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B&W 606 review

What Hi-Fi? Awards 2019 winner. The famous B&W 600 Series is back with a bang Tested at £549 / $800

5 Star Rating

Our Verdict

An upbeat, entertaining, brilliantly-balanced sound from a beautifully-made pair of speakers

For

  • Smart, stylish design
  • Brilliantly balanced sound
  • Dynamic and detailed

Against

  • Nothing of note

And finally. The new B&W 600 Series speaker range is in the building. We’ve had to wait a while to get our hands on them, but based on these B&W 606 speakers, it’s been well worth the wait. The 600 Series had some serious shoes to fill, and the 606 speakers face some tough competition at this price point, but - “look away now if you don’t want to know the result” - we think these might just be the new speakers to beat.

The B&W 606 speakers feature a typically smart design, come in the perfect medium-sized speaker form, and ultimately deliver an exciting, engaging and perfectly-poised sound. Building on the all-conquering B&W 685 S2 speakers, the 606s could be an even bigger success.

Build and features

B&W 606 design and features

The 600 Series is the most affordable range in B&W’s exalted hi-fi family. There are two standmount models, the 606 here, the more compact 607 (£399), plus a pair of floorstanders, the 603s (£1249) and the HTM6 centre (£399). 

All of the speakers use B&W’s latest Continuum cone technology, as seen on the company’s more expensive models, and it’s the cheapest range on which the material appears. This cone material replaces the iconic Kevlar of previous generations, with the change being marked by a move to silver from yellow. 

With the magnetic grilles removed, the speakers (available in black or white) look great and while B&W is far from alone in being able to turn out a beautiful looking pair of stereo speakers at this price, we do think these speakers look particularly sharp. There aren’t many hi-fi brands in the world, let alone the UK, with the scale of production of Bowers & Wilkins, so it’s perhaps no wonder.

The 16.5cm Continuum bass/midrange driver here is joined by a 25mm decoupled double dome aluminium tweeter. Decoupling the tweeter from the front panel reduces the degrading effects of the vibrations generated by the mid/bass unit. Gently press the trim around the tweeter and you’ll notice the slight movement allowed in the design. 

Around the back of the speaker you’ll see B&W’s Flowport vent and a pair of twin banana plugs for biwiring. At around 3.5kg each and standing 35 x 19 x 32 cm (HWD, including grilles and terminals), there a pretty bang-on size for a pair of bookshelf speakers, and only the smallest of rooms would hamper them (and no doubt B&W would point you towards the dinkier 607).

Sound

From Hans Zimmer to house, Nils Frahm to Dr Dre, these B&W speakers simply don’t miss a beat. Any concerns about the lively treble being too much for sensitive ears soon fades, with the fully run-in sound settling on a spot-on sonic balance of which Simone Biles would be proud. Instead, the crisp clarity in the treble, and across the spectrum, gives the 606s real energy and drive compared to the KEF Q350s.

Our 606 speakers were supplied with the B&W STAV24 S2 stands, a £99 optional extra, and we set them around 60 cm from the wall. A bit of room to breathe makes sense with the ported design but naturally the distance will depend on the amount of room you have.

B&W 606 tech specs

Sensitivity 88dB

Impedence 8 ohms

Finishes 2 (black, white)

Dimensions (hwd) 34.5 x 19 x 34cm

Weight 6.9kg

First impressions, visually and sonically, are good. The B&W 606 speakers deliver an entertaining sound. A lively treble grabs our ear and gives a good pace to the music, while notes stop and start with snappy precision, which only helps keep our toes tapping.

Listening to Loyle Carner’s Ain’t Nothing Changed, there’s real body and detail to the rasping saxophone hook, soon joined by pleasantly weighty drums and a smooth, deep bass line. The slightly larger KEF Q350s might deliver a little more depth and weight but the B&Ws bass sounds tighter and more insightful, ultimately delivering a better-balanced sonic spectrum. 

This is brought home by Massive Attack’s timeless Angel, which sounds every bit as ominous and brooding as it should, while still capable of flapping your trouser legs at high volume. In fact, the 606s are adept at high and low volume, losing little of their dynamic reach and overall detail when played at someone-upstairs-in-bed volume. The track draws us in from the off, keeping an iron grip on our attention long-before the track reaches its crescendo, thanks to faultless timing, excellent insight and stirring dynamics.

Verdict

We waited a long time to hear the new B&W 600 Series in our test rooms, but after a few days in the company of the B&W 606 speakers, all is forgiven.

A great size and price for anyone with more than a passing interest in music, the 606s will breathe new life into your favourite tracks. They’re upbeat and energetic, deliver punchy, solid bass and offer class-leading levels of detail and dynamics. The new mid-priced speakers to beat? They might just be. We can’t wait to hear the rest of the range.

SCORES

  • Sound 5
  • Compatibility 5
  • Build 5

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