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Bowers & Wilkins 707 S2 review – CNET


When it comes to building speakers there are only so many materials manufacturers can use to construct their drivers — paper, kevlar and aluminum are popular options. And then there’s Bowers & Wilkins, the storied speaker brand known for such audiophile-grade gear as the legendary Nautilus and the D805 series speakers, which use actual diamonds in their tweeters.

The 707 S2 reviewed here is the most affordable in B&W’s brand-new 700 series, all of which ditch kevlar for “Continuum” driver. It’s made of super-secret material that first appeared on the company’s 800 D3 series and has now trickled down. The 707 S2 directly replaces the CM1 and appears similar in size and construction. B&W being B&W, however, it’s replaced almost every internal part, including the tweeter and driver.

The result is a supremely detailed speaker which excels at audio you might consider “high-end.” Think chamber music, blues jazz and singer songwriters. It also offers a surprising amount of bass in a very small footprint and sports a luxurious finish. Is it the absolute best speaker for the money? No, but it would make the most sense as part of a 700 series surround set, especially when used as a rear speaker.

As any restaurateur knows, the second most-affordable bottle of wine is often the best seller — and that could hold true here. If you’re looking at a stereo speaker from the 700 line, try saving up for the 706 or 705 instead. And if you want a better speaker for the money, nothing I’ve heard beats the Elac UB5 ($450). The B&W 707 S2 is available now in the US ($1,250), UK (£800) and Australia (AU$1,500).

It’s a looker

The Bowers & Wilkins 707 S2 includes most of the improvements the company has made in its flagship 800 series, including that new Continuum driver. While the company is mum on what these proprietary drivers are made of, I do know two things — they’re actually painted silver, and B&W says they offer less distortion than kevlar.  

The 707 S2 is a compact monitor in everything but name at 11 inches tall and 6.5 inches wide. It houses a 5 inch Continuum driver and a decoupled one inch aluminum tweeter set above the mid/bass.

bowers-and-wilkins-707-s2

Sarah Tew/CNET

The sample I received came in an attractive satin white but it’s also available in gloss black or rosenut. It’s well constructed as you’d expect from the company, with elegant touches such as a tweeter guard and gold binding posts. The speaker is rear-ported with the company’s dimpled FlowPort– which means keep it away from walls — or you could use the set of foam bungs included in the box.

The speakers do come with a magnetic speaker grill, but unless your housemates are amateur knife jugglers, skip the drab covers and let these lovely speakers show.

The sound: fine details, forward treble

We reviewed the 707’s predecessor, the CM1 S2, back in 2014 and found it a charming little speaker with one main “flaw” — a pronounced treble response. The true is same of this speaker. While we weren’t able to compare the two in our testing lab, we did hear them compared at an event in Boston recently. As a result of the upgrades the new 707 seemed to offer finer detail and a better soundstage than the older CM1. But a lot has changed since we last saw the CM1 — not least of all the emergence of Elac America. It’s tougher to release a small standmount today given the outstanding performance-to-price ratio of the Uni-Fi UB5.



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