Bowers & Wilkins 685s2 Loudspeakers
Bowers & Wilkins, a name that carries great weight both in Australia and around the globe. So well-known in fact, it’s practically a household name. For any brand to have such a recognizable name is quite an achievement, let alone in the niche audio business.
Until now, I hadn’t really spent much time with Bowers & Wilkins speakers so I was quite looking forward to getting to know the 685s2 more intimately.
B&W got their start in the mid-1960s in Worthing, in the West Sussex region on the South coast of England. Originally, John Bowers began hand assembling speakers in the back of a retail outlet he ran with his friend and colleague Roy Wilkins. The story goes that one customer in particular, so impressed with John's speakers, helped get B&W off the ground after leaving them £10,000 in her will.
Bowers & Wilkins are renowned for their patented yellow Kevlar driver, as in this model. They’re also known for using diamond tweeters in many of their more esoteric speakers.
The 685 ‘s2’ model replaced the hugely successful 685 model released back in 2007.
The 600 Series is B&W's most affordable offering, now in its fifth generation and like many products, geared towards a more affordable price point in this modern era. This particular segment of the B&W range is assembled in China, albeit in Bowers & Wilkins’ own factory with B&W staff and quality control.
This 685s2 features the Decoupled Double Dome Tweeter, technology taken directly from their CM Series of speakers which features a thin, light aluminium dome surrounded by a thicker aluminium ring which according to B&W, is said to prevent audible distortion. The tweeter is then also 'decoupled' from the cabinet in order to help reduce vibration.
The B&W 685s2 speakers are distributed in Australia by Convoy International and retail for $1099, available locally in black, white or red cherry finish.
Unboxing / Setup
The 685s2's came neatly and securely packaged. I removed them from their box, took off their grills and sat them in place of a pair of ELAC BS403 speakers.
The first thing I noticed about the 685s2's was their considerably larger cabinet. They measured 4cm taller, 3cm wider and 5cm deeper than my ELACs. Still not the largest stand mount speaker I've seen, but they aren't exactly compact.
The finish was a smart looking cherry veneer and the speakers look about what you would expect at this price range, but with a hint of prestige.
I connected them up to my Vincent SV-237/CD-S7DAC combination and sat down for a brief listen. Straight out of the box, I was quite taken with how good the 685s2's sounded. Even without any break-in they were already quite impressive.
As a matter of course I run all new products on loop with the Isotek De-Magnetisation and Break-In disc. I’d periodically sit down to hear how the 685s2's were faring.
Lover of Hi-Fi, Music and Recording Engineering. I particularly like the affordable and value-packed products; finding that diamond in the rough.
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