The 606 S2 Anniversary Edition combines outstanding power and clarity in a compact form for when space is at a premium, but you need big sound. Continuum mid-bass drive units provide clarity for singers and driving bass lines while Decoupled Double Dome Tweeters create an enveloping sense of space. Featuring upgraded crossovers for even more transparency and a unique trim-ring to celebrate this milestone, the 606 S2 Anniversary Edition is the most sophisticated, affordable bookshelf speaker Bowers & Wilkins has ever made. The 606 S2 Anniversary Edition is the largest bookshelf speaker in the 600 Series Anniversary Edition range of products. Over the last 25 years, the 600 Series has been our most affordable performance range of loudspeakers, and we’re celebrating our love of sound with acoustic improvements to the crossover network for overall greater levels of clarity and smoother high frequencies so you can enjoy a compelling listening experience across the range of products.
1" Decoupled Double Dome Aluminum Tweeter
The dual-layer aluminium dome is driven by a neodymium magnet used in our 700 Series for smooth and clear high frequencies. The whole drive unit is isolated from the main cabinet with a decoupling rubber ring that improves clarity and imaging.
6" Continuum Mid-bass
Continuum is a proprietary woven material that blends control with flexibility. The result is breathtaking clarity and power. Hear voices, guitars and bass instruments in a whole new way.
Reduces air turbulence for clearer bass.
Remains acoustically transparent while protecting the speaker's components.
Stands Available Seperately
STAV24 S2 matches 606 S2 Anniversary
Spikes and Rubber Feet
600 Series Anniversary Edition 2-way Bookshelf Speaker w/6.5" midbass (pair)
I am a member of Best Buy’s Technical Insider Network, TIN for short. Reviewers in this invitation-only program are provided products for the purpose of writing honest, unbiased reviews.
Calibrate your system:
The listening space I used to test these speakers was calibrated for an SVS bookshelf speaker home theater system. During setup, I simply replaced the SVS Ultra bookshelf speakers with the B&W 606s. They sounded overly bright. What is the lesson here? Calibrate your system when you replace components! It will have a real impact on how your speakers sound. Most receivers today have some form of room correction calibration software built into them. Use it. It is not the silver bullet that will solve all your speaker and room acoustic issues. In my experience, it will get you 80% of the way there. The room calibration software reigned in the tweeter brightness and evened out the mid-range. Running MCACC Pro calibration software, built into my Pioneer Elite receiver, did a great job of taming the brightness of the 606s. I finished the job by reducing the treble.
To test, the speakers were 7 feet apart and toed slightly inward towards my listening position. I powered off the subwoofer, adjusted the receiver’s speaker configuration to “Small”, and set the receiver’s crossover frequency to 50Hz. This ensured that the speakers would not be treated as full range speakers. Which they are not.
How do they sound:
I auditioned several CDs: Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet”, Sturgill Simpson’s “Sound and Fury”, Meghan Trainor’s “Title”, Stix “Greatest Hits”, Loreena McKennitt’s “Live in Paris and Toronto”, and several classical music CDs. I am going to speak generally about my musical experience to help keep this review short.
I own a pair of B&W 685 S2 bookshelf speakers, an earlier iteration of the 606s, and found that the vocals were clearer and more detailed than the 685s. The most notable difference is where the 685s tweeter and woofer are well balanced, meaning the tweeter does not out volume the woofer, the 606s are forward sounding. For example, when listening to the Imperial March from Star Wars, the drums and violins fit nicely into the midrange. The trumpets were right in my face. Where the 685s would try to maintain an evenness between the woofer and the tweeter the 606s place the tweeter front and center over the woofer. Hence, why I needed to reign these in a bit with the room correction and treble control. I did get close to a more even sound but was not able to completely align the two. This is not bad. It is simply different and can be appealing depending on the content you are listening too. Slightly forward trumpets during the imperial march gave the piece more presence and power. However, before room correction and treble control, the trumpets were to much.
The 606s are detailed. I could hear the scratchiness of Loreena McKennitt’s fingers brushing past the strings during the opening piece, Prologue, from “Live in Paris and Toronto”. I could also make out some scuffing of feet and a cough. Maybe those details per present on the 685 S2 and my SVS Ultra bookshelf speakers but I have never heard them with the same level of clarity as the 606s.
The tweeters handle high pitched sounds like a champ. Dennis DeYoung’s vocals on Styx’s “Lady ‘95”, meaning this was re-recorded in 1995, sounds amazing. His vocals were clear and authoritative. The 606s handled Loreena McKennitt’s shifts from highs to lows and back again with what seemed like no effort at all. And Meghan Trainor’s song “Like I’m Gonna Loose You”, featuring John Legend, is beautiful. The vocals were clear, detailed, and without any sign that the speakers were struggling to reproducing the sound.
What about midrange and bass? The mids are just as detailed as the highs. I found a few times where the high-mids and lower highs fought for control of the sound stage. This was abundantly clear with Sturgill Simpson’s “Sound and Fury”. The album is a complicated mixture of sounds, textures, instruments, and distortion that really pushes these speakers hard. I feel that the 606’s struggled with the album. It is possible the CD transfer is garbage. I base this opinion on the fact that streaming this album over Apple Music or playing the cartoon/movie over Netflix far outshines the CD. It would not be the first time that a CD recording sound awful on quality gear. I also base this opinion on the fact that everything else I played on these speakers was pleasing to listen to.
