B&W DM601 S3 replacement advice

drichardb

Novice Member
I've had my Bowers & Wilkins DM601 S3's for over 20 years and they have given me countless hours of enjoyment over the years but over the last couple of years I've been feeling a growing desire to replace them.

Last year I demo'd a pair of ATC SCM 11's which were just better in every conceivable way, especially the tweeter, but I was put off by the wierd metal grill covers. Unfortunately my room is a dust magnet and I was concerned that the coating on the main speaker would have been ruined by dust sticking to it due to the lack of a proper dust cover.

What I'm looking for is something that performs similarly to the ATC's but doesnt have sticky coatings on the drivers and ideally proper dust covers to protect them! I'm prepared to spend up to £1.5k, I'm not restricting myself to new and I can accomodate floorstanders if the total width including feet doesn't exceed 30cm per speaker.

Any advice/recommendations would be greatly appreciated
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Couple of questions, what amp are you driving them with, what sources do you have and what are your main listening styles? Also what sort of sound do you like, bright, detailed, bass heavy, relaxed etc..

Thanks
 

Hoku

Active Member
Also, what’s the size of your room?
Are your speakers sited along the longer wall, or the shorter wall?
And is your main listening position close against the wall opposite your speakers, or do you have free space behind?
And finally, how close do your speakers need to be to the wall behind them?
The last two questions in particular can emphasise the bass levels hugely, so may help filter appropriate recommendations.
 

drichardb

Novice Member
Source - PC with Soundblaster AE-9 soundcard and Tidal Hi-Fi Plus subscription. Chord/QED analogue interconnects

Amp - Pioneer SC-LX72 receiver

I should also add that I demo'd a REL subwoofer at the same time as the ATC's and ended up buying a T7/x

My listening position is at my workstation. Speakers are either side of my desk on Atacama stands approx 130 cm apart and 10 cm from wall. There is scope for them to come out a little further but not much. Room is approx 12ft by 14ft. desk is against the shorter wall.

Audio content covers the full gammut - music, tv/film and PC games.

Sound preference - Detail/Clarity in the high end but not too bright. Lots of Warmth/Bass but thats where the REL comes in.

Music listened to - all sorts - 80's Pop/Rock, Metal from across the spectrum, Synthwave, Classical

Here is a list of some of the bands on my favourites list in Tidal...

Black Peaks
Cave In
Chicane
Christine and the Queens
Coheed & Cambria
Daft Punk
ELO
Ghost
Gunship
Haken
Lamb of God
Level 42
Mastodon
Meshuggah
Northlane
Opeth
Pantera
Queen
Rainbow
Rush
Tesseract
The Midnight
Tool
Toto
 
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Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Ok, so I think you may be better getting active monitors for a number of reason. They provide excellent clarity, most without being harsh, the coupling of the speaker directly to the amp improved dynamic response and lower level listening, and you can plug them straight into the Soundblaster and let that control the volume.

Using a avr for music is probably also not helping thing and not getting the most out of the speakers or source. Moving to a stereo amp would help if you like the sound of the speakers as an alternative upgrade route. The sound quality of your avr (even though good for av duties) is probably the equivalent of a £300-400 stereo amp.

Fir active speakers, there is a pair of Focal Solo Be 6 for £1100 on FB Marketplace when paired with the Rel will blow any passive system away within your budget.

Others to look at would be the Focal Shape 65, Adam A7X or Dynaudio Lyd 7 or if you can fit them in the Lyd 48. These have a less harsh sound than some studio monitors.

P.S. Good choice of music in the main.
 

Hoku

Active Member
That’s useful info.

In your favour, a nearfield set up means that you’re not going to be sat on a sofa bang up against the wall opposite the speakers, which can make bass sound boomy.

However the distance of 10cm from the rear wall, even taking your listening position into account, will really limit the speakers that will work well for you. You may find that over the years your ears have just adjusted to the sound with your B&W’s.

I have a nearfield set-up in my study, with my Quad Vena II driving some quite diminutive vintage Ruark Epilogue II standmounts. I tried using my DALI Rubicon 2’s a few weeks ago in place of the Ruarks. The Rubicons are a fair bit larger standmounted speakers, and the bass was way too much in the same position (20cm approx from rear wall). I had to move the DALI’s out to about 30-35cm from the wall, with their rear ports firing at a 45 degree angle, before the bass calmed down and I achieved a solid balanced sound.

