Hifi Choice har testat DM683 For
Remarkably revealing and a wide dynamic range
Impressive bass extension
Lovely rubberised front baffle Against
Vinyl finish won't apost be to all tastes Verdict
By taking the fundamentals of the 804S and putting them in a solid box, B&W has laid down the
gauntlet at this price point. We have not come across this level of transparency in a sub- £1,000
speaker before - the killer bass is the icing on the cake
The 683 is the top model in B&W's most recent incarnation of the entry-level 600 Series. It's not a
speaker range to be taken lightly, especially given that B&W is one of the largest dedicated
loudspeaker makers in the world and thus one of the biggest players in the audiophile market.
The new 600 Series is smaller than previously, and there are just two standmounts, the 686 and
685, and two floorstanding stereo models, the 684 and 683.
There are also three subwoofers: ASW 608, 610 and 610XP (the '8' and '10' refer to the driver size
in inches, and XP essentially just means bigger and better). There are also two centre speakers and
a surround speaker.
While the standmounts are very similar, except for the size of main driver and box, the two
floorstanders are distinctly different.
AdvertisementThe 684 (£699) is a two-and-a-half-way with two matching Kevlar cones (one
dedicated to bass, the other to bass and mid), while the more expensive and taller 683 takes an
FST midrange unit from the 800 series and augments it with two new bass drivers. All the 600
series models have the same aluminium tweeter set in its distinctively offset face plate.
The FST midrange driver makes the 683 the most interesting speaker in the new range. This is the
same midrange technology that you will see on all of the three-way 800 Series models, including
the mighty 800D.
And given that the least expensive of those - the 804S - costs £2,700 and yet has a similar driver
array, this newcomer would seem to be a bargain. Okay, it doesn't have the fancy 800 Series
cabinet work, nor the Matrix internal bracing, and its tweeter is not on top in a separate enclosure.
However, there is a Nautilus tube behind the 683's tweeter and the bass drivers look even
more 'bling' thanks to their metal cones.
The aluminium dome tweeter has been heavily revised for this series, its neodymium magnet giving
it increased sensitivity while copper plating of the pole-piece extends the frequency response.
Meanwhile, mass has been lowered thanks to an edge-wound voice coil, and the resonant
frequency of the system has been reduced with a new surround material.
The FST midrange is distinguished by its very thin foam surround, which is a termination rather
than a suspension as such (FST stands for Fixed Suspension Transducer).
The driver can work this way because it is limited to the midband and does not have a great deal of
travel. B&W says that to bring the price of this drive unit down to the point where it could be used in
the 600 it just simplifed the mounting method to a conventional bolt-on approach, rather than the
suspended, single point fixing used in the 800 Series. There is also another major factor that we will
The bass drivers here are aluminium cones with a paper/Kevlar skin on the back - the combination
giving stiffness and damping and ending up with the same mass as the carbon fibre/Rohacell
sandwich cones on the 804S.
The 683 is a lot of loudspeaker for the money, its weighs in at 28kg and looks great in its Wengé
vinyl skin, rubberised front panel and high quality bi-wire terminals. You may even wonder how it
can be produced for the price?
The answer is that B&W set up its own facility in China, moving the old 600 production line from its
Worthing factory. This is the first range that the company has built overseas in its own facility and
helps to explain how it can offer so much value for money. But as we know, there's more to the
dark art of speaker building.
The results are pretty damn impressive, if perhaps a little darker or more subdued than one might
expect of a 600 Series speaker. Having run them in for 24 hours things did change - the balance
becoming more lively and up-front.
They did this to the extent that we went from an on-axis set-up with the speakers pointed at the
listening chair to a straight down the room, parallel axis arrangement. Something to bear in mind
should you be auditioning a brand new pair.
We would be very impressed if any other companies could compete with the bandwidth and
resolution on offer from the 683, which is a remarkably revealing speaker for its price. You can
clearly hear right into the mix, the fine details that are often masked being easily picked out.
This applied equally to differences between voices in a choir and to the little extras that accompany
the vocal in a densely mixed piece of hip-hop. This is partly because of the speaker's wide dynamic
range, its sensitivity to the smallest notes even when there are far louder ones threatening to hide
It also comes down to excellent separation of instruments and voices, it's easy to pick out the little
bits because there seems to be more space between them and the centre of the musical action.
The 683's bass extension and power adds genuine gravitas to piano and orchestra, and for that
matter the less cultivated productions of Dr Dre, Tool and Mr Oizo where the floor
literally starts to resonate at specific frequencies.
Something that one does not really expect of speakers at this price, especially ones that also
deliver tunefulness and control at low frequencies. Helge Sunde's brass extravaganza positively
bounces with zip in the B&W's hands, with the instruments taking a solid physical form in the room.
We found little to criticise in this speaker given its price. It inevitably doesn't have the slam of
something like an 804S, nor does it deliver the depth of image of more expensive designs. But
when it comes to sheer resolution and lack of colouration from a speaker that also does proper
bass, it is in a class of its own.
By getting its FST driver into a sub-£1,000 speaker B&W has without doubt raised the stakes for the
market as a whole. You may be able to get real veneers on smaller speakers but you will struggle
to find the combination of resolution, timing and energy in this competitive sector. /Hi-Fi Choice
Redigerat av Ageve, 19 augusti 2007 - 12:14.