Bowers and Wilkins New 600 Series Thread - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 100 Old 03-28-2014, 11:10 PM - Thread Starter
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I decided to create this thread to discuss the new Bowers and Wilkins 600 Series (March 2014). I felt they weren't getting nearly enough attention on the B&W owner's thread (not all of us can afford to consider the 800 series), and that they deserved a thread of their own, especially during the first few months following their introduction, when more people were likely to demo them and offer impressions. It would be nice to collect that in a single thread. Just doing what I can to make AVSForum the place to come!

It's been seven years since the last update of the Bowers and Wilkins 600 series speaker line. In March this year (2014), B&W started shipping the latest refresh of the entire line.

At this point there are very few official reviews of the speakers, but the speakers are out there and people are taking a listen. What are your impressions? Share them here. And please stay away if you just want to bash B&W, there's other places for that - I'd like this thread to be informational. If you don't like them and want to say why, that's great and all, I think all impressions from those who have listened to them seriously are welcome!

Here's a little information on the new series (a hybrid from these two news releases WhatHiFi & About.com) :

"The series consists of six models in total, each taking technologies from other popular B&W speakers, including double dome tweeters, originally featured in the recent CM10 tower, anti-resonance plugs for mid/bass drive units, which were first seen in the PM-1. New advancements have also been developed for the 600 Series, including new Dual Layer aluminum bass drivers and new tweeter decoupling technology.

The most important new development is the Double Dome tweeter. It's basically a sandwich of two aluminum tweeter domes, one with the middle cut out, that is supposed to move the resonances in the tweeter to higher frequencies. The tweeter's in an enclosure that's physically decoupled from the main enclosure so the other drivers' vibrations affect it less.

The next change is an anti-resonance plug in the middle of the Kevlar midrange driver, taken from the design of the PM-1 minimonitor. This plug prevents resonances from occurring inside the voice coil.

B&W has also stiffened the woofers by using new dual-layer aluminum diaphragms."

It will also have a retail price increase from what I've read. In US Dollars:
  • 683 S2 floorstander: from $1500/pair (S1) to $1650/pair
  • 684 S2 floorstander: from $1100/pair (S1) to $1150/pair
  • HTM61 S2 center: from $650 (S1) to $750
  • HTM62 S2 center: from $425 (S1) to $450
  • 685 S2 bookshelf: from $650/pair (S1) to $700/pair
  • 686 S2 bookshelf: $480/pair (S1) to $550/pair

I've read comments from several people who are particularly excited about the new 684 S2, as they have seen a pretty big change. They have gotten slimmer and smaller, but several report tighter more controlled bass than the last version - not quite as full, but better controlled. The 686 also is supposed to have seen strong improvements according to some things I've read.

I also very much like the look of the new center speakers, and particularly the more symmetrical design of the new HTM61 with the tweeter over the midrange. Makes me hope it will be more like the CMC2.

It would also be great to hear your comparisons to speakers in the same class/price range - Monitor Audio, KEF, Martin Logan, Paradigm, or Internet Direct brands.

So post your impressions as you get out there and get a chance to demo the new B&W 600 series speakers!

.

Electrical engineer by education. Currently a system engineer. I like home automation, theaters, and blinking lights.
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post #2 of 100 Old 03-28-2014, 11:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Here are some links to the "official" B&W information on the 600 series:

B&W Original Announcement

A little essay on the history of 600 series

B&W Products Page

Strangely, I couldn't find a single comprehensive review on them yet. Post them as you find them!

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post #3 of 100 Old 03-29-2014, 06:12 AM
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I remember how excited I was when I saw the new series were coming out just when I was about to upgrade my speakers. I'm a big sucker for words like technology, enhancement, improvements, so I was automatically drawn to B&W's 600 series with minimum effort. I also remember how my excitement soon faded away once I saw their price tag. Keeping in mind that these are basically the same speakers as the previous series with subtle changes, which I was unable to detect in the shop, I kept my eyes on my target, which was a pair of 685 S2 speakers. They did, however, receive 5 stars from Whathifi.



