Bargain R&R Reproducers
B&W DM602 Series 2
Review by Oswaldo Martinez
I must admit I have a thing for two-way monitor sized loudspeakers.
Porque, you ask? (uhh, that's Spanish for “why” in case you were wondering) :)
Over the years I've found that the better small monitor loudspeaker designs have a special way with soundstaging, and often, pin-point imaging that REALLY REALLY appeals to me. By default then, I also feel that most floor-standing designs
more often than not miserably fail to attain this level of imaging/soundstaging precision therefore usually sounding blurry and confused (or should that be “Dazed and Confused”?? :-) ). Thus, my fondness with Spica & most ProAc designs amongst a few others that escape me at the moment. Of course, this assumes no glaring aberrations elsewhere in their sonic spectrum - i.e. they can't be imaging champs and suck tonally.
I shall begin by complementing the B&W DM602 S2's for their extremely attractive design -- I dig this being the ultra-chic techno dude that I am! :-). Ok, all kidding aside, this is really a handsome pair of speakers that truly befits its technological pedigree and price range. Actually, they look WAY more expensive than their $600/pr asking price.
What does this have anything to do with performance Oz? (that's my nickname in case you were wondering!).
Uhh, to this question I would say... nada (oh come on, you know that one!) :). But I figured, why not compliment a product for their fine appearance and excellent fit and finish, you know what I mean? It's a "pride of ownership" thing with me I guess.
So What's So Special About
Well, these speakers heavily borrow from the company's top of the line
Nautilus technology. Some of the new technology used in the current DM600 S2 series is in the tapered tweeter tubes, flat ring tweeter suspensions, bass/midrange bullet dust caps, Kevlar reinforced bass cones with 'mushroom construction' and Flowport technology. This IS heavy duty stuff at this kinda budget dudes! The DM 602 S2 is a 2-way 4th-order vented-box system with an ultra-cool looking 7 inch woven Kevlar cone bass/mid driver and a 1"
aluminum dome tweeter. In fact, I've got it from one of the B&W reps that the 1" metal dome tweeter cap is right off of the top of the line Nautilus speaker. Impressive indeed!
Fine. So what's so special about these puppies we asked!!!
AH, the sound! (geez, you are impatient bunch!) :)
But first! :o). The speakers were shipped along with a silly-ass pair of metal stands from B&W. Yuck! Too short and lightweight to be any good. What were they thinking? Thank goodness for the super Spica Gravity stands I use with my TC-60's. They really saved the day.
Ok, the sound. First impressions were NOT all that. It was apparent from the start that the DM602's were hot on top and that some heavy duty break-in was an absolute necessity. By the same token
tho' it was also fairly apparent that these speakers were not lacking in low end foundation.
Yipes! Could these things shake the walls or what!?? I actually thought I'd forgotten to disconnect the Janis subwoofer!!! Again, this was a pleasant surprise.
The 602 S2's began to flourish at around 50 hours with the tipped up high end definitely mellowing out by leaps and bounds -- not just spectral balance-wise -- but also by smoothing out as well. As I closed in on 75+ hours of the break-in period I grew confident the speakers had finally blossomed and the fun began! :-)
Bottom line with these little speakers??? THEY ROCK DUDES -- that's what!!! Whew! These
puppies do rock great!! I couldn't believe how loud and clean the overall sound was. I mean, we are talking Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Rush (hi Steve!), Stevie Ray Vaughn, whatever. Don't get me wrong, while I dig your Miles Davis' Kind of Blue and Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony as much as the next music lover, it was just SO LIBERATING to rock out loud just for the fun of it! No worries about busting drivers, no worries about ultimate finesse,
no worries about anything else (well, except maybe getting complaints from whiney neighbors -
Hehe!). And all this without the added help of a subwoofer. Incredible.
So how about acoustic jazz and classical Oz?
(did I already tell you that's my nickname?)
Well...not as refined, but that's ok. Nothing's terribly wrong here. Just
not the same kinda midrange bloom or magic that some of the other aforementioned designs possess in spades -- namely Spica &
ProAcs. Enough of “IT” though as to not be objectionable so DO NOT make the mistake of discarding these wonderful little speakers. USE YOUR EARS and decide for yourself please.
So what's the deal with their imaging/soundstaging capabilities Oz?
(uhh...you should know by now)
Oh yeaahh! I did make a big deal about how good small monitor speakers are imaging demons yada yada yada. Fine. They are good. Very good in this department in fact. They throw a fairly detailed, if not super layered, soundstage with sufficient spread/width across the said stage. What they don't do as well as the other aforementioned products in my humble opinion is the depth thing. I mean, they DO image behind the plane of the speakers, they just don't throw the unbelievably deep soundstage that I'm used to with my beloved TC-60's. No biggie here though if you haven't heard much better
than this. Soundstage depth is more than adequate.
So what else is special about these rockin' speakers?
(What I'm about to tell you next I stumbled upon by pure chance)
See, earlier this Spring my father comes to visit and we decide we should go out and rent a cool movie instead of hitting the movie theater -- so we settled on ‘The Mummy'. But before firing the
TV I got to thinking: Why not watch it thru my JVC S-VHS HiFi VCR and thru the DM 602 S2's just for the heck of it???” (well, that's not altogether true. I knew that my TC-60's don't play nearly as loud nor go subjectively nearly as low as the B&W's so the choice was clear).
Anyways...Man-o-man was I in for a shock!!! Once again these unassuming (size-wise) DM602's were
rattlin' & shakin' the walls but now to the superb ‘Mummy' soundtrack. Boy! I've never experienced finer two-channel playback of movie soundtracks at home (not that I do this that often now, but in comparison to these DM 602's, and only in this capacity, the Spicas sound somewhat dull and
under whelming. In other words, not enough balls! (pardon my French).
(‘the conclusion' in Spanish in case you were wondering) :)
I like these speakers very very much. Yeah, so they might not be the BEST choice if you are mainly a classical or jazz
aficionado. HOWEVER, if you like to ROCK hard most of the time, heck, even if only some of the time, I can't think of a more affordable way to accomplish the ever important task at hand. There's enough bottom end foundation to even please those devoted organ music lovers (I'm serious! Try Dorian's CD of Pictures at an Exhibition with Jean Guillou and tell me what you think!).
Its top end performance, while fairly extended, isn't the smoothest I've ever heard but whose is at this price range? So there's a little ‘grit' in there, sue me. To me what really counts is that their dynamic range, overall clean presentation, and adequate soundstaging/imaging capabilities are quite accomplished for ANY loudspeaker of their size and especially their price.
That they'd probably make an outstanding set of main two-channel speakers within the context of a budget conscious surround-sound set up is the icing on the cake. And finally, like any other high quality monitor, high quality stands are mandatory.
So, in conclusion, I like these rockin' little speakers a lot
(in case you were wondering and all).