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We live in a world where our music either comes from a pair of headphones/earbuds, or from a relatively small wirelessly connected speaker that sits on our desks or on a table in our room. “Stereo” audio is more often produced by a pair of these wireless speakers than it is with a pair of wired, high fidelity speakers attached to some sort of audio receiver…you know, the way it used to be.
I have fond memories of large, boxy speakers that used to be a dime-a-dozen, almost like bluetooth speakers have become. You could easily find a pair of decent speakers at a garage sale, flea market, and sometimes in the garbage pile somewhere down the street from you. And, if you were willing to walk the things back to your house, loud, booming audio was only a couple of wired connections away.
Yet, some 20-25 years later, there is still that little part of me that is reminiscent of my first ‘cobbled together’ audio system…and that little part of me is super excited about the latest addition to my audio collection.
The thing about traditional speakers is, there isn’t much excitement to their design. This scratches the aforementioned ‘reminiscent’ itch of big, boxy speakers from a couple of decades ago—as the Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition speakers have a wonderfully familiar look and feel. They are marketed as ‘bookshelf’ speakers, which is also reminiscent of a time when bookshelves were a common household occurrence.
Still, their ‘bookshelf’ intention speaks more to their size than their intended purpose, although I’m sure you could easily put these on a wall shelf provided you had a place to hide the wiring. The 607S2 speakers are just under 12” in height, around 8” deep and 6.5” across, making them ideal as standalone speakers in your office, or as a pair of mid-front speakers in your surround sound setup.
Their color is dark and unassuming, and they come with a magnetically attaching covers which gives them a different, but equally classic-looking aesthetic.
What is a banana plug??
Because my modern experience with audio is primarily based on Bluetooth functionality, I had to do a bit of research to get the 607 S2 speakers up and running. I don’t have a surround sound setup, and the old-school stereo equipment I once collected was purged from my basement junk pile years ago.
Bowers & Wilkins recommends a 30W — 100W amplifier to drive these speakers, so I picked up a relatively inexpensive 2.1 channel amp from Amazon that would incorporate into my current desk setup (yes, I used these for my desk—more on that a little later). It’s been a number of years since I’ve used speaker cable, so I bought a roll of that along with some banana plugs for connectivity (which, by the way, are NOT required for these speakers—I just prefer the look to straight wire-to-post connections).
Connecting it to my current audio configuration only required one more RCA cable that I had lying around, which ties to the audio interface that controls audio inputs and outputs from my M1 Mac Mini. After a little cable management, the setup was complete and ready to go. And, thanks to the amplifier I chose, a subwoofer would be an easy addition. The speaker boxes sit on either side of my desk which rounds out the aesthetics for this configuration.
What is an audiophile, anyway?
I don’t suppose I can consider myself an audiophile, as my collection of audio gear revolves almost entirely around equipment that doesn’t play well with hi-fi audio signals. Still, I think that my intentions are in line with that of some audiophiles, and so I consider myself at least a reasonably experienced audio enthusiast. Use whatever term you’d like to describe that—after all, language is fluid.
For me, testing audio equipment is a familiar and easily repeatable process for me, thanks to the countless speakers and headphones I’ve acquired over the last several years. That process involves cycling through a playlist with around 20 songs; these songs represent many music genres and are songs that I have come to know extremely well. After having heard these songs many, many times, I’ve been able to identify nuances within the productions that are highlighted depending on the performance and design of the particular piece of gear I’m testing. For some equipment, those nuances are barely noticeable or entirely missed—and it is on that very subjective scale that I rate the relative “goodness” of a piece of equipment.
It’s also worth noting that as time goes on, there are fewer audio products that don’t meet some niche standard that allows me to label them as “good.” Put in other terms—there aren’t many headphones, speakers, or earbuds that I test that are downright bad…although it still happens from time to time.
So, what did I find during my playing of those 20 songs with the 607 S2 speakers from B & W?
Not surprisingly, they sound incredible. There’s something to be said for properly tuned acoustic speakers and true stereo sound. These are vented speakers, and positioning them just right on either side of my desk created an audio experience that you would think involved a center speaker. The result is, in essence, that the desk itself became the speaker projecting a soundstage forward with no apparent single point of origin.
My usual process involves playing shorter clips of those 20 songs, as I usually pick up on the nuances of a particular speaker or a pair of headphones in relatively short order—but that was not the case with the 607 S2 speakers. Instead, I found myself totally immersed in each song, almost forgetting to move on to the next track. For the first time in a long time, the quality of the sound hitting me was so immersive that I got lost in the experience.
Once I snapped out of it, I then became more picky about what I was listening to—and started to identify tracks in my playlist that had audio elements that I previously hadn’t noticed. In many songs, this took the form of individual vocals and instruments coming from specific channels, as opposed to a single homogenous sound coming from all directions. There are plenty of songs where audio separation is obvious, and I’ve heard that plenty before. But, hearing an acoustic guitar from the left side and an electric guitar from the right side, where previously it was a single sound element was really quite exciting. Even more so, considering I had assumed I knew all there was to know about these songs.
Get to the point
Because these are vented speakers, they’ll do a fine job at many things but are obviously not tuned for specific sound profiles. And, as I’m only an enthusiast, I’m kind of OK with that. Mids and highs sound great, and these speakers get very, very loud—as proper speakers should—but they don’t suffer performance losses at those higher volumes.
The bass is fine, but not necessarily anything to write home about. But again—that is intentional in the design. The bass performance is very true to life, akin to a more flat sound signature that doesn’t heavily favor lower frequencies like so many audio products do. Strongly consider a subwoofer if you plan to pick these speakers up.
Wait a minute…how much?
For true audiophiles, I imagine a $700 pair of speakers is not at all shocking—but to the typical consumer who has purchased a bluetooth speaker or two, maybe even a larger soundbar for their main television, it can be quite a bit of money. So, the 607 S2 speakers from Bowers & Wilkins are for sure an investment; that said, these speakers are going to be around for a long, long time and clearly aren’t going out of style any time soon.
My particular application—as desktop speakers—is perhaps a bit overkill for many home offices, but I absolutely love the ability to connect into the speakers whether I’m on a web conference, doing some light online gaming, or having a more intense listening session during work. And, thanks to their ability to push out incredible amounts of sound, it’s not a stretch to use these as entertainment for the rooms just outside my office.
I don’t imagine these are a high-demand item for many buyers, and I understand why. They don’t work on their own, they’re not exactly cheap, and there are many products on the market that can provide decent stereo sound for less. Due to my lack of experience with higher-end analog audio equipment, I can’t really say whether $700 is a good price, either.
What I do know, though, is that I love this setup, both aesthetically and acoustically. Is it overkill? Yeah, maybe…but as an addition to a “man cave,” a place where you do a lot of work or play, there is very little to disappoint here.
This product was provided by Best Buy and Bowers & Wilkins in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. The opinions expressed herein are solely that of the author and have not been reviewed or approved by any sponsors prior to posting.