Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition
The new Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition just arrived in Portland at Pearl Audio Video. The Anniversary Edition is in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the legendary 600 Series of loudspeakers.
The very first 600 was introduced in 1995 and immediately starting collecting awards and placements on best-of lists.That initial edition had an Aramid Fiber cone which was later updated to Kevlar and then in 2018 to the Continuum Cone driver. Over the years increased cabinet bracing, crossover upgrades, tweeter upgrades, and the addition of the Flowport all lead up to the speaker that we see here today.
Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series Evolution 1995-2020
The new 606 S2 is an update to the 2018 606 S1 which introduced trickle-down 800 Series technology: Continuum woofer, Double-Decoupled tweeter, and Flowport. And now for 2020, 25 years after the introduction of the first 600 Series, we have the 600 S2 Anniversary Editions.
Compared to the 600 Series S1, the new S2 Anniversary Edition brings a major upgrade to the crossover with new higher-specification bypass capacitors, and newly designed high- and mid-frequency capacitors.
Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series S2 Anniversary Edition Specific Crossover
The 600 S2 has Anniversary Edition inscribed onto a bright aluminum tweeter surround, Anniversary Edition badging, and a new white and oak finish option.
Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition Aluminum Tweeter Surround
At Pearl Audio we've known about the new 606 for about two weeks, having attended Bowers & Wilkins top-secret live-cast video introduction. At that time we were sworn to secrecy until the official 600 S2 series release date of September 2nd, but we were allowed to order them, so we ordered new pairs of the 603, 606 and 607 Anniversary Editions for the store. Much to our delight the first of them, the 606 S2 Anniversary Edition arrived right on September 2nd, so I guess they timed it perfectly!
Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition Shipping Box
Beginning the unboxing, here is a first look at the user manual and top protective foam right after opening box.
606 S2 Anniversary Edition Unboxing First Look After Opening Box Flaps
And here is the 606 S2 out of the box with magnetic silver grill. You can see our 702 and 705 Signatures in the background.
Pearl Audio's soon-to-arrive 603 S2s will be in black, and 607 S2s will be in the Anniversary Edition specific White and Oak finish.
Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 White and Oak Finish
Of course we immediately took the new 606 S2s into our small sound room to give them a listen with our new Linn Majik DSM/4 streaming integrated. See below our white 606 S2 Anniversary's engraved aluminum tweeter surround complementing the beautiful silver of the Continuum material woofer - a lovely look.
Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 AE Woofer with Linn Majik DSM/4
The new 606 S2 AE has Bowers & Wilkin's Decoupled Double Dome aluminum tweeter. This is a 600 series derivation from the Decoupled Double Dome carbon tweeter in the 700 series and the Double Dome diamond tweeter in the 800 series. The Decoupling means that the tweeter is on its on suspension, decoupled from the vibration of the cabinet, and the Double Dome is a combination of the dome itself and a matching material perimeter ring that goes up a few mm to brace the dome on its edges where vibration induced noise tends to occur.
Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 Anniversary Edition Double-Decoupled Tweeter
The new 606 S2's performance is remarkable at $899.98/pr. - and the smaller 607 S2 is priced at $699.98/pr. Some nice matches for the 606 S2 AE and 606 S2 AE are the $595 Rega IO or $995 Brio-R Integrated amplifiers. For higher performance, the McIntosh MA252 tube hybrid, or the Luxman SQ-N150 all tube integrated.
If you paired the 606 S2 with a Linn 2020 Majik DSM/4, you would have a terrific sounding app controlled system with Linn's built-in Tidal & Qobuz streaming plus HDMI-ARC and HDMI video switching.
Here is the rear view of our 606 S2 AE showing the signature technology Bowers & Wilkins dimpled Flowport. The Flowport dimpling allows air to flow over the port without creating as much turbulence as a flat surface - it works similarly to a golf ball's dimples. Also shown are the bi-wire binding posts - you can get a bit more performance by running a bi-wire speaker cable which provides separate signal paths for the bass and treble. Bi-wire binding posts also allow you to bi-amplify the speakers if you wanted to put one stereo amplifier on the lower woofer and and a second on the tweeter.
Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 AE Flowport and Bi-wire Binding Posts
So far our initial listening impressions are a gutsy powerhouse small speaker with a remarkably integrated sound and a smooth, alive and luscious midrange with striking clarity. It also has remarkably fast and impactful transients - listen to a tom-tom drum and you can hear the fast drum-skin sound followed by the quick reverb from a small-bodied drum. These fast transients are a familial quality and also notable in our in-store 700 and 800 series.
The 606 S2 Woofer is Continuum cone material with a full sized woofer surround to allow it to act as both midrange and bass.
Back to the 606 S2 and its unique value proposition:
One of the unique characteristics of small two-way bookshelves as a species is how easily they achieve high resolution and a certain lack of artifice in playback. The reasons for this are that a small bookshelf has less sound diffraction because of its small size, the cabinets resonate less because of the small size, and a two-way design by nature has a simple low parts count crossover.
Now take those fundamental species benefits and add in the signature Bowers & Wilkins technologies including their remarkable Continuum cone material, Flowport, and Double De-coupled tweeter plus state-of-the-art vibration optimized cabinet construction and you have an incredible performer at a remarkable price point. All these technologies started with the 800 series and over the years trickled down to the 700 and 600 series. In addition, their unique design expertise coupled with state of art analysis, measurement and design tools contribute to the performance.
Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2 AE with McIntosh MA9000 Receiver
Back in our small sound room, we're running the 606 S2 in using our break-in tracks, and estimate they will have about 30 hours on them by this weekend - likely enough to where they will be ready for audition. The amount of bass and smoothness of presentation is already apparent. A favorite track is Billie Eilish's My Future which shows off the quick and punchy bass of the 602 S2, but even more importantly the silky midrange which brings out all the velvety nuance of her gorgeous vocal performance "I can't seem to focus, And you don't seem to notice..." We noticed!
If you want to see the official 606 S2 specifications, here they are:
Specifications for the new 606 S2 Anniversary Edition
- 8 ohms impedance (minimum 3.7 ohms)
- 52Hz - 28kHz (±3dB) frequency response
- 88dB sensitivity
- 30W - 120W recommended amplifier power into 8 ohms
The 8 ohm impedance will allow the 606 S2 to perform well with even smaller amplifiers. Even though the sensitivity is specified at 88 dB, this speaker's undemanding impedance makes it an easy load.
John, Russ, Connor & Tara.