B&W 684 vs 685

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by 1JR, Jun 22, 2015.

  1. 1JR

    1JR
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    Hi Guys,

    I'm new to high end audio, so excuse my ignorance. And I know this question may have been posed before, but the questions/answer veers slightly from how I want to ask this.
    I'm currently deciding between buying B&W 684's or 685's. This will be for a medium size, but open plan, living room. I'm looking for a stereo setup mainly for listening to music. I'm indifferent in price of the two speakers, because when stands are included, the price is very close. What I notice is whenever people compare the two sets on forums, they add that the 685's plus a sub will be better than 684's. But no one ever discusses 684's plus sub. Is combining a floor-stander and a sub a waste? Are the 684's the real deal, or is this a way of making the 600 series more affordable. And do the 684's "give something up" by having smaller drivers than the 685's?


    Thanks
     
  2. lokyc

    lokyc
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    Personally, I thought the 684S2s are the best speakers of the 600S2 range. you're right, when stands are included, bookshelves don't seem that good value. Its more a space issue than anyting else.

    There are other technical reasons why sometimes a standmount is better than a cheap floorstander.

    The 684S2s and the CM8s are unique though. Its best to regard them as standmounts with their own stands.

    The drivers may be smaller, but the cone area will be marginally more than the 685S2.

    Narrower drivers are not there just for aesthetics. the smaller baffle frontal width means the sound seems to come more from a point source. The 684S2 uses the same cabinet construction as the CM8 which B&W feel is one of their best cabinet designs (ie gives least colouration). The net result is very sharp imaging.

    The best part is that unlike stands, which you still have to mount etc, all this is already done for you in the cabinet. all you need to do is to spike the base!

    The 686, 685, 684 S2s all have the same sonic signature. But as you go up the range, each speaker's performance envelope increases. The sweet distortion free performance extends across more complex material, at wider frequency ranges, at louder volumes.

    If space and budget isn't an issue, definitely the 684S2.

    no detriment adding a sub although the bass is already quite good.
     
  3. stephenbarnes

    stephenbarnes
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    "Is combining a floor-stander and a sub a waste?"

    Not really. Because if you run in pure direct mode, the sub won't be active so in that case you want floorstanders.

    I use floorstanders + sub for the cinema and music system.

    "There are other technical reasons why sometimes a standmount is better than a cheap floorstander."

    I agree with that. If you have a low budget I'd choose standmount over floorstanders. But if you're looking at high end floorstanders. I think they have made compromises in budget floorstanders.
     
  4. 1JR

    1JR
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    Thanks Lokyc and Stephenbarnes for the responses, that's some useful insight.

    I'm definitely leaning towards getting the 684's. The price point, makes them feel like a "free upgrade" compare to the 685's. I guess I just needed to confirm that it was indeed and upgrade in performance.

    Thanks,
     
  5. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    The B&W 684 floorstanding do not perform like floorstanding speakers. These have TWO 5" bass drivers making them the same size as a single 6.5" bass driver. So, not gain there.

    Here is the rated Frequency response of the B&W 684 Floorstanding -

    Frequency range -6dB: 45Hz and 50kHz

    Frequency response -3dB: 72Hz - 22kHz


    Sensitivity 87dB spl (2.83V, 1m)

    Here is the Frequency response of the B&W 685 Bookshelf

    Frequency range -6dB: 45Hz and 50kHz

    Frequency response -3dB: 52Hz - 22kHz

    87dB spl (2.83V, 1m)


    So very similar.

    It doesn't matter if the stands are included in the bookshelf option, what matters if the final price of each choice. If the prices are very similar, then it is really down to personal preference.

    With a 45hz low end on each, that puts both in the performance class of Bookshelf speakers. They will sound good for music, but you simply will not get ultra-deep bass from either. Though in a Surround Sound system with a Sub, both should do a very good job.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  6. lokyc

    lokyc
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    Steve, won't you agree aside from the technical specs is how they sound?

