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WHAT HIFI TESTING PROCESS & B&W 606 s2 Review

PSC

Active member
Oct 28, 2020
11
8
25
Hi all,

I just read the review of the new B&W 606 S2 and one thing wasn't clear to me. In many other hifi and hi-end audio publications, the testing procedure is made clear, not just the list of system components used and measurements are taken to both validate the manufacturers specifications and performance claims vs a real world test. Many of these publications review super high-end equipment and so whilst for most What Hifi readers these are OTT and unnecessarily technical, what they do is often clearly expose false claims or actual issues in audio performance. You guys don't do any of this. The final but most important thing is this level of rigorous testing process and measurement ensures when a writer makes claim about one review sample vs a previous model or competing product they can be absolute about differences. This is really useful to anyone wanting to buy the best in class. More often than not they have ALL of the products and models to test endlessly and measure back to back. End result - a very clear account of a product and its relative performance to peers.

So my question for your editor/writer of the B&W 606 s2's is did you have the the previous model 606 to directly compare the s2 against? The article makes many, many subjective references of differences and improvements between the two. Honestly, unless they used the 606 for a very long time and only just switched to the s2 how would they really know? They can't. It's been proven time over our brains inability to recall these subtle differences, especially as time elapses. How can you be certain that updating the caps in the crossover would bring all these positive changes, especially if you don't even measure anything. I have made high-end speakers for decades and fully understand the economics of commercial spealer building - that crossover components used at this level are pretty darn low grade, so a few select upgrades can make a notable but would hardly make radical difference- given what they would used in the s2. Back to back testing both models is really the only way for anyone to be sure. So, did you have the original 606 there or are you guys just guessing? If you did, then you didn't say and dare say you would have gone further in the comparison.

I have read What Hifi since 1988 and I am a fan. But unless you did test the two B&W models back to back the article like a great number of others you publish, is highly subjective at best, based on your writers ability to recall a product they most likely tested a year ago. I don't see anything in the article stating such a comparison. It looks like your readers just have to trust your writers recall and trust a pretty flimsy, subjective review.

Further, and very surprisingly, there's no mention of, let alone direct testing of the product vs competitors. This is lame, you want people to subscribe but you don't even test a product and at least directly compare it with another leading model? If you were writing for a car magazine you wouldn't last long.

People read your title as they have both a passion for music and audio reproduction and spend their hard earned money subscribing or enduring the many ads for great articles that really give them a great account of what is the best kit available. The lack of detail (did you even ask B&W about what the changes in the s2 addressed/improved?), not directly testing of models and competitors and zero measurement to back it all up results in a wooly account at best that can't be trusted or backed up.

I recognise this was a fairly short review and that you do run group tests, but this post serves to highlight that overall, your team seem to write like The Sun when many readers want a bit more fact checking, comparative testing and rigorous journalism they can trust so they can buy product with confidence. Ultimately, its your brand, trust and reputation on the line. I know you can do better and think you need to go article deeper and do a better job of finding the best in class.

What do others on here and manufacturers think?? I'd like to know.
 

PSC

Active member
Oct 28, 2020
11
8
25
Hi all,

I just read the review of the new B&W 606 S2 and one thing wasn't clear to me. In many other hifi and hi-end audio publications, the testing procedure is made clear, not just the list of system components used and measurements are taken to both validate the manufacturers specifications and performance claims vs a real world test. Many of these publications review super high-end equipment and so whilst for most What Hifi readers these are OTT and unnecessarily technical, what they do is often clearly expose false claims or actual issues in audio performance. You guys don't do any of this. The final but most important thing is this level of rigorous testing process and measurement ensures when a writer makes claim about one review sample vs a previous model or competing product they can be absolute about differences. This is really useful to anyone wanting to buy the best in class. More often than not they have ALL of the products and models to test endlessly and measure back to back. End result - a very clear account of a product and its relative performance to peers.