In the official B&W Owner's Thread only one user has posted a photo of his new 685 S2 speakers, received no comments or thumbs up and ended up completely ignored. That and lack of any further discussion or web coverage (which danielrg also noticed), hell even unboxing video on YouTube, led me to believe that my decision of not purchasing these speakers was extremely wise, on top of not noticing any advancements whilst listening them in the shop. One B&W owner commented how nothing below 800 series is worth listening. Was he right? confused.gif
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post #4 of 100 Old 03-29-2014, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by highd3f View Post


In the official B&W Owner's Thread only one user has posted a photo of his new 685 S2 speakers, received no comments or thumbs up and ended up completely ignored. That and lack of any further discussion or web coverage (which danielrg also noticed), hell even unboxing video on YouTube, led me to believe that my decision of not purchasing these speakers was extremely wise, on top of not noticing any advancements whilst listening them in the shop. One B&W owner commented how nothing below 800 series is worth listening. Was he right? confused.gif

Seriously? They've hardly hit the shelves (none in stock anywhere where I live). I think it's a bit premature to write them off. The notion that "nothing below 800 series is worth listening" is in my opinion nothing more than audiophile snobbery. Most of us can't shell out 14k for a pair of speakers. There are more than a few people I've seen on this forum who will put the latest CM10 up against the 803's and note only subtle differences.


Gonna rant for a second. Sorry about the following: I have had the pleasure of having some fantastic speakers in my household over the years, including Apogee Divas, Egglestonworks Andras, Dynaudio Special 25's. We had auditioned Wilson Audio Tiny Tots and they just didn't work in the room. I had mission monitors and KEF monitors in the 80's and loved them both. In my tiny dorm with practically no space to speak of, the Bose acoustomass fit the bill better than anything else out there, as I could mount them on either side of a window where no other speaker would fit.

What I firmly believe is that for every room there is a speaker that will complement it well, and when you get to a certain level of quality you can disregard the placard on the speaker grille.

I bought some 1st gen 685's for my home office and overall am very pleased with the result. The CM speakers I auditioned were likewise excellent. Never got to hear the 683's but they would have been a bit too large for the room. I'm sure my ears "got used to" the sound of the 685's as much as them being objectively accurate etc.

B&W is much maligned of late because of their pact with Best Buy, moving of manufacturing to China, etc. Neither of these things necessarily have any impact on sound, and having been involved in the import/export business, the quality shouldn't necessarily be better or worse than if manufactured in the UK. I used to own an Audi. They sell something like 40000 of that model a year worldwide. Solid as a rock for 100,000 miles. My dad bought a Maserati. All that loving craftsmanship resulted in a car where bits and pieces were falling off everywhere.

Speaker evaluations are among the most subjective things you can do. Just develop your own opinion. Of all the hobbies and interests I've had over the years, including bicycling, guitars, photography, and audio, the A/V business is the one that is the most ridiculous when it comes to unsupported, subjective opinions. Photography is close, but at least when someone speaks of image quality it's something that is discernible to the naked eye and therefore debatable. Audio cables, speaker wire, stands affecting sound in any way that can be heard, much less measured? Snake oil.

Incidentally, I've heard the 805s speakers, and they are fantastic. Waiting for the bargain to show up on audiogon.

/rant
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post #5 of 100 Old 03-29-2014, 03:59 PM
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∆ just want to say that b&w is in partnership with maserati. ;-) honestly I've been a b&w fan for a long time but I think I am ready to try something else. Bowers & Wilkins is quite marketing heavy these days.
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post #6 of 100 Old 03-29-2014, 11:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for posting the video review highd3f!

Yes, not much said about these yet, but they started shipping not even a month ago. I expect most magazine reviews and so forth to come out 2-3 months (or more) after a release, particularly as they need time to evaluate, time to write the review, and then have to wait until the next release date, particularly if they also release reviews in print. So I figured I put this thread up in plenty of time for most evaluations to still be in the future.

