B&W 686 speakers - anyone with experience? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 02-12-2013, 02:04 PM - Thread Starter
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I recently ordered a pair of B&W 686 bookshelf speakers to be used at mains in a 2 ch setup.
Mostly vinyl, some mp3.
http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Speakers/Home_Audio/600_Series/686.html

Sensitivity is 84 db, so they are rather hungry for power.
Just curious how much power you're throwing at them and what you think they "want"?

Size room: carpeted 14x12" office.
Music: all over the place but mostly indie rock and jazz.
Volume: loud

Thanks in advance.

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post #2 of 25 Old 02-12-2013, 02:19 PM
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I think you have a ton of options here but we need more information. How much are you looking to spend? What sources are you running?

I think any of your basic receivers, even 2channel receviers should suffice as long as it's not a $250 receiver...

If you have a 5.1 receiver or larger you could always run two channels into each speaker if you have no use for the extra channels. I believe that's "bi-amping" which is different than bi-wiring. I'm contemplating B&W 685's with a Pioneer SC61 (130wpc) or a yamaha aventage 820 (100wpc) for a slight reference. But i'm also using all of my channels to power speakers...
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post #3 of 25 Old 02-12-2013, 02:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VDastoli1 View Post

I think you have a ton of options here but we need more information. How much are you looking to spend? What sources are you running?

I think any of your basic receivers, even 2channel receviers should suffice as long as it's not a $250 receiver...

If you have a 5.1 receiver or larger you could always run two channels into each speaker if you have no use for the extra channels. I believe that's "bi-amping" which is different than bi-wiring. I'm contemplating B&W 685's with a Pioneer SC61 (130wpc) or a yamaha aventage 820 (100wpc) for a slight reference. But i'm also using all of my channels to power speakers...

Thx for your reply VD. I am just building a small 2 channel setup. I do not want a SS receiver. Less is more, for this setup. I was originally going to get an 'oldie but goodie' Onkyo A-5VL integrated, 40/2 but bi-amp it to 80/2, but that was when i was considering efficient speakers, 91db Klipsch rb-41. Then I listened to them and they were not quite musical enough for me. ended up with the thirsty B&W. So I'll require more power I'm sure. How much? That's why I'm here today.

I guess I just need to focus on something in the 100w x 2 range, but was curious if anyone here had first hand experience with these boxes.

There will be two sources, a TT and an iPod.

If you're working on a SS system, just for reference... I had a Pioneer Elite at 130wpc and it had a lot more juice than my current Denon 3312ci which is 125w. I had to bi-amp my mains, not using one set of the rears anyway. It really woke up my Paradigm Studio 60s. Good luck with your system.

Thx again mate.

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post #4 of 25 Old 02-12-2013, 09:28 PM
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The HK 3490 or Onkyo 8050 would be good choices.

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post #5 of 25 Old 02-13-2013, 05:43 AM - Thread Starter
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I considers those, but I'm leaning towards integrated with a more musical sound stage.

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post #6 of 25 Old 02-13-2013, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postrokfan View Post

The HK 3490 or Onkyo 8050 would be good choices.

I'm back to that level of product now.

onkyo a-9050
yamaha a-s500

and I'll read up on your two suggestions. thx and cheers

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post #7 of 25 Old 02-13-2013, 09:03 PM
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IMHO, the HK 3490 is very musical. It's essentially an integrated with a tuner. The Yamaha A-S500 would be a nice choice as well with plenty of power and it's rated for 4-ohms (like the HK). The 686s most likely present some 4-ohm dips along with the lower sensitivity.

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post #8 of 25 Old 02-13-2013, 09:24 PM - Thread Starter
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So many fans of the Yamaha here. Shame it's not very attractive at all.

The b&w site recommends an 8ohm load for the 686s. So I'm leaning towards 100wpc 8ohm integrateds and I suppose receivers (Yamaha;). Thx for your insight.

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post #9 of 25 Old 02-13-2013, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I've added another option to the list. Outlaw rr2150

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post #10 of 25 Old 02-13-2013, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanA3 View Post

So many fans of the Yamaha here. Shame it's not very attractive at all.

The b&w site recommends an 8ohm load for the 686s. So I'm leaning towards 100wpc 8ohm integrateds and I suppose receivers (Yamaha;). Thx for your insight.

Yes, but if you look at actual measurements (and this is true for any speaker) there are dips below 8 ohms. The manufacturer is simply listing nominal impedance. The Outlaw RR2150 is attractive as it comes with bass management and a USB DAC. I'd actually say this is the best option you've listed so far but with a heftier price tag at $699. The DAC would be nice should you decide to graduate to flac or ALAC (apple's lossless audio codec).

