Bowers & Wilkins Home Speakers

BlueOvalFitter

Site Donor 2023
Joined
Feb 28, 2003
Messages
11,833
Location
Cajun Country, La.
I'm wanting to put me a home sound system together. I want to start with some good book shelf speakers, something in the 12" 3-way design, or smaller. I was looking around on EBAY and came across a speaker name brand I have never heard of, Bowers & Wilkins. There were a lot of the Series 6 selling from $175 up to $600 a pair. Can anyone tell me about these speakers? They seem to be in the price range I am looking for. I really want some BOSE 301's, or something similar. Maybe some SAVARDS, if they're the right price.
 
Joined
May 25, 2005
Messages
14,930
Location
ROCHESTER, NY
Hmmm B&W? I've heard the name but, I just don't know...anymore!
However, I had a set of 301s in the 70s and I always found them to be awesome for their size. But, I can't answer for them today. My hearing isn't what they used to be and the audiophile in me has slipped away just a little bit. I still love music and good equipment but it's taken a back seat to other interests. I used to have some really good equipment back in the day. Denon, B&O, JBL, Klipsch, Yamaha, CIZEK, Harman-Karden. I was always trading-in...when you could trade-up with some stereo shops.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 27, 2013
Messages
3,906
Location
Central Florida
I've had a pair of B&W bookshelf speakers (like today's 606 series) as my main speakers with an in-wall subwoofer in a large room with 12 floor ceilings for almost 18 years. Made in England, mine do a fine job. No complaints here. But if you want bookshelves that can deliver heavy bass, you can probably find better ones for the money. Components and cherry cabinet finish are top notch.
 

OVERKILL

$100 Site Donor 2021
Joined
Apr 28, 2008
Messages
53,776
Location
Ontario, Canada
B&W has produced some of the best speakers made. You can easily spend the price of a car on some of their higher end stuff. I have a set of 802 S3's, which I inherited from an audiophile friend of mine who had spent many 10's of thousands of dollars on gear in the 80's and 90's when he worked at Douglas Aircraft as a Tool and Die maker. The 800 series was most famous for its use as the reference speakers at Abbey Road (the 801).

That said, B&W's are not necessarily the most forgiving speaker for source material (at least my 802's aren't) and, being a reference monitor, will likely have a flatter frequency response than you are accustomed to. You may or may not like that.

Paradigm, if you can find a set, might be a bit more pleasing to your ear. I run a set of Monitor 11 S7's in my main system and they are less accurate but much more tolerant of variances in source material quality and that's generally been my understanding of their products as a whole. They are a speaker that is easy to listen to.
 
Joined
May 17, 2009
Messages
18,806
Location
N.H, U.S.A.
Yes I guess you would not hear of B&W unless you were an audiophile. I was a KEF guy, but the engineers that
designed KEF so well in the 70's are gone. My buddy has a house full of good vintage speakers.
It's starting to get on his wife's nerves. Personally I have a great pair of 9" 3 -way Dahlquist monitors that I have to put new foam surrounds
on the old advent woofers. Arguably the best medium sized three way from the 80s.

The amp and source is as important as the speakers. You'll never have good sound without a good amp.
And I am not talking about Denon or Yamaha or HK. dime store stuff.

I would not buy speakers from ebay. Just the shipping would kill you unless they offer local pickup.
Use craigslist and buy local, and then maybe you could take a listen.
 
Joined
Jul 10, 2012
Messages
8,708
Location
South Carolina
Yeah, the only thing I would make sure of is that they are unaltered B&W speakers. Be careful used that the speakers themselves weren't replaced with something else. As you can see on their website, some of their small premium bookshelf speakers sell for $8000 a pair, larger ones $35,000 a pair but of course you are looking at their more economical line if it still exists, I am sure it must, its been a while since I looked into them. Anyway, its why I say make sure the speakers you are buying are not just B7W enclosures with some $25 speaker mounted in it.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 26, 2002
Messages
5,256
Location
Central Arkansastan
B&W used to be in the high class audiophile speaker arena along with names like KEF, Klipsch, AR, Etc.. Not to say they are bad nowadays, but they now belong to "Sound United LLC" which also acquired Polk, Definitive Technology, Boom, Denon, Boston Acoustics, and Marantz. I'll let you guess where the quality stands now.
 
