Fresh from totting up a third gong in a row in the 2010 Awards, the B&W Theatre 685 is back out to fight for its top dog status. Marrying fine styling with formidable multichannel and stereo performance, this is stiff competition for any rival.
Despite the attention to design and detail, there's plenty of box in to the bargain here. The 685 speakers that form the front left and right channels are almost as deep as they are tall. For standmounters, there's plenty to them.
The 686 rears and dedicated centre are a little easier to accommodate. The ASW608 subwoofer, meanwhile is a slightly strange choice given the subs B&W has at its disposal and its heritage in making enticing bassbins.
The Theatre 685 is eye-catching – but it's the sound that gets us most excited.
Excels with dialogue
Terminator Salvation doesn't go five minutes without an explosion of some sort, but it's the quality of the dialogue that's instantly recognisable as belonging to this B&W Award-winner; that perfectly balanced tone, complete with clarity and body in equal measure.
There's a velvety richness to delivery that's especially noticeable with dialogue but it never sounds woollen.
The action is handled with aplomb, too, thanks to soaring dynamics, speed and agility. Shattering glass and heart-pounding shocks are dispensed throughout Mirrors, and the 685 Theatre package is crisp yet full-bodied and capable of surprising power.
There isn't the weight of the bulkier systems here but the sub is agile and controlled.
And this system really strikes gold in stereo, too, delivering a performance of unusual quality in a cinema package at this sort of money.
No matter what challenges this system faces in the coming months, it's still very hard to see a day when this won't be an eminently recommendable speaker system.
Click here to watch our video review of the B&W 685 Theatre.