We’ve reviewed both the Bowers & Wilkins 606 S3 and 607 S3 speakers as individual stereo pairs, but what happens when you throw a centre channel and a subwoofer into the mix? If you said a surround-sound home cinema speaker package, then you’d be correct.
So that’s exactly what we’ve done, making a somewhat DIY set-up using the two pairs of five-star Bowers & Wilkins speakers as the front and surround channels. But enough of the technicalities, how does this speaker package sound? Well considering it’s comprised of two pairs of five-star speakers, you probably won’t be surprised to find out that it sounds good. Really good.
Here’s where things get a little bit tricky so bear with us. The system we have consists of the 606 S3 speakers (£749 / $1100 / AU$1499) as our front left and right channels, the 607 S3 (£599 / $900 / AU$1149) as our surround speakers, the HTM6 S3 centre channel (£649 / $900 / AU$1149) and the ASW610 subwoofer (£499 / $899 / AU$1299). In total that puts us at £2496 / $3799 / AU$3947. Bowers & Wilkins does not currently sell these speakers as a specific package, so you’ll need to purchase each component separately in order to build this system.
Bear in mind that the front and surround speakers are standmount speakers, so you’ll also need to factor in the cost of speaker stands. It’s also worth mentioning that you can find a very similar package that swaps out the subwoofer we have for the B&W ASW608 – while this is slightly cheaper at £2375 (around $2900 / AU$4485), we can’t vouch for its performance as we have only tested this set-up with the ASW610 subwoofer.
Starting with the main players in this system we have the Bowers & Wilkins 606 S3 stereo speakers. Measuring 34 x 19 x 30cm (hwd), the 606 S3 are much more compact than many other home cinema speakers we’ve tested from the likes of Wharfedale and Fyne with their respective behemoth floorstanders. Comparatively, the B&W speakers are likely to dominate your room less, although you will have to factor in the space for stands.
Inside the 606 S3 you’ll find a two-way vented design with a 25mm dome tweeter and 16.5cm cone driver. Titanium is the big news with the S3 series (something you’ll see in all speakers within this package), with a new titanium dome tweeter accompanying the mid and bass driver comprised of B&W’s Continuum cone material. Bowers & Wilkins has traditionally used aluminium tweeters but is switching to titanium in order to 'improve resolution and refinement in the high frequencies'.
Finishes x 3 (black, white, oak)
Dimensions (hwd) 34.4 x 18.9 x 30cm
Dimensions (hwd) 30 x 16.5 x 20.7cm
Dimensions (hwd) 16 x 48 x 25.5 cm
Dimensions (hwd) 32.2cm x 31cm x 34.7cm
The 607 S3 look nearly identical to the 606 S3, although they are smaller across the board at 30 x 17 x 21cm (hwd). The 607 S3 features a similar internal arrangement as the 606 S3, although its Continuum mid/bass driver is smaller at 13cm.
Both the 606 and 607 speakers are well crafted, with robust wood cabinets and vinyl coverings that come in three finishes; black, white and oak. As we mentioned in our reviews for both of the respective pairs, we appreciate the high-quality construction and pleasingly minimalist design that is indicative of speakers found in higher price brackets.
Next, we have the HTM6 centre channel which, much like the rest of the package, is robust and compact. It measures just 16 x 48 x 26cm (hwd), invoking David and Goliath imagery when placed beside the rival gargantuan Wharfedale Evo 4.C centre speaker. The HTM6 is a two-way vented design with a titanium dome tweeter (25mm) and two Continuum cone mid/bass drivers (13cm).
Rounding things off we have the ASW610 subwoofer which, unsurprisingly, continues the compact motif we’ve seen throughout this package. Measuring in at 32cm x 31cm x 35cm (including feet), the ASW610 is a compact powered subwoofer with a 25cm paper and aramid fibre cone long-throw driver. It is powered by 200W of Class D amplification.
Despite this package’s overall small footprint, it certainly does not compromise on performance. Overall, we find ourselves grasping at straws when it comes to finding things to complain about, as the Bowers & Wilkins 606 and 607 S3 Surround Speaker Package is nothing short of spectacular in the sonic department. We’ve paired this package with the stellar Sony TA-AN1000 AV amplifier for our testing, which complements the package nicely.
Kicking things off with Interstellar, we begin with the iconic scene featuring Mann’s betrayal as he attempts to maroon Cooper and Brand on a desolate ice planet. There’s lots to take note of here, namely the captivating vocal performances that are truly done justice by the B&W package. The panic in Brand’s voice as she rushes to reach the slowly suffocating Cooper is palpable, with the speakers producing a rich and textured yet natural and lifelike presentation. This extends to Mann’s (portrayed against type by Matt Damon) rambling monologue, which is equally emotive and engaging.
Moments later, we witness the tragic death of Romilly via an explosion that is conveyed with meaty, powerful bass that’s snappy and controlled in equal measure. This is thanks to the package’s impressive dynamics, which consistently allow for instantly punchy and guttural bass and enhanced volume when required. Another example of this would be the later scene where Mann fails to properly engage the airlock, resulting in a very sudden explosion, a quick rush of air and then silence, which the speaker package handles with pinpoint control and adequate punch when required.
This S3 package is also adept when it comes to detail, with each sound effect inside the ship coming across with exceptional clarity and nuance. Whether that’s the creaking of the ship as it makes evasive manoeuvres or the various beeps and clicks of the control panels within the cockpit, the package is insightful, detailed and articulate while also being rich and full-bodied.
If there’s one criticism we’d highlight with this package compared to the similarly priced Wharfedale Evo 4.4 5.1 package, it would be the comparatively smaller scale of the sound. When it comes to larger set pieces such as the worm attack sequence in Dune, we do at times wish for a slightly grander scale to the sound. That being said, this package still carries a full-bodied and solid presence overall, which somewhat makes up for this shortcoming.
Shifting over to the opening sequence of Baby Driver we return back to the strengths of this system. Namely how adept it is with directional sound. As cars pass by Baby as he waits for his fellow gang of bank robbers to complete their heist, we hear the sound move fluidly between the speakers, with no noticeable gaps between the surrounds and front and centre channels. It also sounds pleasingly realistic, as no single speaker sticks out or draws attention to itself, instead passing the sound around in an organic way.
As things move up a gear (literally) and the gang make their getaway in an ensuing police chase, the precision of the soundfield continues to impress. As the Subaru Impreza WRX screeches around corners and twirls around in various 180-degree turns, we’re swept up in the engaging, energetic sound that sweeps across the room in an impressive surround-sound experience.
Finishing off with a stereo music test, the Bowers & Wilkins 606 S3 shine, delivering a glowing review in the music department, with its broad, rich and authoritative sound. The addition of the subwoofer does enhance the low-end frequencies, ideal for bass-heavy tracks such as James Blake’s Limit To Your Love.
Truthfully, we had a sneaking suspicion that this package could be excellent based on our prior experience with the 606 S3 and 607 S3 stereo pairs. However, we’re still taken aback by how good this package sounds as a whole. Clear, detailed, rich and dynamic – this speaker system ticks all of our boxes.
- Build 5
- Compatibility 5
- Sound 5
Read our review of the Wharfedale Evo 4.4 5.1
Also consider the Wharfedale Diamond 12.3
Read our Dali Oberon 5 5.1