British outfit Bowers & Wilkins has made some of the best hi-fi speakers to ever grace our testing rooms. Founded in 1966 by John Bower in the workshop of his electronics shop in Worthing, West Sussex, the firm has long been synonymous with sonically impressive, design-led speakers.
These are some of its best – each has been tried and tested by yours truly, and has earned a minimum of four out of five for its efforts (though plenty are five-star speakers).
How to choose the best B&W speakers for you
Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.
So what should you look for when looking for the best Bowers & Wilkins speakers? Something that has been reviewed by What Hi-Fi? of course! You'll find a full-fat review attached to each product in this comprehensive list, and the star-rating listed below.
Once you know how good it was for us, think about what's right for you – and particularly, your home. B&W floorstanders (or any floorstanding speakers, for that matter) require a fair bit of space in which to operate, so might be better suited to bigger rooms, while bookshelf speakers (aka standmounts) can either be mounted on a stand or fixed to a wall using brackets. They're potentially more versatile.
Thanks to its Formation range, B&W has moved into the realm of wireless multi-room speakers too; we've included both an excellent stereo pair and a one-box option in this list.
Then there's the technology. Traditionally, Kevlar was the material of choice for B&W's midrange and bass drivers, but the company now uses its own material, dubbed Continuum. Bowers & Wilkins claims it reduces the degrading effects of the vibrations of the mid/bass drivers, resulting in a cleaner sound with less distortion. You'll find it's used across all of the speakers on this list.
Finally, you'll need to turn your mind to the topic of coin. Thankfully, Bowers & Wilkins covers a lot of budgetary bases, with offerings under £500/$600 all the way up to, oh, quite a lot more. On that note, let's find you some new Bowers & Wilkins speakers...
Now in its eighth generation and going 20+ years strong, Bowers & Wilkins' 600 series has more often than not provided some superb speakers.
And that story continues with its latest entry-level 607 S3 speakers. The smallest and most affordable stereo speaker that B&W makes (even if that 'budget' price has increased in the last couple of years), the new 607 S3 replaces the previous Award-winning 607 S2 Anniversary Edition speakers and delivers a significantly improved performance.
The 607 S3 has been updated throughout, with a brand new 25mm titanium decoupled double dome tweeter, a new elongated tube loading system, a revised motor assembly for the 13cm Continuum mid/bass driver, higher-quality components used in the crossover, and sturdier cabinet bracing. The two drivers overlap to improve integration, while B&W claims the use of titanium should result in more refined and detailed high frequencies.
The footprint remains the same and they're ideal for smaller spaces. Partner them carefully to balance out a somewhat forward, excitable treble performance, and you'll be rewarded with a terrifically detailed, rhythmically cohesive, agile, and energetic sound. The overall presentation is more open-sounding than before, while the treble performance is so much sweeter and more refined. For their size and price level, each note lands with precision and they even hold dynamic interest at low volume. Basslines are pulled taut and while they don’t go as bone-shatteringly deep as bigger speakers (or as big as the bigger 606 S3, below), they do land with impact.
Overall, they're just incredibly fun to listen to. There’s clarity and refinement in the mix here – to a really admirable level – but we’re struck by just how entertaining, zippy and musical this new pair sounds right from the start. We’re glad that, alongside a newfound level of clean detail, openness and precise sound, the new 607 S3 speakers have remembered to add in big doses of energy and dynamic prowess. For the price, they're the best Bowers & Wilkins speakers right now.
Read the full Bowers & Wilkins 607 S3 review
The 606 S3 are the bigger standmounters in B&W's latest 600 S3 range of speakers, and they're bigger, bolder and pricier than the younger sibling, the 607 S3 speakers (above).
The 606 S3 takes on from the previous generation's 606 S2 Anniversary Edition (also a 2022 Award winner) with improvements and updates throughout. They're furnished with the same upgrades as the 607, from the new titanium tweeter to the revised speaker terminal layout around the back. The two-way configuration, the same well-made build quality and finishes and the same dimensions return, but the 606 S3 are yet another step up in sound quality.