Bass is there and completely dependent on the programming material. Meghan Trainor’s album had the most bass of any of the music I listened to. It was punchy and tight. The base will not punch you in the chest like a subwoofer. You can adjust the amount of base output by moving the speaker closer or further away from the wall. You can also use the phase plugs to reduce the amount of base output from the speakers. I left the 606 rear ports open because I felt I was getting the right amount of bass.
I used the 606s as my main left and right speakers. I used the matching 600 Anniversary Edition center channel; the B&W HTM6 S2. I have a separate review posted for the HTM6 S2 on Best Buy’s product page. The rest of the home theater gear are SVS Prime bookshelf speakers for surround channels, SVS PC-4000 subwoofer, Pioneer Elite VSX-91 A/V Receiver, and the Sony UPX-X800 4K player.
I auditioned several movies but chose to focus on the Anime Series “Star Blazers 2199.” The first seven episodes were auditioned with the surround speakers unplugged and the subwoofer powered off. My goal was to audition the B&W speakers on their own merits. I chose “Star Blazer 2199” because, unlike a triple A blockbuster movie, the soundtrack for this show is not a saturated sonic wall of excitement. The series surround soundtrack is more even, purposeful, and isolated to the scene and not always focused on driving up the drama from scene to scene to scene like a Marvel superhero does.
Star Blazers 2199 is the re-imagining of Space Battleship Yamato, known as Star Blazers in the US, from the 1980. The show focuses on earth’s last-ditch effort to save itself from a ruthless, Alexander the Great type of military society, bent on galactic conquest. How do the Human’s respond? The resurrect the mighty WWII battleship Yamato as a space battleship and charge into unknown space for high adventure and the hope for humanity’s salvation. The English soundtrack is Dolby 5.1. The animation, story, and seriousness of the show has also been updated. This series rocked my 685s last year when I acquired the series. I was not disappointed when I applied this content to the 606s.
The highs and midrange are beautifully reproduced and isolated enough throughout the scenes that it is easy to pick them out and simply enjoy them. The bass, on the other hand, really surprised me. With most popular modern music the bass is relegated to keeping the beat; thump thump thump. However, in a movie, the bass can jump out at you, build and diminish, or reverberate throughout the space. This is the sound that fills a room! A spaceship slowly enters the right side of the screen and builds up bass as it approaches. And then slowly dissipates as it leaves the left side of the screen. The audio queues are to denote the leviathan size of the ship. And it works! Firing the WWII style main cannons of our hero’s ship were explosive and satisfying. In episode three, a super weapon’s destructive power is unleashed both on screen and from the 606s! I had to check my subwoofer to make sure it was turned off. It was. The bass, for that one scene, was strong enough to be felt. Not as powerful as a dedicated sub. Powerful enough for me to take serious notice.
These speakers integrated well with my SVS PC-4000 subwoofer. Even the SVS Prime speakers sound good in a supporting roll as surround speakers. My preference, for home theater, is to use matching fronts, rears, and center from the same speaker line. In this case, I would prefer that all speakers are B&W 600 Anniversary Edition speakers. Running the MACCA Pro room correction did a good job with integration. I had to make a few manual adjustments to individual speaker volumes to get everything to meet my personal, subjective preferences. Overall, pretty good mix.
I am not going to dwell much on looks. In my opinion, these are at the top of the budget speaker category. As such, there were compromises made. B&W upgraded the tweeter, added a larger bass port to the back of the speaker, updated the midrange cone, and updated the front grill from pegs to magnets. The cabinet finish was downgrade from a nice ash black wood veneer to flat black. However, the bezel is beautiful to look at. This is the first pair of speakers that I am proud to run with the grills off. The 25th Anniversary ring, the protective tweeter grill, the silver Continuum cone, and the clean presentation are a delight to look at in my listening space. See attached photo.
These speakers are bright straight out of the box! If your primary listening preference is “live sound” then you may find the brightness appealing. I do not. But I was able to solve the issue quickly and found the results satisfying. I feel these speakers will shine as part of a small to medium sized room stereo system. They also make great home theater speakers for a small room.
Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary
Imagine entering a room and being unsure if you’re listening to real voices or instruments or recorded programming. It’s hard to fool us when human voices or recognizable instruments are involved. No “golden” ears required. When I shop for high quality AV equipment, that’s my gold standard. I don’t want to hear the equipment. I want to hear the voices and music as if they are here in my room. Bowers & Wilkins performs that “disappearing” trick in a variety of room settings, sounding very natural and real.
