Since its unveiling a couple of years back, Bowers & Wilkins stunningly slim XT Series loudspeakers have proven an ongoing hit among consumers as sensitive to style as to sound. Nevertheless, at the British company acknowledged worldwide as a leader in high-performance loudspeakers, continuous refinement and ongoing development are a way of life, so the XT Series now receives an updated cornerstone model.
B&W's new XT 8 supersedes the XT 4, with which it is superficially identical: a slim, smooth, contemporarily styled mid-sized tower speaker with the unmistakable B&W Nautilus tweeter "pod" at the top. Under the gleaming skin, however, the XT 8 is substantially refined. A re-engineered midrange utilizes B&W's proprietary FST (fixed-suspension transducer) technology to deliver demonstrably (and measurably) greater mid-frequency accuracy, thanks to FST's near eradication of the standing-wave resonances that trouble nearly all conventional cone drivers. A crossover network realigned to optimize the FST mid's abilities completes the picture, contributing to a sonic payoff of clearly audible gains in transparency, imaging precision and depth, and articulation of subtle sonic details.
The XT 8 retains the Nautilus tweeter of it predecessor. This metal-dome, high-frequency driver combines through its newly refined low-order crossover to take full advantage of the XT 8's improved FST midrange, while its Nautilus tapered-tube enclosure virtually eliminates the back-side internal resonances that subtly limit the resolution of conventional high-frequency designs. Additionally, B&W's smoothly tapered "top-pod" location helps prevent acoustic diffractions that induce time-domain "smearing" effects. In short, this extensively proven layout contributes the XT 8's extremely smooth yet extended, arrestingly transparent top end and three-dimensional sense of space.
Also retained from the XT 4 are the new model's twin 5-inch woofers. These utilize B&W's trademark paper/Kevlarô composite to ensure quick, clear bass and impressive low-frequency transient power, with unexpected bottom-octave extension (34 Hz) from so dramatically slim a speaker. The XT 8's available finish options are similarly unchanged: Satin brushed aluminum or gloss black aluminum exteriors of superb quality are set off by slim black grilles to effect a quiet elegance.
B&W's new XT 8 will become available in the first quarter of 2009, at a manufacturer's suggested price of $3,500/pair.