Unlike the peppy, fun character of the 607 S3, the 606 S3 offer a more mature presentation. There are newfound levels of refinement and openness compared with the older S2 model, with a spacious-sounding presentation and ample headroom for that cleaner treble to soar. Meanwhile, that bigger 16.5cm mid/bass driver and deeper cabinet result in added weight, punch and authority.
This extra bass power means the 606 S3 speakers aren’t quite as prone to the slightly excitable and forward treble of its lively 607 S3 sibling, but the older siblings' more level-headed, staid character comes at the expense of that charming and immediately entertaining sound we like so much in the new 607 S3.
While the 606 aren’t slouches when it comes to attack and agility, we find they don’t hold songs together as cohesively as when played through the enthusiastic 607. However, we find the bigger 606 speakers to be an easy listen. If you can afford and accommodate a step up above the compact 607 S3 speakers, want a larger scale of sound and need more oomph to your bass, the B&W 606 S3 will be to your liking.
Read the full Bowers & Wilkins 606 S3 review
On the face of it, the changes that have been made in the transition from the 607 standmounts (listed below) to these 607 S2 Anniversary Edition versions might appear minimal. A cynic may even suggest the alterations are barely enough to stick a 25th birthday badge on them. Besides, how much more performance could B&W really hope to eke out of the already class-leading 600 series?
A lot, it seems. Enough, in fact, to warrant a What Hi-Fi? Award in both 2021 and 2022. The change lies in the improved bypass capacitors that have been used across the Anniversary series. Specially treated by capacitor experts Mundorf, these new components can also be found on Bowers' premium 700 Series Signature range.
This is a cleaner, more insightful and overall more engaging performance from a pair of speakers that were already among the best you could buy for their outlay. If you’re looking for a pair of lower-midrange speakers (and the B&W 606 S2 are just out of your budget range) then these are a superb option.
Note: these are being discontinued, so won't be around for long.
Read the full B&W 607 S2 Anniversary Edition review
The Bowers & Wilkins 606 (listed below) walked off with What Hi-Fi?’s top speaker award in 2019. And with the 600 range now 25 years old, B&W decided to celebrate by upgrading the series' core models, with this model winning a well-deserved What Hi-Fi? Award in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
The 606 S2 Anniversary Edition hasn't been tweaked a great deal – there's the addition of an oak finish to go along with the existing black and white options, an inscription on the tweeter surround to mark the Anniversary status, and an upgraded crossover that now features better-quality capacitors – but remember, this was an Award winner to start with.
Given the modest nature of the engineering changes, we weren't anticipating a great deal of difference in the sound. We were wrong. While retaining a broadly similar sonic character, the 606 S2 Anniversary Editions prove significantly more capable than their predecessors. The biggest differences are heard in the bass: the S2 are cleaner, more insightful and have notably more punch.
The original 606 are fine speakers, but this new version is obviously better across the board. Considering the relatively minor engineering alterations that’s a real surprise – but a thoroughly pleasant one. Every inch a What Hi-Fi? Award-winner, and some of the best B&W speakers you can buy.
Note: these too are being discontinued, so won't be around for long.
Read the full B&W 606 S2 Anniversary Edition review
The 805 D4 might be the baby of B&W's fourth-generation 800 series, but they're no poor relation to their pricier siblings. They pack all the engineering advancements enjoyed elsewhere, including a sturdier cabinet construction with reinforced plywood bracing. And while the drive unit configuration is the same as the previous generation, it has been further refined.
How do they sound? A lot depends on the the quality of the support they sit on, so you'd be well advised to buy the 805 D4's dedicated column stands – the FS-805 D4 (£1250, $1250, AU$1799 per pair).
They're not fussy with placing, and deliver a balanced presentation with a wide-open soundstage – the sound is anything but cluttered. All that work on controlling cabinet resonances really pays off, because with eyes closed it’s very hard to pinpoint the physical location of the speakers.
They dig up plenty of detail, too. Rarely do we come across speakers at this level that uncover so much information and deliver it in such a composed and organised manner. And that diamond dome tweeter continues to impress with its combination of insight, bite and refinement. It really is one of the best tweeters around.
