The HTM6 S2 Anniversary Edition delivers clear dialog and power in a compact form for Home Theater. Continuum mid-bass drive units provide make it easy to hear actors and robust bass lines for action films while Decoupled Double Dome Tweeters create an enveloping sense of space and clarity. Featuring upgraded crossovers for even more transparency and a unique trim-ring to celebrate this milestone, the HTM6 S2 Anniversary Edition is the most sophisticated, affordable center channel Bowers & Wilkins has ever made. The HTM6 S2 Anniversary Edition is the matching center channel for 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.
Dual 5" 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.
Spikes and Rubber Feet
600 Series Anniversary Edition 2-way Center Channel w/ dual 5" midbass (each)
Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) has released their 600 Anniversary series speakers and what an impressive set of speakers they are. Contents of this package is the HTM6 center channel speaker, rubber stick-on feet, magnetic mesh screen, 2-size foam plug for bass port, and installation/build instructions. They come with a 5-year warranty on parts & labor.
Disclaimer: I have this B&W HTM6 center channel along with the two 603 S2 Anniversary series floor speakers hooked up with a Klipsch subwoofer, rear Infinity surround speakers, and a Yamaha RX-V685 7.2 channel receiver. I am replacing a 20-yr old set of great-sounding and vintage BOSE 701 floor speakers and BOSE VCS-10 center channel.
* Great look, well built, solid chassis, construction materials used are of high quality.
* I set up my speaker sound using the given Yamaha receiver YPAO microphone. This should be done whenever speaker sets are changed out. After going through that sequence of events, I ended up increasing the center channel volume along with rear speaker volume in order to hear the surround items better and especially the talking in movies better. Once adjusted, these speakers really brought out the sound of some blockbuster hits including Wonder Woman 84 on Christmas Day, Gladiator, and Soul (Pixar movie). I played a few other hits on HBOmax and the sound was phenomenal.
* Sound was insanely crisp and clear with movie dialogue. For the center channel this is paramount. Even sounds where the characters are whispering come in with high clarity. The sound couldn't be better. This also has a lot to do with my receiver settings which you will need to adjust for your particular listening needs.
* I listened to some digital music including piano, R&B, classic rock, special effects, and country. With each genre, I felt like I was in the middle of a concert. This was done without the use of the rear surround sound speakers. It was that good.
* The magnetic speaker grills are easily removable and look good on OR off. Be careful though, because these grills are extremely thin and made of plastic and could possibly break easily.
* Wire hook-up was easy as it's only 2 wires in most applications.
* This is a first - I cannot think of a single "con" for this product. It is THAT good and THAT impressive.
* Make sure you allow for about a week for the sound of your speaker to fall into place with the "breaking-in" period. The speaker need to operate at softer/normal levels before sending it a great deal of power. This includes getting the speaker acclimated to the temperature of your home.
* This center channel speaker itself will be more dependent on which receiver you use rather than the speaker itself for incredible/great sound. If you use a subpar receiver/amplifier, your sound will be that as well, regardless of speaker quality. If you want this speaker to cry out to you, invest in a good receiver with ample power.
* This speaker comes with 4 rubber feet that you can stick on the bottom to secure in place; however, one could likely use thin felt pads as well if not on a smooth surface in which the speaker could slide off due to heavy bass over time.
* I do NOT have my TV hung on a wall. It sits on its own legs which are NOT tall enough that will allow for this center channel speaker to fit under my TV screen. I had to design/build/paint some "lifts" for my TV legs so I would have enough clearance to slide this speaker underneath my TV. Keep this in mind before buying. Height clearance is 6.3" tall and depth is 10" deep. If you simply place in front of your TV, make sure you have the space needed. I will include some pictures of my TV lifted and speaker underneath. I added black screen mesh on each side of the center channel to hide the contents of behind/under the TV. See pictures with my review.
* I did not have a need for using the foam bass woofer plug provided.
