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Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the B&W 607 S2 Anniversary Edition. It was kindly sent to me by a member and costs US $700 through their various dealers.

The 607 S2 comes in different color. My same was in black:
Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition Review.jpg


Disappointing to see no attempt at directivity control with a waveguide. The corners are pretty sharp which at this price point, would have expected to have had some rounding over. Back panel binding posts surprisingly are not gold plated which is the norm in this era:
B&W 607 S2 Anniversary Edition Review.jpg


I love the masculine and nicely textured port. Cleverly it is molded and tooled with the binding post, helping save cost in manufacturing and assembly (which is in China).

I only found two reviews of this speakers, one from WhatHifi in UK which gave it perfect score of 5 out of 5. And one by Steve Guttenberg which gave it speaker of the year award for 2020.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I performed over 1000 measurement which resulted in error rate below 1% for most of the except around 2 kHz where it crept up to 2% error. Sound field got quite complex there suggesting multiple sources than just the two drivers (diffraction, etc.).

Testing temperature was around 60 degrees F.

Reference axis for measurements was the center of the tweeter. Grill was not used in either measurements or listening tests.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

B&W 607 S2 Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition Frequency Response Measurement.png


And flaws we have! Hard to know where to start. We can go from right to left with that peaking tweeter response to give that "showroom zing." This is then followed by a dip in 2 to 3 kHz, courtesy of poor crossover design. This then goes into peaking and some resonances around 1 to 1.7 kHz and again around 200 to 400 Hz.

Bass and mid-range level is around 83 dB which is very low efficiency. Thankfully the company is honest and rates the speaker at 84 dB efficiency. You better have lots of amplification power to drive this speaker.

Early window reflections don't paint a pretty picture either:

Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition Early Window Reflection Frequency Response Measure...png


So combined we have the problems we could predict:
Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition Predicted In-room Frequency Response Measurement.png


Near-field measurements of the drivers confirm some of the problems we have seen:
Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition near-field measurements.png


Impedance graph shows a resonance and reasonable impedance:
Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary phase and impedance measurements.png


CSD/waterfall response shows more of these resonances:
Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary CSD waterfall measurements.png



Horizontal beam width is rather uneven as is directivity:
Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary horizontal beamwidth.png


Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary horizontal directivity.png


Vertical directivity shows a hole in response so best to stay slightly above tweeter axis:

Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary vertical directivity.png


It is not all bad news. Tweeter distortion is quite low as is the woofer if levels are kept reasonable:
Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition Relative THD Distortion Measurement.png

Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition Distortion Measurement.png


Company marketing video talks a lot about advanced 3-D modeling and reduction of aberrations in both drivers. Seems like they got there on the tweeter and almost so with woofer until it breaks up.

B&W 607 S2 Anniversary Edition Listening Tests
First impressions are of elevated highs but they are extremely clean in nature as predicted by the low distortion level. As such, they don't rip your face off as some other speakers with such treble elevation do. Alas, you quickly realize that the bass response is just not there and all you hear is that elevated highs. There is also slight tubbiness that comes from resonances in lower mid-range upper bass.

I brought out the equalization panel in my Roon player and tried to make quick corrections. Alas, much more help was needed before what I considered to be "reasonable" tonality and sound:
Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition Equalization EQ Parametric.png


While I am usually good at eyeballing the EQ values, way too many were needed here than what I could do. So I suspect a more mechanically generated EQ would do better.

Conclusions
Video marketing material only talks about improvements in drivers. That, seems to be there. Alas, decades of research into what makes a good sounding speaker was ignored with poor integration of drivers, multiple resonances and poor directivity which result in "proper showroom" sound but nothing you would want to live with. I don't mind throwing a filter or two at a speaker to make it sound good. But this design needs way more than that. You have to become a speaker designer, doing the work that the company was supposed to do. And that ain't right.

I can see how some subjectivist reviewer would fall in love with the clean and low distortion highs and call it an audiophile experience with micro detail, imagine and usual buzzwords. But that is not a good diet for an audiophile. You want a speaker that gets out of the way and reproduces what is in your source faithfully.

Just to make sure I was not in a "bad audio mood," I swapped the 607 S2 for a Revel M105. Wow, what an improvement in overall tonality, feel of the speaker and quality all around. Yes, it costs twice as much. But it shows you what proper sound is like. It does justice to your music whereas the 607 S2 doesn't. It latter spits on your music and says, I am going to tell you how it should sound.

Is the 607 S2 the worse speaker I have heard? No. There is some good engineering in the driver. I hope some of that rubs off to whoever did the system design of the speaker.

The marketing material said they have sold one or two million 600 series speakers since inception. So I suspect the management if it sees this review is going to be flippant and continue to ship subpar speakers to their customers. It is a bit depressing that what sells is dominant factor in speaker business and design.

