Totem Acoustic Skylight vs. Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2

Hello Doug,

I just finished reading all that you wrote on the Totem Acoustic Skylights on March 1, 2020, and must say I find these speakers hard to resist. I have yet to hear them, but will be doing so very shortly. I am considering them as replacements for my Monitor Audio Bronze 2 speakers (circa 2004), which are getting fragile. The woofer cone has separated from the membrane on one of the speakers again—the last time was on the other speaker, so I am getting concerned. I like the sound of the Bronze 2, and had the Bronze 1 before.

My system is basic, I guess you could say. The amp is an integrated TEAC A-H500 (circa 2000) putting out 50Wpc into 8ohms. I am also thinking about Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2s, but have read that they need a very powerful and high-end amp to make them sound good. Both the Totems and the B&Ws are in the same price range, within about $100. I mostly listen to classical (baroque) and jazz.

If you have time and feel the inclination, your thoughts, as brief as they may be, would be greatly appreciated.

Robert Groulx

Hello Robert,

Whenever someone asks about getting a Bowers & Wilkins speaker these days, I have to put out the same words of caution: listen before you buy—which you seem to be doing anyway. The reason for the warning is that for the last ten years or so, the Bowers & Wilkins design team has consistently voiced their speakers to have a prominent treble response, to the point that their speakers often sound very bright. The 607 S2 is no exception. I haven’t reviewed a pair, but I’ve heard them—and the speaker is voiced with too much treble energy for me. From what I heard, however, the midrange and bass seemed clean and neutrally balanced. But some people are really attracted to a tipped-up treble, which is why prospective buyers have to listen themselves to know for sure if they’ll like a pair of 607 S2s, or pretty much any other B&W speaker in current production.

By the way, I don’t think that a pair of 607 S2s needs a higher-end amp, or all that much power. That idea probably came from trying to tame down that treble by mixing and matching different electronics. Oftentimes, when someone finds a match that is sonically pleasing, they’ll come to the mistaken conclusion that it’s due to the quality of the amplifier, or some other component, when, in fact, it has to do with the voicing of the speakers that the electronics are feeding.

In contrast to the 607 S2, the Skylight, like other Totem Acoustic speakers, has a more balanced sound—it would never be construed as being bright. Knowing what I do about Monitor Audio’s speakers, I have a feeling that a pair of Skylights will be more similar to what you’re listening to already, so that might sway you, too.

But will the bright sound of Bowers & Wilkins appeal to you? I encourage you to listen to both the 607 S2s and the Skylights and make up your own mind.

Doug Schneider