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Best B&W speakers 2019: budget, premium, bookshelf and floorstander

Best B&W speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Bowers & Wilkins speakers you can buy in 2019.

British outfit Bowers & Wilkins has consistently 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.

So what should you look for when choosing a pair of B&W speakers?

First of all, think about what type is right for you. Floorstanders can require a fair bit of room in which to operate, so might be better suited to bigger spaces, while bookshelf speakers (aka standmounts) can either be mounted on a stand or fixed to a wall using brackets, so are potentially more versatile.

Thanks to its new Formation range, B&W has even moved into the realm of wireless multi-room speakers and we've included both a stereo pair and one-box option in this list.

Then there's the technology. Traditionally, Kevlar used to be 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 the speakers on this list.

Finally, you'll need to think about your budget. Thankfully, Bowers & Wilkins covers a lot of bases, with offerings under £500 all the way up to £55,000. On that note, let's find you a set of new B&W speakers.

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Best B&W speakers: budget, premium, bookshelf and floorstander

(Image credit: B&W)

1. B&W 606

These impressive B&Ws produce an upbeat and catchy sound.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensitivity: 88dB | Impedance: 8 ohms | Bi-wired: Yes | Max power handling: 120W | Finishes: 2 | Dimensions (hwd): 34.5 x 19 x 30cm | Weight: 6.9kg

Reasons to Buy

Very stylish
Balanced sound
Dynamic, detailed listen

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing of note

A What Hi-Fi? 2019 Awards winner. The 606s produce a brilliant sound, with clarity and openness across the frequency spectrum. They're an energetic and enthusiastic listen too, with great pace, precision and an entertaining grasp of rhythms. There's loads of detail to feast on, and dynamics still reach far and wide even at low volumes. All these elements added together make for a hugely appealing package - these are some of the best Bowers and Wilkins speakers around.

Read the full review: B&W 606

Best B&W speakers: budget, premium, bookshelf and floorstander

(Image credit: B&W)

2. B&W 607

A marvellously entertaining pair of bookshelf B&W speakers.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensitivity: 84dB | Impedance: 8 ohms | Bi-wired: Yes | Max power handling: 100W | Finishes: 2 | Dimensions (hwd): 30 x 16.5 x 20.7cm | Weight: 4.7kg

Reasons to Buy

Dynamic, punchy listen
Detailed and finely balanced
Versatile

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing at this price

Smaller than the 606s, the 607s are the most affordable B&W speakers in the firm's 600 Series. Not that you'd know it - the design is as on point as ever, and sound-wise they're bursting with energy and enthusiasm. The bass is deeper and more responsive than their diminutive size would suggest, and there's bags of details to get your teeth into. Simply put, these are miniature marvels.

Read the full review: B&W 607

Best B&W speakers 2019: budget, premium, bookshelf and floorstander

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

3. Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duo

Wonderfully accomplished and sophisticated wireless speakers.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm): 39.5 x 19.7 x 30.5 | Power: 2x 125W per unit | Features: Bluetooth aptX HD, wi-fi, multi-room, Spotify Connect, Apple Airplay 2 | Connections: USB, Ethernet

Reasons to Buy

Excellent multi-room features
Snappy timing
Tight, authoritative bass

Reasons to Avoid

No fully featured app

The aesthetic might not appeal to everyone and they're far from cheap, but if you want a wireless pair of standmounters that nothing comes even close to right now, you've just found them. For sound, the Duos 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. 

Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duo 

Best B&W speakers: budget, premium, bookshelf and floorstander

(Image credit: B&W)

4. B&W 603

A supremely talented pair of floorstanders you can’t help but admire.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensitivity: 88.5dB | Impedance: 8 ohms | Bi-wired: Yes | Max power handling: 200W | Finishes: 2 | Dimensions (hwd): 98.5 x 19 x 34cm | Weight: 24.1kg

Reasons to Buy

Stunning vocal performance
Spacious soundstage
Tons of detail

Reasons to Avoid

Sound could be more relaxed
Build quality left wanting

The 603s are the lone floorstanders in B&W's current 600 Series. Again, they feature B&W's Continuum cone material, and in this case the results are even more impressive - the soundstage is gloriously spacious, and they deliver bass weight, vocal clarity and detail in spades. If you have just over a grand to spend on a new pair of speakers, you should definitely take the B&W 603s for a spin.