What should I listen to for my comparisons? The emergence of “streaming” TV series has brought with them wonderful improvements in sound quality and great sound tracks. Programs such as “Stranger Things” (80s music), “Big Little Lies”, “The Politician”, “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and many others let you enjoy both the plot and the sound. Film directors have always invested heavily into expanding your enjoyment of movies by adding realistic effects and great sound tracks. Movies like “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “Whiplash”, reaching back in time to modern classics like “Jurassic Park” beg to be played loud. For both my oversized family room and my home theater I decided that a sound bar wasn’t gonna cut it. I audition serious instruments to deliver my music and sound. The B&W 606 is serious equipment. After spending this past week listening to them, I’m betting that they will become future classics. They are quite good. For me, this means the speakers practically disappear, leaving only the performance.
SETUP: (This review is a companion to a review I did for the B&W HTM6-Anniversary series CENTER CHANNEL) I spent the day while waiting for these B&W 606 to arrive by re-setting my speaker calibration to neutral on my home theater receiver and selecting some listening material. While this review is focused on the 606 bookshelf models, I also got the companion 2-way center (3 speakers), which takes care of my “front stage” during movie watching. I made no effort to tune the speakers, other than setting them on stands, 30” from the wall behind.
[The speakers come with FOAM PLUGS so you can modify the bass port. Inserting them has the effect of smoothing out bass response, extending it to lower frequencies. Removing them increases bass output, but, depending on the room, reducing, a little bit, how deep the bass goes. Inserting them might be preferred by those looking for the most accurate musical presentation. Removing them might be preferred for watching movies.
I had my speakers pretty far out into the room, and I preferred TAKING OUT the foam plugs in these larger spaces. In the smaller bedroom, closer to the walls, I preferred leaving them IN.]
Hey, do what you like. It’s your money and these B&Ws never sounded bad.
I also removed my subwoofer from this first listening trial, so everything was playing through the B&W606. My family room is well above average in size, 11” ft ceilings, and oddly shaped. Later in my speaker audition, I moved the B&Ws to my home theater which is a converted larger bedroom. Still later I moved them again (whew) to the extra medium sized bedroom. Ultimately I used the subwoofer in each setting, and, as you might expect, left it in the mix.
Electronics used for review:
FamilyRoom: Yamaha Aventage RXA880; 100W/CH
Alternate power provided by Parasound 5125, 125+W/ch using Yamaha as preamp.
Sound sources provided by Apple 4kTV, MacBook Pro16”(2019), Panasonic DPUB820 4k BR player
TheaterRoom: Yamaha Aventage RXA2070; 140/CH
Sound sources: Apple4kTV, Oppo UDP203
My speaker stands are older, steel, 24” and heavy. The center stand is even older and modified by me. [B&W has 24” stands.] VOICING and ACCURACY: I started listening with a streaming program, Netflix’s “Politician” and then, Prime’s “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” because I wanted to hear how the B&W handled the variety of voices and those great musical scores. Listening to voices is what we do all day, every day. Our ears quickly notice when they aren’t right. With Sufjan Stevens “Chicago” playing and followed quickly by dialog it was immediately apparent …. these speakers quickly disappear. Every scene was in a different room or outdoor space and it was all easy to hear those subtle differences and the nice musical insertions. Later on Ben Platt sings Joni Mitchell’s “River” accompanied by piano. Voices were all perfectly natural. The piano was resonant, rich, deep into the bass, and all sounding real and right here. Mrs. Mazel’s visit to the Catskills, 2nd season, recreates a dance hall from the 50’s. The B&Ws reproduced that era’s speakers and sound unlike I’ve never heard before. It was very effective. [Adding the subwoofer back into the mix was very desirable in both my larger rooms to reach deeper for music and movies. I loved simply listening to music and streaming programs in the medium bedroom without the sub.]
DYNAMIC RANGE: Part of that realism comes from the truly wide dynamic range the B&Ws can cover. From soft to loud, everything was managed without any strain. All that music and dialog kept on flowing. The effect is wonderful as the sound appears detached from the speakers. Neither your eyes or ears are drawn to the boxes.They’ve disappeared. I sat and listened and watched. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” filled with overlapping dialog and a symphony of street, club and home sounds. Still natural and real. “Stranger Things” elevates everything into the eerie, explosive, with huge swings from silence to wow volume. There are also some serious rumbles. The B&Ws were always in their comfort zone, never strained or harsh. They were just fun. [This program was the first where I was reminded that a subwoofer was needed for full effect.]
POWER HANDLING: I stayed with raucous, and sampled movie scenes from “Ford v Ferrari.” Here the soundtrack is intense and dense, overlapping voices and the entire room fills with sound that again is entirely disconnected from the speakers. The B&Ws are not boxes playing voices, social effects and music. All that is everywhere in the room, but you’d be hard pressed to convince someone sitting in my room that all that is coming from the 3 boxes with wires hanging out the rear. There is magic happening. I could hear a difference when my larger amp was driving these speakers, but my smallest AVR was fine in the smaller room.
