The Bowers & Wilkins CM range has a huge worldwide following, so the launch of the second generation of the CM range is big news and the CM6 S2s are the first pair we’ve had in our test rooms.
In hand, they’re impressive. The glossy-black exterior oozes quality and contrasts well with the trademark woven kevlar mid/bass driver. The front of each speaker is very clean-cut with not a screw in sight.
The specially designed stands feel suitably robust and match the speaker’s premium finish (although they do cost an extra £400). Even the little Bowers & Wilkins badges look quality...
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Build and design
The most obvious talking point, though, is the B&W tweeter, which sits in its own enclosure on top of the cabinet. This arrangement can already be found in its premium 800 Diamond series.
B&W claims that mounting it separately improves imaging and dispersion. The whole assembly sits inside a soft, gel-like material to isolate it from cabinet vibrations, while a super-thin aluminium ring reinforces the main tweeter diaphragm.
B&W believes this added stiffness and reinforcement helps them to sound cleaner.
alt-J’s Breezeblocks is a complex track, and the B&Ws do a great job of controlling and positioning all the different elements.
They work well at higher volumes – the tune’s quirky vocal sounds distinct, while the ding of the percussion sounds elevated and out in the open.
The sound is projected so well that it’s hard to locate the speaker cabinet positions with eyes closed. Low frequencies sound robust and solid.
The speakers do a fine job of separating the individual notes during Breezeblocks’ staggered bassline, giving each individual hit great impact.
In fact, this level of bass definition makes the Dali Rubicon 2s sound a tad soft and tubby.
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Where the B&Ws don’t quite convince is in the realm of dynamics.
Yes, you can hear that authority and solidity, and they’re more than capable of going loud (they actually perform better at higher volumes), but the way they deliver low-level dynamic shifts isn’t quite as graceful as the best of their rivals.
Play something that requires a more careful and considered approach, such as Nick Cave’s Mermaids and the CM6s have the arrangement down to a tee – Cave takes centre stage and there’s plenty of detail among guitars, percussion and backing vocals.
But the B&Ws don’t really get across the fluid, carefree nature of the track. You don’t feel as involved or moved by the music as you do when listening to the PMC Twenty 22s or Dali Rubicon 2s.
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The B&W CM6 S2s are good speakers. They’re built to impress and they sound impressive on a number of different levels.
They just struggle to communicate dynamics and subtlety, and it’s these missing links that stop us from completely falling for them.