B&W 685 Bookshelf Speakers

B&W 685 Bookshelf Speakers 

DESCRIPTION

For hi-fi or home cinema in small to medium-sized rooms, you need a loudspeaker that is doesn’t take up floor area, but whose sound can still command the space. You’ll find the 685, which can sit on a shelf, table, stand or wall-mount, an inspired choice.

Its 165mm diameter Kevlar® cone bass/midrange is based on a tried-and-trusted B&W design, but its new fixed centre bullet helps to smooth the response in upper frequencies. Also, by setting the bass/midrange closer to the tweeter than in equivalent earlier speakers, we have improved the integration and vertical dispersion of sound from the two units. The Nautilus™ tube-loaded, aluminium dome tweeter, featuring a new surround material to improve spaciousness and imaging, adds needle-sharp top end all the way to 50kHz and beyond.

The improvements to the drive units in the new 600 Series make it possible, for the first time, to introduce a minimalist crossover to the range. The use of components that are fewer in number but higher in quality – hand-picked in exhaustive listening tests – reduces the degradation of the signal significantly. So, whether you’re enjoying hi-fi or home cinema, what you hear is that much closer to what was recorded.

Visually, a refreshed, contemporary design language and a widened choice of wood finishes allows the 685 to fit in effortlessly with any interior.

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 24  
[Jan 17, 2018]
Armand
Audio Enthusiast

This review is for the 685s series 1. I became a B and W fan largely because I liked our local dealer, who has since sold his business to a larger, out-of-state outfit. I have had these speakers for more than 10 years now and have to say that they have served me well. These are not perfect speakers but I have to say that they are a substantial improvement over the 602s I had earlier. The bass is much tighter and better defined (for a ported system.) The overall tonal balance and musicality are much improved. Imaging is also much better. The only significant complaint is that the treble could be a bit better integrated with the midrange (which I understand has improved with the series 2). Upgrading the phase plugs to ones from the 800 series made a big improvment in midrange detail. This is still one of the best speakers for the money but I think the acoustic suspension NHT Super One 2.1 (which I also have) is a more accurate speaker with better quality bass for about half the price. Hence, I am giving these speakers only four stars for value. It also bothers me a bit that B and W made its reputation through small independent specialty dealers (such as the one I bought these speakers from) but is now selling at least its lower end speakers in a mass market big box store. I know the market has changed and audio companies are struggling to survive but a company of B and W's size, calibre, and reputation should have no trouble keeping its sales up with exclusive distribution. I think they run the risk of tarnishing their image and reputation among audiophiles. With the small caveats above, I would recommend these speakers as a generally well balanced and musical loudspeaker that does well with a wide variety of music.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Jun 11, 2016]
Jmargolies
AudioPhile

These B&W speakers are perfect for smaller rooms! They provide full sound spectrum mixed with accurate harmony mid-range. They fully amplify an 85 watt (Cambridge audio) receiver and make it sound like 200 watts. A complete bargain for $650.00 and more. The bass is totally covered and balanced as well as the mid-range instrumentation.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[May 28, 2016]
Ragingfighter
AudioPhile

I must've met the speakers do sound amazing. They have great detail and music playback especially with vocals jazz and then he subtleties and recordings One example is the intricacies of piano music and when the recording is really good especially good all the thing she can hear you when you're in a normal set up with conventional default speakers Is it pretty much great for any genre though some genres such as the heavier metal hard rock and home theater playback requires a sub woofer in my opinion. I primarily uses for jazz, rock, soft rock, movies, gaming. Very much appreciate the value of what the speakers off or when your video gaming make sure World seemed much more three-dimensional thanks for the great imaging of the speakers and not something that sounds very flat and dull. Specially during moments like when you're in the brush of a forest walking around you can definitely hear things like the movement of grass more than you would hear it on other speakers highly detailed. I did hear the series 2 of the speakers and they do sound phenomenal as well Are there any improvements I did not hear them side-by-side but knowing Bowers and Wilkins I'm sure there is a definite boost as I have yet to see them actually fall behind in their sound quality. I will say this I got these for very good price and though there may be some differences in audio tracks I have heard in comparison between the two speaker series I believe the series one comes extremely close to the series 2 and only the most diehard audio file/technical person in regards to what they're looking for in their soundtracks will opt for the newer. Point is these speakers by no means are out of date or fallen behind by any leaps or bounds. They are among the best in my opinion. They play clear, loud, smooth, great detail in all frequencies. They are compatible with a lot of gear though hook them to higher end gear you will be rewarded with better quality. Highly recommended. Experience them for yourself. I have a pair and I plan on these lasting for many years to come ????????


