Bowers & Wilkins CM6 S2 Loudspeaker



When I first unboxed the Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) CM6 S2 loudspeaker, the first thing I thought of was my dog Max, a Boston Terrier. If you’re not familiar with the breed they’re distinguished by their (mostly) black coats with white chests, short muzzles and a white blaze up the center of their adorable faces. Stick a bow tie on them and they look like they’re wearing tuxedos. In fact, they have been aptly nicknamed “the American Gentlemen” of dogs. I had similar thoughts about this loudspeaker because it too, is very distinguished looking and made an attractive addition to my home’s listening room. As I began setting them up in my review system, I could hardly wait to hear if they sounded as attractive as they looked or would I have to take a rolled up newspaper and… Just kidding ASPCA. I would never harm Max… or these speakers, for that matter.

B&W has carved out a fairly substantial piece of the American loudspeaker market for many, many years. They’ve always maintained a solid position in high-end audio, going back to the days of their legendary Nautilus loudspeaker and “Matrix Series” speakers and up to today where their “800 Series Diamond” speakers represent the company’s state-of-the-art. But thankfully, B&W has always been in tune with that sector of the marketplace that craves high-quality, high-performance products but can’t afford to shell out two year’s worth of tuition for them. This is why you can find some of their more affordable models, such as their “CM Series” speakers, in vastly accessible places like the Best Buy/Magnolia stores. Speakers such as the CM Series are very important to music lovers because they gracefully ride that ever-thinning line between high-end performance and mass-market affordability.


The CM6 S2

BWCM6_S2_bottom_image.jpgThe CM Series features three floor-standing models, three stand-mounted models, two center channels and a subwoofer, giving you the flexibility to start with a two-channel stereo system and easily build up to a full-range surround sound system. The stand-mounted CM6 S2 features a 1” Free-mounted Decoupled Double Dome aluminum tweeter and a 6.5” woven Kevlar® cone midrange/bass driver. It measures 7.8” x 13.4” x 11.2” (WHD) and weighs 19.6 lbs. My review samples were finished in a gorgeous high-gloss black but they are also available in satin white and Rosenut. These are 8 Ohm, 88dB sensitive speakers with a frequency response of 50Hz to 28kHz. They use two sets of what looks like gold-plated, 5-way speaker terminals. There are metal jumpers that connect the high and low-frequency drivers to allow for basic amplifier connection or bi-amping.

Setup was fairly idiot-proof. The CM6 were a perfect match for my Tyler Acoustics 24” high stands. I used the coaxial digital output of my Oppo DV 980H CD player to go into my Vitus Audio RD-101 DAC/Linestage. I alternated amps between my reference Bel Canto REF1000M monos and a pair of Classe’ Audio Sigma monos. All cabling was the Soundstring GEN II Platinum Series, except for the digital cable, which was the AudioQuest Forest.

Sit, Listen, Good Boy

The speakers sat 5’ away from the rear walls, about 8’ from the sidewalls and with about 10’ between them. They were toed-in about 5 degrees toward the centerpoint and the listening position was about 10’ back. My approximately 26’ x 20’ listening room has 8’ ceilings and carpeted concrete floors. My Tyler Acoustics speaker stands have spikes on the bottom that pierce the carpet and help give the speakers some rigidity. One neat little design feature that can be very important to people with limited space is the use of the supplied foam plugs/rings. If you need to place your speakers close to a rear wall this may lead to an unwanted increase in bass bloat. Simply inserting the foam plugs will limit that bass excess and allow you to maintain low-end musicality. But should that musicality come at the expense of limiting the bass too much, you can increase the bass just a bit by removing the center of the foam plug, effectively turning it into a foam ring. Though I didn’t need them in my generous listening room, I thought it was still a thoughtful design touch and worth noting.

I don’t believe the review speakers were brand new, so I only gave them about a day to get warmed up in my system before sitting down to do any serious listening.