Read the full review: B&W 603

Best B&W speakers: budget, premium, bookshelf and floorstander

(Image credit: B&W)

5. B&W 707 S2

Compact B&W speakers that pack a mighty punch.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensitivity: 84dB | Impedance: 8 ohms | Bi-wired: Yes | Max power handling: 100W | Finishes: 3 | Dimensions (hwd): 28 x 16.5 x 26cm | Weight: 6kg

Reasons to Buy

Authoritative presentation
Hefty bass
Composed when loud

Reasons to Avoid

Lacks subtlety

These are the smallest and cheapest in the 700 series, which is Bowers and Wilkins' mid-range speaker offering. The build is impressively solid, and the cabinet is finished with crisp edges and classy detailing. And this quality continues in the audio department. The 707s sound astonishingly authoritative, with a solid, composed sound, with punchy, powerful bass. They don't struggle at high volumes either; in fact, they tend to sound a little more balanced when you pump up the volume. These are small speakers that sound much, much bigger.

Read the full review: B&W 707 S2

Best B&W speakers: budget, premium, bookshelf and floorstander

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

6. Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge

This B&W wireless speaker delivers exceptional sonic results.

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: HxWxD (cm):25.4 x 28 x 26 | Power: : 4x40W + 80W | Features: proprietary mesh-system wi-fi, multi-room, Bluetooth v4.1 aptX HD, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay2, Roon ready | Connections: Ethernet, USB

Reasons to Buy

Insightful, dynamic sound
Multi-room smarts
Impressive build

Reasons to Avoid

Limited B&W app
Pricey

You can pick up a wireless speaker for relative peanuts, so why would you spend £899/$900 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 Duos (mentioned above) via B&W's own wireless mesh system, allowing for hi-res streaming up to 24-bit/96kHz.

The Wedge is also an exceptional wireless speaker in its own right. It's distinctive design stands out from the competition and the speaker also offers Apple AirPlay 2, aptX HD Bluetooth, Spotify Connect and Roon Ready status. But it's sound quality where the Wedge really earns its keep. Its three-way driver set-up produces a dynamic, entertaining sound drizzled in loads of detail. Pricey, but worth every penny.

Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge

Best B&W speakers: budget, premium, bookshelf and floorstander

(Image credit: B&W)

6. B&W 704 S2

These feature-packed floorstanders have their fair share of talents.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensitivity: 88dB | Impedance: 8 ohms | Bi-wired: Yes | Max power handling: 150W | Finishes: 3 | Dimensions (hwd): 92.5 x 16.5 x 25.5cm | Weight: 18.5kg

Reasons to Buy

Composed, refined sound
Clear midrange
Great build

Reasons to Avoid

Dull at quiet volumes
Rhythmically wanting
Not the most agile bass

The 704 S2s might be slim, but they deliver a bold, generously scaled sound that belies their physical dimensions. They deliver an impressive level of detail, and there's a high level of composure and organisation. This means they always sound in control, even as volume levels head north. The downside? The best at this money boast better rhythmic expression and they're a little lifeless at low volumes, but that's a great excuse to crank them up.

Read the full review: B&W 704 S2

Best B&W speakers: budget, premium, bookshelf and floorstander

(Image credit: B&W)

7. B&W 705 S2

These beautiful speakers deliver serious thrills - but they don’t have a slower gear.

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensitivity: 88dB | Impedance: 8 ohms | Bi-wired: Yes | Max power handling: 120W | Finishes: 3 | Dimensions (hwd): 34 x 20 x 28.5cm | Weight: 9.3kg

Reasons to Buy

Beautifully built
Strong bass
An entertaining listen

Reasons to Avoid

Lack subtlety

Even by Bowers & Wilkins’ standards, the 705 S2s are a supremely elegant pair of speakers. On top of each cabinet sits a decoupled, solid-body tweeter which reduces treble diffraction and lets the speaker's main driver be placed higher in the cabinet, thus allowing it to generate more energy. They produce a weighty, solid sound with a bass depth that's both disarming and impressive given their size. It complements the solid mid-range and crisp treble. While a little overexcited at times, it makes for an upfront listen that – like the speakers themselves – is big, bold and beautiful.

Read the full review: B&W 705 S2

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