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Are the B&W CMs worth the price over the new 600 S2s?

PurpleHaze

Novice Member
Hi all,

I am in the market for a new system for 80% music and 20% movies and i have narrowed down to the B&W line.

I've auditioned both theCM9's and the new 683 and 684 S2 and am thinking i will either get the following:
2x 683 - Floor Standing
1x HTM61 - Center
2x 685 - Rear
1x ASW 610XP
or

2x CM8 - Floor Standing
1x CMC - Center
2x CM1 - Rear
1x ASW10CM - Subwoofer


In my audition, the CM9s CLEARLY sounded better the 683 but i think i can only afford the CM8s

I can get a good deal on either of these systems making them comparable in price with the CM8 setup being only $500 more than the 683 s2 setup.

My room is about 14feet by 16feet with vaulted ceilings. It will mostly be a 'man cave' style room with a computer, sofa, TV and books where i listen to a lot of indie music and things like Phish and other non heavy rock. This will be my first 5.1 setup and i will use it to watch TV and play videogames. I will likely buy a denon x4000 to power the setup i wind up with.

The question for all of you: is the CM series a much better buy and value than the new 600 series? If i go 600 series, i can get 'bigger' speakers, but if i go CM i could get the 'smaller' CM8 setup.

Are the 683's too big for my room? Any other thoughts? Is there a good argument for either over the other?
 

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Dans1210

Well-known Member
they are pretty new dude might be hard to find someone whos tested both...
 

TomScrut

Well-known Member
I have heard them both but not at the same time or the same system. I am sure you are aware the finish of the CMs is vastly superior to the 600 series. Sound wise I cannot really comment except that I really like the CM8 and kind of prefer it to the CM9, as it doesn't pretend it can do bass, wheras I wasn't impressed with the clarity of the CM9 bass whilst it was present it just didn't sound that good.

The new 683s I heard in another demo with unfamiliar electronics and thought it sounded good but probably not as good as I recall the CMs sounding, although admittedly there is the electronics to consider.

Another thing worth noting is that it is alleged that the CM8 is one of B&Ws favorite speakers internally.

But since you are comparing 683 vs CM8 a lot of it can be boiled down to how you like your sound and how much bass you like, a lot more easier than say 683 vs CM9 as the CM8 does produce a smaller sound but possibly to the benefit of imaging I think.

Have you heard the CM8? I would have a listen as it is different to the CM9
 

PurpleHaze

Novice Member
I have heard them both but not at the same time or the same system. I am sure you are aware the finish of the CMs is vastly superior to the 600 series. Sound wise I cannot really comment except that I really like the CM8 and kind of prefer it to the CM9, as it doesn't pretend it can do bass, wheras I wasn't impressed with the clarity of the CM9 bass whilst it was present it just didn't sound that good.

The new 683s I heard in another demo with unfamiliar electronics and thought it sounded good but probably not as good as I recall the CMs sounding, although admittedly there is the electronics to consider.

Another thing worth noting is that it is alleged that the CM8 is one of B&Ws favorite speakers internally.

But since you are comparing 683 vs CM8 a lot of it can be boiled down to how you like your sound and how much bass you like, a lot more easier than say 683 vs CM9 as the CM8 does produce a smaller sound but possibly to the benefit of imaging I think.

Have you heard the CM8? I would have a listen as it is different to the CM9

Thanks!

I have not heard the CM8 yet as they are not set up in the BestBuy i have access to but i will call around to see who has them set up and head in. I really need to hear everything again before i make my decision.

I DO plan to get a sub (for theater and gaming) but i don't LOVE so much bass. i currently have a 2.0 setup with some paradigm mini monitors v6s and i have to turn DOWN the bass on my amp to get it to sound good (for me).

i guess i'm stuck in this "Top of the lower but newer line" or "middle of the higher but older line" mentality and am looking for input.
 

Cribbster

Active Member
Based on the limited listening I have done I was surprisingly impressed by the CM5 speakers. Surprised, because my previous experiences of B&W speakers was pretty underwhelming really. The CM5s were really very good indeed. Thinking that things had moved on I then tried the CM8s. Rubbish. Back to my previous experiences of B&W. Dull, middly, muffled. Yes, there was some bass depth but no clarity. Persuaded at another store to at least try the new 600 S2 (I listened to the 684 S2) I was again pleasantly surprised. They were much clearer and more detailed. Yes they did have some bass depth and definition but not as deep as the CM8s. However, overall as a speaker I would take the 684 S2 every day over the CM8. But that's just my opinion based on my ears and my listening preferences. :)
 

Cribbster

Active Member
Possibly, who knows. What I do know is that I don't like the sound of the CM8s - I think they sound very poor for the money. Whereas I found the 684s much, much better. And if you are going to spend that sort of money on a pair of speakers you want to be very sure you like the sound that comes out them. :)
 

TomScrut

Well-known Member
Your experience of the bass sounds like the CM series in general, although admittedly I haven't listened to CM10s
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
Also there is no need to buy the matching sub and you may find that you get better performance for less money by going with a dedicated sub manufacturer like SVS etc. B&W are not known for making great value for money subs so I feel you would be better looking elsewhere unless you are getting a massive discount on the B&W sub.
 

