Incorporating technologies from the firm's reference-standard 800 Series, the improvements represent a significant step forward in this price class.
"Applying much of our latest, most sophisticated technologies to our most accessibly priced products has long been a B&W design goal," says Doug Henderson, VP of Sales and Marketing. “We have proven over the years that the way to create new customers for our higher end products is to give them as much as we can at the entry level. The brand loyalty this creates is exceptional.”
Bowers & Wilkins Flagship Technology Made Affordable.
Starting at the top, the new 600 Series Nautilus™ tube-loaded tweeter has been completely redesigned. A powerful new neodymium magnet replaces the ceramic magnet used in the past. The tweeter’s smaller size allows it to be placed closer to the midrange driver for more seamless integration and vertical dispersion, with resulting improvements in imaging. The new tweeter also makes use of single layer, edge-wound ribbon voice coil wire, and a copper plate on the pole piece. These techniques put more copper in the voice-coil gap, increase efficiency, lower distortion and extend the high frequency response. The tweeter also makes use of rolled-surround technology, which allows greater frequency extension before break-up. Braided lead-out wires from the diaphragm improve reliability, and a new surround material achieves a lower resonant frequency, with the net result of wider overall bandwidth and power handling. Compared with 600 S3 tweeters, the response has more than doubled, to 50 kHz, putting any distortion well outside the audible range.
The Kevlar® bass/midrange units developed for this range utilize a fixed center “bullet” piece that improves smoothness and dispersion in the upper frequencies. High quality, die-cast driver baskets are employed to minimize chassis resonance and rear wave turbulence. The 683 and the HTM61 center have the added benefit of the FST™ (Fixed Suspension Transducer) midrange pioneered in the Nautilus™ 800 Series. This breakthrough design has proven unequaled for midrange clarity and dynamics.
The 683’s twin woofers have been given an increase in magnet diameter from 100mm to 120mm, to provide higher sensitivity and tighter bass. The cone material used here consists of dual layers of aluminum and paper/Kevlar®, in a technique known as constrained layer damping, to reduce cone breakup and lower distortion. The woofer chassis is die-cast and features an open design with rounded support legs to reduce viscous drag.
The many driver refinements have allowed Bowers & Wilkins to employ minimalist first-order crossovers, like those in the 800 Series, built of premium quality components that were selected through extensive listening tests. Fewer components of higher quality translate directly to less signal degradation, with improvements in every aspect of performance.
Cabinet construction has also been improved by increasing the baffle thickness by 30%. This strengthening provides a better mechanical foundation for the bass driver(s), and reduces panel bending at higher volumes. The benefit is better bass definition.
Immediately noticeable are the many enhancements to the look and feel of the new models. Soft-touch baffle paint, screw-less driver trim rings, and an elegant diamond cut logo on a brushed aluminum surface, all give an amazingly high quality feel to such a reasonably priced range.
A Shorter, More Focused Line-up.
The latest 600 range has been streamlined to provide you with a full range of choices for both home theater and music system applications.
686 - $450/pair. The new entry level model is a very compact (10.4” x 6.7” x 9.8” HWD) two-way vented design with a 5” Kevlar® bass/midrange driver and a 1” Nautilus™ tube-loaded aluminum dome tweeter. A remarkably solid performer that will challenge much larger designs, the 686 will sit happily on a bookshelf or stand, and comes with a wall bracket as well.
685 - $600/pair. In a somewhat larger enclosure, with a 6.5” Kevlar® cone bass/midrange driver and the 1” Nautilus™ tube-loaded tweeter, the 685 is simply the best value bookshelf Bowers & Wilkins has ever made, replacing the 601S3 and the 602S3 with one elegant package.
684 - $1,000/pair. Next up in the range is a two-and-half-way, vented-box, floorstander that features two new 6.5” Kevlar® cone bass/midrange drivers. The 684 is easily best in class at this price point, with a transparent, dynamic presentation. Its sophisticated cosmetic detailing and slim profile give it strong visual appeal.
683 - $1,400/pair. At the top of the new 600 Series is an impressive floor standing speaker. The 683 is a true three-way vented-box system with two high power, low distortion 6.5” aluminum bonded to paper/Kevlar® bass drivers. The first of the 600 series to receive the coveted 6” FST™ midrange driver, the 683 is rounded out with the same 1” aluminum tweeter and Nautilus™ housing.
Home Theater Takes Center Stage.
While the new 600 models are superb music reproducers, particular attention has been paid to the home theater aspects of the range.
HTM62 - $400/each. HTM61 - $600/each. Bowers & Wilkins provides two system-matching options for the all important center channel position. The first, the HTM62, is a two-way vented-box system with dual 5” Kevlar® bass/midrange drivers and a 1” Nautilus™ tube-loaded aluminum tweeter. The more potent HTM61 increases the SPL capability of the system with a true three-way vented-box system comprising one 6.5” Kevlar® bass/midrange, a 6” FST Kevlar® midrange, and a 1” Nautilus™ tube-loaded aluminum tweeter. The HTM61’s performance is simply amazing and offers a clear step-up opportunity.
To handle deep bass duties there are three new subwoofers that offer very compact dimensions and stylish cosmetics, yet really deliver the goods sonically. Each uses rugged driver cones formed from a precise mix of paper pulp, Kevlar® fibers and resin.
Two hundred watt Class D ICEpower® amplifiers provide clean, fast power while remaining cool and ultra-solid cabinet construction keeps the sound free from coloration even during the most demanding passages.
ASW608 - $450/each. ASW610 - $600/each. ASW610XP - $1,000/each. First in the subwoofer line-up is the ASW608, with a long excursion 8” bass driver and retailing for $450. The output capability of this quite small design is -6dB at 25Hz, from an enclosure measuring only 10.2” x 10.2 x 13”! In the middle spot is the ASW610 with a robust 10” bass driver on a footprint only slightly larger (12.2” x 12.2” x 14.8”). Once again, Bowers & Wilkins achieves more output from a smaller enclosure. The ASW610 provides an excellent -6dB at 20Hz and sets a new benchmark for a modestly priced sub. For the largest theaters employing the 600 Series models, the ASW610XP is the perfect match. It features a superb new 10” driver driven by two 200W Class D ICEpower® amplifiers connected to its dual voice coils. This technique provides greater control and extension, to a truly impressive 18Hz, and is part of the reason the ASW610XP is Bowers & Wilkin’s best subwoofer effort yet at $1,000 retail.
DS3/CDS3 - $400/each. To finish off the 600 Series home theater packages, Bowers & Wilkins has upgraded their very popular DS3 on-wall surround speaker, as well as its recessed cousin, the CDS3. Sharing all the new technologies developed for the range, this is a selectable dipole/monopole design with a 5” Kevlar® bass/midrange driver, two 3” midrange/ tweeters and the new 1” tweeter.
The new 600 Series will be available initially in two premium finishes: black ash and red cherry. A third finish, the very popular wenge, will be added later this year.