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post #11 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 06:17 AM
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For a 14x12 office, I would say that any decent receiver will do. I have the 686 and tried them with my Marantz 1402 receiver and it got quite loud even in my larger room. I was using them with an older Denon 890 receiver and it was plenty loud and clear. The advantage of a receiver over integrated amps is that they have bass management to ensure a proper sub/speaker blend if you choose to add a little sub (recommended in the case of a 686). If you go with a receiver, the Marantz 1403 or 1603 would be my recommendation

As another option, I would actually recommend a Teac AH01. I am using this with my desktop system with similarly inefficient PSB Imagine Mini (85.5 dB/1W/1M) and it is way more loud than I need in a similar sized room. And it's compact and cool running. The Teac can put out 50W in 4ohms. It's also got a DAC/digital inputs for connection to your computer but it doesn't have a phono input so you would have to get a standalone phono preamp.

I thought I would throw in this as an option if you are interested in a small/compact system


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post #12 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postrokfan View Post

The Outlaw RR2150 is attractive as it comes with bass management and a USB DAC.

Bass management is a plus in the Outlaw because it's impossible to find otherwise except in AVRs.

USB DAC is definitely nice for playback from computer audio. If you need a separate DAC, the ODAC is very transparent and very small. I recently changed over from the Asus Xonar STX to the ODAC with an HK 3390, and feel like its giving a little better SQ. The downside to internal sound cards are that even the best ones can be subject to the internal noise of a computer. USB DAC or optical tends to eliminate that problem.

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post #13 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Bass management is a plus in the Outlaw because it's impossible to find otherwise except in AVRs.

USB DAC is definitely nice for playback from computer audio. If you need a separate DAC, the ODAC is very transparent and very small. I recently changed over from the Asus Xonar STX to the ODAC with an HK 3390, and feel like its giving a little better SQ. The downside to internal sound cards are that even the best ones can be subject to the internal noise of a computer. USB DAC or optical tends to eliminate that problem.

thx for this.

the 686 can be bi-amped or bi-wired.
does anyone know if the outlaw rr2150 has a setting for bi-amp? it has an A+B set of outputs. thx

I have decided that I definitely need:
-some sort of input for an iPod.
-100wpc approx
-2.1 !!!! sub out - wth not
-dac would be sweet

and I do not mind spending money (eliminates buyer remorse and need to upgrade later!). so I'm willing to move a level.

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post #14 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 09:42 PM
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The 2150 can't bi-amp. It does however have a solid power supply.
I was recently running a pair of b&w 686 with the 2150 in a room
Of similar size to yours. With the volume up 1/3 of the way it was
Pretty darn LOUD. Louder than I care to listen.

With those speakers I suggest you pick up a good subwoofer.
I crossed the 686 speakers on the 2150 @ 100Hz. It really made
The speakers open up,they sounded better when they didn't
Have to re-produce the lower bass notes.

I am very happy with my 2150...I actually bought it because
I fancied it's good looks. wink.gif

The Outlaw M8 subwoofer would possibly be a good
Match with those b&w's. $250.
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post #15 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 09:50 PM
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The advantage of bi-amping comes from running two different amps, not hooking it up twice to the same receiver smile.gif

Don't have to have 2.1. Check out this SVS SB12-NSD. It has a built in high and low pass crossover (most subs do not) that is fixed at 80hz. So if you got an integrated amp or receiver that has pre outs and main in connection back to the amplifier, then you can insert the sub in the chain in between. And if you don't like having the crossover that high, you always have the choice with it of using the unfiltered line out and setting the sub crossover to the low frequency roll off of your speakers.

See if your iPod works with an LOD cable. What that does is bypasses the built in headphone amp to provide a direct line out.

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post #16 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 10:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grasshoppers View Post

The 2150 can't bi-amp. It does however have a solid power supply.
I was recently running a pair of b&w 686 with the 2150 in a room
Of similar size to yours. With the volume up 1/3 of the way it was
Pretty darn LOUD. Louder than I care to listen.

With those speakers I suggest you pick up a good subwoofer.
I crossed the 686 speakers on the 2150 @ 100Hz. It really made
The speakers open up,they sounded better when they didn't
Have to re-produce the lower bass notes.

I am very happy with my 2150...I actually bought it because
I fancied it's good looks. wink.gif

The Outlaw M8 subwoofer would possibly be a good
Match with those b&w's. $250.

Excellent feedback thank you very much. What speakers are you using now?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

The advantage of bi-amping comes from running two different amps, not hooking it up twice to the same receiver smile.gif

Gray area debate. I've set up a channel that was dedicated for a paIr of high rears on my denon avr3312ci to bi-amp my mains. Paradigm studio 60 v2. It's a setting on the avr. This really woke up the towers which are bi-amp or bi-wire ready, obviously. I will run off the a channel and just biwire since i already have a set of cables laying around. I appreciate your reply and I will look into the other info as well. Thx.