I've very much enjoyed the comments so far. Particularly the relationship between B&W and Maserati rolleyes.gif

I'm not a B&W owner (yet) - actually I may never be, I still haven't done enough auditioning to decide for sure what will grace my theater room. But at this point, I have auditioned the B&W 600 series in a couple places - once in Best Buy where I liked them over everything else there - the Martin Logans too second. But I quickly decided I needed a real chair to sit in and real walls for sound to bounce off (not 40 other speakers). So I made my way to the local audio dealer. If I do buy, it will be from the local audio dealer. He knows his stuff, provides an amazing return and trade-up policy, he price matches, and I like supporting local!

Anyhow, I really loved 2 channel music on the B&W 683s (S1), and I spent about 45 minutes with them with a few different types of music. Wife has forbidden me to purchase any speakers until the room is ready, but I was pretty close to defying her wishes that day. Then I got disciplined and realized I need to try more brands. We have some other dealers in town that sell Monitor Audio, Revel, and some others. I'm determined to be disciplined!

Keep the comments coming! I love reading the focused, long lived threads on a particular product that accumulate a wealth of information.

It may well appropriate that the CM and 800 series are prevalent on the B&W Owner's thread, they are the fancier speakers. I hope this thread might be able to grow into a 600 series owners thread, for those that can't or aren't willing to afford the higher end lines.

Electrical engineer by education. Currently a system engineer. I like home automation, theaters, and blinking lights.
Someday it'll be more of an actual hobby - if my employer would ever let me go home!
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post #7 of 100 Old 03-30-2014, 08:45 AM
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Hello Danielrg and thanks for creating this new generation 683 thread.

I am very close to purchasing a pair of these new 683's in Black so I will be watching this thread closely.

I pretty much have only owned B&W speakers for 25 years (My current speakers are the classic DM 220's 3-way)

I still love my DM220's from the 80's so I can't imagine I would not be pleased when I pick-up a pair of these new 683's.

It kind of hurts me to see some folks bashing B&W (and the 600 series) so I hope it's more personal/subjective than anything else.

At this stage I really don't know what other speaker brand to consider in the $1,500 range (suggestions welcome)
for my Home Theatre Room which is carpeted and a rectangle.

Look forward to more feedback on this in the coming months.

Steve (Soccer-22) from Aldie, VA
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post #8 of 100 Old 03-30-2014, 10:41 PM
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There are good alternative bookshelfs the Studio series from Paradigm or Focal 807v. If you want to stick with b&w the older 805s are wonderful. But the real gem IMHO is the 602 s3. A terrific versatile bookshelf speaker.
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post #9 of 100 Old 03-31-2014, 09:09 AM
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Hey guys found this looking for reviews of the speaker setup I just bought so I'll share my opinions.

Bought the following:
B&W 683
B&W HTM61
B&W DS3
B&W CWM663
JL Audio F110

All driven by a Yamaha A2000

Bought these about a month ago from my local AV store the day that they received them. I had been looking for a new speaker setup for about a year since a coworker asked me my opinion about a set of Paradigm. I actually hadn't listened to any new speakers for fear that I would then NEED to make a purchase. I worked at BB when I was young and had the benefit of purchasing an Eosone setup for 75% off msrp. That was back in about 1994 so you can imagine the vast improvements made since then. When I got the call from my local dealer that the new 600s where in I headed down to audition the 683s and the HTM61. When I arrived I wasn't prepared for the sound I would hear from the HTM61! I walked into the room and could not believe it was the only speaker being used even after he pulled the speaker cables out and nothing else was making sound. I listened to the mono recording a bit more before having him plug in my center channel sitting on top of the 61. My jaw hit the floor at how terrible the Eosone center sounded when compared to the 61. The dealer actually laughed because he knew he had a sale, that and I made the comment that I could NEVER hook that speaker up to the Yamaha again. I then asked him to hookup the CMcentre2 just to compare them. I had actually been looking at the CM line but it was going to really stretch my budget and it was quite an old line (the dealer admitted it going to get refreshed this fall). Well when he hooked up the CM there was a difference in the "warmth" of the voice but didn't notice any other differences, the dealer agreed. Was the CM better, yes, was it noticeable, barely, was it $500 better, not to me but maybe to those with a larger budget. They do also look better so you have to figure that into the price difference also. At that point I was sold on the 600 Series line and turned my back on the CM line, partly because of the value level (sound & beauty/price), and mostly because the line was getting redone this fall and after hearing my speaker compared to the B&W stuff I had to make a purchase that day.