STAGING and FREQUENCY RESPONSE : How about just music? I went back to mellow, with Kacey Musgraves “Slow Burn” from a recorded live performance. She was right here in my room, which I was perfectly OK with. The accompanying musicians joined one after the other, spreading out across the sound stage, making it really easy to locate individual instruments which sounded rich and very real. Details like fingers strumming or picking strings were easy to hear. Her voice was pretty and natural. Sam Smith, next up, hits much higher octaves but stays smooth while covering a far wider dynamic presentation on “Writing on the Wall.” These speakers are detailed but not overly etched or brittle. The driving rhythm of George Ezra, relying on what sounds like a deep double bass, is delivered honestly. Much the same is Childish Gambino's "Redbone” and its emphatic bass line. These two-way (tweeter and woofer) speakers deliver bass from modern music with convincing authority, even in my large listening space. I cued up LP’s live mini-concert of Beyonce’s “Halo” from Youtube. Her voice and the mini-orchestra behind her was represented in a perfect match between every instrument I saw with every sound I recognized, seemingly live in my room.
LIMITATIONS: Adding in a subwoofer for larger rooms or watching movies (action, sci-fi, horror) is a necessity for me. And, to be perfectly honest, if these were floor-standing towers, I’d still feel the same. The B&Ws are shockingly full range with the ability to deliver up and down the frequency range. But, I’d bet many of you will share my desire for a solid, room shaking capability when watching Jurassic park, or Band of Brothers, etc. You need to move more air for that. Adding in my premium subwoofer added that much more PARTY to the party.
That’s it. These are close to perfection. The B&Ws love as much power as you can provide but my smallest AVR had no trouble getting volume out of them.
That magnetic grill needs more magnetism. I love the idea of NO visible fasteners, but it’s all too easy to knock these grills off. Fortunately, the speaker drivers hidden under the grill are beautiful. Well, techno beautiful, but you knew what I meant. This may not matter in an out-of-the-way theater room, but the family room ….? That’s your call.
SUMMARY: These Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary edition speakers will fulfill the needs of music listeners or home theater fans for years to come. I’m struggling to figure out where I want them permanently. I was thinking they’d work ideally in my home theater, but after listening to them on music, maybe I’d enjoy those many hours I listen to music in my office. Ugh. Decisions. They bring a smile to my face every time I fire’em up. Plan on leaving them to your kids well into the future. I sense a classic has been born.
Very tunable, doesn’t color the audio by default
Allow you to feel certain sounds
Magnetic mesh covers leave front clean when off
Support for bi-amp or bi-wire
Good bass for the size
Foam port plugs for tuning
MDF enclosure snubs any hint of vibration or distortion
Magnetic covers fall off easily
Need tuning to fully appreciate
Long break in period
This review is written from the perspective of a novice audiophile with experience of some high-end audio brands, but not quite the ear of a seasoned audiophile and a preference towards speakers that are slightly bright. During usage, the speakers were driven by a Yahama RX-V685 and used in combination with the B&W 600 Series Anniversary Edition center channel speaker.
The cabinets have a very understated appearance with a flat black finish. The grill covers can be left off without leaving unsightly holes as they are held on by magnets. That said, the magnets are very weak, and a gentle touch or bump can easily knock them off. Binding posts are solid metal and heavy, possibly stainless steel, and support bi-amping or bi-wiring by removing the bus bar connecting them. Stick on rubber feet are included, but not installed. Bass can be tuned using the included bass port plugs.
Hopefully if you are looking at speakers in this class, you know that placement and room acoustics can affect overall performance. Besides choosing single pair of wiring, bi-amping, or bi-wiring, a quick scan of the manual could save you from poor setup and losing performance. Besides tips on placement, a big tip missed at the beginning is that the break in period is a week at the temperature you will use them as well as 15 hours of break-in usage. If you miss this, you might too easily give up and return them. Also, much like other Bowers & Wilkens speakers it takes time to tune them to your preference. They not only respond well to tuning, they require it to fully appreciate them. Amp selection seems to have a large impact as some claim B&W can be slightly bright but combined with this Yamaha they seem to be closer to neutral.
Since the surrounds are smaller speakers, they were disconnected during testing and the B&W speakers were connected via a single wire pair. Testing was performed with the subwoofer both on and off for comparison. The receiver was tested in Auto Decode mode, Straight passthrough, and several presets. Since there was adequate space between the speakers and the wall, the foam port plugs were not used.
Starting off with music, Silent Lucidity by Queensrÿche, is a good test of sibilance and overall range in male voice. These speakers were able to faithfully reproduce Geoff Tate’s voice thankfully without overemphasizing his habit of hissing at nearly every S sound. Another good test of excessive sibilance is A New Day by Céline Dion which, thankfully, the 600 Series kept in check and as natural as the actual performance.
The Sound of Silence, sung by David Draiman of Disturbed, is different from his normal style and showcases his range of singing ability and training. You could hear the subtle sounds of him carefully controlling his breathing to minimize the sound of his breath. The tightly controlled wavering in his voice and later the carefully controlled gritty sound he makes, that if performed improperly destroys a singer’s vocal cords, is cleanly reproduced as if you are hearing him live. With an uncompressed recording of his performance, slight accidental clicks and pops produced by the mouth can be heard, which gives more of an impression of a live performance which is often missed by lesser speakers.
