Face-Off III: B&W DM602S1
B&W 602S1 Bottom Line:
We realize that the DM602S1 is two generations old compared to B&W's current offering and have heard the S3 and S2 series in other systems before. They are a marked improvement over the S1's, the most notable changes being in the floorstanding models. Unfortunately we didn't have either of the newer models to use in our speaker face off, and Clint was nice enough to let us borrow his for this review.
Good quality cast aluminum baskets.
Our first impression of the 602's was that they were a medium size, and boxy looking bookshelf speaker that were rather lightweight and, based on our knuckle tap test, not particularly inert in construction. It annoyed us that B&W employed such substandard binding posts, which could not even accommodate banana jacks. We literally had to jerry rig the speaker cables in order to connect them.
One again we started out with the Sade CD ("Lover's Rock") on track #4. What we noticed this time was considerably more bass extension as compared to the Alon's, with a more laid back and warmer sound presentation. The Alon's tended to come at you with their forward and sibilant sound. The B&W's sounded much more recessed, perhaps even a bit too recessed. The bass was prominent, but very boomy and loose. This could be attributed to the large boxy cabinet, as well as the under-damped properties of the woofer and enclosure. The highs were present, but very closed in. They did not even have a hint of the openness of the less expensive and better performing Axiom Audio M22ti speakers.
Solid internal bracing
The DM602S1 was an adequate performing overall speaker but suffered in its ability to convey clean and detailed midrange. The 602S1's portrayed an overemphasis in mid-bass and tended to smear vocals during high volume output. Rebecca Pidgeon's voice in the SACD ("Spanish Harlem") seemed to lack life and character. While the presentation was large, the inner details of her vocals were missed as was the tonal range and articulation.
Even with their sound flaws, we still considered the B&W 602S1's to be a decent speaker if you are after a lot of sound output from a modestly powered commercial Receiver. With very little power, they will play fairly loud and are a relatively easy load to drive. Where the B&W speakers shined best was for home theatre use. Their power handling and broad frequency range made for an acceptable theatrical experience something that was not part of this particular review scenario. In addition to making a great deal of noise with minimal amplification, they include the B&W name to impress your friends.
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