Having said that, employing a crossover to your sub will give you more flexibility in modifying the bass output, but still, if you want your shiny new speakers to sound at their best, you may need to consider speakers that are designed to be placed quite close to the wall, and there aren’t many frankly.

Some that do come to mind are ProAc Tablette 10 (and their more expensive anniversary model).

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but can i just mention though, that if you’re considering that kind of budget for speakers, their sound will be blunted somewhat by your amp. A stereo integrated amplifier will typically sound far superior at that price point.

For what it is, the Pioneer is a superb AV receiver for surround sound: I owned the model down from yours in the past, but my Quad Vena II is several levels above my Pioneer AVR in terms of bass control in particular, but in terms of all other aspects of sound quality too. More detailed, better timing, more clarity, superior midrange, just everything is better.

So perhaps another option for you is to go active. There are other forum members far more knowledgeable than me with active speakers, but you could consider Acoustic Energy AE1 actives…

Link to Acoustic Energy AE1 actives

with a Yamaha WXC-50 streamer/DAC/pre-amp…

Link to Yamaha WXC-50

Going active means you get an upgrade with speakers and amp at the same time, and with the above system, still come in around your budget.

Here’s a review…

British Audiophile Acoustic Energy AE1 active review
 

nomore landings

Active Member
Ok, so I think you may be better getting active monitors for a number of reason. They provide excellent clarity, most without being harsh, the coupling of the speaker directly to the amp improved dynamic response and lower level listening, and you can plug them straight into the Soundblaster and let that control the volume.

Using a avr for music is probably also not helping thing and not getting the most out of the speakers or source. Moving to a stereo amp would help if you like the sound of the speakers as an alternative upgrade route. The sound quality of your avr (even though good for av duties) is probably the equivalent of a £300-400 stereo amp.

Fir active speakers, there is a pair of Focal Solo Be 6 for £1100 on FB Marketplace when paired with the Rel will blow any passive system away within your budget.

Others to look at would be the Focal Shape 65, Adam A7X or Dynaudio Lyd 7 or if you can fit them in the Lyd 48. These have a less harsh sound than some studio monitors.

P.S. Good choice of music in the main.
Hi,
imho good advice from ugg10.
I used to have dm601s3s powered by a pioneer av amp. When moving to stereo swapped for some dynaudio standmounts. Been a big fan of Dali for the last 9 years and also recently bought some actives as below, my first experience of actives and perform beyond my expectations at the price.
a little over budget but include the excellent BlueOS module - a Node in effect. The hybrid tweeter is excellent. You could remove the computer from the streaming equation and get the best from Tidal and, to my ears, the excellent Radio Paradise MQA stream. I’m sure the other suggestions have considerable merit too.
Callisto
just read also connects to your computer, wired or Wi-Fi/Bluetooth.
 
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Hoku

Active Member
Hi,
imho good advice from ugg10.
I used to have dm601s3s powered by a pioneer av amp. When moving to stereo swapped for some dynaudio standmounts. Been a big fan of Dali for the last 9 years and also recently bought some actives as below, my first experience of actives and perform beyond my expectations at the price.
a little over budget but include the excellent BlueOS module - a Node in effect. The hybrid tweeter is excellent. You could remove the computer from the streaming equation and get the best from Tidal and, to my ears, the excellent Radio Paradise MQA stream. I’m sure the other suggestions have considerable merit too.
Callisto
The DALI Callisto system you link to is phenomenal value for money. It was the Callisto’s that first introduced me to the DALI sound.

And with the BluOS module and sound hub bundled for that price, it’s an excellent deal.

My only concern is that they’re even larger volume standmounts than my Rubicon 2’s, (they’re taller to accommodate the additional ribbon tweeter) so may need a little more room to breathe between speakers and wall.

If you can get away with 30-35cm, it may just be all right.

DALI do recommend no toe-in (i.e., perpendicular to the wall), but in a nearfield set-up, you may need a little toe-in, which may just help give a little more space behind them. My Rubicons sounded about right firing at a point a metre or 2 behind me.

DALI’s tweeters are very detailed though. Depending on your taste, they might just be a little too much considering your musical tastes. So best to demo first if you can.
 

drichardb

Novice Member
Ugg, Hoku & nomore landings, thanks for your input I really do appreciate it. Interesting things to consider for future setups perhaps but here's some more info which in hindsight I probably should have given but didnt for the sake of simplicity...