Switching focus to instruments, the unplugged version of Tears of Heaven sung by Eric Clapton was up next. As much as artists try to minimize guitar string scratching, it does give a more realistic feel the performance as its almost impossible to hide in a live performance. The 600 series was able to reproduce the subtle sounds of Eric Clapton moving his hands across the guitar and the strings giving a stronger sense of a live performance.
Trying out Every Day I have the Blues by BB King really showcases the soundstage. Particularly when paired with the center channel, placement is precise. If feels neither forward nor laid-back. Close your eyes and you could be forgiven for thinking you are at a live performance.
Overall, the B&Ws are very musical and has even made me reconsider my preference towards slightly bright. If there is any deficiency in the music reproduction, it would be in songs that require punchy bass, but you wouldn’t expect bookshelf speakers to handle this job. If you need this kind of bass, it is easily filled by a separate subwoofer.
Most people don’t use their speakers for just songs and if you have good speakers, so why not put them to use to make your movies more immersive. The first thing that must be mentioned is how fast these speakers can respond and provide a feeling of impact. They give a realness to the sound of a kick drum but even more surprisingly is the sense of tension in a movie. During the break-in process the family was watching a Lord of the Rings and everyone jumped when a door was slammed. Even the ones who don’t normally jump, jumped with surprise. If you think back to the sound of a door slamming and how a hard slam almost seems to register that you felt it as much as heard it. Well, these speakers, when playing at sufficient volume, can reproduce that feeling. It will be interesting to see in the future what other movies this capability can enrich. The same as with music, droning or rumbling bass sounds can easily be reproduced and fill the room but for punchy bass, you are still going to want a dedicated subwoofer. A pleasant surprise is that, while you can turn them up for greater impact and immersion, there is no need to turn them up simply to hear parts of the movie. Dialog and action are both well represented regardless of volume. No muddy dialog requiring you to turn it up to hear.
There is really too much to share in such a short space. Even if there was room, the speakers continue to get better the longer they are used. What can be said is if you are looking to explore deeper into the audiophile world B&W is a good start. Just make sure to do some research to make sure get the right wiring and amp, spend some time learning setup and tuning, and then be patient and give the break in time. If you are willing to do this, you will be rewarded with a pleasant and immersive listening experience.
I consider myself to be an Audiophile, my primary speaker system cost over $8k, and the electronics add another $5k, not counting projection stuff. So, these speakers have a lot to live up to. My primary listening room is 17x30, with the rear opening up to a 27x30 great room. So there is a lot of area to fill, not something I expected a bookshelf speaker to be up to. Given that these speakers are rated at 100 watts, I chose not to use my primary 200w amplifier, as I also have a 100w receiver as part of my set up (and another for my outdoor theater).
Upon unpacking the speakers they have a very nice, professional finish, chrome plated heavy connectors designed so they can be bi- amped. The speaker enclosures (boxes) are very solid, each weighing in at just over 10lbs. They have a large rear port, which might be a problem if you are going to use them on a "bookshelf", the speakers are 12" deep, 7.5" wide and 14" tall. They do come with foam port inserts that you would want to use if use on a bookshelf or placed close to a wall (this I considered very thoughtful, as the manufacture can't posible know where speakers will need to be placed, and placement is important, more to follow on that).
Because there is only one perfect place for a center speaker (HTM6 S2) I placed the center speaker where my (Martin Logan Cinema) was. I wanted to do some A/B comparisons, but center placement made this impossible. I initially placed the 606 S2 bookshelf adjacent to the center, about 5' apart from one another, 14" off the floor, see second photo. The allowed me to compare my primary speakers (Carver Amazing, Silver) to the Bowers & Wilkens 606's (S2). To be fair I used a db meter to get both to the same volume level. Playing pink noise through both, I could tell that the B&W didn't have low end of the Carver's (w 4x12" Woofers & 48" Ribbon 'full range' driver), but I'd always used the Carvers with a subwoofer (or 2), as filling a room the size of mine requires a sub or 2; I'm currently using a SVS 12" and a 10" Pinnacle (mounted in the fireplace, firing to the sides, on a 1" rubber pad). So I tuned the sub's in (getting db levels with subs the same) and found the LF setting that I used with the Carvers was nearly the same as as with the B&Ws. I did a little little listening, and decided the B&W's needed some breaking in, The mid-bass did not open up like I expected. Much to my wife's displeasure, I played some soundscape speaker tuning tracks. This runs a series of tones through the speakers to "break them in" or measure tones in various parts of the room. I did this for about 6 hrs, through the center and the 606's without the subs connected.
Later that night I sat back and start listening to the B&W's. Still not right, not what I expected from them. I decided that I had to place them further apart on stands. I thought the stands needed to be between 24" to 36" to get the speaker's tweeters to be the right listening height. I suspected I'd need to do this, so with some next day delivery, I had what I needed delivered. Photo 3 & 4 shows, the speakers on stands and with and without the grills. The db levels dropped slightly, as I'd moved the speakers further from a wall. Once adjusted, I know I had my fair comparison set up.
