I’ve always said that you can tell if a piano, violin, trumpet or any other instrument is real even if unseen and at a distance, perhaps coming from a window high above street level. In my view, the gap between reality and reproduction is down to the fact that even the best speaker has yet to fully capture the dynamic envelope and harmonic structure of an instrument. When you think about it, the fact that a speaker that in no physical way resembles the instruments it is recreating (and it needs to recreate all instruments and voices, usually simultaneously in a group setting) can make even a credible facsimile of the original sound is pretty remarkable. At the starting end of the recording chain, a microphone has a much easier task since it can be a full range transducer and needs only to emit a small electrical signal, and that signal if handled carefully can be preserved in a very pristine way. But the loudspeaker has to turn that electrical signal back into full scale sound waves. No easy task! We love music; we suspend disbelief willingly so long as the essence of the music is there. But the closer we get to the original, the deeper the connection.
This week in mid-February, I had the opportunity to listen to the Bowers & Wilkins new 800 D3 loudspeaker for the first time in its nearly final form at the Steyning Research Establishment- where all our really smart people work. The 800 D3 closes the gap between real and reproduced sound beyond any speaker I’ve ever heard before – and over a 30 year plus career in the audio industry, I’ve heard, often admired, and owned a tremendous number of speakers. Playing very familiar recordings on the 800 D3, I was stunned by the lifelike quality of the music. The dynamics were real. There was no restraint, no compression, no artifice that causes the brain to work to fill in the gaps. The music was just there, alive. I listened and I could only smile. We made a big leap from the last generation of 800 D2 models to the new D3, good as the D2 models are. But the 800 D3 itself is something more. Rather than “another veil lifted” it’s as if there is no veil there at all, only the music itself.
I could not be more pleased that Definitive Audio is the place where the public will get the first listen to the 800 D3 in a special preview for Music Matters and to help mark Definitive’s 40th Anniversary. I know that we have many fans and B&W owners among Definitive clientele – thank you for your enthusiasm and support. I am certain you will be thrilled with what we have achieved. The 800 D3 won’t officially launch until summer and the demo pair won’t be able to stay on after the event, so please mark your calendar and we’ll look forward to seeing you there!