So my question for your editor/writer of the B&W 606 s2's is did you have the the previous model 606 to directly compare the s2 against? The article makes many, many subjective references of differences and improvements between the two. Honestly, unless they used the 606 for a very long time and only just switched to the s2 how would they really know? They can't. It's been proven time over our brains inability to recall these subtle differences, especially as time elapses. How can you be certain that updating the caps in the crossover would bring all these positive changes, especially if you don't even measure anything. I have made high-end speakers for decades and fully understand the economics of commercial spealer building - that crossover components used at this level are pretty darn low grade, so a few select upgrades can make a notable but would hardly make radical difference- given what they would used in the s2. Back to back testing both models is really the only way for anyone to be sure. So, did you have the original 606 there or are you guys just guessing? If you did, then you didn't say and dare say you would have gone further in the comparison.

I have read What Hifi since 1988 and I am a fan. But unless you did test the two B&W models back to back the article like a great number of others you publish, is highly subjective at best, based on your writers ability to recall a product they most likely tested a year ago. I don't see anything in the article stating such a comparison. It looks like your readers just have to trust your writers recall and trust a pretty flimsy, subjective review.

Further, and very surprisingly, there's no mention of, let alone direct testing of the product vs competitors. This is lame, you want people to subscribe but you don't even test a product and at least directly compare it with another leading model? If you were writing for a car magazine you wouldn't last long.

People read your title as they have both a passion for music and audio reproduction and spend their hard earned money subscribing or enduring the many ads for great articles that really give them a great account of what is the best kit available. The lack of detail (did you even ask B&W about what the changes in the s2 addressed/improved?), not directly testing of models and competitors and zero measurement to back it all up results in a wooly account at best that can't be trusted or backed up.

I recognise this was a fairly short review and that you do run group tests, but this post serves to highlight that overall, your team seem to write like The Sun when many readers want a bit more fact checking, comparative testing and rigorous journalism they can trust so they can buy product with confidence. Ultimately, its your brand, trust and reputation on the line. I know you can do better and think you need to go article deeper and do a better job of finding the best in class.

What do others on here and manufacturers think?? I'd like to know.
 

PSC

Active member
Oct 28, 2020
11
8
25
I don’t personally care and good luck with your mission. :)
So you just trust a five star review that tests a product in isolation? I suspect your not buying or spending much my friend. 😉

There's no mission. Its not hard to expect a little more rigor if we are to trust these reviews. We don't need pages and pages, but tell us how it compares and why its better because you spent days or weeks really knowing why its better or worse.
 
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plus 1

Well-known member
Dec 5, 2019
988
172
570
Hi all,

I just read the review of the new B&W 606 S2 and one thing wasn't clear to me. In many other hifi and hi-end audio publications, the testing procedure is made clear, not just the list of system components used and measurements are taken to both validate the manufacturers specifications and performance claims vs a real world test. Many of these publications review super high-end equipment and so whilst for most What Hifi readers these are OTT and unnecessarily technical, what they do is often clearly expose false claims or actual issues in audio performance. You guys don't do any of this. The final but most important thing is this level of rigorous testing process and measurement ensures when a writer makes claim about one review sample vs a previous model or competing product they can be absolute about differences. This is really useful to anyone wanting to buy the best in class. More often than not they have ALL of the products and models to test endlessly and measure back to back. End result - a very clear account of a product and its relative performance to peers.

So my question for your editor/writer of the B&W 606 s2's is did you have the the previous model 606 to directly compare the s2 against? The article makes many, many subjective references of differences and improvements between the two. Honestly, unless they used the 606 for a very long time and only just switched to the s2 how would they really know? They can't. It's been proven time over our brains inability to recall these subtle differences, especially as time elapses. How can you be certain that updating the caps in the crossover would bring all these positive changes, especially if you don't even measure anything. I have made high-end speakers for decades and fully understand the economics of commercial spealer building - that crossover components used at this level are pretty darn low grade, so a few select upgrades can make a notable but would hardly make radical difference- given what they would used in the s2. Back to back testing both models is really the only way for anyone to be sure. So, did you have the original 606 there or are you guys just guessing? If you did, then you didn't say and dare say you would have gone further in the comparison.