Unlike other products like TVs, receivers, computers, cars, and appliances, SPEAKERS are a very simple thing to actually "use". You literally hook them up with 2 wires, and the way they sound is really more dependent on the receiver you have driving them. They might sound good or bad depending on your receiver and sound setup characteristics. Please use a quality receiver to make this speaker sing to you! If you don't, then you are losing a ton of specific sounds these speakers can provide at high quality. The last thing you want is a center channel to have limited dialogue volume during a movie. Make adjustments on your receiver to make that happen. After 20 years of my vintage BOSE VCS-10 center channel, this upgrade was well worth it and I highly recommend this incredible-sounding center channel speaker.
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.
The speaker is beautiful with the front grill off. I do not normally display my speakers with the grills off. I normally cannot stand the look of center channels in this price range with the grills off. I cannot say that about the HTM6 S2. I cannot imagine displaying this with the grill on. Look at the attached photo to see what I mean. B&W put a lot of thought into the visual experience for of the Anniversary 600 series speakers. See attached photo.
The HTM6 S2 is obviously made to fit into smaller spaces such in an entertainment center or on top. If you have a soundbar today then the HTM6 S2 should fit comfortable into your entertainment center.
I have the HTM6 S2 connected to a Pioneer Elite VSX-90 receiver. It has enough power to drive my 5.1 surround sound bookshelf home theater system. The theater space is contained to a 10 foot by 9 foot space closed in by three walls. The back of the room extends all the way back to 15 feet but opens to the rest of the house on one side.
The system is calibrated using the Pioneer’s MCACC Pro room calibration and correction software. Most receivers these days have some form or room correction built in. Be sure to use it as part of your setup of the HTM6 S2. In my space, the speaker was overly bright until I ran room correction. This helped tame the speaker for my room acoustics. I further corrected the center by reducing the treble slightly.
First, I must mention that I spent two weeks using this center channel with a variety of content. Below are a few highlights.
Overall, the center sounds great. It is better than any sound bar I have heard. The tweeter is clear, crisp, and reproduces the female voices pitch perfect. I watched Netflix’s anime series, “High-Rise Invasion”, which has a female driven cast, and was very impressed with the purity of the character’s voices. A few times the female voices hit those ultra-high squealy notes that only anime can give you. I did not notice any break-up or harshness. These high-pitched frequencies can really show off the breakup point of a speaker’s tweeter. The HTM6 S2 reproduced the high pitches with ease.
The HTM6 S2 shares the same tweeter as the rest of the Anniversary Edition speakers. This means that you will receive the same clarity with the same voices, or frequencies, as the voices and action pans around your listening position.
For male voices, I chose Star Blazers 2199 and Netflix’s newly released, “Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan” as my test subjects. I chose Star Blazers because this anime puts the dialogue front and center in most scenes. There are also some nice spaceship flybys that sonically pan from the front left/right speaker, across the center, and exits through the opposite front speaker. The mammoth sounds of the spaceships sounded rich as they were handed off from speaker to speaker. Female voices sounded wonderful. Male voices were clear and concise. The series has very few low male voices. Overall, the programming was fun and engaging with this speaker.
I chose “Age of Samurai” because the series is almost exclusively male dominated narration. The narration is also shared between multiple male scholars with different types of voices. The higher pitched male voices sounded natural, full, and alive. The lower male voices showed a bit of constraint. I think this is because the speaker does not dig deep into those lower frequencies that give deep male voices their power. This did not get in the way of fully enjoying the content.
Up until this point, I had the surround speakers unplugged, the subwoofer powered off, and the crossover set to 50hz at the receiver. The center only goes down to 72hz before rolling off. I am guessing this is why lower male voices were struggling. I turned on the subwoofer, plugged in the surrounds, and then reset the crossover to 80hz. This solved my issues.
The HTM6 is a capable, compact center channel. The sound reproduction is crisp, clear, and detailed. You will not be disappointed if you are building a system for a small to medium sized room. Be sure to run your receiver’s room correction software to get the best performance. The HTM6 S2 matches perfectly with my B&W 606 S2 Anniversary Edition speakers. The HTM6 S2 will also blend perfection with the other speakers in the line. I also recommend a subwoofer to get the most performance out of your theater. I could look at the front of this speaker with grills off all day long. If you are ready to move up from a sound bar, or TV speakers, and want to build an affordable 3.1 or 5.1 home theater solution, then you cannot go wrong with a full B&W 600 series Anniversary edition speaker solution.
