Bowers and Wilkins has announced a complete line refresh of its best-selling 600 Series loudspeakers. The new iterations feature a more stylish design and herald a move away from the brand’s distinctive yellow Kevlar drivers to the Continuum cones found on its 700 and 800 models.
Made from a woven composite material, Continuum drivers are said to offer improved dynamics.
The 600 Series has been a staple for Bowers and Wilkins for the best part of 20 years. It’s the longest serving loudspeaker range after its flagship 800 Series, with over a million sold. “As you can imagine, we haven’t taken this upgrade lightly,” Andy Kerr, Director of Product Communication, told Channel News.
The 600 series has enjoyed a number of revisions since its 1995 debut, first in 1999, and then again in 2001, 2007 and 2014. However, this is their most significant retooling yet. Coming a year after the company relaunched its 700 Series, a number of refinements have trickled down to the new models.
The incomes 600 Series undoubtedly look more stylish. The fascia has been cleaned up dramatically.
The speaker grilles are now magnetic, allowing speaker pegs to be removed. All the ports have been moved from the front of the speakers to the rear, creating a more streamlined appearance. This has also allowed the new 607 bookshelf speaker to be a little more compact than the 686 it replaces, making it easier to pop on a bookshelf.
Traditional black ash vinyl wrap has also been replaced with a lightly textured black finish which is more interiors friendly. The white finish carries on.
Some things remain the same though. All 600 Series speakers still sport a Decoupled Double Dome tweeter, with a dual-layer aluminium diaphragm. The tweeter grille mesh has been lifted from the 700 Series.
The new 600 Series comprises two standmounters. The 607 features a130mm Continuum bass/midrange driver, while the 606 has a 165mm Continuum bass/midrange offering.
These are joined by the 603 3-way floorstander, boasting two 165mm bass drivers and one 150mm Continuum FST midranger. There is no longer a choice of two centre speakers in the range. Instead the old HTM62 S2 and HTM61 S2 models have been replaced by the compact HTM6 which combines two 130mm bass drivers.
The new 600 Series gets no fewer than three subwoofers: the ASW608, ASW610 and ASW610XP, in 8-inch and 10-inch 200w/500w configurations respectively
Interestingly, there is no Dolby Atmos specific speaker in the line-up. Andy Kerr says the company advocates in-ceiling speakers if users want an Atmos sound system. He rules out producing Dolby Enabled modules.
“We don’t believe in them,” he told Channel News. “When a Dolby Atmos module is placed on top of another loudspeaker, it extends the height of the baffle. We spend an awful lot of time trying to get the tweeter to the top of the baffle, as we believe this helps with dispersion characteristics. So extending the height of the baffle is counter intuitive from a stereo performance point of view.”