New speakers 2017 - B&W cm8, Cabasse Java, Focal Aria 926,

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by wayden, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. wayden

    wayden
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    I somehow seem to be infected by this hobby, that I am continually looking for better sound that I can afford at a certain price (Meaning for as little as possible;)).

    I have had previosly
    1. Quadral Surround Aluminium
    2. Kef KHT 2005.2
    3. Kef IQ1, IQ2c
    4. Kef XQ40, IQ60C

    Since last year I have had The Elipson Planet L as fronts, 2 X Sumiko S5 subs and Planet M surrounds
    Over the last week I have had to chance to listen to the following speakers unfortunately only in stereo.
    Please keep in mind that this is only my opinion.

    1. B&W cm8
    Sounded only OK. There was no wow effect. It was a bit too laid back for my taste.
    I kept waiting to be floored but it never came.

    2. B&W cm6 S2
    This is a bookshelf with the separate tweeter on top of the box.
    I heard no big difference between the CM6 and the CM8, apart from the CM8 having more bass.
    Still was not impressed. Listening to music, the voices just were not present enough.

    3. Dali Opticon 6
    This was more refined sound. The voices were much more present.
    The sound stage was pretty good. I was impressed.

    4. Dali Rubicon 2 (Bookshelf)
    This was also good. But considering this is from the higher serious, I though this would be
    totally superior to the Opticon 6. It was not. I still would go for the Opticon 6.
    It is a floor standing speaker so more volume and I still preferred the hybrid tweeter on it.

    5. Focal Aria 926
    The last I had listened to a focal speaker was about 4 years ago at the Munich Highend.
    It was one of those huge boxes that costs quadrillion dollars. It was good, sure.
    Anyways on to the 926.
    It was good, very very good.The sound imaging was good, the voices just as good as the Opticon 6.
    But the presence was good, the bass was better. Furthermore, the build quality of the speakers were far
    superior to the Opticon 6. For those of us with wives, I am sure you all know why this is important.

    I am yet to have a listen to the Cabasse Java MC40s and the Monitor Audio gold.
    Will probably do that tomorrow. The Monitor audio is over my budget though.

    As of this time the Focal 926 is at the top of the list. I also have a dealer in Holland who gives some of the best
    discounts I have seen, making the focal 926 cost the same as the Opticon 6 retail price. He also offered a crazy discount on the Opticon 6 as well.
    More to come. If you have any recommendations then please share.

    I have attached a pic of my present setup
     

    Attached Files:

  2. wayden

    wayden
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    80CEA065-F14B-4F0C-AFEA-A9A6B9BD1452.JPG
    Dali Rubicon Bookshelf and Opticon 6 Floorstanders
    A0CA9898-0C27-4F1D-ACB6-21FD5AA068F7.JPG

    The Focal Aria 926 and the Opticon 6
     
  3. wayden

    wayden
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    Hi KC,
    Those speakers would definitely not pass WAF.

    Cheers,
    Wayden
     
  4. DodgeTheViper

    DodgeTheViper
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    Have you considered any models from PMC ?
     
  5. wayden

    wayden
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    Hi Dodge,
    no I have not. Is there anything I should look at?

    Thanks,
    Wayden
     
  6. wayden

    wayden
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    So yesterday I made an appointment at the dealer to listen to some speakers.
    Below are my observations:-

    1. Cabasse Bora - This must be the biggest bookshelf speaker I have ever seen.
    They are also not cheap at 2 thousand euros per pair.
    The Sound. - Bass was good. The sound was very laid back. Not as laid back as the BW cm8 though

    2. QAcoustics Concept 40 - For the money, they are good very good.The treble is not the smoothest
    but still is a lot of fun to listen to.

    3. T+A Pulsar ST20- Wow, these are small floor standers. They are good. A lot of bass, voice production was good. price 2900 Euros per pair. Unfortunately there is no matching centre. If I was only looking for Stereo, these would be on the list.

    4. Canton Reference K9 Bookshelf - Must admit, I am not a fan of canton. But these boxes are good.
    Really enjoyable sound. Expensive though. Over 2000 euros for the pair. Was really surprised by the sound and the price.