Then I listened to the 683s in another larger room. The first thing that scared me was the lack of bass, I must admit I like it more than some. As most B&W the mid-bass was great but lacked the punch for me. It was only after I added the JL F112 that I got the sound I liked. Prior to the sub I must admit that when I listened to Jay-Z Part II (on the run) Beyonce was in the freaking room and I was blown away again. SOLD

That day I took the 683s, HTM61, and CWM663 home to setup. The DS3s and F110 had to be ordered. After setup I ran the room correction for the receiver. Then some music, started with Jay again same song, now there was bass, a noticeable amount too. Tried some other songs, same thing good bass.........my smaller room was working for me!!! On to Transformers Dark Side Blu-ray. I always play scene 19 with the Ship it has a great fight sequence and the LFE of the ship crashing is great. With the 600s I couldn't believe how much bass there was in the scene but was more blown away by the clarity of sound. The shots from the robots took on a more complex sound than I was use to and the clarity of it was incredible. I was VERY happy with this purchase to say the least. Now that I have the complete setup I must admit I really only need the Sub for music and it actually is the disappointing part of my purchase because I feel it more than I hear it.

I would absolutely say I'm glad that I purchased these and would recommend these to people looking to upgrade. Are there better, yes obviously but they probably cost more too. I would recommend you take in your center channel like I did because it would stand to reason that if you have a matched set like I did, if one is better they're probably all better. Sorry if this is jumbled at all I wrote it at 3 different times
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post #10 of 100 Old 03-31-2014, 10:48 AM
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I recently auditioned the 685 and the KEF Q300 at House of Music in SF [nice shop if you're in the area]. They're certainly good speakers but I ended up preferring the KEFs, I think it was down to the "smooth" characteristics of B&W vs. what I'd consider more "detailed" [and definitely a little brighter] sound of the Q300. I'd recommend an audition, though, speakers with similar drivers and cabinet geometry are going to sound largely similar so it really is down to preference.
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post #11 of 100 Old 03-31-2014, 10:55 AM
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I'm intrigued by the tweeter in woofer set-up with Kef's Uni-Q. I always read that speaker makers are always striving to separate tweeter from the woofers to avoid reverberation and enhance sound stage.
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post #12 of 100 Old 03-31-2014, 11:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wunderkind View Post

I'm intrigued by the tweeter in woofer set-up with Kef's Uni-Q. I always read that speaker makers are always striving to separate tweeter from the woofers to avoid reverberation and enhance sound stage.

Interesting you should mention the coaxial tweeter/midrange. I'm curious to know how that sounds too. When I go auditioning in a couple months (I'm in the depths of work and school right now) I'll see if I can find some Kef and Monitor Audio to compare, maybe some others. I read on another thread that coaxial speakers were ideal in certain respects but I can't remember why the poster thought so.

@wernd: Love your review. Thanks for sharing! I'm hoping that more can share experiences like you have as they audition the new 600 series! (And compare with similarly priced speakers)

Electrical engineer by education. Currently a system engineer. I like home automation, theaters, and blinking lights.
Someday it'll be more of an actual hobby - if my employer would ever let me go home!
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post #13 of 100 Old 04-01-2014, 05:08 PM
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Nice thread I have 600 series in my basement and Its been four years now,you need the right source to push them,so the 600 series are good enough for me.
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post #14 of 100 Old 04-05-2014, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
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I found a little tidbit that seemed to be slightly more than just another "announcement" of the new series. Plus I liked the pictures that kind of showed a home theater setup of the speakers together:

The Ear - New 600 Series 1st Impressions

I figure since this is a "budget" series of speakers (even though I consider it close to the top of my budget), reviews and so forth will probably trickle in more slowly. In the audiophile world, I'm sure fancier things are often going on than this. wink.gif

What I consider quality budget speakers are Infinity speakers, or HTD Level 1 or 2 speakers, or, well, stuff in the "I can get all my 5.1 speakers (including a sub) for <$1500 range"... Maybe that's just me.

