Skip to main content

Bowers & Wilkins will design the sounds of the future in a massive new lab

Les Shu/Digital Trends

British audio giant Bowers & Wilkins has spent the past five decades designing cutting-edge audio products, and making big leaps in sound by investing a significant portion of earnings into its world-renowned research and development arm.

The company is doubling down on that long-term mission, announcing the opening of a brand-new, 30,000 square-foot research facility that will be called Southwater Research and Engineering. The new location is in Southwater, in the U.K., but the real reason behind keeping the SRE acronym is as an homage to the company’s previous R&D home, the Steyning Research Institute.

Bowers & Wilkins was purchased by California-based company EVA Automation in 2016 for an undisclosed sum, and the purchase has seen an increase in technological innovation from the company. A major reason for the new research facility is that the company has increased its research and development staff by 40 percent in recent years. Such an increase meant cramped quarters in the old facility.

“[Steyning] is near and dear to our heart because there’s so much that has come out of that facility. It’s part of our DNA and our fabric.” said Bowers & Wilkins’ Chief Revenue Officer Richard Campbell in an interview with Digital Trends, “We as a company continue to invest in developing technology and innovation that we need to create to be at the forefront of this category, and lo and behold, we’ve run out of space.”

The new digs more than double the amount of physical space that researchers had to work with at Steyning, providing multiple anechoic chambers, an increase in the number of audio testing rooms, and dedicated automotive and headphone labs. To maintain continuity between new and old, the company will actually build a perfect replica of founder John Bowers’ original listening room, which they will use to maintain the same sound signature that has kept the company at the pinnacle of the high-end loudspeaker market since it was first founded in 1966.

While every Bowers & Wilkins product on store shelves was in some way developed at its research facility, notable innovations from the company include the diamond tweeter, the continuum and aerofoil cones, and the gorgeous Nautilus speakers.

“We don’t want to lose that history and legacy”, said Campbell, “We want to make sure we are able to carry forward the same type of award-winning products that we’ve been developing in our existing facility.”

We have little doubt the company will continue on a positive path toward compelling new audio gear. We’ve always had excellent experiences with Bowers & Wilkins’ speakers and headphones, and are excited to see what the company comes up with in this new space. If it’s anything like the past half-century, there should be a lot of fantastic new technology that will be music to our ears.

Editors' Recommendations

Parker Hall
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Parker Hall is a writer and musician from Portland, OR. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin…
Bowers & Wilkins' new P3 Series 2 headphones bring updated sound, refined look
bowers wilkins p3 series 2 announced 1

IFA might be all but wrapped up at this point, but that doesn't mean companies are done announcing new products. Bowers & Wilkins is following up on last week's announcement of the P7 Wireless with another update of a well-loved product.

The new and improved P3 Series 2 headphones retain much of what listeners loved about the award-winning P3 by keeping things light and portable. The Series 2 adds a black leather finish that should fit quite well with the rest of the materials used in the crafting of the headphones, including aluminum and sheep leather, which are also found in the company's P7 series. A hard shell carrying case is included to keep the headphones protected while you're on the go.

Read more
Bowers & Wilkins acquired by ex-Facebook CTO's home automation startup
bowers and wilkins acquired by eva automation 800 series

Bowers & Wilkins has been in the audio business a long time -- the company was founded in 1966. Normally, when one company acquires another, it's the well-established giant buying the plucky young startup, but every once in a while it's the other way around.

Today a startup most people haven't ever heard of, EVA Automation, announced that it had acquired Bowers & Wilkins. While the company name may not ring a bell, you may have heard of its founder, ex-Facebook chief technology officer and current San Francisco 49ers owner Gideon Yu.

Read more
The Zeppelin Wireless lives up to its lofty look with the sound B&W always wanted
hands on bowers wilkins announces zeppelin wireless image gallery 12

As Bowers & Wilkins approaches its 50-year anniversary, it seems to think now is the time to do some revamping. In September, the company unveiled its new 800 Diamond Series 3 flagship speakers, which were completely reengineered from top to bottom. And now, in the “low end,” B&W has given the same treatment to its Zeppelin tabletop speaker series. The new Zeppelin Wireless ($699) retains its familiar namesake shape, but inside are completely redesigned components to deliver even better sound than before.

If the Zeppelin Air is the best iPod dock speaker on the market, then the Zeppelin Wireless could be the best Bluetooth speaker.
In the luxury goods market, calling something entry-level is a bit misleading. Yes, you could classify the Mercedes C-class and BMW 3-series as “affordable” luxury cars, but that doesn’t put them in the same space as an entry-level Kia, for example. The same analogy could be applied to the Zeppelin: In the B&W ecosystem, the Zeppelin is downright cheap in price when compared to the new 800 DS3, which starts at $4,000. But the Zeppelin Wireless is a premium product throughout, and B&W hasn’t watered down the product in order to achieve a sub-$1K price point. Rather, it’s improved it.

Read more