My workstation has a shelf above the screen on which I have a B&W HTM62 as my center speaker. This is why I got the Pioneer - while I do listen to a lot of music, this system pulls triple duty as a PC gaming setup and home cinema. I do not use a headset on my PC as I don't like wearing headphones for long periods and I much prefer a speaker system instead.

At the time I got the receiver (5 years ago) I was using the Logitech Z-5500 5.1 system but with my B&W speakers connected to it. This had served me well for many years but I needed something that could handle more inputs after getting a Sky Q mini box in the room and was considering a console. As I wanted to continue using analogue outputs from my previous Asus Xonar D2X sound card the choice of receiver was already limited as most manufacturers have ditched multi channel inputs or kept them to their high end units which I simply couldnt afford. The electronics gods were certainly smiling on me when I found the Pioneer for £100 on craigslist. Felt like I robbed the guy!

So far I've built a system that covers all the bases I need in one space and ultimately I am happy with the performance it offers and really don't want to lose the surround sound capabilities that I currently enjoy.

Ideally I simply want to upgrade my speakers. By all means correct me if I've misinterpreted but what has been suggested so far would mean sacrificing features that I don't want to lose.
 

nomore landings

Active Member
The DALI Callisto system you link to is phenomenal value for money. It was the Callisto’s that first introduced me to the DALI sound.

And with the BluOS module and sound hub bundled for that price, it’s an excellent deal.

My only concern is that they’re even larger volume standmounts than my Rubicon 2’s, (they’re taller to accommodate the additional ribbon tweeter) so may need a little more room to breathe between speakers and wall.

If you can get away with 30-35cm, it may just be all right.

DALI do recommend no toe-in (i.e., perpendicular to the wall), but in a nearfield set-up, you may need a little toe-in, which may just help give a little more space behind them. My Rubicons sounded about right firing at a point a metre or 2 behind me.

DALI’s tweeters are very detailed though. Depending on your taste, they might just be a little too much considering your musical tastes. So best to demo first if you can.
Hi Hoku,
having experienced B&W tweeters, the Dali hybrids will be a paragon of excellence, imho. Agree with you re toe in.
 

Hoku

Active Member
Hi Hoku,
having experienced B&W tweeters, the Dali hybrids will be a paragon of excellence, imho. Agree with you re toe in.
True.

Yes, B&W tweeters aren’t to my taste either.
 

nomore landings

Active Member
Sorry, previous post crossed so didn’t see the detailed explanation. I’m with you regarding headsets. Wore them for 37 years flying and in retirement it’s speakers for me. Does your Pioneer have main channel pre out? If it does, then that could become one source for actives allowing you to retain your surround for gaming and tv etc.
 

drichardb

Novice Member
Yes it has pre-outs.

I'm curious as to why actives are being recommended so highly here, is the Pioneer really that bad as a stereo amp? OK I don't have a proper basis for comparison but I've been nothing but impressed with the sound quality these last few years.

I have my reasons but I want to rule out active speakers at this point.

If it really will make that much of a difference, and I mean it would need to be a significant improvement whether I upgrade the speakers or not, I could make room on my rack to add a dedicated amp for the fronts, I guess it would only need to be a power amp? Any recommendations here?
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
The reason to add a stereo amp with ht bypass to the pioneer is to connect stereo sources to the stereo amp thereby bypassing all of the AVR processing when listening to music, adding a power amp is unlikely to make much difference at normal listening levels. Not sure if your sources would allow this though.
 

drichardb

Novice Member
I only have one analogue source - my PC. The AE-9 soundcard has RCA jacks for the main left/right channels and two 3.5 mm jacks to cover the rest. These are connected to the Pioneer's analogue multi-channel input to allow full surround effects from the PC to be played.

I'm not sure what processing your referring to - my understanding is the 7.1 multi-channel inputs on my receiver are un-touched by any kind of tone controls or effects and are passed straight to the amplifier section. Other than adjusting the volume I've never been able to apply/adjust any settings when its on the multi-channel input - the display just flashes to indicate "nope, can't make any changes here". This input is, after all, intended to be connected to older DVD/Blu-ray players that had their own decoders with 5.1 analogue outputs. Any processing on the receiver end would be uneccesary as the player had already done the hard work.

I am curious now to find out what difference, if any, a stereo amp might make. Might have a look around FB marketplace/gumtree to see if I can snag another bargain. Worst that happens is I keep it in storage until someone close to me needs it or the Pioneer goes pop!
 

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