Bowers & Wilkins 603 S2 Anniversary Loudspeaker Review & Comments

MrSmithers

Standard Member
Great review Ed, I like the Golf GTI analogy (and the footy) - pretty spot on. I have the 605 s1 as part of a surround set up and it’s interesting the newer crossover makes that difference. Small tweaks here and there obviously do help…

I may consider these as new front channels and move the older 605’s to the rear. But I listen to a lot of quadraphonic and surround music so kinda want to keep all speakers the same size. How would you rate the 605 s2? Would they still come in around an 8? Hmm maybe I should just look at 4 603’s?!

Always enjoy the podcasts too…

Cheers
 

password1

Suspended
Quite expensive for budget floorstanders that may seem like the floorstanding versions with tweaks of the small much cheaper 607 and 606 speakers.

The 607 and 606 to me are rivals to the Monitor Audio Bronze 50 and 100 and Dali Oberon 1 and 3 but these floorstanders are at the price point of the MA Silver and Dali Opticon mk2 floorstanders rather than Bronze or Oberon floorstanders money.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
I’ve demoed the Bowers speakers last summer.

They sound quite good the midrange (voices particularly), but the upper midrange sounds shrill in my ears.

Bass is extended, deep yet not as punchy as I’d expect from class leading speakers.

Treble sound metallic too.

If Dynaudio has less expensive speakers I’d rather buy them
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Why cannot we have all the drivers the same colour?
I think it has something to with the continuum drivers, not sure though, so the color needs to be the same.
 

bogart99

Well-known Member
I’ve demoed the Bowers speakers last summer.

They sound quite good the midrange (voices particularly), but the upper midrange sounds shrill in my ears.

Bass is extended, deep yet not as punchy as I’d expect from class leading speakers.

Treble sound metallic too.

If Dynaudio has less expensive speakers I’d rather buy them
A lot of people do not like B&W tweeters, apparently.
 

acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
A lot of people do not like B&W tweeters, apparently.
Like me. I had 685 s2's and found them incredibly fatiguing. Wanted to swap them out after a month, but couldn't afford to for nearly 3 years.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
I really believe if you’re going to buy B&W speakers there some factors to consider.

One: More less a perfect listing room

Two: The right amplifier.

In my opinion Arcam is probably the best match.
 

password1

Suspended
I think it has something to with the continuum drivers, not sure though, so the color needs to be the same.
I don't see why they can't have the drivers in a different colour unless the material makes it impossible. Other manufacturers have changed the colour of their cones without affecting sound quality. Monitor Audio Monitor series are available in black cones (4g) as well as the orange cones (3g) and the specs are exactly the same. Dali have made the cones darker in the Opticon mark 2 series.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Looking the earlier 603 model review which is going to be close to S2, measurements and owners thoughts from another sites they have said the speaker can sound very different depending of toe in. James at Audioholics felt that only slight toe in max is needed or shooting straight ahead, they can become overly bright (see on-axis). Also the dip at 2kHz is not ideal. Typical B&W house sound? Actually quite many says "show room sound" and bit tiring for long term, although one should definitely play with the toe in angle. For movies something like Audussey will flatten the response if doing full range correction.

image
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
For reminder! Steve Withers said The Bowers & Wilkins 600 S2 Anniversary Edition benefits from a few minor sonic tweaks, but based on memory it sounds largely the same as the previous generation.

With that in mind if someone is considering these at 1500£ he could pick the black S1 version for 799£ in mint condition!
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Looking the earlier 603 model review which is going to be close to S2, measurements and owners thoughts from another sites they have said the speaker can sound very different depending of toe in. James at Audioholics felt that only slight toe in max is needed or shooting straight ahead, they can become overly bright (see on-axis). Also the dip at 2kHz is not ideal. Typical B&W house sound? Actually quite many says "show room sound" and bit tiring for long term, although one should definitely play with the toe in angle. For movies something like Audussey will flatten the response if doing full range correction.

image
Yesterday I was listing to these speakers with Hegel H190.

The sound is so nasal in the midrange it is unbelievable. Although voices at times can sound prey good (think Mark Knopfler).

