It’s the B&W 686, I believe. Is it worth it?

B&w 686: While admirable in the normal B&W ways, the 686s’ lack of mobility and dominating bass mean that there are other ways to spend your money; there are better ways that are a good way to sum up, the brand’s problems with reviews based on hard data. For them, getting on the class a recommended list is like a game they play with Stereophile to see how awful of a measuring speaker they can build.

Big sound from a tiny package:

However, the B&Ws’ slightly rich overall aural character gets cloying after a while, like a mouthful of high cocoa content chocolate. Despite admiring the smart engineering that allows this much bass to be extracted from such a small cabinet, we’d rather have a little more grip and control, as well as a little more excitement, than a lot of gibbous low-end.

B&W 686 review elements include the following:

Some form of Hannibal Lector faces mask-like enclosure is used to hold a metal dome tweeter, secured to the speaker’s bezel by a brushed aluminum metal grill and plastic trim ring. To my eyes, the driver appears to be loaded somewhat inside its cage, and unlike another tweeter when I tried to remove the grill, it resisted my efforts.


Bright yellow Kevlar cone and fuzzy felt dust cap give this car a striking yet handsome look on the road. The woofer is placed far back in the speaker compared to the tweeter due to the trim ring’s large size and beautiful round shape. It necessitates time alignment in the crossover.


Another B&W trademark is the golf ball-textured port. It’s not making much noise, but it has a beautiful texture that contrasts nicely with the rest of the high-quality components on the box’s front.


Inside, an exceptionally dense plastic baffle coating gives the cabinet a great feel. The inside is filled with strong MDF with bracing and polyfill. It is a sturdy piece of furniture, thanks to a knuckle wrap.


In my perspective, these connectors are excessive for a speaker this compact. The tweeter and the woofer have their own sets of binding posts on the 686 S2. You only need to run one pair of wires to the speaker because of the metal piece in between.


First impressions were skewed, but closer inspection reveals high-quality components. It’s hard to believe that all of these B&W components cost as much as they do to make. Since the crossover network structure is more important than the individual components, all of this is a bunch of bull.


They look wonderful, are transparent, and complement the speaker perfectly. You don’t utilize the grills when you buy a speaker with a yellow Lamborghini cone.

Configuration of a Computer Workstation:

The tweeter was physically front on the baffle, resulting in a forward-sounding tweeter. Therefore I moved the speakers closer to my ear to avoid this problem. The optimal placement for the speakers was at ear level with the woofer’s apex.

Listening notes:

The drivers are ultra-clean and distortion-free, yet another British speaker. When I hear sounds I’ve never heard before, I know the speakers aren’t doing their jobs properly. Instead of an increasing response issue, it appears to be a more complicated issue. Oatmeal, Hall, and Hall No, that sounds too much like a remix to me. The voices sound entirely different from the original recording, and this is the only element that remotely resembles the original.


Vocals are placed so far forward in the mix that they are practically behind or inside the listener’s brain. These loudspeakers are like a drug for your ears, like a receiver’s volume button, always engaged. It’s understandable why some people find them appealing, but it’s wrong. There are no words to describe how terrible Phil Collins’ performance is. These are the last of the 1980s; they annihilate the decade as a whole.


The test is accurate from 700Hz onwards; beyond that frequency, my room modes come into play, but the data still indicates the speaker’s tonal behavior. Here we have another speaker with a +3dB gain +2dB on an axis across the treble range. Even with a smoothed response of +3dB, there’s still plenty of leeway for mistakes, and these speakers make the most of all the different ways a speaker may be jazzed up.

Corrected by DSP:

However, because of the speaker’s flaws, my attempts at making one produced mediocre results when corrected flat on-axis and subsequently corrected using off-axis averaging.  For the sake of completeness, let us return to the question posed by Stereophile Why don’t B&W speakers perform to their potential reviewing these? I’ve concluded that B&W does not want them to.


As a result, these speakers have a solidly constructed cabinet with high-quality drivers and an excellent crossover, even though it is composed of cheap materials. They can produce precise speakers, but instead, they opt for something else. B&W 686 has high expectations for the sound quality of these speakers. It’s not my cup of tea, but judging by the fervent following it has, it must be liked by some.


What do you think of them?

When I connected them to my Marantz MCR610 after they were set up on their stands in my living room, I could only use the word extraordinary to describe them.

It’s the B&W 686, I believe. Is it worth it?

For $450, I found a pair of B&W 686 headphones that sounded incredible…especially considering what I would be listening to them with.

So, what about the Totems?

They have a surprising amount of bass for their stature as well. The one place where the Model Ones beat the B&W 686 is in terms of soundstage breadth, and even then, this is more from memory from when I owned them.

Read also: Is the HW-Q90R worth the price tag?

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