    The QAcoustics Concept 40
    IMG_1767.JPG

    The Canton Reference 9K on the left with the Cabasse Bora on the right(it is huge)
    IMG_2737 2.JPG

    T+a Pulsar ST20
    IMG_6395.JPG

    Just spoke to my father-in-law who happens to be a fan of Gauder Akustik formerly Isophon, we will arrange a demo of the Arcona series as well. I often myself if more expensive means better? After all you get what you pay for, right? But then we have brands like XTZ,BK subwoofers etc that are proving that expensive is not always better.

    More to come.

    Cheers,
    Wayden
     

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  7. wayden

    wayden
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    So took some time today to compare my so far favourite the Focal Aria 926 with something decidedly upmarket ... The B&W 804 D3.

    IMG_4769 2.JPG

    On the outside is the 804 and on the inside is the Aria 926. As can be seen it was stereo demo.
    I used the following tracks:-
    1. Dire Straits - Money for nothing
    2. Michael Jackson - Human Nature
    3. Some other CDs the shop had available

    I really like the Focal 926, however, it was not close at all. For those of us, who are always looking to find the super deal- hoping to get "almost as good" for very little money, will be disappointed here. The Diamond tweeters are on another level, the mid range was good, the bass was deep and controlled. The 926 basses clearly not so defined, felt a little muddy for lack of a better word. The 804s are really very good.
    At 9000 Euros a pair, the question is are the really worth it. I can have the 926 in white for about 1700 Euros for the pair. This is a 7300 :(Euros price difference. OK without a discount the 926 would cost 2300 Euros in white. BUT MY GOSH 9000 Euros a pair.
    How does someone tell his wife, he is going to spend 9000 Euros on a pair of speakers? I can already see my wife helping the doctors to put me in a straight suit.

    But even more important, after hearing the B&W 804 D3 will I still be satisfied with the Focal 926 or will I already be plotting my next upgrade down the road? The Focal is speaker where I think someone can buy, keep for awhile and sell again when something new and better comes along.
    How many speakers have I bought and sold over the last 10 years. My Kef XQ40 lasted the longest, all of 5 years.
    The 804 D3, after spending 9000 Euros would you sell them in another 2 or 3 years? Or would these be keepers? I think it only makes sense if it is the latter.

    Another point, the Centre for the B&W 800 series is Huge, the dealer recommended using the CM Centre instead. The Focal CC900 Centre is big but not as big.
    With the purchase of the 800 series, you also get home delivery and setup in your room.
    Well, I was thinking for the price they could have also included Dinner and an his /her Spa day.

    Things to think about. I just love this hobby. Am I willing to spend 9000 euros on speakers or better will my wife give me permission to buy these speakers or will I still have a wife if I buy these speakers without ....ahem.. consulting with her first.

    I am nowhere close to making a decision. Will also give a listen to Gauder Akustik formerly called Isophon, Phonar speakers and the Dali Rubicon and Epicon speakers.

    More to come.
    Cheers,
    Wayden
     
  8. wayden

    wayden
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    Hi KC,

    I am thinking about floor standers and I don't think they would be pleasing to the eyes of the Mrs. ;)
     
  9. wayden

    wayden
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    So it has been awhile, but here to give another update.
    On my recent trip to France I took the opportunity to listen again to the Focal 926 and the Dali Rubicon 6. The amplifier was a Rotel. The CD I listened to was Liquid Spirit by Gregory Porter.
    The dealer did not offer any advice only setup the equipment and listed.
    Up first was the focal 926. Sound was good. There was enough bass. I was actually satisfied.
    Then came the Rubicon 6- Well. The voice projection was so much better, very good sound.
    Probably not a fair comparison as the 926 Cost 2000 Euros compared to over 3000 for the Rubicons.
    In isolation I think I would have been happy with the Focal 926. Maybe I should have just bought it the first time I heard it and not listen to anything else.

