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B&W speakers

Chrisp7091

Active Member
Could anyone tell me - I've heard quite a few members talk of 'the B&W sound'. What is it?.

I realise the best way to find out is go listen to some, but I was hoping to buy second hand and don't want to waste a dealers time. I've heard people describe B&W's as being both bright and base heavy, aggresive but also smooth, forgiving of source material amd components, but also harsh and super revealing of problems elsewhere in the system. It's left me a bit confused.

In particular, anyone got CDM1 SE's?. Any comments?.
 

chrisgeary

Well-known Member
i've heard a handful of speakers recently:

B&W 705s (my current speakers)
B&W 704s
Dynaudio Audience 122s
Meridian DSP5000s
Monitor Audio GR10s

The Meridian DSP5000s were super laid back, super smooth. They were also boring, dull and lacked detail and excitement.

At the other end of the scale, the Dynaudios had a sibilance problem that made them difficult to listen to over a certain volume. They sounded brash and harsh to my ears.

The MA GR10s are very close to the B&W 700 series sound and it was a hard decision between the GR10s and the 705s. Both were excellent at imaging, focus and detail. I think the B&Ws won, partly because I owned DM620s, partly because of styling and mainly because they were ever so slightly more 'real' to my ears. The GR10s sounded like they were holding back a little.

Comparing B&W to Meridian at one end, and Dynaudio at the other, I would say that the B&Ws are revealing, detailed but not harsh (see my kit list below which will have some influence on them), but they are not as smooth as the Meridians. I think there is always a trade off between detail and smoothness. This is why so many of us take quite a while to put together a set of components that sound just right to our individual ears.
 

usman24

Active Member
I have owned 3 generations of b&w 601 speakers and have found they have good treble, midrange and decent quality bass. not harsh-fairly smooth.

I would personally take a look at the Tannoy dc1 and speakers higher up in their range of speakers. Excellent sound quality [voicing] with superior bass quality and no upper bass, boom which you can get on the 601 series. not much experience higher up in the range. when I changed fom B&W to tannoy [dual concentric design] I realised what I'd been missing from my hi-fi system.

They are available from superfi on offer. Originally £449 a pair.
 

chrisgeary

Well-known Member
with regards to 'boom'. this is quite often a lot to do with room acoustics and speaker choice. nearly all domestic rooms resonate at a certain frequency. that frequency will depend on room size, but is typically between 30 and 60hz. the smaller the room, the higher the resonant frequency. this would account for perceived bass boom. it can be alieviated by:
careful speaker positioning
the use of the foam bung in the reflex port
choosing floorstanders or standmounts
measuring your room response if possible (see subwoofer forum)
choosing small main speakers and a subwoofer (which you can then apply equalisation to)

I chose the latter as I am just as interested in movies as I am music, and I cannot stand room acoustics interfering with my listening pleasure. its not the simplest path, but a rewarding one if you get it right.

There is no easy solution, but I just wanted to offer a balanced view on bass boom in rooms so you can make an informed decision about the type of speaker to try.
 

usman24

Active Member
excellent advice chris.
 
S

SKA.face

Guest
I 've had loads of B&W speakers and no two ranges sound the same.The only one I couldn't really get on with was the P6.I found the 704 a bit harsh and hard.The 800 are superb,midrange a bit reccessed,detailed treble,your never wasting your time demoing a B&W speaker,they are where they are for a reason.
 

Chrisp7091

Active Member
Thanks for your advice guys. What I'm after is a speaker that's reasonably detailed but not to the point where it makes every other cd unlistenable. That's been my experience with my current Mission speakers and I'm looking for an alternative that just helps to make music something I want to hear again!.

Seems very tricky to find what I want - just a nice smooth sound that's not utterly boring or without interest. Maybe I'm just not suited to hi-fi!. Perhaps I should just go back to a mid system - aaaargh!.

