Strengths: The new nautilus tube loaded tweeter is SMOOTH. Midrange is so sweet and deep. Typical B&W sound, but in the past, from much higher up the food chain!
Weaknesses: At this price? None. The only trade off you make is a vinyl cabinet finish instead of veneer, but who cares when it sounds this good
Overall: I have just sold my pair of Monitor Audio GR20s after 18 months of pain from possibly the most fussy and boring speakers I have ever heard, and they cost me £1500, which at the time, felt like a bargain.
After getting rid of the 20s, I decided I would audition some B&W speakers again, and since the MAs held absolutely no value (because no one wants them) I gave the new 600 series from B&W a shot.
What can I say? Quite simply the best value hifi product I have ever had the pleasure of hearing, let alone owning.
The 685s are truly magical. One could only expect such a high level of sound from a speaker several times it's price.
The new nautilus tube loaded tweeter effortlessly brings out detail that was completely lost in my previous GR20s. It never feels harsh or bright, and the integration with the midrange driver is seamless.
The new midrange unit with the fixed "bullet" in the center of the driver is ironically the same technology my previous GR20s adopted, however, nothing at this price comes this close to a real taste of high end sound that these B&Ws are offering.
Of course, as with all standmount speakers, bass will always be limited, regardless of what anyone says. However, given B&Ws modest frequency rating of 42Hz in the lows, I'd say that set up correctly, with a decent amount of power, they definitely sink deep for a speaker of this size. The cabinet is fairly deep at 34cm (inc grille and terminals).
I am using them with a pretty decent Advantage S101 (£3k, 175w) and Chord Odyssey biwire cables. The combination is unbelievable - but of course, mismatched price wise.
As with many speakers around this price, one trade off is the quality of the build. Aside from a vinyl finish instead of a veneer, B&W have really taken a lot of time to make the new 600 series look incredible. The face of the speaker feels like a high density rubber, and the new drivers not only sound amazing, but look amazing too. The cabinet is also fitted with a wall-mountable bracket, however, to truly do them justice, sit them on some heavy stands. Overall, the build is exceptional. To be expected from B&W!