Subwoofers and hi-fi music reproduction are not immediately two things we would combine. With movie reproduction? Sure. But music? Nah… Still, Bowers & Wilkins believes their new ‘DB Series’ is ideally suited. We only believe something when we can experience it ourselves. In short: bring on the subwoofer. We unpack the Bowers & Wilkins DB3D at home to combine it with the DALI Epicon 2s.
Adding a subwoofer to a system seems very simple: you place the subwoofer somewhere in the room, connect a cable to the preamp, and turn the volume up a bit until it seems to sound nice. Simple, right? Well… unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
A subwoofer must match the main speakers in many ways. Think coloration, energy and speed. Especially the last one. In addition, placement of a subwoofer can be (is) very difficult. It is best to place the subwoofer between the two front speakers. That way the timing is the same which causes less smearing and the whole sounds a lot tighter. After that it is wise to measure the volume, so that least set the levels are right. In many cases a subwoofer is set too loud. That can be your taste, but ideally a subwoofer is audible only when it should be; the rest of the time it is silent to give space to the rest of the sound pallet.
So measurement is knowledge (as we Dutch people tend to say). Also when installing a subwoofer. And that provides a bridge to an important point: adjustability. Either the pre-amp or processor must be able to control the subwoofer, or the subwoofer itself must offer these possibilities. We’re talking about at least:
But even better is that you can choose the type of input (high power input, LFE, ‘just analog’) and even correct certain room modes. Think of a notch filter on a particular resonance in the listening room. Advanced models allow for all of that, which is very nice, since only a handful of pre-amps offer the option of pairing a subwoofer. In most cases, these are home theater pre-amps/processors. In the stereo field, it’s really rare.
The Bowers & Wilkins DB3D allows you to adjust all the important things through the app. If you have an iPhone / iOS device, you can also take an acoustic measurement through the app itself. That’s certainly convenient. With Android, this is not yet offered.
This can be explained: the type of microphone differs per phone, so the app does not know what the deviation is. With Apple it is known which microphone is in use, so the app can already include the deviations at certain frequencies. And then a measurement is much more reliable.
Connecting to the subwoofer is done via Bluetooth. We experienced no problems: open the app, select the subwoofer and set it up. Since we know our room and speaker well, we can quickly make a setting that works well.
We’ve discussed all sorts of things, but not yet the subwoofer itself; hardware-wise, that is. We’re talking about the entry-level model of Bowers & Wilkins’ top line. Right: there are two more larger models. The Bowers & Wilkins DB3D costs 2500 euros and is made to work with Bowers & Wilkins’ CI line and, for example, speakers like the 805 series and 705. The higher-end lines.
Internally, Bowers & Wilkins has incorporated a 1000 watt Class D amplifier driving two woofers: Aerofoils with a diameter of 20 cm. (8 inches, in other words). These are configured to cancel out each others resonances. This is done more often with subwoofers.
The range of the Bowers & Wilkins DB3D is simply impressive: 10 Hz – 350 Hz at -3dB. How they did that is beyond us. 10 Hz from such a small subwoofer is…. almost magic. (The dimensions are 36 x 32 x 30 (h x w x d) and 25Kg on the scale) But anyway: they did it. And we have the feeling that this small box really can do that: TRON is a film with an impressive soundtrack and special effects. In our cinema in the office where a big Bryston sub with 3 x 10 inches handles the bass, that film really an experience. With this Bowers & Wilkins DB3D it is certainly achievable. Impressive. But before we talk about the performance … here’s the test setup.
Price and availability:
The Bowers & Wilkins DB3D is available for a price of €2,449.