I have read What Hifi since 1988 and I am a fan. But unless you did test the two B&W models back to back the article like a great number of others you publish, is highly subjective at best, based on your writers ability to recall a product they most likely tested a year ago. I don't see anything in the article stating such a comparison. It looks like your readers just have to trust your writers recall and trust a pretty flimsy, subjective review.

Further, and very surprisingly, there's no mention of, let alone direct testing of the product vs competitors. This is lame, you want people to subscribe but you don't even test a product and at least directly compare it with another leading model? If you were writing for a car magazine you wouldn't last long.

People read your title as they have both a passion for music and audio reproduction and spend their hard earned money subscribing or enduring the many ads for great articles that really give them a great account of what is the best kit available. The lack of detail (did you even ask B&W about what the changes in the s2 addressed/improved?), not directly testing of models and competitors and zero measurement to back it all up results in a wooly account at best that can't be trusted or backed up.

I recognise this was a fairly short review and that you do run group tests, but this post serves to highlight that overall, your team seem to write like The Sun when many readers want a bit more fact checking, comparative testing and rigorous journalism they can trust so they can buy product with confidence. Ultimately, its your brand, trust and reputation on the line. I know you can do better and think you need to go article deeper and do a better job of finding the best in class.

What do others on here and manufacturers think?? I'd like to know.
years ago what hifi published a letter stating that the reviews in the magazine were worthless as they contained no measurements...

what hifi replied that as long as an item of kit sounds good who cares about graphs !

at some point you have to trust your ears...
 
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gel

Moderator
So you just trust a five star review that tests a product in isolation? I suspect your not buying or spending much my friend. 😉

There's no mission. Its not hard to expect a little more rigor if we are to trust these reviews. We don't need pages and pages, but tell us how it compares and why its better because you spent days or weeks really knowing why its better or worse.
I use my own judgement then look at WHF reviews and others too to make a judgement. And yes I do in fact buy a lot based on that criteria.
 
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PSC

Active member
Oct 28, 2020
11
8
25
years ago what hifi published a letter stating that the reviews in the magazine were worthless as they contained no measurements...

what hifi replied that as long as an item of kit sounds good who cares about graphs !

at some point you have to trust your ears...
I agree 100%. That's it, but how can you give a product five star reviews and yet not directly test it with one or more competing products. Its lame. Most speaker makers test vs leading competitors in their class...by ear. The measurements just back up what they hear and go a very long way to fine tuning the final design. I agree, for What Hifi we don't need all the graphs.

Ultimately its about enjoying our music, movie and gaming better, not the kit.

But if you don't listen and directly compare and your not into measurements then it's all a bit pointless as a review if helping someone make a choice to buy a product.
 
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PSC

Active member
Oct 28, 2020
11
8
25
I use my own judgement then look at WHF reviews and others too to make a judgement. And yes I do in fact by a lot based on that criteria.
Horses for courses and I guess we all want different things from what we read and buy. But the 606 s2 article is full of subjective fluff and lacking in my view. Nuff said on this I think.

Its 2.19 pm here in Sydney. Time to sleep.

Over and out.
 
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PSC

Active member
Oct 28, 2020
11
8
25
Implying that someone might be too poor to appreciate what you are on about isn't necessarily the best way of getting people on side...
The point is if you read and believe 5 star reviews that are paper thin, then you're either dumb or not parting with your hard earned cash. If its something cheap as chips who cares, but if I am going to invest in something expensive I'd like to see the reviewer going further than slapping some speakers on a couple of systems and then wrapping it up even before even trying another product. That's all
 
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gel

Moderator
The point is if you read and believe 5 star reviews that are paper thin, then you're either dumb or not parting with your hard earned cash. If its something cheap as chips who cares, but if I am going to invest in something expensive I'd like to see the reviewer going further than slapping some speakers on a couple of systems and then wrapping it up even before even trying another product. That's all
You do realise you have just called millions of people dumb without even knowing them?
 

