History of Bowers & Wilkins

The 1970s was a decade of major milestones for Bowers & Wilkins. It was the decade that saw the company use Kevlar as a cone material for the very first time. And it culminated in the launch of the 801, which soon became the reference speaker in nearly all of the world’s classical recording studios, including EMI Abbey Road, Decca and Deutsche Grammophon.


1970: DM70

Without the DM70, Bowers’ dream of the perfect loudspeaker might have remained a head-in-the-clouds fantasy. Critics agreed with Bowers & Wilkins’ engineers that the sound from its 11-module, electrostatic midrange/high-frequency unit was a revelation. With its cool, curved slimline cabinet, the DM70 changed the shape of loudspeaker design for ever.


1974: Kevlar

Trials of driver cone materials revealed that Kevlar®, a fabric used in bulletproof vests, could break up standing waves as efficiently as it stopped bullets. The ochre yellow Kevlar midrange cone was to become a Bowers & Wilkins patent and a hallmark of the natural sound of its speakers.

Kenneth Grange

1975: Kenneth Grange

Bowers & Wilkins appoints Kenneth Grange, founding partner of Pentagram and one of the UK’s leading designers, to work on the design of its loudspeaker cabinets. The relationship produced some outstanding loudspeakers, right up to and including the Signature Diamond in 2005.


1976: DM6

Kevlar® cones first see the light of day in the legendary DM6. Designed by Kenneth Grange, the DM6 was affectionately known as the ‘pregnant penguin’.


1977: DM7

The DM7 marked a radical step by liberating the tweeter from the main cabinet, which set high frequencies free and created what was Bowers & Wilkins’ most lifelike sound so far. A greatly refined version of ‘Tweeter on Top’ technology continues in the current Bowers & Wilkins speaker range.


1979: 801

The original 801 heralded the modern era of high-end speaker design. Superior drive units isolated in separate chambers produced sound of unheard-of-realism and made the 801 a fixture in top studios and audiophiles’ homes – a tradition upheld by later 800 Series loudspeakers.

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