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£
2699

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AV forums Best in class Award, 2020

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These are now discontinued, there are some cracking deals around , we've seen them for under £1900.

The 705 Signature is an enhanced version of the popular 705 S2 standmount speaker. Rather than create a new range of models to sit between the 700 and 800 Series, Bowers & Wilkins has taken the 705 and larger 702 floorstander and given them a series of enhancements to boost their performance. The Signature name has been used for this role before and has adorned some very fine speakers, so the omens are good for something a bit special. 

The basic design of the 705 Signature is similar to that of the 705 S2. It is a two-way standmount speaker that combines a 25mm carbon covered metal tweeter with a 165mm mid bass driver. The 705 and 702 base models both use the ‘tweeter on top’ technology that has come down from the 800 Series. This places the tweeter in its own aluminium housing, separate from the rest of the cabinet. It is decoupled to reduce interference which means it can feel a little wobbly out of the box but that flex is intended to be there to reduce interference. 

The mid bass unit is made from the same ‘Continuum’ material as used in all Bowers & Wilkins drivers. The result is a woven diaphragm that is exceptionally stiff and inert. A rear bass port with the characteristic dimples around the flair to help the dissipation of air enhances low frequency performance. A two-piece foam bung is provided to reduce the flow of air through the port in case the 705 Signatures need to be placed close to a wall. 

The major technical improvement between the Signature and the standard 705 lies in the crossover. This uses up-rated components such as extremely high quality Mundorf capacitors and has the same larger heatsink as the 702 Signature. It can be hard to get excited about crossovers but they are critical to the performance of a speaker. The basic technical measurements of the 705 Signature are identical to the standard model – but the listening experience is not. 

Sound quality

This speaker delivers an extremely accurate and revealing presentation. It is not one that will flatter poor components and although it isn’t particularly hard to drive, it does benefit from a reasonably powerful amplifier. If the rest of your system is up to it though, the 705 Signature is sensational. 

What the tweaks to the crossover have achieved in the 705 Signature is to make it plain and simple good fun. The sound is effortlessly engaging across a huge range of music because it has a cohesion and rhythmic engagement that draws you in and makes you want to keep listening. The 705 Signature particularly excels at maintaining the timing in any track, which is helped by its excellent control over the lower registers. You can buy speakers at this price that have more bass than the 705 Signature but very few of them sound as ‘together’. 

Another benefit of the upgraded crossover is that it tightens the relationship between the two drivers. This is already good in the 705 S2 but in the Signature it’s wonderfully seamless. Despite the different driver materials, the handover is imperceptible and the tonality is unfailingly believable from top to bottom. This speaker doesn’t go in for the sort of etched, hyper-realism that sounds impressive during a short demonstration but becomes wearying over a longer listen. Instead, voices and instruments remain unforced but entirely convincing. The 705 Signature places them in a soundstage that will reveal the characteristics of the other equipment being used but remains unfailingly spacious and convincing. 

Living with

One obvious difference between this and the standard 705 S2 is purely cosmetic but absolutely lovely. The Signatures are available in Datuk Gloss Ebony or newly released Midnight Blue Metallic and both options look and feel fabulous – a focal point in any room – with a more high-end aura than the standard model. The level of build is exceptional, even when judged at the asking price, with a tremendously robust feel to the cabinet complemented by brilliant cosmetic quality. An optional stand is available and the speaker is secured to this via a series of bolts that attach to the bottom of the cabinet. 

Conclusion

What this adds up to is much more than a 705 S2 in a nice wooden finish. It’s suitable for all but the largest rooms, delivers remarkably tight bass for a standmounter and brings out the subtlety, detail and emotion in all kinds of music. Without changing any of the basics of the more affordable speaker, or losing any of its commendable virtues, Bowers & Wilkins has unlocked a whole extra level of performance and created one of the very best speakers you can buy at anywhere near the price. 

Listening notes

Public Service Broadcasting Blue Heaven 

A tremendous track on a wonderful album, the 705 Signature balances the excitement and energy this piece has while ensuring it never sounds bright or overly forward. 

Eliza Shaddad, In the Morning (Grandmother Song)

Staggeringly emotive and powerful; Shaddad pours her heart out and the 705 Signature responds beautifully, capturing the genuine heartache within while effortlessly handling the growing scale as the track builds.

Agnes Obel Riverside 

Deceptively simple but utterly lovely, Riverside is an absolute test of tonal realism and the Bowers & Wilkins is supremely capable at capturing the scale and tone of the piano while ensuring Obel herself is distinct from it. 

What the press say

They say looks aren’t everything, especially in hi-fi, but the AVForums reviewer was particularly taken with the style and build of 705 Signature, admiring the wood veneering and the immaculate lacquer finish, and saying that everything felt assembled toa standard in keeping with the price, if not more. What’s more, he loved the sound, too, finding there was a sense of joy to everything you play, and sayingthe speakers were utterly captivating and able to be enjoyed without any feeling of compromising on the reality of what you’re listening to – a view shared by LBTech Reviews’ Geir Nordby, who exclaimed that they were fantastic music communicators.

Why you should buy it

The 705 Signature demonstrates everything Bowers & Wilkins excels at, with an accurate and detailed performance wrapped in attractive, well-made cabinets. The difference is that it’s now more fun than ever before. 

Video review

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