I started with Boston's Foreplay Long Time in stereo, no subs. The high's were spectacular, the separation great, you could hear the soundstage moving around (as intended). The mid bass was nice and tight, to tom-toms were nearly perfect, it just lacked some kick in the chest. I turned the subs on, and wow what a great sound, pretty much what I was accustomed to. Switching to the Silvers, the high's were more airy, not as focused, the mid range was somewhat missing but the mid-bass was much punchier. So, both have a bit of a hole in different places. I added the center in via: "dolby neo-music", which I prefer when listening to music vs stereo. This also brings in my rear speakers, mounted about 7' high at the back of the side walls. The center changed the general tone of both speaker pairs, it enriched the weakness of both. Adding vocal power and bit more punch to low-end (more drivers move more air, so this is to be expected). The B&W 606's with HTM6 center, is a force to be reckoned with, one helps the other significantly. Together they still need a sub in a big room (as did my Silver's with 4x12" drivers). But musically this B&W trio seemed every bit as clean as my Silver's w/Martin Logan Center). I would have bet against this. I moved on to some Jethro Tull, switch back and forth, the horns were more open on the Silvers, but had a cleaner, tighter sound from the B&W's. A different spatial effect from the two, but given the open structure of the Silvers huge ribbons, this had to be expected. The B&W's were very.... musical.
Now on to Pink Floyds DSOTM, I know what I expect from every note in this album. The "crazy" vocals in Speak to Me, are front and center, not just in the background. The music spins right to left and back. Here I, jumped back to stereo vs 5.1 surround, the loss of volume from the center was noticeable, but the stereo R/L soundstage was still excellent. I prefered the more full sounding surround, especially with the B&W center, which really does handle vocals very clearly, very clean. The Clocks on Time were fantastic, and The Great Gig in the Skys female voices were ethereal, spectacular, pinpoint tones. the warble at end was just as expected. This B&W set up, was making me clean my glasses, to make sure I wasn't missing anything.
I listened to several other old favorite albums, BOC's horns and cowbells, awesome. Some live, Bohemian Rhapsody, making me miss Freddie. Some Rush and Steely Dan. All sounded excellent, I was doing less A/B comparisons, as I now believed the B&W's were all that good. I turned on my projector, went to full 5.1 surround with Roger Waters new Us+Them; most excellent (minus some of his now to be expected political commentary). Then one of my favorite DVD's Don Henley's Live Inside Job, I couldn't wait to hear his closing version of Hotel California, with the trombones. Worth waiting for, the B&W's high end is so precise, it truly matches the ribbons and electrostatic high's I'm accustomed to, It not the same, but there is a precision, that easily carries/fills a big room, not just my listening room, but my great room. From my couch's listening position the 26" speaker stands were perfect. To better fill a large area I'd have gone with a 32" or 36" stand. Getting the tweeters closer to ear level makes a difference. Putting these speakers in the right position really open's them up. Get them at least a foot from any wall and get them up. It makes a big difference.
I have to say I'm unexpectedly surprised by the excellent sound of these speakers. The speakers are pretty efficient, a 100w/per channel amplifier can easily fill a good size room. The bookshelf pair are very good, but adding the excellent HMT6 S2 center, improves the pair significantly, it adds a more vocal quality to the pair alone, but I'm sure that's what it was designed to do. And Job Well Done!
When the COVID- delayed Bowers and Wilkins S2 Anniversary Edition boxes arrived, I knew some adjustments to my plans would be required. I have an existing 5.1 home theatre set up in my living room but wanted to extend the home theater experience into a smaller and more personal 11 x 14 room upstairs. The shipment arrived in two packages: one containing a pair of 606 S2 bookshelf speakers, and another containing the HTM6 S2 center speaker.
The 606 S2 bookshelf speakers weigh 15 pounds each, and are 13 inches high, but 12 inches deep, and they are a ported system which is not designed to be wall mounted and should be placed away from the wall for the best performance. I obtained B&W's STAV24 S2 stands which are specifically engineered for the 606 S 2 and present a stable base and compliment the overall design. The HTM6 S2 center speaker fit nicely on the shelf of my existing equipment stand, below my viewing panel.
The Anniversary Edition speakers feature the B&W Continuum mid-bass drivers and an upgraded crossover and present a striking visual presentation with the grills off. The grills are held on by magnets and are easily replaced.
Both the 606 S2 and the HTM6 S2 can be bi-amped, so there are two sets of connectors on the back of each. Bi-amping a center channel speaker? I had never heard of that, but when you listen to this center channel speaker, you will be amazed at how important the HTM6 S2 can become in your home theater set up. Each speaker is ported, and the bass performance can be tweaked by inserting a configurable foam plug. I am running all the speakers with the plugs out right now but plan to experiment with the plugs after full break-in of the speakers. Small changes can make a difference. I used the Onkyo Audyssey mike to balance the B&W's with my Hsu subwoofer, and two NHT Zeros used for the rear channels. I currently have the Zeros on stands and am moving them around for the best effects on movies.
