Review: B&W 606

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With the B&W 606 compact speaker, Bowers & Wilkins has revamped its acclaimed 600 Series. The British manufacturer’s entry-level speakers now boast premium Nautilus and Continuum technologies. These prestigious technologies were once reserved for speakers with a hefty price-tag. In 2018, the British brand decided to democratize its craftsmanship…

Test B&W 606

The B&W 606 is an elegant compact speaker boasting a simple yet refined style. Our test model sports a matt white coating with a lightly grained texture. The main speaker driver has a rim the same color as the cabinet, whereas the tweeter is hidden behind a curved grill in brushed aluminium. Each speaker comes with a magnetic mesh grill in mousy gray acoustic fabric. This speaker is designed for hi-fi use with a quality amplifier, but is equally at home with an AV receiver . For an optimal home theater configuration, we recommend adding the B&W HTM6 center speaker and the compact B&W 607s for side and rear surround channels.

B&W 606: inherited technologies

Is the new B&W 600 Series range of speakers about to shake things up at the heart of the hi-fi and home cinema world? While we’re seeing an exponential rise in the price of some tech products, the British manufacturer is playing the “more for less” card. This technology passed-on from the more prestigious ranges to entry-level products has allowed Continuum technology to be implemented in all of the 600 Series’ speakers. And here’s the surprise: for the first time Continuum drivers are used for low frequencies.

Test B&W 606
The B&W 606 speaker’s Continuum cone drive. Did B&W give up on yellow cones for good?

B&W 606: Continuum cone

The B&W 606 speaker is the second compact speaker in the range. A direct derivative of the B&W 607, its particularity is the diameter of the Continuum speaker driver: 6,5” instead of 5”. Even though the Continuum cone’s formula is kept a secret, we can observe that it has totally unconventional specs for a driver designed to deliver mid-range frequencies.

Unlike the Kevlar cones of the previous 600 Series or even competing models, the Continuum cone is flexible.

Consequently, its metallic mesh bends easily under slight pressure.

Test B&W 606
A view across and at the bottom of the FlowPort vent, behind the B&W Continuum cone.

B&W 606: liberated sound

B&W’s goal is obviously to absorb unwanted vibrations as much as possible in order to keep the integrity and clarity of the sound. Moreover, the weave of the cone isn’t very tight and we can see though it via the vent located at the back of the speaker. In other words, even though the brand is keeping quiet about their technology’s properties, it seems like the rear soundwave generated by the driver passes through to reach the listener.

Test B&W 606
The B&W 606 speaker is fitted with a double screw terminal compatible with bi-amping.

B&W 606: Flowport bass-reflex

The B&W 606 compact speaker has a bass-reflex port which allows its 6.5” driver to reproduce lows with more efficiency, thus balancing the speakers’ sound signature. The dimpled and flared vent increases and regulates the air flow, all whilst eliminating noise at high volume.  

B&W 606: Nautilus tweeter

The icing on the cake with the B&W 606 is without a doubt the double aluminum dome tweeter paired with a Nautilus chamber. This tried-and-tested technology uses a conical tube placed at the rear of the dome to absorb the rear wave and drastically reduce distortion. The tweeter is fitted with layers of gel damping pads to protect its domes from any parasitic vibrations. Better still, the protective grid is mounted onto a visco-elastic support. But what is left for top-of-the-range models?

Test B&W 606
The B&W 606 speaker’s double-domed tweeter and Nautilus charge.

B&W 606: cabinet and filtering

The B&W 606 speaker’s cabinet is made from MDF and has a classic internal structure. The speaker has little internal textile padding and the drivers are visible through the vent. Though the passive filtering is conventional, it’s made with good quality electrical components. The differences between this range and superior ranges lie within these aspects (non-parallel sides, a second-skin front, high-end components etc.).

Test B&W 606

B&W 606: listening impressions

The B&W 606 is a very expressive, even playful, speaker and is enjoyable to listen to with any type of music (rock, jazz, electro…).The restitution is characterized by organic, exceptionally detailed mids. From the very first notes, the 606 is a real pleasure for the listener, who’ll be surprised at being so well catered for by an entry-level speaker. The little B&W packs a punch at every level and is responsive from the lows right up to the highs. All frequencies are expertly integrated without any tonal accidents.

The 606 probably isn’t the most neutral speaker, but the magic undeniably operates.

You can achieve a vast soundstage without having to direct the speakers towards the listening point, which makes for a comfortable sweet spot. The soundstage is wider than it is deep and the acoustic phase shift is rigorous with precisely centered vocals. Lovers of guitar riffs will be just as pleased as those who enjoy an atmospheric movie environnement with this speaker. The B&W 606 makes you want to crank up the volume and be swept away.

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