The Bowers and Wilkins 606 offers better dynamics and deeper bass than most speakers its size. Its clear sound adds insight into well-recorded music and punches to movies, particularly at high volume. The new silvery Continuum driver and domed driver lends the speaker a sense of class. The speakers also feature magnetic grilles.
The Bowers and Wilkins 606 bookshelves offer bucketfuls of resolution and bass power, but they’re more expensive and not as versatile as their predecessors.
With the wrong system the speakers can sound too bright, and it’s not the best speaker for so-called “badly recorded” music.
A price increase over the previous model pushes it into a different class of speakers, but the finish doesn’t correspond.
They’re both hugely capable performers that set the standard at their respective price points.
B&W clearly understands what it takes to make great affordable speakers and has been getting it right ever since the first generation 600 series was launched in 1995.
The current products are the sixth iteration, and are arguably the most capable yet.
Build and Design
The basic design of the B&W 600 series has remained surprisingly consistent.
Up until the current generation, the speakers had been ported two-ways, with an aluminium dome tweeter and Kevlar mid/bass units.
They’ve never had the most luxurious of enclosures but the boxes have invariably been solidly made and nicely finished.
Importantly, they’ve always packed enough internal volume to help the speakers deliver a properly balanced sound.
The latest 600s barely mess with that winning formula, and where they do change things, it’s entirely logical.
B&W had promoted woven Kevlar as an ideal drive unit cone material for decades, indeed its speakers were instantly recognisable thanks to its distinctive yellow colour.
Things have changed now, and the company has spent much of the last five years switching from Kevlar-based cones to a proprietary material called Continuum.
Continuum was first introduced in the high-end mega-money 800 D3 series and has steadily filtered into the company’s more affordable speakers as and when those ranges have been revamped.
But, as the name suggests, this isn’t a major technical departure for B&W.
The newer material has pretty much the same characteristics as Kevlar – namely well-controlled break-up behavior (when the driver distorts at the top of its frequency range), combined with relatively low mass – but with the good points turned up to 11.
The company’s engineers can show you lots of data and fancy computer animated images to prove Continuum’s advantages, but it only takes a short listen to confirm that the new material results in a cleaner and crisper sound.