When it comes to audio equipment, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) is established as a notable brand. Their speakers are made specially: not only do they give out quality sound, but they are also constructed in innovative designs.
And if you’ve been wondering where these masterpieces are made, you are at the right place. Bowers & Wilkins definitely has a British heritage, but a lot has changed since the brand’s inception in 1966. In this blog, we will fact-check the manufacturing locations of B&W speakers and the impact this has on their quality.
Where are Bowers & Wilkins Speakers made?
Bowers & Wilkins are either made in England or China, depending on which series it is. Initially, like many of its British counterparts, all B&W speakers were entirely produced in the UK before spreading out to China.
It’s important to mention that, up to now, all Bowers & Wilkins speakers have their research, design, and engineering conducted in Worthing, West Sussex, UK. Also, some specialist items that are made in China have a quality level that can’t be found in the UK.
Inside the Bowers & Wilkins factory
For several decades, almost 60 years now, Bowers & Wilkins has proudly maintained its primary manufacturing facilities in their Worthing factory on the south coast of England, with cutting-edge technology and machines that put them on the radar until today.
Of the whole of B&W’s production processes, one of the things that stand out is their unique cabinet-making. It will surprise you that the tough cabinets of their speakers are made from thin, flexible sheets of beech wood. Multiple layers of the sheets are arranged in an alternating structure, glued, heated, panel-bent, and cut by a high-precision cutting machine into a sleek shape.
They have a machine called “the spreader” used essentially to keep the cabinet apart so the components can be placed inside. The cabinet is then transferred to a designated chamber, where it will remain for some hours.
Next, the cabinet is moved to the sanding area to be smoothened by both trained robots and human hands, after which it is sprayed with paint.
The B&W drivers and crossover boards are assembled by hand in Worthing. Prior to being inspected and evaluated, they are also installed and assembled by hand (without gloves) in the cabinets to prevent mechanical drops.
To keep up with delivery and demand, the B&W factory has enough space for as many as 5000 pellets. With another space of the factory just all about the making of the popular B&W Nautilus.
The original B&W factory which is a few meters away has been transformed into a number of listening rooms, for visitors to catch the sound of many of their models.
Origin of Bowlers & Wilkins Speakers in Worthing
Bowers & Wilkins began as a radio and electronics shop in Worthing, after World War II, managed by Bowers and Roy Wilkins. It was not until 1966 that Bowers launched B&W Loudspeakers Ltd. in the shop’s backyard. The next year, commercial production for P1, the first speaker from B&W, got underway.
The cabinet and filter were made by B&W, while the drivers came from EMI and Celestion. The profits earned from P1 allowed Bowers to purchase new machinery. The 1970s saw Bowers & Wilkins expand internationally, so much so that in 1973, B&W received the Queen’s Award for export, and another in 1978.
Sadly, in December 1987, John Bowers died. His legacy continued to live, however, as the Nautilus Loudspeaker was officially launched in 1993. The Nautilus till today remains the company’s flagship product.
Increasing demand led to the opening of an additional production site at Silverdale, Worthing, West Sussex in 1992. Again, in 2002, B&W relocated its production, warehousing, and headquarters to a new facility costing £7 million situated in Dale Road, Worthing.
In October 2020, Sound United LLC acquired Bowers & Wilkins; a US-based parent company that owns Polk Audio, Marantz, and Definitive Technology, amongst others
Bowlers & Wilkins Speakers are still Made in England
The B&W company makes more speakers within the native UK in quantities than hardly other companies can match. However, even more of its speakers are made in China, with the exclusion of the popular 800 series and the Nautilus. Below, we’ve classified a selection of B&W speakers wholly crafted in the UK.
- Two-way stand-mounter: 805 D4
- Three-way Floorstanding Speakers: Bowers & Wilkins center channels 801 D4, 804 D4, 803 D4 and 802 D4
- Centre Channels: HTM81 D4 and HTM82 D4
Everything below 800 models is made in China. For example, the 600 S2 Anniversary Edition range is manufactured in China, and designed and developed in their UK factory.
Are Bowlers & Wilkins Speakers Made in China? – Quality Concerns
Yes, most B&W speakers are made in China. Like many audio brands, B&W has a British heritage, but only the highest-end series maintain their manufacturing in England. Bowers and Wilkins specifically built a factory for other series in China.
However, this shouldn’t be a cause for “quality alarm” because today China is seen as “the World’s Factory.” The Asian country is home to several big audio companies including the likes of Wharfedale, Celestion, Polk, KEF, Era, LSA, Von Schweikert, and Quad – amongst others.
It’s worth noting that all Bowers & Wilkins speakers have their research, design, and engineering conducted in Worthing, West Sussex, UK. Even so, some specialist items that are made in China have a quality level that B&W can’t be found in the UK.
The quality of products also depends on the Quality Control system which at Bowlers & Wilkins is quite impressive. For instance, B&W acclaims that it changes suppliers if any issues are found with even little components such as screws which are tested separately in their testing rooms in batches.
The Philosophy of Bowers & Wilkins
The philosophy of the B&W company lies in the quote by John Bowers, the founder. He said: “If you make a better product, you will sell it.” The speaker company seems to have a consumer-oriented marketing concept.
Originally, Bowers dream to produce the “perfect” loudspeaker that’d serve listeners by delivering a replica of artists’ performances. It was his relentless drive for excellence and determination to settle for nothing less than the best has shaped Bowers & Wilkins into what it is today.
Bowers & Wilkins speakers never stopped to captivate audiophiles with exceptional sound quality and timeless designs from the heart of Worthing, Sussex, UK. And moving some production to China is something they definitely have to do to cut down cost, to offer their customers cheaper price points.