Needless to say, I can't recommend the B&W 607 S2 Anniversary Edition. There are plenty of speakers at low prices that do better.

Edit: video review posted: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...07-s2-anniversary-edition-review-video.21608/

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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MZKM

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Thankfully the company is honest and rates the speaker at 84 dB efficiency.
The larger 606 S2 is rated at the same frequency and bass responses, but 87dB sensitivity. So I assume one reason for the low sensitivity is to keep the bass similar, but when you audition both the 606‘s +3dB sensitivity will really stand out, despite being adound average in sensitivity (87dB).

_____

From what I can tell, B&W claims a new tweeter and improved crossover. They only show the crossover for the 603 S2 though, I’m not knowledgable to know if this is good for $2000:
G_62_603%20S2%20Anniversary%20Edition%20HF-MF%20crossover_1.jpg


________

I only found two reviews of this speakers, one from WhatHifi in UK which gave it perfect score of 5 out of 5

And go as far as to put in the Against category: “Nothing at this price”.

________
SoundStage/NRC measured the first gen 606 bookshelf:
1616280436625.png


Stereophile also reviewed/measured the $4000 705 Signature:
1616280799469.jpeg

1616280819616.jpeg
 
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McFly

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Oh dear. That horozontal directivity is just ugh. I hope someone at BW gets hit in the feels by this breakdown. Nothing will change though because this recipe sells and money talks.
 
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Fafnar

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The Revel M105 is basically the same price point ($750ea vs $700) and performs much better.

The NHT c3 is a bit cheaper ($391) and performs better to the target curve.

I suspect the exaggerated high freq response is on purpose to appeal to the WhatHiFi and Steve Guttenberg's of the world.
 

Vini darko

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One for Danny Ritchie to play with I guess. Thanks for the review Amir. Seems the reputation for brighness at b&w is justified in this instance.
Im using original 601 drivers in my mission 733i towers. They are nicely constucted drivers for budget speakers.
 

3125b

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700$ - half of that for the name I guess.
And why would an anniversary edition speaker be made in China? It should be made in England where the company is from.
 

dougi

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Back when my ears still had some upper treble I auditioned some B&W CM1s. Too much treble I thought. Seems like the house sound hasn't changed in 25 years! I still have the bones, at least, of the Proac Tablettes I bought instead.
 

VintageFlanker

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Not surprised one bit. All measurements published out there about B&W speakers (600s and 700s) always showed terrible performance.

This is just confirming what we already knew.

For the record:
I think heads will roll once B&Ws will meet the Klippel, tho...
 
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Here2Learn

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I agree with Keith (Purite Audio). This is a poor showing for B&W given their rep.

I haven't seen any ATC/PMC reviews here, but I'll do a search.

Glad my perception of B&W was always that they are muddy in the midrange (always hated the kevlar drivers) and excessively bright. This seems to confirm they are bad. The distortion measurements are the real shocker for me.

I wish I was in the US to ship Amir my speakers as nobody seems to have measured them. I get good smooth REW measurements and low distortion even in the bass, but that's not the same thing as these standardised Klippel NFS tests, which are increasingly invaluable as more speakers are tested.
 

Purité Audio

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B&W at one time actually made decent loudspeakers.
A chap who used to work in their design department told me, that they would design a new component , tweeter say and that procedure demanded that the companie’s ‘golden ears’ had to evaluate the tweeter before production often ‘golden ears’ didn’t prefer the new and objectively better component.
Keith
 

tktran303

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I read a review of a KEF R3, from a mature experienced listener, and he complained about the dull highs. To paraphrase, he was aware that KEF follows the science in design, but felt that it was still a boring speaker.

Said person brought in a B&W and it “Hurray! Bring back the highs”

My guess is that many well heeled audiophiles were pub/club/rock concert tragics back in golden era of live music, and are now getting on into their 60s or 70s and really do have some high frequency hearing loss.

Certainly I remember back in the 90s, in a showroom, B&W immediately stood out, when auditioned against North American speakers such as those from Energy, Mirage, Boston Acoustics, Paradigm & Polk (which used the NRC for research/design IIRC).

Even when you get to demo your own music, you get to hear “new details”. The salesperson would always remind you that these were “proper English” speakers, and that kinda made it different.

Certainly B&W had a special presence here in Australia, and several times the 6 series were partnered with entry level amplifiers like the NAD.

It got a lot of people into hifi, with subsequent itch/scratch for more bass, better mids, tweaking, swapping in and out sources and amps and cables and rooms and other “careful component matching” advocated by the hi-fi press that is all part of the fun and games of audiophilia /upgraditis.

Down the rabbit hole to the circle of confusion...

I mean, who wants an honest evergreen speaker that last decades?

And how do you sell new products if there’s no upgrade path?

consumerism and capitalism at its very best.
 
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