Originally Posted by adrummingdude
Long time lurker, first time poster. I figured I should give something back since I have gleaned so much great info from this board in the past. Below is a review (which I have also posted to best buy's website) of the Bowers and Wilkins 683, which I have owned for a few weeks now. Your mileage may vary. Enjoy!
Having worked with and owned some very revealing studio monitors from the likes of Adam, KRK, JBL and Yamaha in the past, I was in the mood for a more hi-fi, less fatiguing speaker for a 2.1 music and movie setup.
My wife and I went to a Best Buy Magnolia showroom and proceeded to audition every high end speaker present. Her and I agreed that the 683 was the most awe inspiring, lifelike, deepest sounstage speaker in the room, and by a huge margin at that! The fact that it costs a fraction of what some of the other speakers did (like those gimmicky electrostats) was just a bonus. So, we purchased them (had to drive to another Best Buy which had them in stock), along with a Pioneer Elite SC-65 reciever like the one used in the demo. When we arrived to the second location, there were also a pair of B&W CM9's set up which the Concord store did not have. Just to see what the $3000 per pair B&W speakers could do, we A/B'd them against the $1500 per pair 683. Do the CM9's sound better?...yes...much better?...yes, especially down low where they are more controlled...TWICE as better, as the price would suggest?...nope, not by a long shot, the 683 is the smart money as it is 85% of the CM9.
After living with these monsters for a few weeks, there are joys and gripes.
The Good: The midrange driver. I would pay much more than the 683 for a speaker which reproduces vocals this clearly and smoothly. It really is astounding and you won't want to stop listening! The artist is in your room, right behind the speaker.
The Good: A VERY revealing tweeter which also, somehow, isn't fatiguing to listen to over long stretches. Details in Movies come to life. Raindrops, door locks, burning fuses...Nice. A word of caution though, these tweeters WILL reveal bad mixes, autotune artifacts, and nasty clippy square waves.
The Bad: Be porepared to spend some coin to drive these monsters. The Pioneer SC-65 is no lightweight, with ~150 watts per channel at the ~6 ohms these speakers are typically operating at (NOMINAL is 8 ohms, but the manual clearly states that they can dip to 3 ohms based on content#. Im left, after a couple weeks, longing for a 200+ watt per channel amp which is also 4 ohm stable = $$$$ Dont get me wrong, the speakers sound great, but I know from experience that a stronger amp would tighten up the imaging.
The Bad: The low end on these things is tricky to say the least. Do you need a sub?...I dont know, what kind of amp are you running? Thankfully, B&W in their tea and crumpet filled wisdom has included a set of foam bungs to help control the boominess of the bottom end #my only REAL gripe of the speaker#. They work best in my room with the bungs half in the port. I need more power.
The Bad: Make sure you have the space to let these babies breathe. My bass issue is likely at least partially related to these speakers being massive already, and then with the supplied #and required, if the manual is to be believed) plinth assembly, you need a lot of room, which I lack, for correct placement. If the bookshelf version of these speakers had that SWEET midrange driver, I would have bought them instead.
Conclusion: I would buy these speakers again tomorrow if they were stolen from me today. You need some time, and likely some money to set them up optimally, but I would put the 683 head to head with anything in their price range and expect for it to come out on top. Good show, B&W.