Joined
Sep 23, 2008
Messages
10,924
Location
Ontario, Canada
What did you have before, and what are you going to play? I think unless you get pretty serious with speaker position, room layout, and surface materials, any good quality speaker in the last 20 years is going to work as well as another. Is the plan to add a sub? I used to have some 13" tall Paradigm Titans and a sony lightweight receiver/amp which were pretty good for my bedroom but in a bigger room weren't great. I had a cheap jvc 100w powered sub which was rumbly but had a small long travel driver which has no "pop" or impact.
Anyways, the paradigms blew a driver being used in my 28'x30' living room, so I started looking at stuff coming into the second hand stores and found some bigger 20" tall Sound Dynamics R-85's (says +- 3dB 20kHz-45Hz range on the back)and a heavier JVC 100W rms/channel amp with sub output and crossovers built in. I hooked my old subwoofer and set the crossovers and it sounds pretty good, then I tried the R-85's alone at full range and the speakers made much better bass than my old powered subwoofer. And the overall sound is much more relaxed at higher volumes. 99% of the time its playing stuff off the internet anyways, netflix/youtube/soundclound so the source isn't the best quality to start with so I don't think I'm losing too much to a better system?
For a bigger room I'd go with bigger speakers and some power in the amp and you might find you are done there, no need to add anything else.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
3,584
Location
British Columbia, Canada
B&W used to make very high quality speakers. I don't know about now.

I have a pair of early 1980s KEF 101 bookshelf speakers (7.5" X 7.5" X 13.5") that are similar to a B&W model of the same era. I was comparing the 2 brands at the time and just happened upon a terrific deal on the KEFs at an audiophile show. My KEF speakers still have the original drivers and still sound great.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
3,489
Location
Northeast Nebraska
If you are looking for used and run across any older Boston Acoustic bookshelf I don't think you would be disappointed. I have the older HD7 and a pair of the newer CS26. Both are around 12" tall but are 2 way and ported. If you have a smaller room ported speakers could get to boomy, but it doesn't hurt to partially plug a port or if needed completely plug it.
 

OVERKILL

$100 Site Donor 2021
Joined
Apr 28, 2008
Messages
53,776
Location
Ontario, Canada
B&W used to be in the high class audiophile speaker arena along with names like KEF, Klipsch, AR, Etc.. Not to say they are bad nowadays, but they now belong to "Sound United LLC" which also acquired Polk, Definitive Technology, Boom, Denon, Boston Acoustics, and Marantz. I'll let you guess where the quality stands now.
They didn't lose any of their manufacturing or engineering capacity with the merger, they still design the speakers in the same location, and still produce their higher end ones in the same location.

That's why they still command the price they do for their high end speakers (800 series and up).

Yes, they've introduced some down-market products, but Paradigm has done the same. These are not produced in the same location as the high end stuff.

Knocking B&W for being acquired is like knocking Bugatti or Porsche for being part of VAG or Ferrari for being part of FIAT.
 
Joined
Sep 26, 2002
Messages
5,256
Location
Central Arkansastan
They didn't lose any of their manufacturing or engineering capacity with the merger, they still design the speakers in the same location, and still produce their higher end ones in the same location.

That's why they still command the price they do for their high end speakers (800 series and up).

Yes, they've introduced some down-market products, but Paradigm has done the same. These are not produced in the same location as the high end stuff.

Knocking B&W for being acquired is like knocking Bugatti or Porsche for being part of VAG or Ferrari for being part of FIAT.
I think you might want to re-read my posting. I specifically stated "Not to say they are bad nowadays, but they now belong to "Sound United LLC" /////// I'll let you guess where the quality stands now". It is well known that mergers like this, as you described yourself, usually introduce a lower quality item. As for your examples, perhaps Fiat/Chrysler should be included in your reply, as well?
 
Top