Now admittedly, there was little about these speakers that would lead me to believe that I would not be wowed by them. Their pedigree was well established and all the technological innovations were evident. It was obvious that the CM6 S2s were designed to carry forth the level of performance of their up market cousins, the 805 D3, but at an affordable price and in a living room friendly environment. But when the first chords of music began to pour from these little lovelies… Oh-My-God! 

perfectanimal.jpgI began by playing the Becca Stevens Band’s “You Make Me Wanna” from their Perfect Animal CD [Universal]. Sitting in the quiet intimacy of my listening room, it was as if Stevens herself was holographically emitted from these speakers. Her honey-coated voice hung in the air, allowing me to enjoy even the moistening of her lips between pauses. The CM6 S2s do a wonderful job of imaging and filling in the soundstage without becoming overwhelmed by it. Stevens’ band occupies real space and the instruments maintain cohesion and don’t smear over each other. The bass is deceptively deep, and never sounded bloated or fuzzy. Lovers of acoustic music will be thrilled by the lifelike quality rendered on natural instruments.

outkast.jpgThese speakers portray music so honestly that you can become easily drawn into music that you may not ordinarily listen to. Such was the case when I found myself listening to the R&B/Hip-Hop duo Outkast’s two-disc set, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below [Arista]. “Prototype,” the 7th track on the The Love Below disc is an atmospheric tune that benefits greatly from the CM6 S2s’ ability to play music with air and detail. The 19th track from this same disc, “Take Off Your Cool,” featuring Nora Jones’ breathy vocals and Andre 3000 on acoustic guitar, benefits the same way. These speakers seem to be made for this type of music.

Barberlive.jpgIf the intimate confines of live jazz, is more your thing then you will be delighted with this speaker. Listening to Patricia Barber Live: A Fortnight In France [Blue Note] was a treat on these speakers. Track 3, “Crash” is an up tempo and dynamic tune that showcases Barber’s musicians, particularly drummer Eric Montzka, whose playing really shines through the CM6 S2’s ability to deliver fast transient response and pace. Barber’s own work on piano is also great in this regard. Track 8, “Norwegian Wood,” served to remind me of the uniqueness of her vocals and again plays to these speaker’s strengths. Not only is the breathy quality of her voice captured well, but so too is the feeling and atmosphere of the venue in which she is performing. I’ve heard Barber perform a few times in local bookstores and at the Green Mill, Chicago’s legendary jazz club, but listening to her through the CM6 S2s was made even more special because I was able to do it in the comfort of my own house. Isn’t that what this hobby is all about?


I really enjoyed my time with these wonderful little speakers. They are as aesthetically pleasing as they are to listen to, and their non-fatiguing sound means you can listen to them all day. They play all types of music well but are a revelation with what they do with live and acoustic music. While they are hardly inexpensive as small speakers go, their quality of design and build, combined with their musical attributes makes them about as much of a bargain as anything available in high-end audio. The Bowers & Wilkins CM6 S2 is a true gentleman’s loudspeaker. It is attractive, articulate, well-built and very easy to listen to. Highly recommended.


dave thomas 




Price: $2,000.00/pair 


2-way vented-box system

Drive units

1x ø25mm (1 in) Decoupled Double Dome aluminum high-frequency

1x ø165mm (6.5 in) woven Kevlar® cone bass /midrange

Frequency range

-6dB at 45Hz and 50kHz

Frequency response

50Hz – 28kHz ±3dB


Within 2dB of reference response

Horizontal: over 60º arc

Vertical: over 10º arc


88dB spl (2.83V, 1m)

Harmonic distortion

2nd and 3rd harmonics (90dB, 1m)

<1% 100Hz – 22kHz

<0.5% 150Hz – 20kHz

Nominal impedance

8Ω (minimum 3.7Ω)

Crossover frequencies


Recommended amplifier power

30W – 120W into 8Ω on unclipped program

Max. recommended cable impedance

0,1 Ω


Height: 340mm (13.4 in) cabinet only

403mm (15.9 in) including tweeter

Width: 200mm (7.8 in)

Depth: 285mm (11.2 in) cabinet only

301mm (11.9 in) including grille and terminals

Net weight

8.9kg (19.6 lb))





Gloss Black

Satin White



Grey (Satin White only)






B&W Group North America

54 Concord Street

North Reading



Tel: +1 (978) 664 2870

Fax: +1 (978) 664 4109

Email us




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