TAF2023: Bowers & Wilkins, Classé Audio, DR Acoustics

TAF2023: Bowers & Wilkins, Classé Audio, DR Acoustics


First things first; I hadn’t expected the Bowers & Wilkins / Classé Audio room to smell as good as it did! A sweet mixture of herbal and fruity scents, perhaps? I can remember only a few rooms I’ve visited at shows that enveloped both my sense of smell and of hearing. The Bowers & Wilkins and Classé people are on to something!

When I first laid eyes on the standmount Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4 Signature loudspeakers finished in California Burl gloss ($16,000/pair w/o stands), I thought they looked like works of art! The optional FS-805 stands ($1800/pair) placed the tweeter precisely at my listening height, which provided a welcome clarity and airiness to the treble range. The room was outfitted with good banner treatments and a nice thick, soft carpet that seemed to help bring a warmth to the midrange while allowing the high notes to breathe without being shrill. The bass tones were pronounced yet not overbearing, despite the room being relatively small. The 805 D4 performed with great control paired to a combo of Classé Audio Delta PRE streaming preamp ($13,999) and 300W (the first 35W are delivered in pure class-A) Delta monoblocs ($14,999), all wired with DR Acoustics cables. On music streamed from a tablet, vocals were breathy and detailed, while instruments had scale and were well anchored in space.

The Bowers & Wilkins / Classé room offered a sensorial experience — for the ears, nose, and eyes! — I won’t soon forget.

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