RBinDC

Well-known member
Aug 21, 2020
33
17
45
I’m new to this forum but I have to agree with PSC. I agree that one’s ear is the best arbiter of audio e quality, he is correct in pointing out that one needs to do real-time A-B comparisons to rate two competing systems. Anyone educated in a STEM discipline understands this. That’s why I look at multiple reviews of a product before deciding what to audition. In particular I look at the reviews on UTube, John Darco in particular does a thorough job. (BTW, he has an interesting accent. To my Yank ear it sounds like London, middle-class but there is a touch of something else that I can’t identify).

Anyway, the WHF reviews are only a starting point for me.
 
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12th Monkey

Well-known member
Aug 31, 2015
793
492
11,270
The point is if you read and believe 5 star reviews that are paper thin, then you're either dumb or not parting with your hard earned cash. If its something cheap as chips who cares, but if I am going to invest in something expensive I'd like to see the reviewer going further than slapping some speakers on a couple of systems and then wrapping it up even before even trying another product. That's all
My point was about how you were dealing with others here, none of whom you know. But back on topic...

Car reviews are similar, in that you'll get a revised model and the reviewer will talk about subtle differences that I can't personally imagine being able to recall - I do get what you mean. But I'm not interested in looking at charts and graphs, my ears will do. I spent a lot on my car and have been happy with it for far, far longer than I thought i would be - no reason hifi should be any different. For me, that is.
 
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PSC

Active member
Oct 28, 2020
11
8
25
You do realise you have just called millions of people dumb without even knowing them?
Yup, def in terms of audio most don't listen to good sound systems. Far from it. The majority of people today listen to music on Bluetooth speakers or soundbars (with 2,5 inch drivers with a 6 inch sub!) that might be convenient or look cool but its a world away from high fidelity.

When someone used to this type of kit hears music they love on hifi, it takes seconds before they realise their music is so much better on every level. It can be a vintage system, budget system or ultra high-end. It doesn't matter. But micro drivers, close together in a plastic box with all the DSP in the world just doesn't cut it by comparison.

Just saying What Hifi could raise its game, thats all.
 
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gel

Moderator
Yup, def in terms of audio most don't listen to good sound systems. Far from it. The majority of people today listen to music on Bluetooth speakers or soundbars (with 2,5 inch drivers with a 6 inch sub!) that might be convenient or look cool but its a world away from high fidelity.

When someone used to this type of kit hears music they love on hifi, it takes seconds before they realise their music is so much better on every level. It can be a vintage system, budget system or ultra high-end. It doesn't matter. But micro drivers, close together in a plastic box with all the DSP in the world just doesn't cut it by comparison.

Just saying What Hifi could raise its game, thats all.
You do realise WHF isn’t the only reviewers who recommend soundbars if that fits the person requirements? I personally wouldn’t call a person dumb for buying a soundbar though.
 
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12th Monkey

Well-known member
Aug 31, 2015
793
492
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You do realise you have just called millions of people dumb without even knowing them?
Yup, def in terms of audio most don't listen to good sound systems. Far from it. The majority of people today listen to music on Bluetooth speakers or soundbars (with 2,5 inch drivers with a 6 inch sub!) that might be convenient or look cool but its a world away from high fidelity.
I hope that you're just expressing yourselves badly there, PSC. Calling someone dumb because they choose to listen to music in a way that you and I might find unsatisfying is rather harsh. I've commented before to Mrs 12th about some of our friends who listen mostly in the background, and almost exclusively via a small bluetooth speaker. They've been to far more concerts than anyone else I know (so their love of music really isn't up for debate), and she's got a PhD., whilst he used to be a director of one of the UK's academic engineering institutes (so their levels of intelligence are similarly beyond criticism).