    The cone area doesn't tell the whole story. 2 drivers do. All this being equal, smaller cone area distort less. hence shifting the same amount of air between 2 drivers rather than one driver confers technical advantage. The narrower front profile improves imaging.

    Less distortion, greater sense of spaciousness. And this is why the 684S2s sound so good.

    Compared to the 685S2, it is more relaxed, more precise, more defined. The same bass notes are hit cleaner. So sounds a little deeper despite a similiar frequency response.

    Hence it has my vote against the 685S2. In fact I prefer it even to the 683S2 which I find lacks cohesion. Definitely my pick of the 600S2s.
     
  7. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    Not necessarily. The smaller the bass driver, the less deep the bass goes. if you try to reproduce bass below the working range of the bass driver, you get distortion. Further it is more complicated than 2x5' vs 1x6.5". Keeping in mind that a 6.5" is still a pretty small speaker.

    The 684 has a single crossover frequency at 4khz, implying that the two 5" bass driver are always running in parallel. Given the resulting impedance of 8 ohms, those 5" bass drivers are not the same as the driver in the 685 or more accurately, not the same as the driver in the 686. For the final impedance to be 8 ohms, those 5" drivers have to be 16 ohms each, which implies a different design, though reasonably based around the same concept and materials.

    Equally, though varying from speaker to speakers, the excursion of a smaller speakers is not as great, so there is a limit to how loud they can go, or more accurately, how far they can move.

    The speakers are very similar, and as such, it is purely down to personal preference. My personal preference is for Floorstanding over Bookshelf, for my music system. Of course on my computer audio system, which has limited available space, I use bookshelf, but not in my main system.

    It is also down to price. Compare the final price of the 685 with Stands against the 684 without stands.

    £799/pr = B&W 684
    £499/pr = B&W 685

    That leaves £299 for speakers stands, which is about TWICE what you would reasonably have to spend. So, the 685 with reasonable Stands are Cheaper.

    So, it is down to Budget, Preferences, Aesthetics, and Price.

    I would personally say, in a Stereo system, the 685. In a Surround Sound system, I would probably lean more toward the 684, since deep bass is going to the Sub. Both are perfectly functional, so again, it is purely down to Budget, Preferences, Aesthetics, and Price.

    Myself, if I'm just spending dreams, I would prefer the B&W CM 8 or CM 9, though that is considerably more money.

    Though these speakers would be more in my line of thinking -

    Superfi - Monitor Audio Bronze 6 Floorstanding Speakers (Pair)

    Superfi - Monitor Audio Bronze 5 Floorstanding Speakers (Pair)

    Superfi - Wharfedale Diamond 230 Floor Standing Speakers (Pair)

    Superfi - Wharfedale Diamond 240 Floor Standing Speakers (Pair)

    I wouldn't say No to these speakers either -

    Superfi - Monitor Audio Silver 1 Speakers (Pair)

    Superfi - Monitor Audio Silver 2 Speakers (Pair)

    I'm a fan of BIG speaker, though I acknowledge that circumstance can demand bookshelf speakers. But they are not for me. Based on my taste, I would rather the Monitor Audio Bronze or Wharfedale speakers.

    I have heard the New B&W 600-S2 series and they are nice. I think much more controlled than previous versions. So, nothing against them.

    Really it is a matter of hearing both and deciding which has the preferred sound.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2015
  8. lokyc

    lokyc
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    As a B&W fanboy, I subscribe to their driver isolation, precise imaging philosophy.

    To me, the design advantage of a smaller speaker is agility (less inertia of the driver), cabinet rigidity and narrow frontal profile. It does come at the expense of lower sensitivity/loudness and bass depth.

    But I've always preferred the sound of the 686 over the 685s when I had them. And have a soft spot for the CM1s before I switched my CM8s over for surrounds.

    There is a good discount going on for the PM1s and if not for the fact it would be overindulgence, and there may be something even better on the horizon, I would be very tempted...
     

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