December 3, 2020 – Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 25th Anniversary Edition Bookshelf Speakers provide affordable audiophile performance at $699 for the pair, currently at Best Buy.
They are best-in-class to my ears, an investment in listening pleasure for decades to come. They don’t wear out, but tend to get better with age. Billed as “entry level,” the sound is anything but.
** ABOUT THE COMPANY, THESE SPEAKERS **
Bowers & Wilkins is a revered British speaker maker. This series is an update to their original 600 Series. These are two-way speakers with 5-inch Continuum cone, mid-range woofers and 1-inch aluminum dome tweeters. Bass is ported to the rear, ideally within about six inches of a reflecting wall behind it.
Translated, this means crisp, clean highs and big, booming lows and a pleasing evenness and smoothness. The design layout provides a rear port directing bass from the cabinet to the wall behind the speaker. Placement is everything!
** EVALUATION **
A 7.1-channel system is in place, fed by a Pioneer A/V receiver – a pair of front mains, a center channel, a pair of front surround speakers and a pair of rear speakers, plus a hefty subwoofer. Add them up to get seven speakers, plus the subwoofer to get 7.1 channels of sound.
A pair of Polk bookshelf speakers are in place up front as well as the center channel seen in my photos, and including the pair of very large floor-standing speakers seen in my photos. These behemoths are self-powered with 1000 total watts of combined excellence.
Tweaked for my ears and those of my other listeners, we are accustomed to the sound from the existing system, so substituting these new B&W bookshelf models was going to be interesting to say the least.
As with most modern A/V receivers, the Pioneer features auto setup using its own plug-in microphone on a long cord. Through its menu, the size of each speaker in the system can be designated. Next, the microphone is placed in the center of the listening area between two listener’s seats. And then, a press of the button tells the receiver to emit tones through each speaker. Listening to the sounds, it deduces the distance from the receiver and the nature of the sound that is detected in order to set the sound parameters just right.
We had to decide how these B&Ws would be deployed. I knew we wanted them up front, but where? We tried them as front mains, and then as front surrounds. In all cases, the big speakers were decommissioned so as to let the B&Ws shine in comparison with like-size non-B&W bookshelf speakers up front.
The B&Ws were immediately heard as “bright” yet not too bright. The highs were perceived as crisp and clean, even if a bit too sharp. Not a bad thing, just an observation.
Reconfiguring again, we re-did all the settings with the B&Ws in place as front surrounds instead of as front mains. The receiver emitted its tones and made its settings. Ah, this was just right. Now, time to let the new speakers “burn in” for a few days, for a total of about 25 hours.
Recalibrating, the B&W’s sound mellowed out a bit. They are shipped with a pair of foam plugs to be used should the bass be a bit too much out of the rear-facing ports. In our setup, we did not feel the need to use the plugs. To each their own, you know.
Listening to source material was the next part of the evaluation. We chose to listen first to Eagles Live from the Forum MMXVIII, a familiar 2018 CD with words and music to favorite old songs on this newest release. We cranked it up, listening to tracks so familiar to our ears whether playing in the car or at home through the originally-configured big system.
Subbing in the pair of B&W speakers in the two positions mentioned above, we listened and agreed that the new bookshelf speakers were best placed as front surrounds. This placement choice was confirmed and reconfirmed through trial.
Next up, we needed to watch a familiar movie known for great sound. We chose the 2007 action shoot-em-up with Bruce Willis, Live Free or Die Hard in 5.1 surround. Good choice. They blowed things up real good in that movie, shown on an 82-inch LG OLED screen in glorious 4K UHD. We let the Pioneer convert to 7.1-channel surround sound, and it did just that so well.
To finish the comparison several days later and after becoming comfortable with the performance of the system as it was, we once again disconnected the B&Ws and put everything back as it was before introducing these fine Bowers & Wilkins speakers.
Not a fair fight in this configuration because the big, powered floor-standing Polks hide a total of eight mid-range, four tweeters and one large bass speaker.
It is a fair fight with the other pair of similarly-sized Polk bookshelf speakers.
The final trial was with just these Bowers & Wilkins speakers in a simple stereo sound setting. Once again, we employed the receiver’s automated setup using its plug-in microphone. Just two small speakers, please. Done.
With nothing but the B&Ws, we listened to favorite tracks on the Eagles album. Then, we did it again with just the little Polks, which cost less than the B&Ws.
** CONCLUDING STATEMENTS **
Mumbo-jumbo and tech speak aside, the anniversary edition Bowers & Wilkins speakers were described in my test setting as amazing along with other superlatives. Our source material, both the Eagles CD and Die Hard movie, among a few others, were exciting to hear with the addition/substitution of the Bowers & Wilkins anniversary 607 S2 speakers. We loved the crisp and clean highs, the well-defined lows and the balanced sound out of the B&Ws.
Regardless of your setup, be it stereo or multi-channel home theater deploying Bowers & Wilkins anniversary 607 S2 speakers will be a plus to the system. To OUR ears, well, we love these speakers. Open them up and let them shine.
Bravo Bowers & Wilkins.
** TRY THEM ON **
If possible, audition them at your nearest Best Buy and do your own comparison against others in their sound room OR take our word for it, purchase a pair and audition at home. Your ears will tell you if you agree with our assessment or not. Sound is such a subjective determination, so don’t be afraid to disagree. It’s your ears, your money.
Not that users will need to exercise it, these speakers are covered by the manufacturer’s five year warranty.