    Since then, I have spoken to several dealers and I have also received the following suggestions
    1. Triangle Signature Delta - 5000 Euros per pair
    2. Triangle Gaia - 2000 euros per pair
    3. Scansonic HD -MB 2.5 - 2000 euros pair from a dealer in Denmark shipped to Munich
    4. Sonus Faber Venere 2.5 - 2200 euros per pair
    5. Monitor Audio Gold 200 - 3600 Euros per pair
    6. Cabasse Java MC40

    Yesterday, I had the opportunity to listen to Cabasse and the Monitor Audio Gold 200.
    IMG_1677.jpg

    Monitor Audio Gold 200
    -
    Pros
    1. Small and well built very high WAF
    2. For the size a lot of bass
    3. Ribbon tweeter was not nerving. No noticeable "SSS" heard
    4. Very Nice sound

    Cons
    1. Bass was not very "clean"
    2. Rear Port, placement close to back wall may be an issue
    3. Price almost 4000 euros for a pair

    IMG_1678.jpg
    Cabasse Java MC40

    Pros
    1. Nice build quality
    2. Very clean sound
    3. Very involving. Places you inside the music
    3. Very realistic sounding. Room Filling
    4. Bottom ported, placement close to wall may not be an issue
    5. Price 1900 for the pair in white

    Cons
    1. Big, wife may not be happy
    2. Not a lot of bass
    3. Not very popular in Germany, may take long to be sold used

    Both speakers are good but also have different sounds.
    In the end the Cabasse sound was more to my liking.
    I am not saying better as sound is very subjective.
    I like how the voices projected into the room.

    So at this time until I listen to the rest of the speakers my current list is
    1. BW 804 D3- would buy if I won the lotto otherwise not very realistic
    2.Dali Rubicon - seems to be a good speaker but comes at a price
    3. Cabasse Java - seems to be good but not perfect. Worth considering at this price point.
     
  10. wayden

    wayden
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    I also listened to the Piega Premium 3.2.
    I am not sure if it was worth the price.
    Sound was good but I kept thinking I am paying more for the aluminium.

    Wayden
     
  11. ashenfie

    ashenfie
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    As always it personal taste and I think you have go to be careful when listening. I have focal 906 in sub/sat config and I have head the 926/936 and the 936 hits the hot spot for me for a full range speaker.

    I would myself short list
    B&W 8 Series
    Focal 936
    Kef 700
    Dali Rubicon 8
    Monitor Audio Server 8
    Sonus Faber Venere 2.5

    These are all speaker i've head and like. Regarding listening shoot outs. Great car must be taken with sound level and positioning. Partially care should be taken with Dali as the quite forward at the top which can trick you into thinking they have more detail, that other speakers in a group test. Focal Aria are quite lay back in the lop end and that can effect judgement too.

    For Sonus must be seen in the skin if nothing else as no photo do them justice. Ultimately Id be happy with any of these in my room.
     
  12. wayden

    wayden
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    -------------------------------------------------------
    Hi Ashenfie,

    when I compared the focal 926 with the Rubicon 6, was on the same gear, in the same room with the volume unadjusted. I really liked the 926 as I said above but to my ears the Rubicon 6 sounded better.Once again it is only my opinion as sound is very subjective.
    What I find to be great can be awful to someone else.
    It was also the same when I compare the 926 with the BW 804 D3, yes a bit unfair but I found the bass on the 804 to be a bit more controlled.

    I am trying not to rush as I am hoping not to buy any more speakers in a long time.
    The first time I compared the 926 with the Opticon 6 and Rubicon 2. Same room, same levels and same equipment. To my ears was the 926 better.

    As this will be in my living room not only should the speakers sound good and look good but they should also not be too big either and not be too expensive, 2000 to 2500 Euro budget per pair.
    I am really looking forward to listening the other speakers.
    Because of my wife I have now added the Rubicon LCR as an alternative.

    I welcome any advice and suggestions.

    Cheers,
    Wayden
     
  13. ashenfie

    ashenfie
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    As always trust your own ears, not all hearing is the same !

    I heard them in the same room, though not the same amp. It maybe my ears of cause and Ive always noticed I centre towards good midrange rather the very top end.

    As always if you consider it sounds better, then thats the one to go for.
     