Sure, there's scope for much greater robustness in the reviewing process, and many of us share the view that unless you are listening back to back the sort of subtle differences described seem hard to imagine recognising. But how people choose to listen is up to them, and choosing to do things that we wouldn't is not a mark of a particular personal failing. They just have different priorities.
 
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matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
404
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19,270
This thread misses the fact that there is no 'best' that is quantifiable in any way that is meaningful to an individual's enjoyment of the music.

Whilst I agree there could perhaps be more rigor to the WHF reviews, it's important to remember that the magazine is appealing to a different audience compared to magazines that include measurements and technical data. WHF is targeted at a more mainstream audience and its approach is an important element in offering novice listeners a way in to understanding the basics of better quality hi-fi and home entertainment.

I would also add that the OP makes some pretty big assumptions about the reviewing process. The review of the 606 s2 makes direct reference to comparing the finish of the new model against a sample of the previous one, which suggests a pair of original 606s was in fact present during the test. Given this, there is every chance that the reviewer(s) listened to both speakers back to back.
 

Friesiansam

Well-known member
Feb 3, 2015
212
142
10,970
The point is if you read and believe 5 star reviews that are paper thin, then you're either dumb or not parting with your hard earned cash. If its something cheap as chips who cares, but if I am going to invest in something expensive I'd like to see the reviewer going further than slapping some speakers on a couple of systems and then wrapping it up even before even trying another product. That's all
Then read multiple reviews and audition yourself. If you're spending a lot of money, you'd be mad not to. No review, no matter how in-depth, is going to tell you how something will sound to you, in your listening environment.
 
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PSC

Active member
Oct 28, 2020
11
8
25
I hope that you're just expressing yourselves badly there, PSC. Calling someone dumb because they choose to listen to music in a way that you and I might find unsatisfying is rather harsh. I've commented before to Mrs 12th about some of our friends who listen mostly in the background, and almost exclusively via a small bluetooth speaker. They've been to far more concerts than anyone else I know (so their love of music really isn't up for debate), and she's got a PhD., whilst he used to be a director of one of the UK's academic engineering institutes (so their levels of intelligence are similarly beyond criticism).

Sure, there's scope for much greater robustness in the reviewing process, and many of us share the view that unless you are listening back to back the sort of subtle differences described seem hard to imagine recognising. But how people choose to listen is up to them, and choosing to do things that we wouldn't is not a mark of a particular personal failing. They just have different priorities.
Wow, easy, your very sensitive lads. 🤣

I would agree with you 12th Monkey, great points. It is after all about enjoying the music for sure and anything that gets you into your music or movie is great. For sure.

You are right, its fair to accept people use all sorts of kit and budgets enjoy their music. With this comes varied levels of what is considered hifi, and what is good enough - for many its not important so the bar is way lower for fewer like me investing in great systems over the years is worth it to me and my enjoyment. There are limits for everyone. But to make my case I had this argument with a friend who has moved froma single bluetooth speaker to a pair of Sonos 5's. They do sound great and punch way above their weight, but when heard vs a decent hifi system an a big room the difference is clear. He has since bought a cracking, simple but great system and is loving rediscovering his music collection. The Sonos moved into the kitchen.

MathewPiano, awesome point, it is all subjective ultimately, everyone has differing frequency responses in hearing and preferences. Some of the most expensive systems i have heard have also missed the mark too, so its not all about budget at all.

I agree regarding the target market and audience.

If the reviewer did indeed have both models then I stand corrected but there no mention of how they specifically compared on certain music or àmps and where's the direct comparison to a competitor.
Anyway, it sounds like some of you agree with my key point that a bit more detail in testing and comparison between brands would be welcome in future reviews not just group tests.
 
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amormusic

Well-known member
Feb 24, 2016
147
66
4,670
Reviews are for interest purposes and, for me, generally speaking are taken with a very large pinch of salt.

