New Low Cost Bow­ers & Wilkins Big Sound ‘Af­ford­able Pre­mium’ 600 Speak­ers

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Brit sound Com­pany Bow­ers & Wilkins has a brand new 600 Se­ries range of speak­ers that are so pop­u­lar that they are prov­ing a big seller for re­tail­ers in Aus­tralia.

Har­ness­ing au­dio tech­nol­ogy nor­mally found in their pop­u­lar 800 Se­ries Di­a­mond speak­ers th­ese “af­ford­able pre­mium” speak­ers in­clude B&W’s pop­u­lar Con­tin­u­umä Cone midrange driver ma­te­rial, which breaks a new price bar­rier for a shelf top speaker.

The new 600 Se­ries speak­ers also ben­e­fit from an up­dated ver­sion of the com­pany’s De­cou­pled Dou­ble Dome Tweeter. Prices range from $799 per speaker, with a new range of subs run­ning from $749. So, what’s new about th­ese speak­ers, Firstly, the new speak­ers — the sixth it­er­a­tion of the com­pany’s 600 se­ries line — are ex­tremely bud­get-friendly com­pared to the brand’s other speak­ers. Sec­ond, thanks to some im­pres­sive sound tech­nol­ogy they sound bet­ter than be­fore.

The four new mod­els in­clude the flag­ship 603 floor standers, the 606 book­shelves, the more com­pact 607 book­shelves, and the HTM6 cen­tre chan­nel speaker.

The big­gest ad­vance­ment in the new line is the re­place­ment of the speak­ers’ midrange driver cones, trad­ing their sig­na­ture Kevlar con­struc­tion for cones made from B&W’s patented ma­te­rial known as “Con­tin­uum.” Con­tin­uum Cones were

first em­ployed in the com­pany’s pricey 800 Se­ries, and later made their way into the mid-range 700 Se­ries.

The name sounds like some­thing you’d find in an X-Men comic, and B&W is more se­cre­tive about its makeup than the Pen­tagon, but from what we’ve heard thus far, Con­tin­uum makes a se­ri­ous dif­fer­ence. Their re­cent roll out in Aus­tralia marks the first time it is avail­able in the com­pany’s en­trylevel speak­ers.

Other than the new midrange cones, Bow­ers & Wilkins has also up­dated the 600 Se­ries’ De­cou­pled Dome tweet­ers, adding a more pow­er­ful neodymium mag­net and repo­si­tion­ing the driver to be closer to the grill. In ad­di­tion, the brand re­placed the speak­ers’ riv­eted acous­tic screens for mag­net­i­cally at­tached screens, and swapped out the black vinyl, faux­wood­grain cab­i­net fin­ish for new matte black and satin white painted fin­ishes.

The per­for­mance was im­me­di­ately im­pres­sive, with the new speak­ers sound­ing more or­ganic, less coloured, and more ac­cu­rate, to boot.

The com­pany has also made a few ad­di­tional changes to the small­est model in the range, the 607, adding nickel plated ter­mi­nals and swap­ping the port at the front for a back­side lo­ca­tion. On top of that, the com­pany has added new pa­per­cone woofers to the flag­ship 603 floor standers. As fans of the 600 Se­ries speak­ers will note, B&W has also sim­pli­fied the 600 Se­ries model num­bers to line up with its 700 and 800 lines — es­sen­tially just drop­ping the “68” from the model num­ber — as well as drop­ping some of the line’s “less pop­u­lar” mod­els, in­clud­ing the 684 S2 floor stander, the HTm61 cen­tre chan­nel, and the DS3 sur­round satel­lite model.

You can check out the full line-up with pric­ing at the bot­tom of this post.

BET­TER SOUND FOR YOUR DOL­LARS

Af­ter get­ting some cur­sory ears-on time with the speak­ers, how­ever, we re­al­ized why B&W is so ex­cited about the new line-up. Shuf­fled into an acous­ti­cally tuned room in the brand’s USA HQ,

we were treated to an im­pres­sive demon­stra­tion that seemed to prove the brand’s Con­tin­uum tech­nol­ogy is far from just mar­ket­ing speak.

With staff on hand to swap be­tween the pre­vi­ous 600 Se­ries mod­els and their up­graded coun­ter­parts, we were able to hear the speak­ers back to back. The per­for­mance im­prove­ment was im­me­di­ately im­pres­sive, with the new speak­ers sound­ing more or­ganic, less coloured, and more ac­cu­rate, to boot.

The most ev­i­dent dif­fer­ence in our au­di­tion came from the mid­dle of the line-up in the new 606 book­shelf speak­ers. Lis­ten­ing to a gor­geous record­ing from John Lee Hooker’s Canned Heat ses­sions, the 606 in­stantly out­punched their 685 pre­de­ces­sors. The gui­tar was smoother, warmer, and more nat­u­ral sound­ing, while Hooker’s voice had more pep­per to its tone thanks to bet­ter de­tail and more eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble nu­ances.

The 600 Se­ries re­vealed smoother, more de­tailed sound and bet­ter ac­cu­racy than their pre­de­ces­sors.

We had a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence with the floor stand­ing 603 speak­ers. When com­pared to the 683 on a Bob Dy­lan track, the 603 of­fered a smoother, warmer tone to the gui­tar’s ny­lon strings, less harsh­ness and bite to the har­mon­ica, and no­tably bet­ter clar­ity from am­bi­ent sounds such as the ci­cadas at the be­gin­ning of the track.

On the next song from dead­mau5, the 603 were able to re­pro­duce a mas­sive amount of bass for just a stereo pair, to the point that we could ac­tu­ally feel the bass in the air with­out hearing a sin­gle trace of au­di­ble dis­tor­tion.

Over­all, first im­pres­sions of the 600 Se­ries re­vealed smoother, more de­tailed sound with a broader sound­stage and bet­ter ac­cu­racy than their pre­de­ces­sors. And at th­ese prices, that’s some­thing to be ex­cited about.

We’ll be get­ting more time with the lat­est from the 600 Se­ries soon, so we’ll see if our ini­tial im­pres­sions trans­late in a full re­view. For now, here’s the full line-up and pric­ing:

603 floor standers ($2,699 each): De­cou­pled Dome tweeter, FST Con­tin­uum Cone midrange driver, dual pa­per-cone woofers

606 book­shelves ($1,149 each): De­cou­pled Dome tweeter, 6.5-inch Con­tin­uum Cone midrange driver

607 book­shelves ($949 each): De­cou­pled Dome tweeter, 5-inch Con­tin­uum Cone midrange driver

HTM6 cen­tre chan­nel ($799): De­cou­pled Dome tweeter, dual 5-inch Con­tin­uum Cone midrange drivers

The line-up is also sup­ple­mented by three pre­vi­ously avail­able sub­woofers (now with match­ing fin­ishes), in­clud­ing the ASW610Xp ($1,799), the ASW610 ($999), and the ASW608 ($749).

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