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Are my B&W 686 S1 broken?


Active Member
Watched a couple movies at volume for the first time in a long, long while yesterday.

On scenes with a tonne of bass (opening fight sequence on Ender's Game for example), both speakers were crackling and banging horribly.

I enabled crossover at 80Hz to non-existent subwoofer on my receiver to workaround the problem but it has a noticeable effect on quality at that level, which is the "lowest" required to prevent the horrible crashing sound on those bass heavy scenes (if I change to 60Hz or lower the noise comes back).

Sorry. The receiver is an Onkyo TX SR606.

Does this indicate my speakers are shot? Is there any reference testing I can do?

thanks for any advice
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Well-known Member
Movies have lots of subsonic effects which the tiny woofers will not be able to reproduce, What you're hearing are the cones hitting their excursion limits.

It is possible there may be some damage, but generally the woofers are more resilient. Its the tweeters that are more sensitive. But again, its usually huge volumes that will cause it and there will be lots of warning signs.

I suspect its ok, but music usually doesn't have high volumes below 60hz. Even for big floorstanders, many of us do crossover at 60-80Hz because of the subsonic issues.

Just play some music and see what it sounds like.


Well-known Member
That's not necessarily the best option. Having had (and loved) a pair of 686s, I remember now that it doesn't do loud well, even for music. The bass does get strained when going for a bit of authority. So it may even struggle for bass effects at the 100Hz range.

IMHO, better to plough your though on a bigger speaker like the 685s. I used to cross them at 40Hz and seemed ok. Or you can even pick up some bargain 683 S1s sitting around.

Think of a sub as powered low frequency speaker; effectively adding another "way" into your 2 or 3-way speaker. You wouldn't dream of adding a woofer or tweeter drive unit to your speaker unless they are tonally matched and properly cross-overed for seamless integration. Why should a sub be any different?


Well-known Member
Hmm, I wonder if option 2, with the left speaker placed a little further left may not be a bad idea. In terms of distance, they should be close to equidistant to your listening position. Aesthetics aside, its the distance the sond travels that matter. Bass gain from walls, well its never identical. Fabrics, bookshelves, ie day-to-day furnishings should soak up any treble reflections.

If your receiver has autosetup, it will even compensate for speaker distance differences. What they should be is enough separation to reproduce the stereo image.

Looks like you like bookshelves. They have their own charm. And for B&W, none come better than the PM1.

I would seriously consider the 685s. They are front ported so can be close to walls.

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