I've tried things that have WHF 5* reviews which have been in my opinion, mediocre at best. I also have owned other kit which didn't score top whack, but which smoked other kit that did (I'm not just referring to WHF here). It's all subjective and in the ear of the beholder/reviewer is my take.

What gets my interest is when many reviews all sing the praises of the same item. Then I'm interested.

As for listening preferences. Yes, many don't own hi-end hifi or niche kit - but who cares. If they are happy with the music, then that's awesome....

It's perfectly possible to get a stonkingly good sounding bluetooth speaker (or other medium, such as soundbar) that'll make your toes tap, sing at the top of your lungs, and be happy with the music being produced.

I have a reasonably decent hifi system. I also have a decent BT speaker in my kitchen, for kitchen cooking and BBQ garden duties that does just as described above. Is it hifi? Of course not.... Is it crap? hell no! It can do all of the above (especially when bbq-ing and I've had a couple of tinnies 😂).
 
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MartinEvoke50

Active member
Aug 30, 2020
23
4
25
Hi all,

I just read the review of the new B&W 606 S2 and one thing wasn't clear to me. In many other hifi and hi-end audio publications, the testing procedure is made clear, not just the list of system components used and measurements are taken to both validate the manufacturers specifications and performance claims vs a real world test. Many of these publications review super high-end equipment and so whilst for most What Hifi readers these are OTT and unnecessarily technical, what they do is often clearly expose false claims or actual issues in audio performance. You guys don't do any of this. The final but most important thing is this level of rigorous testing process and measurement ensures when a writer makes claim about one review sample vs a previous model or competing product they can be absolute about differences. This is really useful to anyone wanting to buy the best in class. More often than not they have ALL of the products and models to test endlessly and measure back to back. End result - a very clear account of a product and its relative performance to peers.

So my question for your editor/writer of the B&W 606 s2's is did you have the the previous model 606 to directly compare the s2 against? The article makes many, many subjective references of differences and improvements between the two. Honestly, unless they used the 606 for a very long time and only just switched to the s2 how would they really know? They can't. It's been proven time over our brains inability to recall these subtle differences, especially as time elapses. How can you be certain that updating the caps in the crossover would bring all these positive changes, especially if you don't even measure anything. I have made high-end speakers for decades and fully understand the economics of commercial spealer building - that crossover components used at this level are pretty darn low grade, so a few select upgrades can make a notable but would hardly make radical difference- given what they would used in the s2. Back to back testing both models is really the only way for anyone to be sure. So, did you have the original 606 there or are you guys just guessing? If you did, then you didn't say and dare say you would have gone further in the comparison.

I have read What Hifi since 1988 and I am a fan. But unless you did test the two B&W models back to back the article like a great number of others you publish, is highly subjective at best, based on your writers ability to recall a product they most likely tested a year ago. I don't see anything in the article stating such a comparison. It looks like your readers just have to trust your writers recall and trust a pretty flimsy, subjective review.

Further, and very surprisingly, there's no mention of, let alone direct testing of the product vs competitors. This is lame, you want people to subscribe but you don't even test a product and at least directly compare it with another leading model? If you were writing for a car magazine you wouldn't last long.

People read your title as they have both a passion for music and audio reproduction and spend their hard earned money subscribing or enduring the many ads for great articles that really give them a great account of what is the best kit available. The lack of detail (did you even ask B&W about what the changes in the s2 addressed/improved?), not directly testing of models and competitors and zero measurement to back it all up results in a wooly account at best that can't be trusted or backed up.

I recognise this was a fairly short review and that you do run group tests, but this post serves to highlight that overall, your team seem to write like The Sun when many readers want a bit more fact checking, comparative testing and rigorous journalism they can trust so they can buy product with confidence. Ultimately, its your brand, trust and reputation on the line. I know you can do better and think you need to go article deeper and do a better job of finding the best in class.

What do others on here and manufacturers think?? I'd like to know.
Bear in mind that WHAT HI-FI testing rooms are well professionally & acoustically treated unlike listening in an ordinary living room in a house
 
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