Read the full Bowers & Wilkins 805 D4 review
If we had to sum up the Formation Duo in a word, it would be 'divisive'. Why? The aesthetic won't appeal to everyone, plus they're far from cheap. But if you want a wireless pair of standmount speakers that nothing comes even close to, you've just found them.
Let's start with the sound, which is actually anything but divisive. The Duo are deadly precise speakers with excellent clarity and agility. They make you want to dig out tune after tune just to hear what they can do.
The multi-room feature set, while not perfect (we'd prefer a single app to handle every function), is more than made up for by the superb audio performance. Bowers & Wilkins may have been late to the multi-room party, but boy it arrived with a bang – more fashionably late than annoyingly so.
The speakers bristle with raw energy, and the stereo imaging is completely on-point. They deliver a huge amount of power when called for, while serving up a delicate beauty in the quieter passages.
The downside? They will expose any flaws in recordings, so make sure your source material is up to scratch.
Read the full Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duo review
The 603 are the lone floorstanders in B&W's successful 600 Series, and the first with magnetic grilles.
Like the others in the range, they feature B&W's Continuum cone material, which originally appeared on B&W's more premium ranges. Compared with the rest of the 600 Series, the results are even more impressive – the soundstage is gloriously spacious, and they deliver bass weight, vocal clarity and detail in spades.
They're rear-ported, which helps give them a huge sense of space (just make sure you don't position them too close to a wall). It's an expansive soundstage that takes you on a sonic journey. The 603 are overflowing with confidence: whether it’s bass weight, vocal clarity or general detail, they sound like they know how to handle a tune.
If you have just over a grand to spend on a new pair of speakers, you should definitely take the B&W 603 for a spin.
Read the full B&W 603 review
The original Zeppelin was a truly iconic product, winning as many plaudits for its sleek design as it did for its excellent sound quality. Six years later, B&W released a new version. So has it been worth the wait?
In a word: yes. It's been updated with wireless connectivity front and centre: it supports AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and aptX Adaptive Bluetooth (a comparatively new codec that offers hi-res support and which B&W supports in its latest headphones), while the Bowers & Wilkins Music App serves as a gateway to music streaming services including Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz, Soundcloud and TuneIn. Alexa voice control is now onboard for hands-free operation, too.
All it's lacking is Chromecast and DLNA support, though the latter is in the pipeline.
The Zeppelin delivers a pleasingly clear, full and broad presentation, but it is bettered for outright musicality. Across the course of our listening, vocals and other midrange elements can get slightly lost in the wider soundstage, and rhythmically this becomes a minor issue. Still, sonically speaking there's still plenty to like, including a zealous bass injection that stays grippy even at high volumes. Turn it up.
Read the full Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin review
You can pick up a wireless speaker for relative peanuts, so why would you spend nearly four figures on the Bowers & Wilkins Wedge? Firstly, it's part of B&W's Formation range of multi-room speakers, so it will play nicely with the the Formation Duo (mentioned above) via B&W's own wireless mesh system, allowing for hi-res streaming up to 24-bit/96kHz. So if it's a multi-room set-up you're after, you're in good hands.
But the Wedge is also an exceptional wireless speaker in its own right. And of course, it's in the sound department where the Wedge really earns its keep. Its three-way driver set-up produces a dynamic, entertaining sound with oodles of detail.
Its distinctive design stands out from the competition and the speaker also offers an impressive array of compatibility options: Apple AirPlay 2, aptX HD Bluetooth, Spotify Connect and Roon Ready status should suffice for most listeners.
Pricey, but worth every penny.
Read the full Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge review
How we test Bowers & Wilkins speakers
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year, including no small amount of speakers of all shapes, sizes and types. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them?
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency. We always ensure we spend plenty of time with the speakers, trying them with different electronics, in different positions and with different music.
All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity.
From all of our reviews, we choose the top products to feature in our Best Buys, such as this one. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended above, or on any of our other Best Buy pages, you can rest assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi?-approved product.