Experience with B&W Speakers blows Regan’s mind
First posted at 09:28GMT on 04/09/09 by Jonas Piet
blogpost by Tanya Palmer, August 2009
3:44pm: “That was well good!” says Regan stepping out of the show room door at Bowers and Wilkins (B&W Speakers), the giants in sound speaker manufacturing. “You can tell their stuff is good… but you have to hear their speakers to really know how great they are. That was amazing!” he trills beaming from ear to ear.
This was Regan’s immediate response to spending 3 and a ½ fantastic hours building a state-of-the-art sound speaker with the craftsmen and -women on the B&W speaker factory floor, listening to acoustic guitar in the music room and watching a speeding Daniel Craig (aka James Bond) wrecking a shiny black Aston Martin in the cinema.
11:30am: When Regan had arrived at East Worthing station full of anticipation about his new experience with B&W Speakers, he would never have guessed he’d be following in the footsteps of Madonna and Fat Boy Slim! Like these film and music greats Regan had caught the B&W Speakers bug, he wanted to own a speaker too.
12 pm: Graham, the HR Manager, greeted Regan in reception and proudly directed him towards a surreal-looking sound speaker, which could be described as a something like a cross between the star trek enterprise and a snail on steroids. The Nautilus, as it is named, sat beneath a framed company award for enterprise given by HM the Queen. It looked sleek, glossy, cool… and extremely powerful too.
[Photo of Regan and the snail]
12:20pm: Moving onto the factory floor, Regan began to share his top four questions with Graham. “Where do you get your ideas for your speakers? How did you get into making speakers? How do you make money for your business?” “Can I make a speaker please?” The host responded carefully to each of his requests including a fifth which was to ‘have fun’ on his experience with the B&W Speakers team.
12: 35pm: Armed with questions and snaking their way across the brightly-lit building, it soon became clear this was no ordinary factory, and as such would be no ordinary experience for Regan. Like the men and women in their blue jumpsuits, Regan would soon find himself helping to craft a beautiful work of ‘sound speaker’ art.
1:15pm: As Regan watched drills dangling on cables fall from the sky and computer screens flicker the letters P.A.S.S. as diamond-encrusted speaker discs rolled on by, his excitement intensified. And responding to this, Graham handed him over to Jenny, the trainer!
1:50pm: Regan donned a dark-blue B&W branded apron and got stuck into fixing a speaker disc into a wooden sound box while Jenny worked with him and watched on, gently giving him instructions and encouragement. Some 30 minutes later, with a screwdriver in hand, Regan watched proudly as the computer declared his speaker a P.A.S.S. Smiling into the camera with Jenny and his musical creation sitting by his side, he announced that he would do that experience all over again. Even then, Regan had no clue that the best was yet to come!
2:20pm: “Here you go,” said Graham handing over a goodie bag with CDs, a T-shirt, mug, brochures and so on… “I’ll walk you over to the showroom for the next bit of the tour.” En route Graham explained how female factory workers during World War I had influenced modern manufacturing.
2:35pm: “Hello, I’m Steve, the training manager. I’m going to show you some of our speakers and you can hear the quality of sound for yourself”. Leading us into a darkened-room filled with a range of top-class equipment from the ‘Zeppelin’, a large ruby ball-shaped iPod speaker through to a chrome funnel-like stereo, (something well-suited to a premier league footballer’s car), Steve explained the inspiration behind their unique futuristic designs.
2:55pm: Seated in the centre of a cream sofa, the exact sweet spot in the music room, Steve flicked on a CD. “Tell me what you think” he smiled as he adjusted the volume. And as the guitarist plucked the strings, it seemed as if he/she were in the room with us. “Wow!” Regan commented, “It was like they were right behind the curtains!”
3:15pm: Now it was movie time! Watching Bruce Willis flying through a tunnel limbs flaying, his body narrowly missing a car, the sound of the explosion filled the room leaving us struck dumb.
3:30pm: “This cinema system costs about 250,000 pounds. We sell a lot to owners of super yachts (though you can get fantastic sound for around 6,000 pounds).” As James Bond fled the baddies in his glossy black sports car, bullets ricocheting from every part of the bodywork, I couldn’t help but think I had been spoiled. There was no looking back now. I wanted a Bowers & Wilkins cinema sound system too.
3:45: Leaving the showroom, Regan turned to me and added, “I am really excited. I want to build a system for my scooter.” And so enthused was he that he decided there and then to send the Bowers and Wilkins team a thank you letter. Afterall “they didn’t have to give me their time… That was well good!”
Regan’s experience had clearly left him inspired and full of ideas for how he could use his experience in the future. He wanted more!