Bowers & Wilkins 603 floorstanding loudspeaker

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Bowers & Wilkins 603
Bowers & Wilkins 603 floorstanding loudspeaker

Try guessing the price of this decent size loudspeaker, and I’ll warrant you’ll overestimate it by around 50%. Certainly £1,250 does seem very modest in view of the complement of eight drive units, two floorstanding enclosures plus a couple of large plinths – presumably this is the bonus of having a factory in China. 

The 603 therefore clearly starts off with a substantial price advantage, costing less than half the price of the equivalent 702 model (even though the latter features a ‘tweeter-on-top’). Indeed, the ‘plinths’ are very much an option, only provided to satisfy H&S requirements in case of children or large dogs running about. As neither applied here, they were simply left in the cartons.

The key ingredient in this new sixth-generation 600-series is the replacement of the longstanding Kevlar with the new Continuum material, which first appeared a few years back in the then new 800 D3 models. Like Kevlar it’s based on a woven fabric, so the outside of the cone will gradually become cancelled as frequency rises, reducing the effective radiation diameter and therefore improving the distribution. Alongside its 150mm Continuum cone, the midrange driver in this model also has a ‘surroundless’ (FST) outside edge termination.

Work has also gone into the other drive units and the cosmetics. A ‘decoupled double dome’ tweeter has a 25mm aluminium diaphragm and has been re-engineered for performance improvement; the twin 165mm bass drivers have paper cones. Cosmetic changes include mounting the port on the rear instead of the front, and a replacement of the vinyl artificial wood with a black or white painted finish. Sharp box edges work with the paintwork to give the whole package a very contemporary look.

The ports on the rear may be blocked or re-tuned by a couple of two-part foam plugs. These can either be left in one piece, so blocking the ports completely, or the centre of the bung can be removed to re-tune them to a different frequency. By means of this simple ‘trick’ it’s possible to position these floorstanders virtually wherever best suits, as the adjustable bass tuning should ensure that major room modes can be avoided.

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