Bowers and Wilkins' 606 bookshelf speakers are the natural successors to the acclaimed 685 S2. Backed up by a sympathetic centre channel and well-behaved subwoofer, they're expected to deliver pound-for-pound one of the best 5.1 speaker systems available for under £1,000 a pair.
This new 600 Series model borrows technology from the pricier 700 Series Signature models to achieve better resolution and transparency, and the company's promise is that it'll be an ally for all of your audio content.
In a small room, the Bowers and Wilkins 606 produces clean and surprisingly ample bass for its size, a clean and extended top end and an impressively detailed midrange that reveals the subtleties of Kate Bush's vocals and piano - and avoids cabinet colorations that might compromise the overall sound. Even when played loudly, the 606 delivers a balanced, consistent sound that's never over- or under-emphasised.
The 6.5-inch Continuum cone woofer and the Nautilus-loaded tweeter are both decoupled from the cabinet to inhibit interference between the two, and the updated cross-over has been tweaked to bring out more detail in the high frequencies. But the most significant change is in the proprietary Nautilus port, which is said to offer greater excursion, resulting in an improved sense of dynamics and a more textured soundstage.
This is a very capable compact speaker, and in many ways it's a worthy challenger to rivals from the Wharfedale 4.2 and Klipsch RP-600M. However, it's clear that the 606 prefers more sophisticated recording styles, with the treble response at times being a little too assertive and aggressive for hard-hitting pop music. Christine and the Queens' Girlfriend for example pushes the 606 into mild sibilance, while the more expensive 707 S2 stays silky.