The Hot Treble on the Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature

To Diego Estan,

In your recent review of the Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature loudspeakers, you said: “But also like the 705 S2’s, the 705 Signature’s treble is a bit hot for my taste.”

Did you see the frequency-response measurements of these speakers? They’re horrible. Anyone who listens to a variety of music could not possibly live with these speakers for an extended period of time unless they have no idea what live music really sounds like.

My question is this: Why has B&W gone down this road?

United States

Hi Tony,

Yes, of course I’ve looked at the in-room measurements I made when reviewing the 705 Signature, and at our NRC anechoic chamber measurements. I have a couple of thoughts as to why B&W might be purposefully making its tweeters hot in the treble region. In other words, tipped up in level.

First, upon initial listening, it’s impressive. The extra output between 4kHz and 6kHz adds “air” around voices. On the flip side, if you listen to something with excess sibilance, it won’t sound pleasant. Second, I think it really depends on your preferred listening levels. I listen fairly loud, peaking at 90–95dB (when I listen critically—not for background music, obviously). At these volumes, the B&W treble is way too hot. But if you listen at, say, 75dB, I actually think the bumped-up treble on the 705 Signature sounds good. Fletcher-Munson curves, which relate to the perceived loudness of frequencies at differing volume levels, demonstrate a real phenomenon.

It’s actually too bad, because those 705 Signatures sound killer in every other regard.

Diego Estan