Cheers.
 

chrisgeary

Well-known Member
Chris, I think I understand where you are coming from. its a fine balance.

What other equipment do have at present?

it would be easy for me to suggest taking a listen to a pair of B&W 705s (there is a pair on ebay right now!) or a pair of Monitor Audio GR10s, but without knowing what other equipment you have, its kinda pointless.

I partner my 705s to a Meridian processor and Meridian power amps. Both are reknowned for their smooth sound and I feel that the combination provides a detailed but easy listen.

I have heard it said that 700 series speakers can sound harsh. I suspect that on the end of brighter components, that could be true. But then that is the same with anything, its all in the blend :)
 

Knyght_byte

Distinguished Member
the 7xx series have metal tweeters dont they?

i think pretty much any speaker whose main tweeter is metal is going to be a brighter speaker, obviously partnering it as said above with brighter components may for some folks lead to it being too bright........whereas partnering a speaker with a silk dome and some warm relaxed kit will usually end up being too relaxed and possibly boring....lol

certainly speakers like the 705 or the GS10's etc will reveal most of the detail available, and be pretty compentent in every other area too (altho both have their good and not so good points, all depending on the type of music you listen to)...but what you already own will affect this.....so to get the sound you want, if you like the idea of B&W, may mean upgrading the whole kit....or at least other parts, possibly just the amp or the soure...

best idea is to go get a demo, or if you want more opinions, list what you have already or what you might be willing to spend to correct things overall to a sound you crave ;-)
 

chrisgeary

Well-known Member
yep, 700s are metal dome tweeters. however, i used to own dynaudio audience 122s with soft dome tweeters and they sounded much harsher and suffered from a nasty sibilance problem. this was accentuated on the end of a Krell amp to the point of being painful. Meridian amps helped somewhat, but the 705s are just lush on my setup.

The point is that I'm not convinced that a soft dome tweeter is always going to give a softer sound. Or that a metal dome tweeter is always going to give you a brighter sound.
 

Chrisp7091

Active Member
Well I know you guys are going laugh when I tell you I'm coming from a Mission set up - Cyrus 2 amp and Mission 753's. I think Mission are well known for an 'up front' sound and that's certainly what I get - and then some!.

I was hoping to get rid of the 753's and use the Cyrus to power my new speakers for a while. Sounds like that might not be a good idea. I also don't think I'm going to be able to go quite as up market as some of you. Meridian sounds expensive?. I was kinda hoping that if the amp had to go, maybe I could go for a Musical fidelity or Arcam unit. I was eyeing up an Arcam Delta 290 on Ebay the other evening. That gives an idea of what sort of capabilities my partnering equipment might offer.

BTW - the source is rather dated aswell - Marantz cd 52SE. I'm coming back to music litening after several years of headphone wearing, due to my wife moving in and spoiling all the fun :) !!.
 

mick23

Standard Member
hi chrisp

i have owned cdm1nts used with denon 3802 and found the same thing as you are experiencing ,most of my older cds or anything of a more strident nature would be too fatiging to listen to, this would abate slightly if the 3802 was thoughrally warm.

chris i changed from cdm1nts to dynaudio 62 floorstanders thinking that a non metalic tweeter would be more forgiving, but after a while found they could be just as harsh bright as cdms , possibly more so but with a good recording and something more mellow they do sound good,

chrisp i find i can go into say local woolworths for example small mini system is playing through in wall speakers ,sound quality is not brilliant but in some ways more easy to listen to. would suggest you have a demo first

thank you
 

chrisgeary

Well-known Member
mick: i seem to recall having conversations with you when i was diagnosing the sibilance problem. interesting to hear your thoughts about your 62s.
its also interesting what you say about some mini system in woolys. i've very often found my yamaha computer speakers a more relaxed listen than my hifi. of course there is no wow factor, no detail and no excitement either.