I'm putting together an auditioning CD with some of my favorite music of all sorts. Look forward to auditioning these against the Infinity P363, Monitor Audio Bronze, KEF, Paradigm, Revel, etc. Well, we'll see what I have time for.

The Infinity P363 speakers were on for $107 on Amazon. I couldn't pass them up so I snagged a pair. I told my dad if I chose nicer speakers (which I am sure I will) he can have them. So in the end lucky him. But even they are a major step up from what's been sitting around my house until now! biggrin.gif

Electrical engineer by education. Currently a system engineer. I like home automation, theaters, and blinking lights.
Someday it'll be more of an actual hobby - if my employer would ever let me go home!
"The Escape Pod" - My First Theater Build
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post #15 of 100 Old 04-06-2014, 04:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danielrg View Post

I found a little tidbit that seemed to be slightly more than just another "announcement" of the new series. Plus I liked the pictures that kind of showed a home theater setup of the speakers together:

The Ear - New 600 Series 1st Impressions

I figure since this is a "budget" series of speakers (even though I consider it close to the top of my budget), reviews and so forth will probably trickle in more slowly. In the audiophile world, I'm sure fancier things are often going on than this. wink.gif

What I consider quality budget speakers are Infinity speakers, or HTD Level 1 or 2 speakers, or, well, stuff in the "I can get all my 5.1 speakers (including a sub) for <$1500 range"... Maybe that's just me.

I'm putting together an auditioning CD with some of my favorite music of all sorts. Look forward to auditioning these against the Infinity P363, Monitor Audio Bronze, KEF, Paradigm, Revel, etc. Well, we'll see what I have time for.

The Infinity P363 speakers were on for $107 on Amazon. I couldn't pass them up so I snagged a pair. I told my dad if I chose nicer speakers (which I am sure I will) he can have them. So in the end lucky him. But even they are a major step up from what's been sitting around my house until now! biggrin.gif
The Infinity P363 was my first set up 15 years ago they were alright nothing to brag on,then I went def-techs, I was not satisfied with either one of them and now the 600 series I'm happy camper.
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post #16 of 100 Old 04-07-2014, 02:39 PM
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I'm really interested in hearing the 685 S2 vs the KEF Q100.
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post #17 of 100 Old 04-07-2014, 04:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm really interested in hearing the 685 S2 vs the KEF Q100.

You planning an audition anytime soon? smile.gif

Electrical engineer by education. Currently a system engineer. I like home automation, theaters, and blinking lights.
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post #18 of 100 Old 04-07-2014, 06:10 PM
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Any one have a chance to listen to the HTM62 yet? I was just wondering how it compares to the CM Centre. I am thinking of pairing one of those up with a pair of 683 S2s.
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post #19 of 100 Old 04-07-2014, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeyJBoca View Post

Any one have a chance to listen to the HTM62 yet? I was just wondering how it compares to the CM Centre. I am thinking of pairing one of those up with a pair of 683 S2s.

HTM 61 s2 is the likely best match for the new 683 S2's
Cheers,Mac
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post #20 of 100 Old 04-08-2014, 12:23 PM
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HTM 61 s2 is the likely best match for the new 683 S2's
Cheers,Mac
I agree
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post #21 of 100 Old 04-08-2014, 12:36 PM
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You planning an audition anytime soon? smile.gif

Our Best Buy/Magnolia around the Portland metro area don't carry B&W mad.gif
So no way to audition them.
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post #22 of 100 Old 04-08-2014, 12:58 PM
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Our Best Buy/Magnolia around the Portland metro area don't carry B&W mad.gif
So no way to audition them.
What a bummer
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post #23 of 100 Old 04-08-2014, 05:17 PM
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Do you think the HTM62 will not match the 683s? My main issue with the HTM61 is the size. It is too tall to fit in my TV stand. If I am going with the HTM 62, would you recommend going with the 684 instead?