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 speaker was driven by a Yahama RX-V685 and used in combination with the B&W 600 Series Anniversary Edition bookshelf speakers speaker. This review is very similar to the matching bookshelf speakers as this center channel was testing in combination with them.
The cabinet has a very understated appearance with a flat black finish. The grill cover 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 only the B&W center channel and front left and right were connected via a single wire pairs. 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 speaker 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.
If you have good speakers, why not put them to use to make your movies more immersive and not just music? The first thing that must be mentioned is how fast the speaker can respond and provide a feeling of impact. It gives 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 speaker continues to get better the longer it is used. The center channel, while made the similar to the bookshelf speakers, is really more of a compliment to them and completes the package. It highlights the voices much better even if only used for music. 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, this speaker have a lot to live up to (but I'm going to use it with it's partners: 606 S2s). 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 this speaker is rated at 100 watts, I chose not to use my primary 200w amplifier, since I also have a 100w receiver as part of my set up (and another for my outdoor theater).
Upon unpacking the speaker it has a very nice, professional finish, chrome plated heavy connectors designed so it can be bi-amped. The speaker enclosure is very solid, each weighing in at just over 17lbs. It has a large rear port, which might be a problem if you are going to use it on a "bookshelf", the speaker is 10" deep, 19" wide and 6.25" tall. It does come with foam port inserts that you would want to use if used it on a bookshelf or placed close to a wall (this I considered very thoughtful, as the manufacture can't posible know where a speaker will 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 to get a fair comparison.
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 HTM6 S2 center in via: "dolby neo-music", which I prefer when listening to music vs stereo. 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 HTM6 S2 center has some power, is a powerful speaker, that I think has been tuned to play best with the B&W 606's, one helps the other significantly. Together they still need a sub in a big room. 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. The B&W trio was 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. I prefered the more full sounding surround, especially with the B&W HTM6 S2 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. 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!
The center channel for the 600 series speaker line is the HTM6 S2 Anniversary Edition. It comes loaded with technology and the all important speech elements that make this speaker a superb center channel.
• Build Quality – The design of the HTM6 S2 is stunning with the two 5 inch “Continuum” woofers and a “1 inch Decoupled Double Dome Tweeter.” As stated above, the Bowers and Wilkins HTM6 S2 is the matching center channel for the 600 series. This center channel may be small in stature but it is accurate and has plenty of sound to fill midsize room (Depending on setup, maybe a bit larger room)! Here are the actual measurements: 6 3/8” H, 18 15/16” W, 11 1/16” D. The weight is about 18 lbs which is on the heavier side for a center channel. Two magnetic grilles are also included and are easy on and easy off. Use these if you want the center channel to be in the background or take them off for a good looking center channel.
• Connections – There are two sets of connections for speaker wire from your receiver into the center channel. You can use bare-wire or banana plugs and can bi-wire the HTM6 S2. If you want to use banana plugs, (best connection I believe), you have to unscrew the top of the Post. Now comes the somewhat time consuming procedure. There are plastic pieces that are in the Posts. You have to remove them to use banana plugs. This can be a bit tricky because you don’t want to harm the Posts. I used a tiny screwdriver to get in-between the plastic piece and Post. It worked just fine. Remember to remove the jumper straps in between the Posts, if you are going to bi-wire. Lastly screw the top part of the Post back on. Now you can put your banana plugs in secure and safe.
• Decoupled Double Dome Tweeters –This exact tweeter is used for the 600 S2s series and provides voice matching throughout your system. The “Decoupled Double Dome Tweeter” produces clear, cut and clean upfront dialogue. The special tweeter array is surrounded by a casing. This protects the tweeter’s integrity to produce music or movies realistically without distortion from inside the cabinet. You will be able to tell right away that the tweeter array greatly pronounces outstanding vocals. These vocals sound so sweet because the “Decoupled Double Dome Tweeters” has a new cross-over with superior parts. Dialogue will be easy to hear and come through crisp, precise and realistic.
