B&W 603 S2 Anniversary Series (Real People Reviews)

CreativeAnto

Standard Member
Hi guys...

About 15 years I bought the following HIFI gear... and to be honest... it has served me very well to date... with a few key upgrades over recent years:
  • Rotel RA-03 Stereo Integrated Amplifier
  • Rotel RB-06 Stereo Power Amplifier
  • Rotel RCD-02 Stereo Compact Disc Player
  • Rotel RT-06 DAB Stereo Tuner
  • Bowers & Wilkins 603 S2 Speakers
About 5 years ago I upgraded it with an ARCAM irDAC to bring my HIFI system more features for the digital streaming age we were in... and this year I upgraded again as I had subscribed to TIDAL and ROON, so I bought the Bluesound Node 2i as now I'm big into all things MQA and HD Audio.

What I'm asking here today is about the new B&W 603 S2 Anniversary Series.... I have seen them on the official B&W Europeanw website and they look gorgeous Oak finish as that's the finish my current versions have and that's the only finish my wife will allow in the room really... nuff said!! :)

My questions are...
  1. Will the sound quality be a huge leap forward from the B&W 603 S2 speakers that I currently have...? I would like it to be a big jump forward and not a subtle one..?
  2. Will me current dual amp setup me strong enough to drive these new generation of B&W 603 S2 Anniversary Edition speakers ?
  3. Will these be able to connect to my current Amp setup and will the be just a quick swap out for the old ones...?
  4. Should I get a B&W subwoofer to go with these... I want these to last another 15 years, so I would prefer to go all out now and get the best sound I can get and be done with it. I do own a PreSonus Temblor 10' Subwoofer that I use for my DJ setup... I have to turn this down quite low really as it's so powerful the walls and windows shake if I turn it up... so I'm thinking a less powerful version for the B&W 603 S2 speakers might be all I need. I do live in a standalone, no noise is not an issue with neighbours... but I don't want to buy this and have it at the bare minimum all the time either... my current B&W 603 S2 speakers setup has no sub... but with the DJing, I have gotten used to having that bit more bass sound for the lower frequencies.
I could go and visit and listen to these at the specialist store I bought all my previous HIFI gear from... but those listening rooms can be misleading as they are very well isolated and if you ask me... most stuff sounds amazing when you hear it in those environments anyways.

I would like to ask if anyone has upgraded like I'm thinking from previous generations and if the improvement in sound quality and overall power was dramatic... or just very subtle...

I have attached two images of my setup also so that you get a sense of my room and the way things are all setup.

Any comments and suggestions most welcome.

Stay safe and well and thanks for reading my post.
 

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Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Nice setup and I like Rotel with B&W, however, get rid of that settee between the speakers that will be having a big effect (negative) on the sound.
 

CreativeAnto

Standard Member
Nice setup and I like Rotel with B&W, however, get rid of that settee between the speakers that will be having a big effect (negative) on the sound.
Thanks Ugg10 for your comments and suggestion about the location of my Settee... duly noted.... but would you have any insight to the performance of the new B&W 603 S2 Anniversary Series vs my current Bowers & Wilkins 603 S2 Speakers that I bought about 15 years ago ?

Best regards,
Anthony
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I know you're interested in having an opinion on the difference between the two different incarnations of the 603s. How many will upgrade from the standard issue to the anniversary editions as personally I would prefer to upgrade to a far better speaker taking a bigger step forward rather than a stumble.

I dare say @Ugg10 is right about moving that settee out of the way and I'll add throwing a rug down in front of them as well to soften the hard wooden flooring. There you are, upgrade in audio without spending any money.

If it's at all possible you should edition them, it's you that has to be pleased nobody else. I would certainly try our ideas about your current set up before any audition is carried out.
 

Nathan320

Member
Hello Anthony, I've listened to various versions of the 600 tower speakers and currently own the most recent anniversary editions. I purchased them after listening to dozens of tower speakers. My goal was to get something as close to the 702 signature speakers as I could, those being my first choice but out of my budget. Previous versions of the 600 series were not able to get to that level of sound but the anniversary editions are very close. The upgrades they have made to the 603 anniversary are incredible and there is a noticeable difference when compared to previous 603 editions. To my ears I would not say the change was subtle. Is it a leap to the 800 series or McIntosh XR100s? No. But the 603 anniversary speakers are very close to the 702s, in my opinion. You would have to spend much more to get a better quality sound. Your current gear should power them fine (I use a Krell 300i) and hooking them up is the same as your current speakers. As for the subwoofer, I went with the SVS PB1000. The smaller B&W subwoofer didn't have the punch I was looking for but might work well for your purposes. I hope that helps.
 

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CreativeAnto

Standard Member
Morning Nathan.... and thank you so so much for taking the time out f your busy day to drop me such a detailed and informative review. This is exactly the kind of real-life assistance I was looking for. Sounds like to me that I will notice the difference big time. I don't have the budget for anything higher to be honest... this is as high as I can go... but it sounds like I get a lot more bang for my buck and that it would be a very definite upgrade from my current pair of 15 years old 603 speakers.