  14. newbie1

    newbie1
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    +1 for this!

    Did you decide yet?

    It's a few years ago when I was choosing and went for piega. Initially the predecessor of the 3.2 for the living room which was a huge step up from what we had before.
     
  15. wayden

    wayden
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    Yes I have chosen, but was due to several reasons.
     
  16. wayden

    wayden
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    Final Update. I have purchased speakers.

    I had initially started out with a Budget of 2000 Euros.
    However, I have reduced this to 1000 Euros or as close as possible to.
    Why?
    I change speakers every couple of years.
    I have been trying to sell my Elipson Speakers for months and people are not interested.
    This has to do with the fact that Elipson are not very popular in Germany at all.
    Therefore, I have placed additional importance of the ease of selling.

    In the end I auditioned again the following speakers

    1. Dynaudio X 34
    2. Cabasse Java MC40
    3. Focal Aria 926
    4. B&W 683 S2
    5. Cabasse Jersey
    6. Kef Q750

    Dynaudio X34 and B&W 683 S2. Speakers were very similar to my ears. 683 had a bit more bass.
    Considering the X34 cost 2100 Euros, I could not justify the cost.
    IMG_1717.JPG

    B&W 683 S2 and Focal Aria 926 - Speaker very similar with Bass. Top end very different. B&W was laid back in comparison to the 926. The focal tweeter was very present. Gave the illusion of a very wide stage. Hmmm? 683 cost 1200 Euros. The 926 1800 Euros. I decided there on the 926.
    About 10 minutes later I was still in the shop and someone started to play some music.
    The sound was good, it grabbed my attention. I went back to ask what speaker it was ... It was the B&W 683. There is a lesson here to be had. More later...

    IMG_1720.JPG

    Kef Q750 in Black and Cabasse MC40 Black. I was not impressed by the Q750 ... moving on.
    The Cabasse was actually pretty good, but the price is 1800 Euros.
    IMG_1722.JPG

    After hearing someone else playing music in the shop, and finding it was the 683 and being impressed, I realised that most of these speakers are pretty good. We spend so much time comparing all these speakers that at times we end up confusing ourselves. Meaning on its own the 926 , the 683, the cabasse and the dynaudio are all good speakers.

    In the end I purchased the 683 S2. Not that it is better but because it gave me a pleasing sound for the money I wanted to spend.
     
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  17. DodgeTheViper

    DodgeTheViper
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    Hi Wayden,

    You certainly put yourself through the paces and give yourself a real challenge.

    Congratulations on your new purchase. May you be happy with them for the next few years 'at least' ;)
     
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  18. wayden

    wayden
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    Thanks Dodge.
    The whole process took almost 4 months. I really learnt alot about auditioning speakers and the importance of realising what is important to me and sticking to it.

    Have you bought new equipment in the meantime?

    Wayden
     
  19. DodgeTheViper

    DodgeTheViper
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    I congratulate you for taking your time with the demos and putting into perspective what is important to you. As you say, it's you that matters.

    Have I bought new stuff ? Always :D
     
  20. newbie1

    newbie1
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    Hi Wayden, thanks for sharing results of your selection process. Very useful. I've managed to keep our speaker collection stable for a few years now....probably as I moved into photography :). For the speakers once we narrowed it down the shop brought a selection to our place and set them up so they could switch between while we listened. We picked the ones that sounded the best that we could distinguish. I.e. there were more expensive ones but our ears couldn't hear the difference.
     
  21. joner7777

    joner7777
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    Same process I went through.
    I have only had KEF home theater reference series which I bought new in 2000.
    Now pared up with a Denon avr x1200w they sound good but...
    I keep reading reviews so went of to local sevenoaks shop to listen to a Monitor Bronze 5 set up.
    They used a expensive Arcam avr but even though 17 years of speaker tech has passed .mine still sounded better.
    Best thing I learnt though was how a 7.1 atmos should be set up, I relied on Auddesy only not my ears to set mine up now it's really alive[emoji106]
    Think I'll just be happy with what i got...maybe just a bigger/better Denon [emoji2]
     

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