B&W ASW608 £300
17th Aug 2008 | 10:01
We get to grips with the smallest B&W woofer we've ever seen...
Described as the most compact of the 600 series subwoofers, I was wondering how well the B&W ASW608 would work with my reference speakers – currently a thumping great set of Bowers & Wilkins 800 series.
Now you would never order a woofer as dinky as this and a set of main speakers as mighty as the 800s, but as this beastie is made with equally-rugged components, right down to the Kevlar fibres impregnating the resin and paper pulp cone, I figured it'd be okay to give it a spin.
The 608 is attractively put together, with the B&W badge appearing both on the grille and the soft-to-the-touch front panel.
The rear controls are minor but well thought out, with a choice of EQ curves preset by switches and the usual phase, gain and crossover point controls.
I was worried that I really should go get a smaller system to test the subwoofer against and that I was merely being both cruel and lazy, but I've ended up utterly astonished at just how capable a piece of kit this is.
Of course, something has to give at this entry-level price – and you don't get any bone-grasping bass – but the lack of compromise in terms of sheer musicality and depth of bass extension is incredible.
I have never, ever heard an 8in woofer do what this did. I ran through the 15Hz rumbles at the beginning of Gustav's Mars, on the Telarc recording, and – stuff me with a kipper – this tiny thing created some actual room feeling, even underneath the mighty soundstage of the masterful 800 series floorstanders.
With movies I gave it some Evan Almighty (DVD) and although it was less keen on the biblical deluge stuff, it made a better than fair fist at moments like sudden animal grunts.
In the right-sized room this could be a proper musical treat for buyers more interested in accuracy than hurting the cat. It is limited by the low price and power, but it is pure B&W – musical, able, well-made and bloody gorgeous to behold.