TomScrut

Well-known Member
Yeah I agree, the PV1 is the stand out one they make but it is still dear for the performance. BK are also very good VFM
 

simplicity96

Distinguished Member
I think the thing with the cm series is pairing of amplifier, the wrong amp and they sound terrible, but the right amp and they sing. I've had cm8 fronts and cm center for about 2 year I think now and my cm8 broke in around 4 months ago. I pair them with a arcam amp and used to look for a speaker that had kick, I went for the cm8 purely on the clarity over all other speakers I was demoing including the 600 series. They defined sound nicely for me and there wasn't another that matched them for this, or to my opinion anyhow, now they have fully settled they kick so much more than when first bought too. Makes me even happier with them.

At the end of it you should get the speaker you prefer the sound of as you have to live with them, just make sure you demo with your equipment or similar.
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
Not pretending to be a B&W expert, but I should share my experience. I have gone from a 685/6/HTM62 setup, to CM8/1/CMC2, now CM10/CM8/CMC2. Sub from a BKXLS200 to a KK DXD808.

I have also heard the 68x S2 demo at Bristol and also a pair of 683 S2 driven by a pre/po combo.

Given your room and listening needs, here's what I suggest; save all your pennies and invest in a pair of CM10s.

And here are my reasons.

the 683S2 is less than the sum of its parts. Integration between the bass and mids/highs leaves a little to be desired. Each individual component is a step up from the 684, but the package doesn't come together that well. the tonal difference in the new bass driver is just too much for my liking. Its got a nice high bass attack, but just seems out of place. Ok as part of a HT setup, but not really that good on its own. At 1k, there are better ways to spend your money.

I am impressed with the new 600 S2 overall, though haven't heard the centres. They took the best from the old 60x S3s with the 68x S1s, throw in a bit of CM treble. So it has a nice airy sound, fills a room with nice clear treble.

The biggest difference in the CM series is the cabinet construction. At that price point, what you get is transparancy. Instead of sound localised to the speakers, you get better dispersion. So the sound just comes from the air in front of you.

This is what the CM series will offer you, no matter the combo.

Like for like though, you will find them slightly underwhelming. The refinement of the CM comes at the price of efficiency. Driven by an integrated or AVR, the sound can seem subdued. Slap a power amp on, and the sound stage suddenly envelopes you. That's how to get the best from them.

The 68x S2 will give you bigger sound at the expense of refinement. Except the 683 S2; that needs a PA to sound decent.

The CM8s and CM1s are delightful speakers. Light, nimble and lively. The CM8s do need a PA to really sing. Yes, the bass is less boomy but better defined. Clearer, but not as much impact. CM1s as surrounds will take you breadth away for those environmental effects.

But the CM8/1 combo can't go loud even with a PA as the bass drivers start to distort. Given your listening needs, I'm not sure that's such a great idea. As a stop gap, they sounded great as a 2,1 setup with my Anthem MRX510 and KK DXD 808. The former for bass management and the KK sub for its tonal integration.

The CM10s though are a completely different level.

Take all the things you like about the big 600s and the refinement of the CMs, and you start to get an idea of what you're in for. The better FST and tweeter on top gives incredible clarity and dispersion of the mids and highs.

The highs have such good dispersion that you don't really needs surrounds. The bass has great definition, attach and depth that you can almost do without a sub.

Thing is, any of those combos you suggest will leave you wanting more. A pair of CM10s will keep you satisfied for your 2c listening. I've completely switched over to just using them without room EQ for stereo now. Makes bass transition better.

You can add surrounds and centres later.

For a centre, forget about the CMC and go straight for the CMC2. Much much better.

O, don't worry, the CM10s sing from low volumes and go loud with no effort.

Surrounds maybe consider CM5s or even 1s. CM8s are great of course.

So that's one option. Or consider a 684 based system. I think the 684 will sound better for 2c than 683.

For subs, the KKDXD808 must surely be the cream of compact subs. Goes high. Very accurate. Goes deep enough. Fantastic for smaller rooms. You can stack later to increase SPL.
 

TomScrut

Well-known Member
I agree with you about the CM8 vs CM9, I had XT8s which have more or less the same (if not the same) drivers as the CM8 and preferred it a lot of the sound to the CM9, more precise but doesn't do the low bass as well but certainly louder and more bass than the CM8
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
I suppose like for like, its easier to make a small cabinet rigid. Hence the transparancy of the narrower speakers.

