Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I’ve ever used

With a luxury look and sound, the Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3’s are the perfect addition to my Hi-Fi setup.

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I've ever used

Bowers & Wilkins create some of what I think to be the best bookshelf speakers on the market. The 606 S3 bookshelf speakers are even some of my favorite overall, so I was thrilled to add the series' big brother, the 706 S3 to my home setup.

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I've ever used

And after a few weeks of listening, they didn't disappoint. So, if you are ever in the market to splurge on a nice set of speakers for your living room setup, whether for vinyl, or just TV and movies, I can say they're audiophile approved.

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I've ever used

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3

A powerhouse set of speakers for any room

The 706 S3 from Bowers & Wilkins stand in as the big brother to the 606 S3. Though they are nearly the same size, the 706 S3 brings a richness of sound you simply have to hear to appreciate.

Pros

  • Excellent frequency and response range for bookshelf speakers
  • Decoupled tweeter for crisper highs

Cons

  • Quite pricey for the pair

$2200 at Best Buy

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I've ever used

Design: Materials, style, and size

Sleek and traditional, they'll match just about any interior design

I'll just call it like it is — these speakers are pretty. Most bookshelf speakers I've had the pleasure of testing or owning are cold looking boxes of plastic and metal, or feature cheap looking finishes and eye-sore grilles, but the 706 S3, pictured below in their "Mocha" finish, are as much a pleasure to look at as they are to listen to.

Sitting upon their corresponding Bowers & Wilkins speaker stands, they class up the room with a stately elegance that elicits "dang, those are nice speakers" from visitors that aren't even familiar with the B&W brand.

The 706 S3 are as much a pleasure to look at as they are to listen to.

Two non-concentric chrome colored circles adorn the face of the speakers, framing the one-inch carbon dome tweeter and the 6.5-inch bass and mid-range cone.

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I've ever used

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I've ever used

Additionally, the speaker cabinet feels absolutely solid, and with each speaker weighing in at over 18lbs, they feel extremely well constructed. An included and optional speaker grille attaches magnetically, and while it covers the cone and tweeter, it somehow doesn't take much away from the overall appearance, thanks to its perfect fit, thin profile, and easy magnetic attachment.

These speakers feature a stellar design, fitting in a modern home, while keeping a traditional soul and an homage to "traditional" bookshelf speakers.

Overall, these speakers feature a stellar design with an aesthetic that fits beautifully in a modern home, while keeping a traditional soul and an homage to the bookshelf speakers of yesteryear. For an even more modern look, buyers can choose a glossy piano black or satin white finish.

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I've ever used

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I've ever used

Sound quality and performance

This smaller speaker delivers silky smooth sound

Bookshelf speakers, by their very nature, are not designed to produce the deepest or strongest bass, so I'll point out that the bass performance on these speakers is in fact fantastic given their size, but the mid-range and high frequency performance is a standout.

The 6.5-inch center cone, built using Bowers & Wilkins proprietary 'Continuum' technology, produces extremely faithful highs and super sharp separation in the mids and highs. That is to say that every detail of the music played through these speakers, particularly if coming from a higher fidelity source like vinyl or streaming high fidelity songs on Tidal, can be heard.

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I've ever used

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I've ever used

Each instrument can be distinguished, and the voices carry in an almost angelic way. The imaging on these speakers is outstanding; while listening to The National's 2007 album Boxer, Matt Berninger's rich vocals felt like he was sitting on a stool in my living room, singing straight to me. These speakers aren't just fit for Hi-Fi listening though, as they shine just as brightly when watching an action-packed movie, or just binging your favorite TV show.

Each instrument can be distinguished, and the voices carry in an almost angelic way.

Since the 706 S3s are passive speakers, they're powered via a receiver or amplifier. The connections at the back of the speaker use an analog speaker wire, and these inputs support bi-wiring, offering the chance to split the input signal into high and low frequencies if your receiver or amp supports that.

Feeding two separate channels into the corresponding inputs will allow the 706 S3 to reproduce a fuller image, though they sound absolutely fantastic even without this extra step.

A bass port at the rear of each speaker helps to deepen the lower frequency sounds, extracting a much better bass performance than would typically be possible with a speaker of this size.

For those using these speakers in small, confined spaces or acoustically live rooms (think an echo-y room with a tile or wood floor and little furniture), Bowers & Wilkins includes foam plugs for the ports, which can be used to reduce the overall intensity of the bass.

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Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I've ever used

Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3: The best bookshelf speakers I've ever used

Verdict: The 706 S3's are worth a splurge

Good speakers are worth their weight in copper, albeit more expensive, and the Bowers & Wilkins 706 S3 are perhaps some of the finest bookshelf speakers I've had the chance to go hands-on with. If you're in the market for a high-end set of bookshelf speakers to compliment your home entertainment setup, then the 706 S3's are sure to impress. While they might be quite expensive, keep in mind these speakers could last you decades if properly cared for, delivering countless hours of auditory bliss.

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