Unboxing our brand new Bowers & Wilkins 802 D3 Prestige loudspeakers. Live from Portland, Oregon!
The Bowers & Wilkins 802 D3 Prestige is a just-released special edition of the 802 D3 featuring a Santos Rosewood finish. These unboxing photos were taken in Pearl Audio's big sound room.
1. First we gotta get to them - they're the big crates in the back.
2. Removing the outer straps from the 802 D3 crates. No tape was used in cardboard packaging, making is easily re-usable over the long term.
3. Bowers & Wilkins 802 D3 Prestige Crate - the top removed showing manuals and accessories box. Unlike most speakers there are no spikes in the accessories box - the 802 D3 spikes are permanently mounted under the speaker base adjacent to the built-in wheels. The spikes are retracted into the plinth in shipping, so the plinth is on wheels inside the packaging.
4. We are going to just pull this whole rectangular cardboard sleeve straight up.
5. Cardboard sleeve off, revealing the 802 D3 with heavily engineered foam packaging sandwiching the speaker from above and below forming a suspension cradle and protecting it. See how the cradle supports the heavy Turbine Head and tweeter enclosure? This picture says a lot about the level of engineering that goes into a product like the 802 D3.
6. Showing the two top and bottom foam pieces. The lower piece is very thick and built to cushion the weight of the 802 D3 in transit. You can also see the stepped edge which fits the rectangular cardboard sleeve. These two foam pieces form a top/bottom suspension to cradle the speaker while the cardboard sides protects from lighter scrapes and holds the package together.
Note slightly flexible crush-zone rib struts - just like a skeleton. The aluminum Turbine Head and tweeter enclosure are both quite heavy so having this much support is vital.
6. Closeup of the cloth and aluminum tweeter enclosure protector. A Massive foam protector covering the 802 D3's turbine head and tweeter is on top. A flexible yoke below the Turbine Head shows good reusable packaging.
8. Here is the 802 D3 Prestige with cloth wrap. The cloth keeps the deep gloss finish perfect in transit, avoiding any rubbing marks. We've seen many used speakers over the years with rub marks in the gloss because they were not repackaged with proper cloth like this. Note how the cloth and U-shaped brace form fit the cloth without using tape.
9. Front of B&W 802 Prestige showing cardboard box holding grills. The box is cleverly doing something else very important - it's acting as a protector and front lateral stabilizer for the very heavy 802 D3 woofers and the heavy speaker front. The 802 has a hidden metal woofer skeleton attaching the woofers to the internal wooden matrix bracing. This allows the woofers to extend a bit further forward in the cabinet and further reduce front baffle diffraction.
10. Rear view of cloth covered 802 D3 - note the lower foam rear panel which braces the heavy aluminum rear panel and protects the speaker binding posts.
11. Pulling the cloth down on the tweeter and Turbine Head. The Turbine Head is machined from a solid billet of aluminum and very heavy. The MDF plinth on the previous 802 D2 was replaced by a new aluminum plinth on the 802 D3 to provide structural strength and to act as a counterbalance to the heavy aluminum Turbine Head. The previous 802 D2 Turbine Head was made of lighter weight Marlon composite compound.
12. The B&W 802 D3's heavy aluminum Turbine Head is actually on a suspension to decouple it vibrationally from the main body. For shipping imagine perching three bowling balls on top of some rubber / springs: a lot can go wrong. Transit lock bolts shown here lock the turbine head to the massive machined aluminum rear panel to keep the speaker safe from being damaged in the jostling of transit. Coincidentally the 802 D3's crossover is now mounted to this thick rear aluminum panel which acts as a heat sink. The crossover was in the MDF Plinth on the previous 802 D2.
13. The lower foam pedestal of the 802 D3 showing a clever and beloved speaker installation feature - the ramp. Just lift and remove the puzzle-piece style interlocked rear foam section and attach the panel with interlocking pieces to make a little ramp.
14. Here Pearl Audio's Russ is grabbing the speaker to start rolling it down the ramp. Thankfully, Pearl Audio's Connor remembered to wear his blue suede shoes for the unboxing. Connor is staying close to catch the top of the speaker should anything go amiss.
15. Russ rolling the speaker down the ramp - it's shipped with the hidden plinth wheels down. To a stereo store person who has unloaded many big speakers where "now gently lift 200 lb speaker out of the wooden crate" is one of the instructions, this is magic.
Look at the front of the 802 D3 speaker - the edge of the lower woofer. See how far the metal woofer enclosure can come forward of the rounded cabinet? This gives the speaker much less baffle diffraction, so sonically the 802 D3 disappears in the room, which gives more lifelike sound. Speaker designers have known this for many years, but B&W figured out how to optimize it with internal structural engineering and lovely visual design.
16. The 802 D3 has landed!
Having the speakers on wheels and rolling down a ramped pedestal is easy and safe for a single person, a remarkable achievement for a speaker of its size and weight!
17. At this point the 802 D3 can just roll around on its built in wheels - when we place it in a spot we like, we just reach under the plinth and unscrew the wingnut-driven built-in spikes. The wheels stay on the speaker, so you can always retract the spikes for cleaning or repositioning.
In fact, Russ rolled our new 802 D3s into Pearl Audio's front room to show it off a bit and take pictures of the beautiful Prestige Santos Rosewood finish in the sunlight. Here's a teaser from Russ's photo shoot of the 802 D3 Prestige with our McIntosh MA9000 integrated amplifier in the background - more to come.
As a person who's moved and installed countless heavy crated speakers over the last 20 years, I cannot speak highly enough of B&W's brilliant and well thought out packaging design. I often say I can tell a lot about a company by the packaging they use - the long-term quality, reusability, engineering, environmentalism, and thoughtfulness over lifetime ownership that goes into it, and Bowers & Wilkins just earned an easy A+.
Here's just one more photo - with the family.
Shown are B&W 802 D3, 804 D3, 805 D3 and McIntosh MA9000.
-John, Russ, Connor & Tara.