Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4 Signature


BOB’s Review Series - No 73 – B&W 805D4 Signature in Midnight Blue


B&W have released two speakers in their 800 D4 series classified as Signature models, the 801 and 805 and they sit at opposite ends of the 800 series in terms of size, performance, and cost. It can be difficult to keep up with the rising cost of audio equipment these days and none more so that with B&W who seem to be increasing prices more regularly than other manufacturers. When the 801 D4 Signature was first released, not that long ago it retailed at £45,000 and the 805 D4 Signature was £10,000 plus stands. Today they retail at £47,500 and £11,750 respectively, plus £1,350 for the 805 stands The non-signature standard versions of these two speakers have also increased from £32,000 to £36,000 for the 801 D4 and £7,000 to £8,750 for the 805 D4. Not long ago the older 800 D3 were around £24k. Do the significant price increases since the demise of the D3 series justify good value for money and more importantly should you be considering lashing out for the Signature versions of the 800 series D4’s? I have reviewed the 801D Signature speakers elsewhere, so this review concentrates mainly on the 805 D4 Signature. Let’s find out if they are worth the extra cash outlay over the standard model.


The only real visible change from Standard to Signature is the external finishes which now comes in just two colours, California Burl Gloss (think burr walnut and you’ll have some idea) and Midnight Blue Metallic (think not far removed from gloss black). Why do I say not far removed from gloss black, well because if you see them on their own in the averagely lit living room, you will be asking yourself are they really blue or did I buy black ones by mistake. Shine a light on them and yes, it obvious they are blue and a bit sparkly too but I guess they are called midnight blue for a reason.

All the other changes from standard to Signature are hidden away inside, except that they have apparently updated the tweeter grill to have more perforations than the standard version to let more sound through but even with them side by side I couldn’t tell the difference, it’s a subtle but worthwhile change say B&W. So externally not much to shout about by going Reference except the colour choices but internally more has changed, more so in the 801 than the 805 it has to be said, but that’s another story. They 805s use the same diamond tweeter and continuum cone mid-bass drivers as the standard units, but the mid-bass drivers have new motor system in the 805 D4 Signature and the tweeter supposedly vents into a longer tube. This must be an internal change because externally the tweeter tube housing is identical in look and length to the standard version. They do however have upgraded crossover components and a new more rigid mounting for the delicate crossover and the top plate has more fixings for better structural rigidity. Not perhaps a lot of change for the extra £3,000 asking price but as always, I find that an accumulation of lots of little tweaks usually adds up to something beyond the sum of the parts and this is the case with the 805 D4 Signatures.


I reviewed these speakers in one of our showroom demo rooms with a CD source and the following equipment:

  • Chord Electronics Ultima Integrated amplifier
  • Luxman L-507z Integrated Amplifier.
  • Roksan Blak CD Player using its balanced XLR output into the Chord and Luxman amps.
  • Chord Company Epic cables.
  • B&W 805 D4 Standard and 805 D4 Signature with matching speaker stands.


These are great standmount speakers, even at the current price that with stands is still close to a pair of 804D4 floor standers at £14,000, just £900 separates them. I found the 805 D4 Signature to be an improvement on the standard 805 D4 but not so much that owners of the standard version would feel it necessary to upgrade to the Signature version. The 801 D4 Signature however is an altogether more advanced version than the standard 801 D4 and in that case I could understand owners wanting to upgrade from one to the other. Where the 805D4 Signature excels over its standard sibling is the soundstage, seemingly offering a wider and more engaging view of the music being played. However, they can be a bit bright, so they need to be partnered with appropriate amplification to tame the brightness. It turned out that the Chord Ultima Integrated wasn’t the best match, sounding far too bright for my liking, but you may feel differently, and room acoustics may help. For me a change to the Luxman L-507z integrated amp brought immediate relief from the overly bright presentation of the 805/Chord pairing. The Luxman gave a slightly more laid back but no less detailed sound and for me this combination would lead to longer listening sessions whereas the 805/Chord combination found me reaching for the volume control sooner than normal. The Luxman still allowed the sparkle of the 805D4 Signature to shine through but in a way that would encourage longer and less fatiguing listening sessions. Altogether more listenable for my old ears.


The B&W 805 D4 Signature is a great standmount speaker that used with sympathetic amplification could be just what you are looking for. I would recommend using the dedicated B&W stands because they are designed to fit them and help get the best out of the 805 D4 Signatures. For me the 801 D4 Signature looks best in Midnight Blue and the 805 D4 Signature looks best in California Burl Gloss, come and have a look and see for yourself. The great lesson here for me, more so than in many other speaker/amp combinations, is the need to be careful what amp you use to drive the 805 D4 Signature speakers. Once carefully matched they are great to listen to. Not a great step up from the standard 805 D4 but enough to sway most new customers towards the Signature version provided the increased cost is seen as value for money and provided you don’t already own the standard version. I did think the standard version to be the more relaxing of the two and would be easier to live with long term but if you are seeking more sparkle in your life then the Signature version could be the one for you.

May 2024

Bob – Team Reference Audio