It's not every day we get equipment at the highest end of the audio market through the office, so when Bowers and Wilkins DM603 S3 speakers came through the door, we couldn't wait to begin testing. Thankfully they more than lived up to expectations, providing a superbly rich, detailed sound that is effortlessly balanced and amazing to listen to.
- Deep powerful bass, Detailed mids, Extremely revealing sound, Stylish minimalist design
While the price tag will exclude many people from enjoying the DM603 S3 speakers, for audiophiles who really want to make the most of their music, these are a great choice.
Price$ 2,000.00 (AUD)
It is important to note that as you progress to the higher end of the audio spectrum, the price tag begins to grow exponentially. A $3000 set of speakers will not be twice as good as a $1500 set; the difference is there, but many may not appreciate it. At $2000 a speaker, the DM603s definitely are not cheap, but those who appreciate the subtleties of excellent sound quality will fall in love with them.
The first thing that stood out to us was the bass. Despite having no subwoofer connected, the entire low range was exquisitely well rendered. The bass extended extremely deep and had a lot of punch. It was quick and tight, without being overbearing, and all of our music had an impressive power to it that you just don't get from cheaper systems.
Similarly, the mid range was jaw-dropping, offering powerful, soaring melodies and fantastic detail. Instrumental separation was handled amazingly well, with every element of the music highlighted individually. This is one of the most revealing pairs of speakers we have ever listened to, to the point where we noticed some mastering errors in certain CD tracks that previous speakers, and even high quality headphones, had failed to bring out. We did very occasionally experience some small distortion in the lower mid range, but it was extremely rare and not enough to detract from the listening experience.
The only area where we detected any issues was in the treble range, with some slight harshness on the very highest notes, but even this was relatively minor. This issue aside, the highs were impressive, with a great amount of sparkle and a very rich tone. Overall, these speakers offer a lot more texture to music, with things like snare drums having an almost tangible sound.
We also ran some movie tests, and again the DM603s impressed. Their deep, powerful bass and excellent positional audio really came to the fore here, providing an intense film experience, even with only two speakers. If you were to purchase four or more (for a mere $8,000!), along with a subwoofer, you'd have an incredible surround sound experience that is suited to both movie watching and music listening.
Design wise, the speakers look fairly plain, but have a certain minimalist air of sophistication that should appeal to a lot of buyers. They house three separate speaker cones, including B&W's special Nautilus tweeter, a Kevlar woven mid range and bass cone, and an aluminum bass driver. All of these are covered by a simple black speaker grill, which can be detached if you so desire. Two colours are available for the rest of the unit, black ash or light oak. They offer single or bi-wire connectivity, and are powered through the speaker cable. It is important to realise that a speaker system is limited by the other components in your home entertainment setup. We tested them on Pioneer's latest AV receiver, which proved to be more than up to the task, and we'd definitely recommend upgrading your system to take full advantage of these speakers if you decide to purchase them.
Measuring 91cm x 20.4cm x 28.7cm and weighing 19.5kg each, the DM603s aren't the smallest speakers around, and will take up a fairly hefty chunk of space in your lounge room. But we think the sacrifice is more than worthwhile.
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