Sound Advice: Bowers & Wilkins’ Nautilus


Daring in design, Bowers & Wilkins’ Nautilus is a loudspeaker that looks to break the sound barrier in more than one way. From the moment it was made, the Nautilus forever broadened and changed our sense of what a speaker can be. Shaped like an extraterrestrial seashell at high speed, the four-way tube-loaded loudspeaker stands just under four feet. The unique active crossover design of the speaker allows each of its four drive units to operate purely within its own frequency band. In order to limit background sound turbulence, each drive unit is enclosed in a specially designed tapering tube that channels and absorbs rear sound waves until they virtually disappear. In the creation of the Nautilus, B&W pioneered a patented method of using Kevlar for the loudspeaker cones to reduce unwanted standing waves in the diaphragm. A pair of these crème de la crème loudspeakers runs a mere $40,000 per pair, but that’s before you add on each speaker’s required four power amplifiers (one for each driver). B&W recommends a combination of Omega and Omicron power amps, made by their sister company Classé, costing $104,000 for two speakers, coming to a total of $144,000 for out-of-this-world sound.

La Sphére is the Heavyweight Champion when it comes to loudspeakers. French manufacturer Cabasse built a speaker that could take a punch. Weighing in at 220 pounds and 4.5 feet tall, La Sphére has a solid build from the ground up. Its stand was built to position the tweeter at optimal height while ensuring uncompromising stability even at the lowest of frequencies. The spherical shape of the woofer’s loading cabinet gives the speaker its inherent rigidity. This avoids any unwanted noises or fuzzy imaging. La Sphére employs an outstanding digital sound processor that uses digital delays from all the acoustic centers of the coaxial units focusing into a single point. Whatever the listening distance is, the listener gets the full spectrum of sound. A pair of La Sphére loudspeakers retail for $140,000, which includes a four-way digital crossover/DSP equalizer system and the custom calibration of the system to the particular room it will be located in. La Sphére is a loudspeaker that can bruise ears or sound small when the music demands it.