Thanks again.
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post #24 of 100 Old 04-08-2014, 06:55 PM
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I had this problem. Wall Mount took care of that. smile.gif
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post #25 of 100 Old 04-09-2014, 12:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DustinF View Post

Our Best Buy/Magnolia around the Portland metro area don't carry B&W mad.gif
So no way to audition them.

Is this Portland, Oregon? I can't imagine no B&W audio dealers with showrooms in a metropolis that size.

http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/store/local_search.html

Hopefully we'll get some insightful reviews here!

Electrical engineer by education. Currently a system engineer. I like home automation, theaters, and blinking lights.
Someday it'll be more of an actual hobby - if my employer would ever let me go home!
"The Escape Pod" - My First Theater Build
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post #26 of 100 Old 04-09-2014, 12:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MikeyJBoca View Post

Do you think the HTM62 will not match the 683s? My main issue with the HTM61 is the size. It is too tall to fit in my TV stand. If I am going with the HTM 62, would you recommend going with the 684 instead?

Thanks again.

This is what my local dealer recommended. He said if I wanted to watch movies much of the time, I should get the HTM61 and the 684 for my size room. I like the 683s so much I asked if that would be fine and he said it might be little overkill but still sound great.

"Either way" he said, "Get the HTM61 for the center channel". That was the S1 series. The HTM62 S2 might be a different beast than S1, and that was one dealers opinion.

But my opinion on matching is that if you get the HTM62, the 684s might be a better match size/power wise. And the mid drivers would be a closer match I believe (anyone - does that matter?) All this is based on my auditioning of the previous series...

Electrical engineer by education. Currently a system engineer. I like home automation, theaters, and blinking lights.
Someday it'll be more of an actual hobby - if my employer would ever let me go home!
"The Escape Pod" - My First Theater Build
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post #27 of 100 Old 04-09-2014, 01:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeyJBoca View Post

Do you think the HTM62 will not match the 683s? My main issue with the HTM61 is the size. It is too tall to fit in my TV stand. If I am going with the HTM 62, would you recommend going with the 684 instead?

Thanks again.
I would go with 684 then.
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post #28 of 100 Old 04-09-2014, 06:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danielrg View Post

This is what my local dealer recommended. He said if I wanted to watch movies much of the time, I should get the HTM61 and the 684 for my size room. I like the 683s so much I asked if that would be fine and he said it might be little overkill but still sound great.

"Either way" he said, "Get the HTM61 for the center channel". That was the S1 series. The HTM62 S2 might be a different beast than S1, and that was one dealers opinion.

But my opinion on matching is that if you get the HTM62, the 684s might be a better match size/power wise. And the mid drivers would be a closer match I believe (anyone - does that matter?) All this is based on my auditioning of the previous series...

Thanks for the info.
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post #29 of 100 Old 04-12-2014, 07:02 AM
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Ive read bad things about the old HTM61 S1 center channel. Most say that the voice/dialogue isnt clear and detailed. Much like a cloth is covering it. Some say that it doesnt match the 683/684/685 at all and using another 685 as a center channel givrs much better results.

Now im wondeing if the problem with the HTM61 has been resolved in the new S2 version.

Anyone knows? Has anyone here heard both the old s1 version and compared it with the S2?
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post #30 of 100 Old 04-14-2014, 05:37 AM
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I spent a little time this past weekend at Best Buy listening to the new 600 series. I was pretty impressed with the new 683 & 684. I compared them to the CM9 they had in the room. While the CM9 is still a bit better, I would say the 683 S2 was very good for a little more than half the price. The center channel was an area where I was torn. The HTM61 had a fuller sound than the CM Center (it is bigger) and at the same volume level the HTM61 was also louder. However, I felt that it wasn't as clear as the CM Center. At this point I am really leaning towards getting the 683 S2s and a CM Center.
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