What’s the first thing you think of when you think “Bowers & Wilkins speakers”? Okay, to be fair, the first thing you probably think of is smooth, room-penetrating, balanced, studio-quality sound. But the second thing is almost certainly the price. B&W’s offerings are, no doubt, a luxury. You get what you pay for.
But sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you get a whole heck of a lot more than you pay for. Such is the case with Bowers & Wilkins’ newly updated 600 Series loudspeakers. The company has packed the fourth version of its popular speakers with oodles of technology borrowed from further up the B&W totem pole, including a Decoupled Double Dome Tweeter design borrowed from the stunning CM10. As its name implies, the Double Dome Tweeter consists of two separate aluminum domes, the inner of which has had its center section removed. The result is superior rigidity without contributing much extra in the way of weight, and the effect is that the first breakup frequency of the speaker has been extended to 38kHz, so in other words the frequency response of the tweeter is smoother than a baby’s tushy until the frequencies are far too high for any human to hear.
The “Decoupled” part comes from the fact that the tweeter is physically isolated from the cabinet by a cushioned gel ring, which means that resonances from the baffle won’t color the sound of the tweeter, and resonances from the tweeter won’t sneak into the baffle. The result, Bowers & Wilkins says, is “stunning clarity and tonal purity plus outstanding imaging and dispersion,” along with less dynamic range compression. And to protect that precious tweeter, B&W has added a steel mesh grill to keep out any poking fingers.
The new 600 Series speakers also benefit from Anti-Resonance Plugs brought over from B&W’s PM-1, for improved bass performance with lower distortion and higher dynamic range, as well as silky smooth midrange. Other improvements include simplified crossover designs and superior dispersion across the board. Of course, there have also been a number of tweaks to specific models. The 684 tower sports a newer, slimmer cabinet, and the HTM61 center speaker features a new design similar to that of the B&WCM Centre 2, with its tweeter positioned directly above a 4-inch FST midrange driver.
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series, though, remains the price. The new 683 tower, with its twin 6.5-inch bass drivers, single FST midrange driver, and tweeter, will be available for $1650 per pair. The slightly smaller 684 tower, with dual 5-inch drivers, is priced at $1150 per pair. The two bookshelf speakers in the line – the 685 with its single 6.5-inch mid-bass driver and the slightly smaller 686, which features a 5-inch mid-bass driver – will retail for $700 and $550 per pair, respectively. And the center speakers in the lineup – the HTM61, which is designed to complement the 683 tower; and the MTM62, which is an ideal match for the 684 – are priced at $750 and $450 each.
All of the new Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series speakers will be available at your local authorized B&W retailer beginning in March 2014.