REVIEW: B&W 707 S2...
I've been slowly updating my system over the last couple of years. I upgraded my deck and stylus last year and a few days ago I added some fancy cables in anticipation of installing my new speakers. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the Bowers & Wilkins 707 S2.
My old speakers were Monitor Audio Bronze, they were the best available at my price range when I purchased them 5 years ago. WhatHiFi raved over saying "For their size, these speakers dig deep in the bass; they’re tonally balanced and impressively detailed too. Add fine build and Monitor Audio’s usual high standard of finish and there’s much to applaud here. Previous generations of Bronze 2s were class leaders. As it turns out, this one is too" and awarded them 'Best stand mount speaker £200 - £350' (for the fourth year in a row in fact).
I can confirm that the Monitor Audio speakers are excellent, with great bass, and excellent mids. Because they are front ported, are also pretty easy to live with as they can be jammed up against a wall or moved into the room a little. They are proper all-rounders and a great starting point for my fledgling system. But times move on and I was ready for something with a little more finesse so the hunt started.
I wanted a stand mount speaker as the room I use to listen to records is pretty small so I don't need big floor standers. The obvious answer was the KEF LS50 Meta speakers, which have won almost every award and are almost universally loved. The big problem with them is the cost, at £1,000 a pair I couldn't justify the expense. I looked at second-hand units and found there wasn't much discount there plus there is always the worry that they have been run at 80% max output for their entire life...
The hunt continued in hope rather than expectation then the universe took over. I received an email from my favourite HiFi shop to say they had some offers, including some incredible deals on speakers. I whizzed over to their site and amongst all the uber-expensive kit was the B&W 707 S2, time for some research!
After hours and hours of reading reviews and watching YouTube shootouts, I learned that the speakers were originally released a few years back and the consensus was that they were really good but not worth the £1,000 B&W were going for at the time as there were better options out there (including the earlier generation of the KEF LS50).
Thing is, they were on offer at Doug Brady for almost half the original RRP! I re-read the reviews, rewatched the shootouts and ignored the price-shaped elephant in the room and, to me, it seemed like a no-brainer, especially as Santa was going to get them from me (for Santa, read my better half).
So now I'm the new owner of these small, beautifully made boxes. My first impressions are very good. Despite being noticeably smaller than the Bronze they are much bigger in terms of scale and presence. It is like everything is dialled to 11 on them, the highs are so crisp, and the mids are very clear but it is the bass where the magic happens, it sounds like the music is coming from a speaker much, much bigger.
I've given them a blast with my go-to albums and the difference between the two sets of speakers is clear to hear. There is more detail in the B&Ws, more music is extracted from the recording and there is much more weight. It isn't that the old speakers are bad, far from it, it is just that the new ones are noticeably better.
It is obvious when listening to them that the new speakers are in a completely different price bracket to the Monitor Audio's. Thankfully, because of the universe and an email from Doug Brady, this leap in price hasn't been picked up by me.