BOWERS & WILKINS 683 S2

PW14.04.2014

Floorstanding loudspeakers

Mainstream floorstanders are the subject of this review. They can be had at 1-2 monthly salaries and as such they can be yours if you skip family vacations this year. Unlike suntan these speakers will make you happy also in wintertime.

Function and form

95%
Ease of use
41%
Sound
92%
Appearance

The Nautilus is often the reason to acquire Bowers & Wilkins speakers. What the Nautilus is? Each kid knows that B&W engineers designed an unique tweeter that sits in a tapered tube and the tube sits on top of a speaker's cabinet. Not always, however. The 683 S2's Nautilus tweeter is hidden inside the cabinets. For obvious reasons it was impossible to use the diamond dome that is found in the Bowers & Wilkins top models - the tweeter in 683 S2s is aluminum one and uses an extremely thin aluminium dome for lightness, surrounded by a thicker aluminium ring for rigidity. While the tweeter looks like it is part of the main speaker, it’s physically separated in its own gel-filled cavity, so performance isn’t hit by unwanted resonances or vibrations.

A Kevlar midrange driver (the yellow one) is complemented by a duo of 16.5cm bass drivers. The 683 S2 features a new bass driver with twin layers of aluminium for "the richer, distortion-free bass response". The break up mode of the bass driver lies above 5000Hz, which is high enough to become completely harmless. For some listeners (and their spouses) the IKEA look may be also a plus.

Bass management

Weight
50
Slam
62
Articulation
60

The bass of the 683 S2s is fast and controlled, not too deep however. This is not a criticism because the bass weight does not overwhelm the mids, yet I expected a tad richer sound with the quite sizable speakers. Luckily Bowers & Wilkins makes very good subwoofers that are voiced to match any of their standmounts or floorstanders (I used successfully a DB-1 subwoofer with 802 Diamonds and they are not really bass shy).

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
77
Air
73
Transparency
70

Maracas were very nice through the 683 S2s. Some lesser speakers present this instrument as rustling of a plastic bag, better speakers go that far that they indicate it may be not the plastic bag and the Bowers & Wilkins let you hear very clearly that it is a hollow instrument filled with beads. I loved maracas through the 683 S2s.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
50
Dynamics
51
Temporal resolution
51

The Bowers & Wilkins 683 S2s serve musical detail in a very elegant and understated way. They do not throw or spit the detail on a listener, rather they play it and let you decide whether you want to pay attention to it or not. In result an acoustic guitar sends shivers down your spine, not pain to your head.

Spatial resolution

Holography
56
Soundstage width
67
Soundstage depth
68

The soundstage of the 683 S2 is wide and deep and removes all doubts as far as discussions about stereo fidelity are raised. For example in Welcome To The Machine (Pink Floyd) the dialogue between guitars and keys was not portrayed in lateral axis but it had very fine vertical resolution. The guitars were coming from beyond speakers, the keys were coming from beyond David Gilmour's vocal but a bit higher, like 2 feet above the speakers. Instrument by instrument was filling my room with beautiful sounds - some of them coming from the spaces that are usually silent with other speakers.

Price as reviewed:42 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

Eurostar Ostrava, Dobřejovice u Prahy, tel. + 420 323 606 877

Jasyko, Brno, 541 210 108

Associated components

  • Sources: Linn Unidisk
  • Amplifiers: Spectral  DMA-250, Vitus Audio SS-102
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: CrystalConnect Reference Diamond
  • Loudspeakers: Wilson Audio Sasha W/P

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