B&W 686 impressions [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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audio amateur
06-01-2008, 10:54 AM
I've had these along with the DAC & amp for a couple months now and I thought I would share my opinions, now that I've had a little time with them.

I would imagine that they are clearly broken in by now, having used them quite a lot during this time. I'd like to note that the acoustics in my current dorm room are not good, as the walls are hard and bare.
I couldn't wait to get these hooked up when I got them, as all I had before that for several months was some fake Sennheiser ear phones, and my laptop 'speakers' (to make things worse, the inbuilt sound-card is foul). I believe I've managed to place them relatively well. The soundstage was a little too left/right, whereas currently it is perfectly balanced, with voices coming straight from the centre. I have them about 5 feet apart and 7 feet from me.

Now for the impressions. They sounded amazing out of the box. Literally, they sounded really good. I had obviously been auditioning them in store, and they didn't fail to impress when I got them home, at first listen. Which doesn't mean they don't now.

More resolute than anything I've owned before, and the bass extensions truly belies their size. I'm not used to this with such a small speaker. I was watching 'I am legend' (in stereo with my configuration) last night I was shocked how low they went during a couple passages. The bass is well controlled as well.

Midrange is great, the high end perhaps a tad harsh but I haven't been bothered. I feel the Trends amp really helps with all this, as I am sure that they wouldn't shine so much with other amplifiers. I believe it is a very 'transparent amp'. One negative aspect I can point out is the soundstage which I feel is a bit blurred, but perhaps this has to with room acoustics.

One possible shortcoming in a larger room with more absorption might be the amp. It does run out of steam and i can clearly hear clipping. At modest levels in a large room though, it should be fine. One track I may well use as a reference from now on is Amy Winehouse's 'Just Friends'. I love this track and know it quite well, and what shocked me is when I plugged my headphone. It sounded absolutely nasty in comparaison. 'Tinny', compressed, distorted and without any dynamics (part of this could be the sound card). The 686's sound so much more full.

I think this sums it up. Feel free to ask me about them.
ps: They like Harpsichord. And Massive Attack:D

06-01-2008, 04:07 PM
Good review... Glad to hear you're enjoying the new setup...

Just guessing from your review; but if you eventually decide to upgrade, will the amp be the first thing you change?

06-01-2008, 11:44 PM
As an owner of the 685's the more power the better. The 686's are even more power hungry with that 84 db sensitivity.

audio amateur
06-02-2008, 03:18 AM
Good review... Glad to hear you're enjoying the new setup...

Just guessing from your review; but if you eventually decide to upgrade, will the amp be the first thing you change?
Thanks. To be honest I don't really know what I will be upgrading next. Even though I like the bass, I feel they could benefit from a subwoofer, to help out with the lowest octave. I do like my organ cd's so this would be one of the reasons. As far as current replacements, the amp does have its shortcomings (power), but I really like it nonetheless. It can even be switched to being a power amp, which is nice. The problem really is the 686's sensitivity. If the 84dB figure is true, they are definitely not efficient. And I think I would feel it in a larger room with this amp. I don't know to be honest which I would upgrade. Possibly the speakers:)

06-02-2008, 08:56 AM
I would hold onto the speakers. The new 600 series is a great line. A used integrated would probably save you some money. NAD and Rotel are very easy to find on the used market.

How is that DAC working out for you ? I was thinking of that model since they are so cheap.

johnny p
06-02-2008, 12:37 PM
I have my 686s with a little over 2 months of use, sitting in a closet... I wish I had more gear to drive them with :(