CD Player/Onkyo Micro-System/HT Receiver for Bowers & Wilkins 686 (Rotel RA-04)?


New member
Aug 10, 2019

This has been bugging me for a while, just not sure what to do. Have had the 686's since they were launched and was originally using the Cambridge Audio Azur 340ASE with them. Made the push to Rotel RA-04 as Sevenoaks recommended as it's the amps that Bowers use themselves. Very pleased with the amp, 40W per channel is more than enough for these little ones.

I'm just not enjoying this system like I used to, and having read this months WHSV review of the 685's I wonder if I should upgrade. Seeming as I normally just use my AirportExpress or directly connect my MacBook Pro as the source device, I wonder if investing in a higher-quality source might breath new life into the 686's?

I did fall head-over-heals in love with the new Cyrus 6SE but can't justify the price of that unit considering speakers were only £280 and amp £250. I looking to pay roughly the same, but towards the £400 mark is too much.

I've narrowed it down to the following by looking through Buyer's Guide, star-rating and price:
  • Pioneer PD-D6 (Richer Sounds have an ex-demo unit for £200)
  • Cyrus CD6S (would have to be used and people have told me I could pick one up for £200 but haven't seen one so far)
  • Marantz CD6002
  • Marantz CD5003 (can't yet find it for sale anywhere)
  • NAD C542
  • Sony SCD-XE597 (adds SACD compatibility)
  • Sony CDP-XE370 (the least expensive)

Just don't know what to do - either upgrade to the B&W's 685's or stick with the 686's and buy one of the above. However there is one other option I've been thinking about: scrap the amp and replace with either Onkyo CS325-UKD or CS-515UK - or use the Onkyo as a pre-amp/CD etc....or possibly just get a HT-receiver?

Would like to purchase this weekend so please do let me know what you think ;-)




New member
May 24, 2008

I've had the B&W 686 for a year now running with a TEAC Reference 300mkIII mini-seperates system. Also got a Pro-ject Debut III turntable.

WHF gave the little 686 four stars, and they said that the bass was woolly, to which I firmly disagree. I've found that the 686s thrive on analogue sound from my turntable, but are perhaps a little more tentative when it comes to a digital source such as my CD player - perhaps this is why you have found them a little dull, however I think even from my CD player vocals are as emmotive as I have ever heard them, and with a good bass kick in songs such as Hotel California by The Eagles or Money for Nothing by Dire Straits the 686s really come alive.

So, I would buy the Marantz CD6002 - WHF recommend it as the best budget CD player in their line-up, so you can't go far wrong, and with a proper audio source I think the 686s would be happier ;).


New member
Aug 24, 2008
my feeling is that the 686 don't have enough bass to match the 04.685 would sound better.


Add a dac. At 100 the beresford dac, is a good start. There's a WHF DAC group test coming up shortly, also.



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