I have heard a lot about that SVS PB1000 sub... it gets top 5 stars reviews consistently.... but I also worry my wife will just hate that in our living room... I have it for my DJ setup and she just about tolerates that... I might just let that go... as the new speakers go have dual bass drivers.... so that might be sufficient... I can always add a sub later I suppose if I need to... I just noticed the B&W sub only comes in solid black... so that will be a dealbreaker for my wife... lol... :)

Thanks again Nathan... your comments are very much appreciated.


Regards,
Anthony
 

CreativeAnto

Standard Member
I know you're interested in having an opinion on the difference between the two different incarnations of the 603s. How many will upgrade from the standard issue to the anniversary editions as personally I would prefer to upgrade to a far better speaker taking a bigger step forward rather than a stumble.

I dare say @Ugg10 is right about moving that settee out of the way and I'll add throwing a rug down in front of them as well to soften the hard wooden flooring. There you are, upgrade in audio without spending any money.

If it's at all possible you should edition them, it's you that has to be pleased nobody else. I would certainly try our ideas about your current set up before any audition is carried out.
Cheers for your comments gibbsy, but unfortunately moving that settee just won't be possible... it's currently a necessary part of our living room layout... I know you guys have the absolute best intentions at heart for me and my setup and I really appreciate your input... but I have always found the sound great as they are located... I'm just looking for an even better sounding version... :)

I just don't have the budget anyways for any of the versions further up in the series... :)

Thank you again for your input. Very much appreciated.

Best regards,
Anthony
 

Khankat

Well-known Member
I have the current 603, which I like very much. Can't see myself upgrading to the anniversary model.
 

CreativeAnto

Standard Member
Thank you Khankat for your input... sounds like you already have a very recent iteration of the 603 S2 series already... while I'm back in the 2004 version, so the upgrade for me... I would be hoping, would be a big leap forward. Well that would be the hope anyways... :)

Cheers again for you comments.
 

Khankat

Well-known Member
Thank you Khankat for your input... sounds like you already have a very recent iteration of the 603 S2 series already... while I'm back in the 2004 version, so the upgrade for me... I would be hoping, would be a big leap forward. Well that would be the hope anyways... :)

Cheers again for you comments.

From what I have read, the 603 is considerably better than its predecessor. I went from the B&W P4 to the 603. Good as the P4 is, the difference is huge.
 

CreativeAnto

Standard Member
Cheers again all for your input and comments. I just got off the phone with my HIFI Specialist... and I have a listening session now booked with them for two weeks time... so hopefully... and going on what they have told me also about the big jump forward these Anniversary Edition speakers are compared to my 2004 versions... I should be the proud owner of these new B&W 603 S2 Anniversary Series speakers in about 2-3 weeks time. All my current Rotel amps will work perfectly with them also... as they can even power even bigger speakers so no fear there, it should be a quick swapping out of my old speakers for my new.

Anyone know how much my old speakers might be worth to sell... ? or should I just hang onto them and in time invest in a good quality, second-hand amp, and set them up in another part of my house..?

Thanks again to everyone who chimed in on my questions. All view points were very much appreciated.

Stay safe and well for the rest of 2020.


Regards,
Anthony
 

camcroft

Well-known Member
Stay safe and well for the rest of 2020.


Regards,
Anthony
Why do you know something that we don't beyond 2020 ;);)
 

CreativeAnto

Standard Member
Hi Camcroft.... just trying to stay positive and hope that 2021 kicks COVIDs ASS... lol... that's the hope anyways. Take care man... :)
 

Nathan320

Member
I compared the last version of the 603s to the anniversary edition and I noticed an increase in detail, low and high end presence and clarity. For example, an acoustic guitar being played revealed all the nuance of hearing a wood and steel instrument being listened to live. Same for voices. That’s not to say the previous 603 sounds bad, just different. I also compared both versions of the 603 to Kef, Elac, Klipsch, MartinLogan and several others with the same result. The B&Ws had greater detail and a fuller, balanced sound. Some interpret B&Ws clarity as merely a boost in the high end, but that isn’t true. You can boost the treble in those other speakers and still not get the depth of clarity the B&Ws will give. Some don’t like that sound and instead prefer what is referred to as a “warm” sound. To each there own but if you want depth of clarity and a wide soundstage then it’s difficult to beat B&W at this price point. I would say that’s true for the last version of the 603s and the anniversary edition.
 

CreativeAnto

Standard Member
Thank you so so much for all that detail in your review Nathan. I'm currently a big electronic music fan... as I used to be a rave DJ back in the late 80s, early 90s here in Cork, Ireland... so I'm hoping there's great clarity and energy to the bass response... but that's probably a current mid-life crisis phase... lol... as previous to that, I would have bee an obsessive David Bowie fan since I was in my early teens, so I need to make sure these new speakers are future proof also if I revert back to my Bowie beginning and I also love all things folksy/singer-songwriter (Sufjan Stevens, Elbow, Antony & The Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright).

I have gotten great value out of my current pair... and there's always that worry that I won't like the new sonic signature of the new ones... but I have my listening session all booked... so that's as much as I can do really... :)

Thanks again for all your excellent help and advice.

