Sign in to follow this  
JANDL100

John Bowers Active One speakers

Recommended Posts

After my recent cataclysmically disasterous venture with a pair of ProAc Future Point Five speakers I was keeping a little more reticent about my new babies, but some folks are expressing interest so I thought I'd give some info.

Well, here they are looking quite formidable in 80s-tastic black ash....

DSCF3814.jpg

I bought them on eBay - went to collect them and when I got home one of the tweeters was way down in level ....:(.... it took a few weeks to source a replacement (and some spares), my first replacement tweeter was DOA :cs:so they seem a bit fragile - but all is now fine and they are singing most impressively.

These come from the mid-80s (when men were real men, and speakers were real speakers ;)) and cost then £1300. Perhaps £5-6k in today's money?

Only 86cm high on their dedicated stands but weigh in at a hefty 30Kg.

There's a few reviews on AudioReview HEREand HERE is a spec from the B&W archive (click on the archive link).

A 1983 review in Gramophone compared them favourably with the then new Quad 63, so that gives some idea of the levels of detail, neutrality and transparency on offer. Of course, these have dynamics, bassand sound pressure levels that the Quads can't even dream about!

These are my first ever fully active speakers, 300W a side, and I must say that I am hugely impressed. Very nicely transparent and detailed, but backed by a really solid presence and punch. Soundstaging/imaging are near the top of my priorities and these guys deliver that too.

Quite possibly the best speakers I have owned, and much more cumfy in my room than the now-departed ProAc Futures.

The only downside is that my lovely pairs of NVA solid state and valve OTL monoblocks are currently surplus to requirements. :? Still, they look pretty whilst they wait for the Actives to be superceded in my affections. :cool:

... Yes, of course I am on the lookout for new speakers, but they are going to have to be fairly special to give the Bowers Active Ones the old heave-ho! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They look like they may share some drive units with a pair of B&W DM14 I used to own, albeit in a slightly bigger cabinet to accommodate the amps. The DM14s always needed some drive to get them to work well but I expect 300w a side would do nicely.

Enjoy them while you have them, Jerry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for that insight Jerry, they do look formidable :^

How were the ProAc Futures a 'cataclysmically disasterous venture'? You didn't blow them up did you? :D

PS. I believe chris' Herons are worth a try - they're fantastic speakers and don't come around very often.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest murray johnson

JANDL100 wrote:

These come from the mid-80s (when men were real men, and speakers were real speakers ;))

Given the late Mr Bower's 'tastes' that's quite an amusingcomment.

How do you feel these compare to the more modern versions of this kind of thing ie ATC's etc?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HectorHughMunro wrote:

Those stands can't be helping. Are those Castors?

Actually, the stands are fine ;)a really solid metal mesh - they need to be 'open' as the speakers have a downward-firing port.

& no, those aren't castors! - they are RDC1 cones that I attached to the base. A trio of cones provides optimum stable support (of course) and also raises the speakers a bit so the tweets are at ear level.

Ah - OK - looking at the photo - the blob in the middle is a cone that does the supporting - the blobs at the sides are Hillman Imp springs that I have been experimenting with for 'compliant support' - they don't work very well imo, and are not in a supporting role now.

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

murray johnson wrote:

JANDL100 wrote:
These come from the mid-80s (when men were real men, and speakers were real speakers ;))

Given the late Mr Bower's 'tastes' that's quite an amusingcomment.

How do you feel these compare to the more modern versions of this kind of thing ie ATC's etc?

:D.. ah well, I wouldn't know about that sort of thing, guv ..... assuming you are alluding to some sexual proclivity or tendency ;)... of course, we are all far more open minded now. :pride:

I must confess that I am not a great fan of ATC speakers in general, I've always found them a bit 'grey' sounding and lacking in tonal colour - to me they seem to focus on the detail to the detriment of the music. I'd certainly not accuse the Bowers Actives of that.

& as I say, I've not had fully active speakers before (had some active bass Avantgarde Uno horn hybrids) but it certainly seems a technology worth investigating even further, based on my experience here.

______

I've just paired the speakers up with my 'new' EAR 802 valve pre-amp - it arrived yesterday - zounds - BGT -Big Grin Time. :D Absolutely fantastic!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TIU wrote:

How were the ProAc Futures a 'cataclysmically disasterous venture'? You didn't blow them up did you? :D

There's a review thread HERE, Gary. I started off loving them - which was nice after forking out 1500 quid! - that lasted a few days, then the doubts started creeping in .... :(

PS. I believe chris' Herons are worth a try - they're fantastic speakers and don't come around very often.

Yup, I must admit I am tempted. But 1) they are very heavy - 90lb - ooh, me back:dunno:2) they are probably not compatible with my OTL valve amps, and I think my 'next' speakers will have to be - the amps are just too good to be sitting idle for too long,and 3) I'm really loving the Bowers Actives!

But yes, I'm really tempted to take my amps round to Chris's to try them and see if they do work OK!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JANDL100 wrote:

TIU wrote:

How were the ProAc Futures a 'cataclysmically disasterous venture'? You didn't blow them up did you? :D

There's a review thread HERE, Gary.  I started off loving them - which was nice after forking out 1500 quid! - that lasted a few days, then the doubts started creeping in .... :(

PS. I believe chris' Herons are worth a try - they're fantastic speakers and don't come around very often.

Yup, I must admit I am tempted.   But 1) they are very heavy - 90lb - ooh, me back :dunno:  2) they are probably not compatible with my OTL valve amps, and I think my 'next' speakers will have to be - the amps are just too good to be sitting idle for too long, and 3) I'm really loving the Bowers Actives!

But yes, I'm really tempted to take my amps round to Chris's to try them and see if they do work OK!

Thanks Jerry.

'proclivity' - a new word for me - I had to look it up. :^

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TIU wrote:

'proclivity' - a new word for me - I had to look it up. :^

A walking dictionary, that's me! ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Alex A

complin wrote:

Perhaps you should consider a pair of the original B&W Naitilus active. Fantastic to look at if you like modern designs, with sound quality to match. I think they cost £25K a pair though when the were produced!!

AFAIK they were never actively driven, but do require four channels of off board amplification per speaker, that has to be supplied additionally. The Crossover unit sits between pre and power amps. So I suppose active in the Naim sense, but not active in the same sense that these John Bowers speakers are where amplification is built into/supplied with the speaker.

They have never stopped producing them since launch in 1995, and the price remained £25k until last year when they finally upped it to £35k per pair. I believe they have continuously improved the driver designs in line with technological developments in the 800 series, but I don't know if they do a diamond tweeter version. They're very exclusive and B&W are almost completely quiet about availability and developments. But apparently they are actually selling better than ever, despite never being intended as a commercial prospect in themselves, rather an iconic flagship to feed sales downstream in the range.

Never seen a pair for sale SH though - I don't think they're the kind of thing people let go. So you're looking at a fair whack.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I own and listen to what may be daddies of active speakers in the UK,Meridian M20's. Active speakers have a lot of possibilities that passive speakers don't. For instance, the crossovers are before the amps rather than after so the amps are running directly to the drivers. The amps can be driver specific. The M20's, possibly Jerry's speakers, have a millisecond or something delay worked onto the crossover so the mid/bass drivers can catch up foruniform dispersion in time. I sure am glad I never got rid of them. They marry my current room madly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.