomes the problems of dynamic compression inherent in traditional PA systems by adapting the acoustic design of Bowers & Wilkins' flagship hi-fi and studio speakers in a massively enlarged format. Conventional horn-loaded technology is replaced by hi-fi style direct radiating transducers, resulting in dramatically reduced distortion and a much cleaner sound.

Hi-fi driver technology Each Sound System stack features four mid/high frequency enclosures, incorporating an FST Kevlar midrange driver and four Nautilus™ tube-loaded high frequency drivers. As with Bowers & Wilkins' most advanced hi-fi speakers, these drivers are decoupled from their cabinets to shield them from the effects of cabinet resonance and produce a sound that's pure, detailed and precise.
Extraordinary bass The foundation of each Sound System stack is its four rock solid, fully braced low frequency enclosures, which incorporate established Bowers & Wilkins bass driver technology in the form of Rohacell bass drivers and multiple Flowports along with tried and tested Matrix reinforced cabinet construction. Capable of an extraordinary 120dB, Sound System delivers bass that's not only amazingly powerful but also totally controlled.

Each of the four Sound System low frequency enclosures incorporate two 380mm (15") drivers featuring Rohacell composite diaphragms. The drivers are customised versions of those used in Bowers & Wilkins' reference CT800 system. Multiple Flowports take care of bass loading in the 300 Litre fully braced, birchplywood cabinets.

The upper bass is also well served, with each stack boasting four low/mid enclosures. Each of these contains two 250mm (10") Rohacell drivers. This approach delivers seamless continuity between the solid deep bass and the refined midrange performance of the FST Kevlar midrange drivers dedicated to the midrange.

Enhanced directivity Sound System's 12 driver enclosures are connected using angled mounting hardware, producing arrays that generate the ideal acoustic dispersion pattern for the listening environment. Meanwhile midrange and high frequency drivers are arranged so that vertical directivity can be finely controlled - vitally important in a live sound context.

Primavera Sound 2014 The Bowers & Wilkins Sound System will make its debut at the Bowers & Wilkins + Boiler Room stage at Primavera Sound, Barcelona (May 29th - 31st 2014). Globally acclaimed DJs Jamie xx, John Talabot and Pional will headline the stage across the three days of the festival, pushing the Sound System to its limits in a 1,000 capacity Igloo tent that will feature 360º projections from renowned British moving-image artists, creating a multi-sensory effect that will place the audience into a truly immersive experience.

Specifications Sound System stack stands over 3.2 metres tall, and comprises 12 separate enclosures, spilt into three frequency types:

  • 4 x low-frequency enclosures:
        8 x 15" (380mm) Rohacell bass drivers

  • 4 x low/mid frequency enclosures
        8 x 10" (250mm) Rohacell mid/bass drivers

  • 4 x mid/high frequency enclosures
        4 x 6" (180mm) FST Kevlar midrange driver

  • 16 x 1" (25mm) Nautilus Tube Decoupled Double Dome aluminium tweeters.

The Bowers & Wilkins Sound System at Primavera Sound features four stacks:

  • 32 x 15" (380mm) Rohacell bass drivers
  • 32 x 10" (250mm) Rohacell mid/bass drivers
  • 16 x 6" (180mm) FST Kevlar midrange driver
  • 64 x 1" (25mm) Nautilus™ Tube Decoupled Double Dome aluminium tweeters