These speakers are plenty sensitive. I am driving them with my ten-year-old Onkyo TX-NR808 which can easily push them to ear-splitting levels without speaker or amplifier stress. For a listening room like the one where I tested, I think the smaller but less-efficient B&W 606 would have done nicely as well. Unlike my other surround system, both the 606 S2 and HTM6 S 2 are full-range speakers. They have plenty of bass. My subwoofer can be relegated to handling the frequencies below 50hz, and the B&W's can handle every other part of the frequency spectrum for both music and video which constitutes about ninety-nine per cent of my listening experience.
I started with music, and greatly enjoyed my old reference CD of Jazz at the Pawnshop. The presentation was clean and uncolored, and the imaging was excellent and fully preserved the placing of the instruments and the ambiance of the venue and the audience. Ry Cooder's Jazz, another reference of mine and all acoustic, was just a joy to revisit. I also played David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name and heard fine details in the recording that I am not sure I have ever heard before. Everything begins and ends with the music. The 606 S2s alone tend to make me want to sit for hours listening to music and not writing any reviews. There is no midrange push on voices or grating over-emphasis on the high end, unless contained in the recording itself. And you will notice the differences as you trot out the older recordings you though you knew.
There was a striking difference from my prior home theater experience when listening to the HTM6 S2 center speaker. I searched Blu-Rays, DVDs, video, and streaming sources and was hard-pressed to find any unintelligible dialog. My prior home theater experience often relegated my wife and I to turning on the subtitles to understand the dialog. Not anymore. Nor is the dialog foisted forward into your lap to make it intelligible. It is just there and beautifully integrated into the presentation across the theatre screen, as one would expect with this matched speaker set.
With no tweaking at all, the B&W Anniversary Edition speakers have produced excellent sound. I suspect I will be tuning them up for some time to come to get them to their full potential. Feed them a bad recording, and you'll hear every deficiency. Feed them a great recording, and you will enjoy details you have never heard before. Any speaker is an important investment which you will be using for years to come. These speakers are not inexpensive, but if you value the sound, they are a great investment which will pay you back many times over, as your listening, your recordings, your music, and your supporting equipment change. I will need a reference standard with which to judge my other equipment and recordings, and the S2 Anniversary Edition will serve that role quite nicely. Highly recommended.
I’m big into sound, not really an audiophile, but I love good sound. I have a 5.2.2 system and upgraded my 3 fronts (Left, Center, Right) with the 600 Series Bowers and Wilkins bookshelf and center speakers. I’ve had my previous sound system for some time, but recently upgraded my receiver and wanted to see how much of a difference between my older speakers and the highly-rated BW (from what I’ve heard) was. For reference, I use my home theater sound system for mostly movies, and maybe about 15-20% music.
These bookshelfs (or is it bookshelves speakers??) are decently bigger than my other ones. While my others sit nicely on my stands, these hung off a little bit, but still securely enough on there. They are very sleek and modern looking. I was switching from front towers to these bookshelfs after doing some research on trade-offs, so I was looking forward to see how they matched up for frequency ranges, clarity, and quality. My one concern was the lower Sensitivity (power efficiency) of these speakers as typically higher is better, and coming in at 88db, seemed to be a bit on the low side for a higher end speaker.
Well I’ll tell you that concern went right out the window when I hooked these up. My old towers weren’t bad, but these def put some great sound out and without much effort. I started off with some Youtube demo’s (music and movie scenes), but Youtube isn’t the place to really test out high quality audio. I moved on to some Atmos/DTHD 4k movies with some friends, and we all loved the sound. Its clear, open, and tight. I have 2 subs that can rock during action scenes, but every ounce of sound from these speakers still sounded amazing through all of the rumbling. Later on I listened to some of my personal music (FLAC audio), soft piano style songs and I would say these speakers are much better utilized for music over movies. There seems to be a lot more detail in music than movies and I think this is where the speakers really shine.
The speakers came with a foam plug (from what I’m told is called a bung) to plug in the port for the woofers, my guess was to create a more of a ported vs sealed container for the bass, but its supposed to be used to help match the sound to the acoustic environment. The instructions didn’t provide any information on this, but it seems more ideal when the speakers are used in stereo and not fully managed by a receiver with subs, but everyone’s taste is different.
I think the speakers are a great addition to my home theater and very happy with them. It pairs great with the 600 series Center Channel (HTM6 S2). They also come with a 5 year warranty which is nice for peace of mind. Attached is a picture of my setup with all 3 speakers (don’t mind the messy wiring as I just set them up when I took the picture). I really appreciate the more openness these bookshelf speakers provide compared to towers. I now have a new kind of excitement every time I go watch a movie.
After 25 years of the 600 series, Bowers and Wilkins decided it’s time that they make an innovative anniversary edition of the new 606s. These 7th generation 600s were designed to be an affordable audiophile option in bookshelf speakers. The design, technology and sound really take the 606 S2 Anniversary Editions into Audiophile quality and affordability!
• Design – Weighing in at about 15 lbs each, the new 606 S2 bookshelf speakers are well built.
It’s hard not to notice these speakers with a beautiful modern edge look, solid on all sides and well balanced. They are on the larger size of bookshelf speakers coming at just 13 5/8” in height and 12 3/16” depth. You will want to keep the speakers around 6’ apart width and a short distance from the wall. This is because of the rear “Flowport.” The new 606 S2 also provide a nice understated inscription on the outer ring of the tweeter. It reads, “600 Series Anniversary Edition” that looks very classy. Included are two grilles that “magically” adhere to the front of the speaker with magnets. They are great if you would like the 606 S2 to blend in the background. Speakers come in Black, White and the new Oak design.
