To Doug Schneider,
I visited a semi-local audio dealer a few days ago who carries the Bowers & Wilkins line, and got a chance to hear the 685 S2s for the first time. In a nutshell, I was not impressed. The mids were "shouty" and the lower frequencies were missing in action for the most part. I think the highs were okay but nothing special. I kept wanting to like them, but they just didn't cut it for me at all. They were played on a good Cambridge Audio integrated amp and CD player.
Then I asked to hear the new Paradigm Atoms, and the sound was so much better than the B&Ws that I was shocked. Deep bass for such a small speaker, but that didn't prevent the midrange from being warm, quick, and detailed. And the highs were in perfect balance and just sparkled. A much nicer-sounding speaker in my experience.
Even the really big Sinclair Audio flagship floorstander (the model escapes me), with their ribbon tweeter, showed the 685s a clean pair of heels. Again, I was not expecting this.
Now the 802 Diamonds are great, no problem there, and at $16,500 I think they are worth every penny, but the 685s were a huge disappointment to me, and from reading your review of the 684s, I don't think I would be able to warm up to them either.
I tend to agree that if you didn’t like the Bowers & Wilkins 685 S2s, then you’re probably not going to like the 684 S2s. As you would have read in my review, they have some good qualities, but also some flaws. . . . Doug Schneider