• Continuum - The 5 inch “Continuum” woofer does more than you think to help with dialogue. The “Decoupled Double Dome Tweeter” does its job with the higher range of vocals and dialogue. But the really remarkable thing to me is the 5 inch “Continuum” woofer packs the authority supporting the highs and high-end lows in the HTM6 S2. The vocals from the 5 inch “Continuum” woofer technology enable the center channel to produce and articulate clean, unforced and smooth sound. The distinct natural sound from the center channel comes through from the tweeter and the woofer in a spectacular way. The HTM6 S2 can handle just about anything you can throw at!
• Flowport - This is one feature that really separates the HTM6 S2 from other ported center channels. Located in the back of the speaker, the dimpled “Flowport” opening can help the lows and deep bass. Depending on how much bass you want, Bowers and Wilkins have included to two foam pads that will fit in the “Flowport.” The bass sounds tight with less lows when you add this foam pieces. It provides a level of options, depending on what you like in a center channel.
• Sound – With all the technology put into the HTM6 S2 center channel, what does it really sound like? Faithful, true and concise vocals through the tweeter/woofer combination. I watched movies of all kinds with different emphasis. Movies with lots of dialogue, lots of action, and a mixture of both. My concern was that the action scenes would be too loud for the dialogue. I was wrong! Instead of being overpowered by explosions or a variety of action, the vocals came through with just the right amount of sound and clarity. The HTM6 S2 passed with flying colors as center channels go.
Movies come to life more than ever with this Audiophile Bowers and Wilkins 600 series center channel. I am certain the HTM6 S2 will make its positive footprint on your system. Vocals are lively, incredible and even tender at some moments. Simply put, the wide range will transform what you think a center channel can do. The entire line of Audiophile speakers from Bowers and Wilkins 600 S2 Anniversary Edition are affordable for what you get. You’ll find out what you are missing when you have a listen to movies or music throughout the 600s S2 Anniversary Edition speakers.
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.
Convert that home sound studio into a theater room
Bowers & Wilkins - 600 Series HTM6 Anniversary Edition 2-way Center Channel w/ dual 5" midbass (each).
[This review is a companion to my review of the B&W 606 S2 Anniversary bookshelf speakers.]
I thoroughly enjoy the B&W 606 S2 “bookshelf” speakers, and I really wanted to fully exploit the multi-channel sound that accompanies most modern TV, streaming and movie programming. This center channel is obviously a natural match for those companion B&W speakers and ensures a seamless sound field. That’s what I’m reviewing. I could easily imagine this center channel speaker fitting in between an older pair of speakers and enhancing voices, clarity and special effects in a way that adds to the sound presentation. I’d recommend you audition this speaker to see if the match works for you.
SETUP and SOURCES: For this listening evaluation I drew on both new and old streaming shows and movies including: “Stranger Things” (80s music), “Big Little Lies”, “The Politician”, “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “Whiplash”, and even the original “Jurassic Park”. All were sourced from either an Apple TV 4k, Panasonic DPUB820 4k player or Oppo UDP203. Amps were Yamaha RXA 880 or RXA2070, sometimes using a Parasound 5125 driven by one of the Yamaha AVRs configured as a PreAmp.
I setup this B&W 600 S2 center channel between a pair of B&W 606 S2 Anniversary bookshelves. I spent some time with them, initially ignoring my AVR’s equalization feature. Later in my listening sessions I ran an equalization cycle to see if room correction added or detracted from the sound. I inserted and removed the foam “port plugs” to see how the bass might change. I even moved this 3 speaker combination into 3 different sized spaces. In the largest room, the speakers were 30” from the nearest rear walls. In the smaller rooms, they were 12” away.
OBSERVATIONS: In my largest room (1440 sq ft+), I have become accustomed to a superb L+C+R set of speakers which retail for $4300. It was these speakers that I moved out of the way to initially review these new B&W speakers before placing them in my much smaller theater room (210 sqft). This comparison should have been unfair, but after spending hours enjoying numerous programs, I can assure you that the B&W HTM6 center channel and its 606 family felt completely at home. After a day of listening, I had forgotten what speakers were operating.