• Posts - Connections are two sets of posts that you can use bare-wire or banana plugs (in this way you can bi-wire the speakers). To use the Posts with banana plugs takes a little bit of time. You have to unscrew the top of the Post and remove the plastic insert carefully (I used a very thin screwdriver head). Remember to remove the jumper straps in-between the Posts, if you are going to bi-wire. The jumper straps impede the quality of the bi-wiring. Screw the top back on the Post completely and then you can push your banana plug in the Post. This is the most secure way to attach the speaker wire as the banana plugs will fit snug in the Posts. It also provides a “clean” organized look.
• Decoupled Double Dome Tweeters - Bowers and Wilkins rolled out the red carpet for the 606 S2s. Borrowing technology that trickles down from their pricier models, the 606 S2 are a blend that captures music and movies with amazing results. First let’s look at the “Decoupled Double Dome Tweeter.” The 1” aluminum tweeter surrounded by another thicker ring includes a new cross-over with superior parts really brings out the highs. The tweeter assembly is carefully placed in the speaker cabinet to resist distortion or interference. Lastly the tweeter has an updated cross-over for more headroom and exceptional detail. This is noticed right away when listening to music or movies.
• Continuum – The 606 S2 wouldn’t be complete without the “Continuum” woofer. Supporting the “Decoupled Double Dome Tweeter,” the “Continuum” (technology that came from 800 Diamond series) is used in a 6.5” woofer. The 6.5” woofer is just about the largest woofer in bookshelves today. The “Continuum” technology enables the speaker to articulate and provide a clean sound from the woofer. The 6.5” “Continuum” woofer provides punch without distortion, even at high/low volumes. Low frequencies are not left out, rather they sound extremely natural without being the focal point. Reproducing faithfully what the movie or music intended you hear, the 606 S2s will expose flaws. It is that accurate! I have heard different sounds that I have never heard before. That is going deep to get the sounds out of 606 S2 speakers.
• Flowport – The dimpled “Flowport” positioned in the back of the 606 S2s need some room to breathe. Be sure to pull them out from the wall 6”-8” or so. The “Flowport” helps to keep air moving and get you lower bass frequencies. The “Flowport” bass can also be adjust with two foam inserts. Depending on you taste, insert the foam into the “Flowport” and experience a tighter bass response. Some will like and some will not like the foam inserts. The main thing to take from this is the 606 S2s provide options and customization for your listening pleasure.
• Bi-wiring – I have an Onkyo 7.1 setup but I only use the 5.1 option. This means I have two unused sources of power (2.0 rear speakers) which I can bi-wire into the front Right and Left speaker channels. Onkyo allows me to take the 2.0 rear speaker wires (I am not using) and put into the Low Pass Posts of the 606 S2s right and left speaker. This enhances the sound of the speakers (in my opinion) while still having the regular left and right speaker wires in the High Pass Posts. There was a notable difference in sound because more power is now going into the Left and Right speakers.
• Sound – I listened to a variety artists in the style of Pop, classic rock, alternative rock, modern rock, Hip hop, rap and orchestra music to determine what the 606 S2 gives you. Across the board, vocals were warm, crisp, clean and rich sounding. There was never a point where there was too much treble or thinness in the voices. The mids were solid and punchy with consistent low end that could handle just about anything thing low you at it. Strong, full sounding without the boom, these 606 S2 excelled with separation of sound. The 1” tweeters and 6.5” woofers really have a stage presence. This is definitely a step up in terms of the music drawing me in. When you hear something musical that grabs your attention, I think the speakers are definitely worth the listen. Audiophile speakers such as these 606 S2s also evoke an emotional connection that you not only hear but feel. It is not mathematics or science to an extent, but when speakers sound so good you want to dance, cry or relax, and then you know you have the right speaker.
The Bowers and Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition, are an instant classic. These affordable audiophile speakers check all the boxes for an experience that will evoke the kind of feelings that only a movie soundtrack or music can. The 606 S2s are brilliantly put together and use some of the best technology in bookshelf speakers and sound off the charts!
Best stereo speakers for 2021Alongside Klipsch, Bowers and Wilkins has been at the forefront of speaker manufacturing for a lifetime. The best part about this company is that when it invents a new technology -- such as the silvery Continuum drivers that appeared on its
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GEAR PATROLTUCKER BOWE AND IAN WHITE on December 7, 2021
The Best Bookshelf Speakers for Your Home Hi-Fi SystemIn the past few years, Bowers & Wilkins decided to update its famed 600 range of speakers (which is now over 25 years old). In 2018, it introduced the 606 bookshelf speakers and then just two years later, in 2020, it replaced those speakers with
A:AnswerThere are no starter holes in the back of the speaker like other wall mountable speakers I have. So damage is immanent if not done with great care and a heavy duty kit. These speakers are not light.