chris: i dont know cyrus or mission at all. the marantz player i do though. it can definitely be improved on. as for meridian being expensive, well it depends on your definition of expensive. all my meridian kit was bought s/h. each 505 (160w) mono power amp was £900 new, and I paid less than £400 for each. a 555 (stereo 50wpc) can be had from ebay for as little as £250.
the advantage of buying stuff from ebay is that you can usually sell it on for what you paid, thus you are able to test things out.

i might suggest at this point trying a DAC on your marantz cd player. almost anything from Meridian would be worth a try. or, why not try a meridian cd player. i dont think its much different to buy a CDP or a DAC cost wise. i used to own a 506.24 before (i changed it as the dacs in my 561 do the same job) and it was just a gorgeous sounding CDP. almost any flavour of 506 would be worth a go. i'm sure there are other makes worth trying too.

i doubt a power amp will have enough of an effect to warrant trying right away.

changing speakers is arguably the single biggest influence on sound. but if your source isnt up to scratch, then the speakers are fighting a losing battle.
 

Chrisp7091

Active Member
mick23 said:
chrisp i find i can go into say local woolworths for example small mini system is playing through in wall speakers ,sound quality is not brilliant but in some ways more easy to listen to. would suggest you have a demo first

thank you


I'm glad I'm not alone then:thumbsup: !. Unfortunately a lot of the 'music' I enjoy most is of a 'student' nature!. Maybe I'll just never get the sound I want from hi-fi!. Still, its very interesting to hear what you say about Dynaudio. I was considering them as an alternative. About the only speaker manufacturers I've not heard described as 'can be harsh' are Spendor and Quad.
 

mick23

Standard Member
hi chrisp i had the cyrus 7 on a 10 day trial to compare against 3802 i had a hard job to really tell the differance although my mate could, not heard your speakers though , one of my friends has an old pair of missions at the time with old nad amp and cassette player ,wouldant have called it harsh though.

the other day tried my arcam avr 300 reciever in sterio with my dyns also older mordant short speakers, a pair of bw 601 i use as surrounds , and mission m70
the mordaunt shorts are not so revealing in the top end but then music seems to lack something


the dyns do sound good with some cds something kate melua, some fleetwood mac tracks , if using something like dire straights / mark knopfler can still be too stinging in the top end, but using av recievers just dont seem to give a descent sound quality.
 
S

SKA.face

Guest
Don't forget to give something like Totems a try or Neat acoustics,both superb speakers.
 

Chrisp7091

Active Member
chrisgeary said:
mick: i seem to recall having conversations with you when i was diagnosing the sibilance problem. interesting to hear your thoughts about your 62s.
its also interesting what you say about some mini system in woolys. i've very often found my yamaha computer speakers a more relaxed listen than my hifi. of course there is no wow factor, no detail and no excitement either.

chris: i dont know cyrus or mission at all. the marantz player i do though. it can definitely be improved on. as for meridian being expensive, well it depends on your definition of expensive. all my meridian kit was bought s/h. each 505 (160w) mono power amp was £900 new, and I paid less than £400 for each. a 555 (stereo 50wpc) can be had from ebay for as little as £250.
the advantage of buying stuff from ebay is that you can usually sell it on for what you paid, thus you are able to test things out.

Interesting - I hadn't considered Meridian before as I assumed we were talking about 1000's of quid per component. There's a 551 amp on Ebay now for around 400.00. I agree Ebay is good for testing new bits and pieces and then selling them on if they don't please.

I also agree about the lack of the 'wow factor' when it comes to midi systems and the like. When I first owned a 'proper' hi-fi, I loved being able to let my ears wander through the tracks I listened to in a way that was impossible using lesser equipment. That was in the days when I used a turntable and a pair of Wharfedale Diamonds. Maybe I should have stuck to those components.

The Totem and Neat speakers mentioned also sound of interest. I take it these makes have a more 'civilised' presentation?.

Its been an interesting chat so far. It doesn't sound like B & W's are going to suit in any event - or Dynaudio!.
 

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