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post #17 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by RyanA3 View Post

Excellent feedback thank you very much. What speakers are you using now?!
Gray area debate. I've set up a channel that was dedicated for a paIr of high rears on my denon avr3312ci to bi-amp my mains. Paradigm studio 60 v2. It's a setting on the avr. This really woke up the towers which are bi-amp or bi-wire ready, obviously. I will run off the a channel and just biwire since i already have a set of cables laying around. I appreciate your reply and I will look into the other info as well. Thx.

Yeah. My Denon has the bi-amp option, too. I "imagined" I heard a difference. Then later on I switched it back, and didn't find that difference was there any more wink.gif

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post #18 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 11:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Yeah. My Denon has the bi-amp option, too. I "imagined" I heard a difference. Then later on I switched it back, and didn't find that difference was there any more wink.gif

I hear ya.

I also switched to 12gauge wires at the same time. So who knows. I did see a difference in head room. Around 5db. Discreet power supplies for each channel, so why not smile.gif

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post #19 of 25 Old 02-15-2013, 07:32 AM
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Excellent feedback thank you very much. What speakers are you using now?!
.

I found a pair of Paradigm Studio 40's v4,ending a long quest for these now
Discontinued speakers. Sold the 686 to a good friend who is very happy
With them. He's running them with a HK 3490 and an iPod dock by the
Way.
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post #20 of 25 Old 02-15-2013, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grasshoppers View Post

I found a pair of Paradigm Studio 40's v4,ending a long quest for these now
Discontinued speakers. Sold the 686 to a good friend who is very happy
With them. He's running them with a HK 3490 and an iPod dock by the
Way.

I can't escape the 3490, it's everywhere I turn. So I assume it's enough juice to move air in the 686s. Good to hear. Although I'm doubting I'll be getting the HK. It just doesn't feel right to me. But at that price, it's probably worth it, for this application.

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post #21 of 25 Old 02-15-2013, 09:06 AM
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The 3490 is very highly recommended on this forum for
2 channel applications. Great value with an amp section
That can drive almost any speaker...including the 686 wink.gif

My decision on a 2 channel amp came down to the
3490 & the Outlaw. As noted I picked the rr2150.
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post #22 of 25 Old 02-15-2013, 09:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grasshoppers View Post

The 3490 is very highly recommended on this forum for
2 channel applications. Great value with an amp section
That can drive almost any speaker...including the 686 wink.gif

My decision on a 2 channel amp came down to the
3490 & the Outlaw. As noted I picked the rr2150.

I appreciate your replies. You rock.

My list is:

ONKYO A-9050
HK 3490
OUTLAW RR-2150
I'm not afraid to spend money, but the outlaw doesn't have a digital input. which could be important down the line.

2.1 is the most important.

I had the Teac ag-h600nt on there for a short while, but there isn't a digital input. Although it has built in wifi and ethernet for internet radio!!!
And if the music hall a15.2's replacement info, the a15.3 comes out soon..... that would be great. I hear it's (a15.2) the most musical integrated south of a grand.
But no digital input. maybe the new model will have one!

Which reminds me. The HK, the OL, and the MH options, are all quite dated. I assume new models come out in a month or two?

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post #23 of 25 Old 02-15-2013, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by RyanA3 View Post

Which reminds me. The HK, the OL, and the MH options, are all quite dated. I assume new models come out in a month or two?

I wouldn't assume that. How are they dated??? There haven't been any significant changes to analog amplifier design.

Also, I would strongly encourage that you take a look at the ODAC. Here is the story behind it. There's no need to limit yourself to buying an amp or receiver that has digital input. The ODAC has been compared favorably to $500 or more DACs (google reviews of it), and it is about half the size of an iPhone (a little thicker). Won't take up any extra room in a setup and could easily be tucked away behind the amp.

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post #24 of 25 Old 02-15-2013, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I will take a look at it. thx much for the reading material.

You're right there haven't been much advancement in tech. In an AVR that is another story. My avr-3312ci gets a firmware update like I get checkups at the dentist.

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post #25 of 25 Old 02-15-2013, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by RyanA3 View Post

You're right there haven't been much advancement in tech. In an AVR that is another story. My avr-3312ci gets a firmware update like I get checkups at the dentist.

I expect AVRs to go through a radical change in the next few years. One of the manufactuers is going to get smart, build Android into their receivers, and then add multiple USB ports. No more need of an HTPC. Add external hard drives, bluetooth keyboards & mice, etc. Pick your onscreen music player from Android options for playing your digital content. Use ANY music subscription service that has an Android app. Use your receiver just like a computer for facebook, browsing the web, Netflix, etc. It would be absolutely awesome biggrin.gif

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