Must say, I first got the 686s, I really loved the sound and got rid of my 602 S3 in place of 685s. While the latter goes louder with less bass distortion, I can hear the cabinets more.

The new S2 has cured these problems. The 686 S2 doesn't sound strained. The 685 S2 remains delightful and lively.

The CM10s use the same sized bass drivers as the CM9s. but the cabinet is different. Mo re depth, massive plinths. Extremely transparant. Lots of precision and detail at low volumes (while I listen at this hour in a small London flat)
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
The width and height is the same. But the depth is bigger by 37mm. Plinth is also larger all round.

I don't think the internal bracing has been too radically redesigned. but the new dimensions may have helped with improving rigidity. Bass drivers are the same as the CM9.
 

PurpleHaze

Novice Member
wow, this was helpful. i might be able to swing the CM10s but i'm not sure about this whole power amp + receiver thing... is there just an all around receiver that can do them justice?

Not pretending to be a B&W expert, but I should share my experience. I have gone from a 685/6/HTM62 setup, to CM8/1/CMC2, now CM10/CM8/CMC2. Sub from a BKXLS200 to a KK DXD808....
 

TomScrut

Well-known Member
wow, this was helpful. i might be able to swing the CM10s but i'm not sure about this whole power amp + receiver thing... is there just an all around receiver that can do them justice?

Maybe a top of the range AVR, but by the time you get to spending £3k on a pair of speakers its generally better to go pre/pro + power
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
A power amp is about providing the dynamic punch to your sound. There was a lively discussion in the power amp section and Anthem thread.

There's only so much you can cram into one box. Powerful transformers and sensitive preamp signals don't mix too well.
 

TomScrut

Well-known Member
A pre pro basically looks like an av receiver and has all the inputs (and usually more) that an av receiver has. But output wise you dont have speaker terminals, you have RCA and/or XLR connectors. A power amp has RCA and/or XLR inputs and speaker terminals. You connect the two together using analogue interconnects of your preferred type as long as the pre and power amps have the right terminals. Nearly all have RCAs, and XLRs normally depend on the size of the pre and the price of the power amp.

The pre/pro you use just like an AVR, the power amp just does it's own thing as long as you switch it on. Most PAs have trigger inputs to allow the pre pro to send a signal to it to switch it on when you turn the pre on.

Does that clear things up at all?

If you want a pointer on where to start, if you are looking to buy new, most pre pros are more expensive than the appropriate AVRs in their range. Here is a quick list (in no particular order) of some of those who make pre pros and power amps:

Onkyo
Marantz
Rotel
Emotiva
Anthem
ADA
Audiolab
Classe
McIntosh
Arcam
Primare
Bryston

There are others but these are the ones that came to mind in the minute or so I spent making the list. It's somewhere for you to start researching!
 

lokyc

Well-known Member
Thread on power amps

Power Amplifiers, Yes, No, Maybe? | AVForums

the power amp stage is often what lets a receiver down. And often the difference between the different AVRs within the range.

Some AVRs have preouts, which basically allow them to function as a pre/pro and use an external power amp.

AVRs tend to be cheaper as they are the mass market consumer product. Japanese AVRs in particular refresh every year, which depresses the prices of the previous year's models tremendously. You can easily pick one up for a song. Check out the deflation of the Denon 4520.

Of course, while AVRs may have the latest connectivity features, like for like, they have cheaper components compared to a dedicated pre/pro. How much that translates sonically is debatable though.

A popular combo on this forum is what I'm using now (obviously learned from this forum!). An Anthem MRX as pre/pro to a power amp.

Arcam, Anthem, Rotel, Nad, Cambridge Audio; these are companies with tremendous hifi pedigree and their AVRs have often been lauded for their musicality.

Anthem used to only do high end pre/pros but released consumer level AVRs a few years ago and brough their Anthem Room Correction technology with them. the latest generation has been said to sound very close to their flagship D2V pre/pro when used with a power amp. Check out the recent AVForums review of the MRX710 by Steve Withers.

Best part is all 3 models have identical pre/pro bits, except that the 310 is wired for 5.1 output. So if youi're going to use them as a pre/pro from the outset and not bothered about 7.1, you can get an aswesome pre/pro for 1.2k.

Power amps, well I think at the consumer level, nothing beats a traditional Class A/B with a hefty toroidal transformer. They weigh a ton and take up space, so are more popular in N America. There's a scarcity of good PAs in the UK, but the usual suspects are Anthem, Parasound, and recently ATI. Then there's the British favourite Arcam P777. For B&W, how can we forget Classe (if you have the dosh) and Rotel?
 

PurpleHaze

Novice Member
^^^ These are very helpful. do you think this kind of pre-pro setup would be required for the CM8 setup? or just if i go with the CM10?
 

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