The new 600 Series marks the sixth – and best – iteration of Bowers & Wilkins’ range of affordable hi-fi loudspeakers. We go behind the scenes and look back at its origins, legacy and storied sound.
Six iterations. Over one million owners. Countless technological changes. The 600 Series is our longest-serving continuously available loudspeaker range after our flagship, the 800 Series Diamond.
On its release in 1995, the 600 Series changed the game with its combination of performance, striking looks and exceptional price. Its accessibility meant that music lovers could experience their favourite albums and artists with as few sonic compromises as possible.
Fast-forward to 2018, via a multitude of changes, and the new 600 Series sounds – and looks – better than ever, continuing our tradition of crafting beautiful-sounding, stylish speakers for the modern music and movie fan.
This is the history of the 600 Series.
‘…these are extraordinary speakers for very ordinary money.’ – What Hi-Fi? – 1996
In 1995 we introduced Kevlar, our precise-sounding, iconic midrange cone material, into every model of the 600 Series, redefining the capabilities of affordable loudspeakers for everyone.
Kevlar would continue to be a defining feature of all Bowers & Wilkins speakers until 2015, when, for the first time, Continuum cones were introduced to the 800 Series Diamond loudspeaker range.
1999: Trickle-down technology
‘[the DM602] can take on any of its rivals at its very reasonable price.’ Hi-Fi Choice -1999
Four years later, the next incarnation of the 600 Series launched, loaded with Nautilus tube technology – a tapered, damped chamber that reduced unwanted resonances from the rear of the tweeter dome. Deriving from our iconic Nautilus loudspeaker, this technology was the unsung hero in the improved sound quality on offer in the new Series.
In addition to this change, we replaced the original Cobex material found in the bass drive units with paper/Kevlar.
2001: Better bass
‘The hall sound!! The depth!! The drama!! The timpani!!’ Robert J Reina, Stereophile’
After observing how golf balls move through the air, we applied the same dimpled design to the third iteration of the 600 Series.
Found on the bass port, Flowport™ technology minimises air turbulence, which allows air to flow smoothly while reducing noise and at the same time deepens the response. Accompanying this major advancement, we also enhanced the drive unit chassis across the range and updated the bass drivers of the three-way models.
‘In simple bang-per-buck terms, they hold on to those five stars as securely as they ever did.’ What Hi-Fi
In 2007, we introduced the Fixed Suspension Transducer for the Kevlar® midrange cone. Found in three-way loudspeakers of the Series, FST reduces excess cone movement thanks to a narrow ring of foamed polymer that supports the outer edge of the cone. This helps to produce a cleaner, faster and more natural midrange sound.
In addition to this technology, we improved treble response by using neodymium magnets behind the tweeters to reduce distortion and provide greater drive and uniformity in the sound.
2014: More sonic improvements
‘Wonderful sound quality, low-key design and impressive driver technology’ Trusted Reviews
We built on the success of the neodymium magnets found in the tweeter and introduced Decoupled Dome technology to the same area of the loudspeaker.
The tweeter uses a thin and light aluminium dome, which is surrounded by a thicker ring, to prevent audible distortion. Synthetic gel also cushions the tweeter assembly to improve decoupling, with the complete unit isolated from the cabinet for minimum resonance.
The new 600 Series brings significant changes to its previous sound and design.
The first is the introduction of our Continuum™ cone, which delivers layered midrange sound with even more detail than Kevlar. Its reproduction of sound is so accurate that even the world’s leading recording studios, such as the legendary Abbey Road Studios, rely on this technology to help produce pristine recordings.
The second change is the new placement of the bass port. Now situated on the rear, this allows for a cleaner, more modern forward-facing design, but more importantly, doesn’t compromise on sound quality if the speaker is placed close to a wall. This is because we have tuned the speakers accordingly to allow for this change.
In addition to these new technologies, we’ve also updated the 600 Series bass cones to match the response of the Continuum midrange unit in the three-way speakers of the range, for a completely balanced and refined sound experience.
All of these improvements combine to deliver a truly next-level loudspeaker performance at a significantly lower cost.