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Bowers & Wilkins DM604S3 Loudspeakers Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 February 2006
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Bowers & Wilkins DM604S3 Loudspeakers
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ImageBowers & Wilkins is a company perhaps best known for their reference grade, ultra-high-end 800 Series and Nautilus speakers. The intense research and development (details of which can be read about in Bryan Southard’s review of the B&W 802Ds) that goes into these reference speakers eventually trickles its way down to more affordable speakers, such as the 600 Series 3 speakers, which range from $350 to $1,400 per pair. We had the opportunity to review the largest speaker of this more modest series, the DM604S3, a three-way floor-standing speaker that packs a boatload of energy.

For those not familiar with B&W’s top offering, the Reference Nautilus speaker looks somewhat like a giant alien snail with horns. The bass enclosure is basically a tube that is a tapered coil, with three more drivers on top. Each of the upper three drivers has a long tapered tube extending to the rear. The tapered tubular enclosures eliminate nearly all internal resonances. Every 600 Series 3 speaker features a tube-loaded tweeter assembly derived from the Nautilus, which absorbs and eliminates the rearward sound waves, reducing distortion. The tweeter assembly further benefits from a stiffened bond between the tweeter dome and voice coil bobbin, extending the frequency range up to 42kHz.

The 600 Series tweeter is not the only part of the speaker to benefit from the Nautilus. The bass and midrange drivers benefit from newly designed baskets, which feature a reduced profile and aerodynamic shaping to reduce echo and smooth airflow behind the cone. While B&W has been using woven Kevlar drivers for many years, the 600 Series 3 Kevlar drivers feature small refinements in the connection of the cone to the voice coil that is said to increase the driver’s performance in the upper portion of its frequency range. The DM604S3 reviewed here, along with the slightly smaller DM603S3. Both feature aluminum bass drivers. All of the drivers are housed in cabinets whose bracing is designed to both reduce resonances and maintain proper airflow within the cabinet, in order to increase low-end response and maintain proper airflow between the cabinet’s interior and exterior. B&W’s latest version of their Flowport is utilized throughout the series. The Flowport features golf ball-like dimples that smooth airflow and reduce the possibility of audible chuffing from the ports. Last but not least, the crossovers have been redesigned with new capacitors for the Series 3.

Looking specifically at the DM604S3, it is a three-way vented box floor-standing speaker that measures 39 inches high, nine-and-three-eighths inches wide and 15.75 inches deep, weighing in at a respectable yet manageable 64 pounds per side.

Visually, the DM604S3 speaker has a light gray curved baffle with an interlocking pattern throughout. The top of the baffle features a one-inch metal dome tweeter located directly above a seven-inch Kevlar bass/midrange driver, which sits above two seven-inch aluminum bass drivers. On the bottom is the patented B&W Flowport. Rounding off the face of the DM604S3 is a simple black grille with the B&W logo on the bottom.
The back of the cabinet has sturdy dual five-way binding posts to allow for biwiring and every other wire connection method. The bottom of the cabinet has four threaded inserts for the provided spikes or optional soft silicon padded feet to protect your flooring. The cabinet is finished in a very attractive Light Oak Sorrento Vinyl. B&W gives you a choice of Black Ash Vinyl as well. I found the Sorrento finish to be attractive, but it lacked the luster of the Maple-finished CM4s that the 603s have replaced. The rated frequency response is 39Hz – 22kHz with a sensitivity of 90 dB, making this a reasonably easy load for most amplifiers or modern receivers.

The B&W DM604S3s replaced my prior reference mid-sized floor-standing speakers in the B&W CM4s. I connected the 604S3s to my Krell 300iL integrated amplifier via Monster Cable’s Z2 biwire speaker cables. The primary source component was Rotel’s RDV-1060, although I also used an Escient E2 Fireball (with FLAC music files) and Polk Audio’s XRt12 XM tuner. I placed the speakers approximately six feet apart and two feet from the front wall with a slight toe-in.


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