Bowers & Wilkins’ entry-level 600 series of speakers has a storied history with us at What Hi-Fi? Now in its eighth generation, this speaker range has a slew of five-star reviews and Award wins to its name over the years, with B&W hitting upon just the right formula of great sound and affordable price tag to deliver a crowd-pleasing speaker.
The smallest and most affordable of the range, the new Bowers & Wilkins 607 S3, now replaces our current Award-winning 607 S2 Anniversary Edition model. A quick look at the review score and effusive verdict already hint at the new successor’s talents, but that barely scratches the surface of just how capable these speakers are.
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that prices have risen since the 600 series’ last iteration three years ago. However, the new 607 S3 speaker – which has always been the baby of the range – is now a fairly substantial £599 / $900 / AU$1149 per pair.
That’s quite a chunky increase over the previous-gen 607 S2 Anniversary Edition’s original price tag of £449 / $700 / AU$995 (launched in 2020). While we would hesitate to call the new speakers truly ‘budget’, these are still B&W’s entry-level pair and, in our opinion, pack in more than enough punch to justify the extra outlay.
Build & design
On the face of it, the 607 S3 looks near-identical to its predecessor. From the crisp aesthetics and the dimensions to the two-way configuration – the 607 speaker remains the same in concept.
We love that B&W has stuck with the same compact footprint (each speaker measures 30 x 16.5 x 20.7cm), keeping the 607 S3 a great option for smaller spaces. The build quality is excellent and the pair look rather elegant and premium for their price bracket. The speakers come in three vinyl finishes: black, white and our review sample’s oak (the latter with a contrasting white front panel).
This is B&W though, a brand with a strong history of using trickle-down technology and concepts from its premium ranges into even its most entry-level products. And it’s the same here, with the 607 S3 model filled to the brim with updates inside.
Bowers & Wilkins 607 S3 tech specs
Drive units 25mm titanium tweeter, 16.5cm Continuum mid/bass
Ported? Yes (rear)
Impedance 8 ohms
Dimensions (hwd) 30 x 16.5 x 20.7cm
Finishes x3 (white, black, oak)
First and foremost is the use of titanium in the 25mm decoupled double dome tweeter assembly for the first time. The tweeter’s two-part design uses a thin 25-micron main dome reinforced by a 30-micron ring – both made with titanium. B&W has traditionally used aluminium in the 600 series, while diamond is used in the high-end 800 speakers. B&W says the switch to titanium in the 600 speakers should allow for sweeter, more refined and better detail in the high frequencies than that which the aluminium material offered.
The tube-loading system at the back of the tweeter has been elongated to further reduce unwanted, rearward standing waves from affecting the front output of the tweeter unit. A new grille design taken from the new flagship 800 Signature Series is incorporated, too. Both upgrades are claimed to result in a more open sound in the 607 S3.
The 13cm Continuum mid/bass driver returns, backed by a more powerful motor assembly inspired by the step-up 700 S3 range, and the crossover has been updated with higher-quality components to aid transparency.
You’ll also see that the tweeter and mid/bass units are mounted closer together in the new S3 speaker, with the surrounding rings on each driver overlapping slightly. B&W says this has been done to improve integration between the two drivers.
Internally, the 607 S3’s cabinet bracing has been upgraded to improve rigidity, while the back of the cabinet has been given a facelift, too. Taking a leaf out of the 700 S3’s design book, the speaker terminals’ layout has been upgraded to a neater, side-by-side arrangement, which is also separated from the bass reflex port.
That’s a sizeable amount of work done throughout, then. But how do the new 607 S3 sound? Incredibly fun. There’s clarity and refinement in the mix here – to a really admirable level – but we’re struck by just how entertaining, zippy and musical this new pair sounds right from the start.
Instead of sacrificing dynamic expression and pure enjoyment for a more sophisticated and open sound, B&W has managed to meld these elements together into a capable package that’s simply hugely entertaining to listen to.
Songs we know well and play every time during reviewing – Alt-J’s Breezeblocks, Bruce Springsteen’s Terry’s Song, John Williams’ Jurassic Park theme – are all given a zest of life through these talented speakers. They sound rhythmically cohesive, agile, and well-organised. The overall presentation is more open-sounding than before as well.
Breezeblocks flows beautifully, with vocals and instruments gliding through the song with superb clarity and all sounding of a piece. Springsteen’s vocals exude warmth and grit and crackle with emotion. The staccato drum beats in Major Lazer’s Pon De Floor are terrifically crisp and tightly marshalled; basslines are pulled taut and while they don’t go as bone-shatteringly deep as bigger speakers, they do land with impact.
Chilly Gonzales’ sparse yet playful piano compositions sound gorgeous and clean. Each note lands with precision, detail is crisply revealed, and the low level harmonics surrounding each note are packed with texture. The 607 S3 does a fantastic job of capturing the delicate highs as well as the deeper, resonating notes.
That new titanium dome offers a cleaner, more sweet-sounding treble that’s lovely to listen to. It makes the highs through the older 607 S2 model (which is a multiple Award-winner) sound rather coarse in comparison. You will still need to take care with partnering equipment though, as the 607 S3’s enthusiastic character leads to a rather forward presentation, and any similarly top-heavy kit can exacerbate that quality. A more balanced amplifier (albeit one with ample grunt, clarity and attack) will help round out that presentation. We used a variety of amps – from the budget Rega io to the excellent Cambridge Audio CXA81 and our reference PMC Cor – and they all kept these B&W speakers in check without sacrificing their natural talents.
These are still fairly compact speakers so we’re not expecting a huge amount of scale and authority here, but the 607 S3 have no problem filling up a small-to-medium room. They do deliver a satisfying sense of power and punch where needed, with an eagerness that’s immensely likeable. Switch to some heavy metal or hip-hop and the speakers don’t lose step; there is a driving sense of rhythm and attack that keeps the momentum in Run The Jewels’ Legend Has It flowing convincingly, while the thrashing textures of Slipknot’s Duality are delivered with impact and aggression.
We play track after track during our time with the 607 S3 (always a good sign) and find that the speakers sing with any genre of music. They’re also transparent enough to discern the differences in recording qualities. They won’t make a fuss with poor recordings, but it’s admirable that B&W’s entry-level speakers are able to show off just how good they can sound when fed high-quality material.
We’re impressed with how little distortion creeps in when we crank up the volume, too, but are even more amazed at how tuneful and dynamically engaging the speakers sound even at a lower volume. A recurring complaint we’ve levelled at B&W products recently (such as the 705 S3 speakers or Px8 headphones) is that they lose energy and interest at low volumes; this is definitely not the case with the 607 S3. The speakers have a lovely way with dynamics, and so the introductory French horns in the Jurassic Park theme capture and hold our attention even when played fairly quietly.
What we really enjoy about these new 607 S3 speakers is that they clearly know how to have fun, and they want you to have fun while listening to them. The best compliment we can give them is that we end up listening to every track in full through the 607 S3, with no skipping.
B&W has gone back to its roots with these stunning speakers, which, for their size and price range, really are a talented pair. We’re glad that, alongside a newfound level of clean detail, openness and precise sound, the 607 S3 have remembered to add in big doses of energy and dynamic prowess. It’s a winning combination.
- Sound 5
- Build 5
- Compatibility 4
Read our review of the B&W 607 S2 Anniversary Edition
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Best speakers: budget to premium stereo speakers