Wednesday , April 21 2021

Bowers and Wilkins, and the lost art of hi-fi manuals

Who needs instructions for speakers? I mean, how hard is that? Remove from the box, connect the cables, bingo. Oh, but there's Bowers and Wilkins. Do not read too much the owner's manual of a B & W while you have a cup of coffee.

John Bowers and Roy Wilkins were army comrades during World War II, and when the difficulties arrived, they opened a radio store in Worthing, just off Brighton, on the south coast of England. They first became concerned about the speakers when they did public address work for schools and churches and the first B & W business speaker came in 1967. In a country famous for producing good speakers, B & W is now an icon.

The B & W 606 are good for the money and have great instruction manuals.

The B & W 606 are good for the money and have great instruction manuals.

John Bowers was a picky gentleman and although he's been dead for three decades, you can still see his attention to the details. Look no further than the owner's manual, which explains in some detail why and how to position the speakers when they return to a wall. And if you do not know anything about optional bi-amplification (one amplifier for the low-range, the other for the high) or bi-cabling (one for the low range, the other for the high), the manual can start that way. It also tells you about running and cleaning.

If the bass is too strong or unbalanced, a possible solution is provided with foam plugs that can be inserted into the bass reflex port. Each pad is a donut-plus-center and can be used as a reduction tube or a complete plug. The tweeters, the manual advises, should be at ear level and the grids are such that you can invert the speakers to achieve this.

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