If you must Best Buy usually has the series 685 s2 up for audition bring a few tracks you know well for demo. They'll let you sample them. So your own comparison. I think you'l
l find the series one holds up quite well.

I know it's not easy for everyone to test models of speakers that you may be interested in but that's a way I did my comparison of these as I had my eye on these throughout the years.

Best wishes good luck on your speaker hunt.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Feb 18, 2014]
schu
AudioPhile

B&W does their homework. These are great speakers for the price - and size! I also have a pair of DM303's, which appear to have a similar tweeter. I'm sure it's been updated. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, as the old saying goes. Does anyone know if it's an updated version of the DM303's tweeter? (which is probably used in other B&W products - doubt they invested in such a phenomenal driver only to use it once...)

Alan

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Oct 20, 2012]
Tom
AudioPhile

Have owned and really loved listening to a pair each of B&W 805 Matrix S2's and 602 S2's (year 2000). I know the traditional hallmarks of B&W sound: imaging, balance, clarity, and omission of sins. I *enjoyed* those speakers.

But the 685's are a real shame of a speaker to me. No way around it, B&W has succombed to the Wal Mart effect. They've tried to engineer around it, unsuccessfully. The 600 series was always about the balance of accuracy and dynamics on a beer budget. Well, those days are gone. Cheap is in and B&W are out. What a real shame.

I've since heard a few other speakers and have found a few other brands that will fill the void and ironically they're of US manufacture with mostly US components.

If you want the 685's, make sure you can try them in your own home for awhile before fully committing or you might be left wanting.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
[Apr 01, 2012]
Jean Henry Noel
AudioPhile

I used to have a pair of B &W DM2A. Transmission line. Those 685 cannot beat them.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
[Apr 07, 2011]
ivansteiven
Audio Enthusiast


i live in southeast asia and bought the 685 for $590 in our local store , first i was amazed how it sounded sooo clear and rich in sound and have decided to replaced my bose 301 as mains and the 301 will be my surround..
listening between b&w 685 and bose 301 my b&w sounds way ahead in every aspect and im a happy B&W owner
you cant go wrong with the 685 no regrets

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Mar 19, 2011]
DoctorX
AudioPhile

I don't usually take the time to post reviews, but these small monitor speakers are outstanding. Not perfect, but an incredible value. Strenghts - balanced sound, very good imaging, great mids and highs, impressive bass for such a small speaker (does require some "tuning" for best bass respnse - in my case that required playing with the position of the speakers re: proximity to walls; I did not care for sound with the port plugs). More about the bass - I find it perfect for most recordings, especially classical and most jazz, but for rock, trance/dance/electronica and home theatre I think a subwoofer is a must). I've tried several - for my moderately sized room with a vaulted ceiling an old NHT SW1 with a MA1 amp sounds acceptable, crossed at 60Hz, out of phase). Mind you, I think you will need the right sub to keep up with these fast speakers for music - other subs I tried sounded boomy, bloated, or slow. And do play with the phase of the sub - mine sounded best out of phase with the 685s. They're not overly revealing and certainly not dry or analytical. While they do sound better with better gear, the mid-fi setup I have them paired with sounds great: an ARCAM AVR 200 receiver and an ARCAM Diva 135 CD/DVD player. Weaknesses? I find the female voice not perfectly reproduced, but otherwise none that I can think of. Tese are keepers for me.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Feb 05, 2011]
Earl p
Audio Enthusiast

I went into my favorite audio store looking to buy the much-heralded Cm1 made by B&W. When I auditioned the Cm1's next to the 685's, I was floored at how the 685's handled the midrange and lower frequency better than the Cm1's. Plus they're 60% of the CM1 price. I've owned many a speaker (Klipsch, Vandersteen, Paradigm)......none provide this type Quality sound at an unbeatable price.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Sep 15, 2010]
meir cohen-israel
Audio Enthusiast

The b&w 685 is fantastic speaker all the way!
much better then my polk lsi9.

amp. : ROTEL RA1070(100WPC)
CD: NAD C 542.
RCA:monster m-1000.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 24  

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