As televisions get thinner, there's less physical space to produce the boldest possible sound. Which is why when Philips came to making its OLED 903 TV, it paired with British audio experts Bowers & Wilkins for the best-in-the-business sound quality.
We visited the Bowers & Wilkins factory just outside of Worthing, West Sussex, to get a handle on the way in which the company's floor-standing and bookshelf speakers are produced — and how the high-end engineering of such handsome speakers is encapsulated within a television set.
Bowers & Wilkins doesn't churn out products: this company engineers and prototypes until correct; it's not a one-size-fits-all production house. Instead, the factory features many staff who work by hand to produce, polish, paint and assemble each speaker to perfection.
Take, for example, its 800 series speakers. It takes weeks to build each unit. The sheer scale of the job is huge, combining advanced computer controlled machinery — which makes construction really accurate — in combination with a serious amount of work finished by hand. Whether it's layering up the wood that makes up the casing, hand finishing the metal tweeter cones, or soldering the internal electronics, it all gets that same level of care.
It's this care and attention to detail that goes into the Philips OLED 903, too, as the speakers aren't just plucked off the shelf: they have been specifically designed, engineered and produced by Bowers & Wilkins at its factory, specifically for that television, to make the most out of its slender profile.
The British audio brand is well-known not only for speakers, but also its headphones, giving the engineering team great understanding and experience in how to make the best possible sound within a constrained space.
Bowers & Wilkins took the existing Philips 803 OLED TV set — which shares the same footprint with the 903 model — and completely re-engineered and custom designed the audio system, improving the speaker and woofer system on the back, as well as engineering the front-firing soundbar that's built-in underneath the display.
This is a TV speaker setup you'll find nowhere else — and one that sounds like nothing else too.
The results speak volumes: the OLED 903 delivers layers of quality, right across the full frequency range. There's stacks of volume, too, and the slightly protruding woofers to the rear — which you can watch mesmerisingly warble — create bass tones at lower frequencies which are akin to soundbar quality.
The Philips OLED 903 doesn't just use sound to present a dynamic picture either. The company's Ambilight technology — LED lighting behind the set on three of its sides, which you'll find from no other TV brand — 'extends' the picture beyond the frame for a more engrossing and immersive experience that's both visual and aural.
You needn't just take our word for it. Plenty are raving about the OLED 903's excellent picture and audio quality, with EISA — that's the Expert Imaging and Sound Association — handing it the award for Home Theatre TV 2018-2019.
If it's a convincing cinematic soundscape that you seek then Bowers & Wilkins expert touch on the OLED 903 makes it sound simple scintillating — without the need for extras scattered around your living room.