Regards,
Anthony
 

RayP

Well-known Member
@CreativeAnto , I appreciate you can't move the settee much but could you push it back to the wall and then bring the loudspeakers forward a little so the line between the two grills is clear of the backrest of the sofa.

That would improve the stereo image enormously. Compromise works both ways. ;)
 

CreativeAnto

Standard Member
@CreativeAnto , I appreciate you can't move the settee much but could you push it back to the wall and then bring the loudspeakers forward a little so the line between the two grills is clear of the backrest of the sofa.

That would improve the stereo image enormously. Compromise works both ways. ;)
Thank you Ray P.... I think I will try that.... I currently have a Samsung Sub for my Surround Sound setup behind there... but I could possibly try and move that somewhere else so that the sofa could go back all the way... thank you again for your input. Very much appreciated.

Regards,
Anthony
 

RayP

Well-known Member
Anthony, sub positioning is not critical so you should be fine. It would be a shame if you bought better loudspeakers and weren't able to get the best out of them. That space between loudspeakers is crucial for a good stereo stage.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
For second hand prices have a look at the “completed” section on eBay or on Hifishark, this should give you an idea of the current price stuff goes for. There is also a classified section on here. Quick look suggests around the £400 mark, the dealer may also provide a trade in if they are in good nick, may be able to use this as a bargaining tool?

If keeping then I would look out for a second hand Rotel RA1062, well regarded amp with bags of power, a decent phono stage and would keep your house sound, they tend to go for around the £200-250 mark. If you can then bag a matching RCD1070 you would have a very nice second setup but these cd players don’t come up often, an alternative is the Pioneer PDS901/904 stable platter players, these two were top of the tree in their day and can be had around £150.

Good luck with the audition, are you taking your current speakers in to compare or do they have a set handy plus are going to tempt fate and put them up against the 704s2?
 

Scott Berg

Novice Member
hi. I recently swapped the standard 603 from 2018 with the new Anniversary edition with the following observations:

the soundstage is considerably wider, the mid range more detailed and overall a more transparent life like sound balance or representation of the true mix. The bass is more detailed but not as deep as the standard 603. I also noticed that the high frequencies are slightly tempered or not as forward sounding (but just as detailed) compared to the standard issue. Hence vocals seem a bit louder when listening to the standard issue 603. Overall, I prefer the anniversary but I miss the really deep bass response and how it compliments the edgy detail in the vocals without ever sounding harsh in the standard 603. My complaint about the standard 603 is that it sounded like it had a hole in the middle of the frequency range while excelling in the highs and lows. Its truly a taste issue but if you want more detail and space in your music, go for the new Anniversary 603. Cosmetically, a few things they did which is interesting is they made the wind screens more see thru so you can clearly see each cone beneath the screens. This is definitely apparent with the gray screen that comes with the white finish. Also, they placed the B&W logo signature higher on the face where it appears on the 702 as opposed to on the bottom. The logo is still on the bottom on the new screens. Overall a very exciting speaker for the price.
 

nicknairn

Novice Member
Hi everyone, I'm new to the community here. This is my first post

I'm currently looking for a decent floor standers for under $3000AUD.

One of my mate has the 603 from last iteration. I'm a fan of B&W sound in general but I think the competition is too fierce and probably would get more for $3000 from a different brand. Not sure if it is to do with the setup he has, 603 with Onkyo TX-NR676, Klipsch centre channel.

The anniversary edition seems to be getting positive reviews from everyone and apparently there is a vast difference from the previous ones.

Should I go for the 603 S2 or do you guys recommend something else?

I am leaning towards Dali Oberon 5 as well, probably cause it is retailing at half the price.

Is there any recommendations?

Also I will be using them purely for music. What Stereo amp would be the best under $1000AUD or should I go for a receiver just in case I decide to add more speakers for a HT setup in the future.

Thank you:)
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Not sure if it is to do with the setup he has, 603 with Onkyo TX-NR676, Klipsch centre channel.
The Onkyo is never going to sound great with three different speakers in the front soundstage, especially with a brighter Klipsch in the set up. Timbre across that front soundstage must really take a battering.

The other failing with the Onkyo will be it's stereo performance with music. I would never judge a speakers performance with music when being run from a receiver. A stereo amp that costs the same will sound much better. So don't judge the speakers performance based on your mate's system.

If you want speakers for music then don't consider an AV amp. There are ways and means that you can add an AV amp at a later date if you go 5.1 even with using the same front speakers.

As for the speakers themselves they will also have to fit to the room. The room being the second most important part of any layout after the actual speakers. Size, furnishings and reflective surfaces are play a big part.

Welcome to the Forum.
 

nicknairn

Novice Member
Thank you gibbsy for your comments. I did advise him to get an amp for the speakers and may be add receivers for the centre and surrounds. His main consumption is movies.

Anyway, my lounge room is 15 X 23ft, it is completely carpeted. There's a 3 seater sofa with chaise facing the TV and the distance between them would probably be 12ft. There is nothing else in between. There is no false ceiling either. The height of the room would be 12ft.
 

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