Still I was utterly perplexed that the Dali Oberon 7 plays so much better. Warmer sound, although at times a bold treble. Still they have much better bass response.

As mentioned it’s shame Dynaudio floor standing are so expensive. That top end is to die for.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
I don't see why they can't have the drivers in a different colour unless the material makes it impossible. Other manufacturers have changed the colour of their cones without affecting sound quality. Monitor Audio Monitor series are available in black cones (4g) as well as the orange cones (3g) and the specs are exactly the same. Dali have made the cones darker in the Opticon mark 2 series.
Remember those yellow drivers. 😂
 

bogart99

Well-known Member
Like me. I had 685 s2's and found them incredibly fatiguing. Wanted to swap them out after a month, but couldn't afford to for nearly 3 years.
This is exactly the reason listening to speakers for an hour in a demo room makes no sense in most cases. One has to live with them a while.
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
Living with the speakers for a while is surely the best option, but that's not always possible. Another weak point of demo rooms is that they often offer a different audio system than the one you have at home, so it is hard to compare. It is also hard to replicate the demo room acoustics in your listening room/living room at home.
 

kempez

Well-known Member
I managed to listen to the 603 S1 in a decent listening room, with the same amp that I was intending to purchase with them - an Arcam AVR550. I also managed a good half hour listening to loads of music without interruption- Sevenoaks in Reading were really patient to secure the sale 👍🏻

They really are superb. Personally I don’t find the treble fatiguing at all, but very neutral and accurate, but then I did ask for them to have minimal toe-in and do the same at home. This also helps with the stereo imaging: if you toe them in a lot it sounds awful but at almost-straight it’s spot on.

Day to day I find them very accurate and great to listen to and fill a decent size room. I don’t think they’re as musical as some speakers nudging the £2k mark but then mine cost me £1.1k just after release and I actually think that the neutrality helps them perform better when in a surround set with the 606 and HTM-6.

The build quality is superb as noted but very brutal looking (which I like but my wife hates). Overall I’m very very happy with them.

Worth noting I run them bi-amped which imo makes quite a difference and they sound a lot better with the Arcam than on my cheaper Denon. The Arcam gives them much more oomph as well as pairing really nicely for sound.
 

bogart99

Well-known Member
I would agree that toeing in or out of speakers can definitely make a noticeable difference. My Dalis are straight on, which in fact is how Dali suggest they should be.
 

acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
I managed to listen to the 603 S1 in a decent listening room, with the same amp that I was intending to purchase with them - an Arcam AVR550. I also managed a good half hour listening to loads of music without interruption- Sevenoaks in Reading were really patient to secure the sale 👍🏻

They really are superb. Personally I don’t find the treble fatiguing at all, but very neutral and accurate, but then I did ask for them to have minimal toe-in and do the same at home. This also helps with the stereo imaging: if you toe them in a lot it sounds awful but at almost-straight it’s spot on.

Day to day I find them very accurate and great to listen to and fill a decent size room. I don’t think they’re as musical as some speakers nudging the £2k mark but then mine cost me £1.1k just after release and I actually think that the neutrality helps them perform better when in a surround set with the 606 and HTM-6.

The build quality is superb as noted but very brutal looking (which I like but my wife hates). Overall I’m very very happy with them.

Worth noting I run them bi-amped which imo makes quite a difference and they sound a lot better with the Arcam than on my cheaper Denon. The Arcam gives them much more oomph as well as pairing really nicely for sound.
This is exactly why buying speakers without listening is a lottery. These speakers aren't for me but are perfect for you/your room. Neither of us are wrong. We just have different preferences and rooms.
 

kempez

Well-known Member
Yea of course - and kit matching makes a big difference as well. Hence why I arranged to listen and the guy made an effort to arrange it with the equipment I was going to use :smashin:
 

Bass junky

Active Member
My 603 S2 sound stunning with no fatiguing at the top end. The mids sound clear and open with a Marantz amp. The only thing they could do with is a slight increase in bass however this is no longer an issue with 2 BK Mono+ subs flanking each tower.
 

kempez

Well-known Member
The base is solid enough, depending on positioning and it's nice and fast. But yeah, agreed. A sub (or 2), definitely adds that extra deep shove
 

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