Bowers & Wilkins have trickled down the Continuum cone first unveiled in their 800 series to the new entry level 600 series. The sixth generation of the company’s most popular range will no longer have yellow Kevlar cones but moves silver Continuum cones because of their greater pistonic accuracy and lower distortion. The latest 600 series is one model smaller than the one that preceded, there is no replacement for the 684 S2, and has a naming system that brings it into line with the 700 and 800 series ranges.
The new models are the 607 bookshelf (above left, £399) which replaces the 686 and combines a five inch (125mm) Continuum mid/bass cone with a decoupled double dome aluminium tweeter in a compact box that like the rest of the range has a rear firing port. Bowers & Wilkins claims that despite this switch in port orientation (compared to the previous 600 series) the baby in the range will still work in close to wall installations. The 606 (above centre) is a larger stand or bookshelf design with a six and a half inch (165mm) mid/bass and the same tweeter for £549. The only floorstander is the 603 (below) which combines a pair of paper cone bass drivers with a Continuum FST midrange very much like that used in the 700 series 3-ways, it comes in at £1,249. There is one centre channel, the slim HTM6 (£399) with five inch main driver and three subwoofers that have not changed with this generation.
The new 600 series shares many parts with the rather more pricy and ambitious 700 series, the terminal tray and airflow port is identical as is the decoupled double dome aluminium tweeter, the difference being in the housing and heat sinking behind the dome. Likewise the Continuum cone is the same but the structure of the motor system and chassis is less substantial and doesn’t have a neodymium magnet.
The thinking behind the range is sound quality first, all the budget has been spent on the parts that count, the cabinet design and finish is plain and simple with only matte black and satin white finishes being offered. Initial listening at Bowers & Wilkins’ Worthing facility suggests that the new range is considerably more revealing and quiet than its predecessors, also that they will go excessively loud if you like that kind of thing.