In my largest room the foam plugs could be left in or out with little obvious differences. When left out, the lower bass was slightly elevated in volume. Adding in a subwoofer and subsequent equalization using my AVR rebalanced the sound. When inserted in the bass ports, the bass level dropped a bit but I felt I had a smoother bass response. Again, adding in a subwoofer and/or re-equalizing to correct for my room pretty much got me to the same sound. All of this is just me being overly fussy and I can’t imagine anyone else being anything other that wowed by the sound.
And the sound? The speakers disappeared and the performance prevailed. My wife and I wanted to re-visit the earlier seasons of the “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and we were reminded how wonderfully that series’ re-created the sound of intimate clubs, old dance halls, the several apartments or the frantic department store action. Everything coming through the B&W center channel was perfectly intelligible in this program’s rapid fire dialog. And, when there were musical performances they filled the room. Far noisier and more demanding sound tracks were handled with similar results. These speakers never felt strained, whether is was “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “Jurassic Park.” The B&Ws surprise you with the immense amount of bass that can be delivered when called for. But, to be fair, in my largest room it was a more satisfying experience with the subwoofer in the mix. In my smaller rooms, the trio of B&W speakers were up to the task all by themselves. These speakers cover the entire sound spectrum wonderfully. Voices were never stressed, bass was delivered with complete authority.
DOWN SIDE: That magnetic grill needs more magnetism. I love the idea of NO visible fasteners. Whether you prefer leaving the grills on or taking them off, there is nothing to see on the cabinet. But. Re-adjusting them on their stand or shelf or touching them as you dust the tops sends the grills bouncing to the floor. It’s one reason why you’ll often see the grills removed. The other reason? Thankfully, the speakers themselves are simply beautiful as are the now exposed drivers. Techno cool, but not everyone will be impressed.
SUMMARY: If you’re a serious audiophile you already suspect you’re getting trickle down technology from a company that continues to chase perfection, and is regularly recognized as achieving the most advanced sound reproduction in this competitive industry. The B&Ws 600 series benefit greatly from a long history of experience making premier audio products. My biggest issue with these speakers? I can’t decide whether I want to use them in my theater room or my office where I listen to music, non-stop. I can be sure of one thing. It takes little time to simply forget there are speakers playing and fall under the spell of music or the drama in your program. The B&Ws avoid undesirable quirks like sizzling highs or excessive bass pounding where the bass is not featured. This is a natural sound that is so easy to live with. These are those speakers that will remain in your family for decades. They are an instant classic, but I think B&W already knew that.
I’m big into sound, not quite 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.
I believe the center speaker is one of the most important pieces in a home theater system. Its where most of the primary sound comes from while the other speakers just support it. This speaker was a good 10-15% bigger than my previous one, but bigger usually means better, at least when it comes to a quality brand. One problem I had before was that my old center wouldn’t be able to handle much volume/power before it would start distorting regardless of how I adjusted the settings and crossover in the receiver. It wasn’t a bad center, but definitely wasn’t a fair matchup between these two. This center sounded amazing. Not only was it crystal clear and felt like it pushed more of an open and clean sound out, but it could easily handle the volume I had trouble with in my old one. Originally one of my concerns was the lower sensitivity level of 87db in this center speaker, typically higher is better, but I was highly impressed with the quality audio that came from it.
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 like to watch my movies like I’m in a theater, I have 2 subs that can start rocking during some action scenes, but every ounce of sound from this center pushed through and 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 this speaker is much better utilized for music over movies. There seems to be a lot more detail in music than movies in my opinion, and I think this is where the center really shines.
The speaker 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 from what I understand. 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 this center is a great addition to my home theater and very happy with them. It pairs great with the 600 series Bookshelf Speakers (606 S2). It also comes with a 5 year warranty which is nice for peace of mind. Attached is a picture of my setup with all 3 of them, don’t mind the messy wiring as I just set them up when I took the picture. I really appreciate the more openness in my living room these bookshelf speakers provide compared to towers. I now have a new kind of excitement every time I go watch a movie or listen to music.