Bowers & Wilkins 702 Signature Speaker Review
As one of the representative brands of contemporary “British sound, ” B&W has been praised by audio and video enthusiasts worldwide for its unique style, recording-like precision, and highly infectious restoration effect.
The B&W 702 Signature floor-standing speaker, with its affordable price and CM series pedigree of comprehensive integration, has surpassed the entire line in terms of sound quality and is definitely a floor-standing speaker worth purchasing.
As a series of products with numerous awards and user accolades for many years, the B&W CM series is the most favored by high-end flagship technology in the entire B&W product line. Inheriting the CM pedigree, the B&W 702 S2 floor-standing speaker combines the top-notch acoustic control technology of a recording studio with the design depth of the internal and external box body, allowing the entire cabinet to blend seamlessly into the user’s daily home environment and easily presenting high-quality sound effects.
Midnight blue is a new color option for the Bowers & Wilkins 702 Signature Edition and 705 Signature Edition models. More specifically, the 702 and 705 are two special models within the 700 series because their tweeter units are external to the speaker and connected by a soft component, like the 800 series, and only they have signature editions. Therefore, the 702 and 705 are truly unique compared to other models.
In fact, every time Bowers & Wilkins releases a signature edition model, it has a special meaning. For example, the Silver Signature Edition bookshelf speaker released in 1991 was to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Bowers & Wilkins’ establishment in 1966.
The 800 and 805 Signature Editions were released in 2001, and the Signature Diamond 40th Anniversary Edition speakers were released in 2006 to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary. The 702 and 705 Signature Editions, released in 2021, are to commemorate Bowers & Wilkins’ 55th anniversary.
The 702 Signature Edition speaker is a three-way, five-driver floor-standing speaker. The tweeter unit uses a separate design and uses a carbon membrane hemispherical tweeter. The mid-range driver of the 702 Signature Edition is the Continuum cone mid-range driver.
Although this driver uses the Continuum cone like the 805 D3/D4, it is not actually the same. The 805 D3/D4 signature edition bookshelf speaker is only a mid-bass driver, while the 702 Signature Edition is only a mid-range driver and is only responsible for mid-frequency playback. The different folds on the two can be seen from the outside. The 805 D3/D4 has a rubber edge, while the 702 Signature Edition has a foam edge.
In addition, the 702 Signature Edition uses a decoupled structure for the mid-range driver, the same as the 800 series. The method is to connect a connecting rod to the back of the bass driver and extend it backward, then connect it to a spring, which is attached to the back of the speaker. The excess vibration of the mid-range driver is transmitted to the spring through this device, allowing the spring’s elasticity to dissipate, making the mid-range sound clearer and cleaner.
In terms of bass reproduction, the 702 Signature Edition is equipped with three 165 mm diameter bass drivers at once. The bass driver’s cone uses an Aerofoil™ cone. What is a wing-string cone? If you look at the cross-section of the cone, it is clear that it is the shape of an airplane wing. This cone shape also comes from the 800 series. The cone’s thickness is different from the inside to the outside, and the cone’s back is arc-shaped. B&W has designed the bass cone in this way to ensure that the sound waves emitted by the bass driver can be spread out evenly.
The 702 Signature Edition is the same as the 705 Signature Edition from the previous comment, but it has the corresponding tuning compared to the regular version. The capacitors on the crossover use the Mundorf (Montauk) E.V.O. series, and the internal connection lines also use V.D.H.’s audiophile wires. The sound performance will be different.
The 702 Signature Edition has independent midrange units, and the sound performance in the midrange alone is significantly different. The midrange of the 702 Signature Edition sounds not only more informative but also fuller.
The Sound Performance
When listening to “O Sol Mio/My Sun” by Pavarotti singing Italian folk songs, the vocal sounds are not only fuller and more powerful, but also the sound image is obviously more significant, and there is higher clarity. It is also apparent that the 702 Signature Edition is more natural and relaxed in reproducing the midrange at high sound pressures.
It sounds less oppressive and has higher sound openness. In terms of bass performance, the 702 Signature Edition still uses 3 165mm diameter bass units, and the bass output is still very impressive. I used a NAD M28 with 200W output per channel in Bi-Amp mode (using four channels, with two channels driving one speaker) to try to squeeze the bass of the 702 Signature Edition as much as possible.
While playing “1812 Overture”. The 702 Signature Edition has a strong bass impact and is clean and fast, giving a full feeling. When playing the theme music “He’s a Pirate” from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie soundtrack, you can see with the naked eye that the bass unit is frantically making violent forward and backward movements, and the mid-bass is pushed full and energetic by the M28.
The Bowers & Wilkins 702 Signature Edition floor-standing speaker has a crisp, clean, and full-bodied sound. When listening to the Ultra Art Record company’s “Etrenne” jazz vocal album, which is newly recorded and produced, the 702 Signature Edition is very suitable for playing and feels very good. The sound is lively and full, the positioning is clear, the vocals are prominent, and the midrange and bass are also full and elastic, which is the kind of effect that makes people feel good when they start to sound.
Listen to some classic recordings. For example, Francesca d’Andrea’s “An evening of Paganini,” is a recording from the 1950s. In terms of sound quality, it is far inferior to modern recordings, but I like the virtuosity of the performance and the sense of nostalgia in the old recording.
From the perspective of listening, this old recording is warm and flavorful on antique audio equipment. On the B&W 702 signature version, in addition to the difference in timbre, the 702 s shows that the classic recording of the violin sound is powerful, with a fresh and cheerful atmosphere. In addition, the 702 s gives me a sense of high sound perspective and clarity, so I can also clearly hear the sound details outside of the music on the 702 signature version. For example, some of the inherent noise in the recording or some unintentional sounds caused by other factors in the concert hall can be clearly and transparently reflected in the 702 signature version.
The Bowers & Wilkins 702 Signature Edition features many design elements of the 800 flagship series, including an external tweeter, a Continuum cone midrange driver, an Aerofoil cone bass driver, and optimized crossover and internal wiring. These features give the 702 Signature Edition superior sound reproduction compared to other speakers in the 700 series. If you have a budget, the Bowers & Wilkins 702 Signature Edition floor-standing speaker is your best choice.