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What speakers to get (soundstage/imaging)

madman1887

Active Member
Hi, I am looking to upgrade my speakers from Monitor Audio BX2s to something better. In mind, I have two speakers; the GX100s and the B&W CM8s. I will be using an Arcam system; I like the 'laid back', 'put me to sleep' sort of sound that don't attack too much.

I've heard both of these, and both sounded very good to my ear but I can't really decide yet, might have to go for a second demo. I know this is a bit long winded, but I'd like to know others opinions about these two speakers, I am mainly looking for a speaker that can produce an amazing soundstage and image well, but I also want a good strong bass response. Hearing the CM8s did reveal excellent interment separation, but I'm not too sure about anything else, I think it's aesthetics is developing a bias with me leaning towards them but who says speakers shouldn't look good?! =]

I have heard various KEF speakers and a few more, but I have narrowed my search to these two. I may also be interested in PMC's twenty .21 speakers, but I haven't heard them.

Ideally, not looking to spend more than 1k, and I would prefer a floorstander but I feel the GX100 may be a better quality speaker than the same priced floor standers.

I would appreciate some opinions on these speakers.

Thanks.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
You want to look at your full range of priorities. How big can the speakers be? How much bass do you want? How big is your room?

The B&W CM8 are very clear and detailed speakers, but while they have nice pleasant bass, they are not long on bass. Still good speakers.

The Monitor Audio GX100 are indisputably a good speakers, but they are bookshelf, which mean additional cost for stands. That's purely up to you, but look at the driver size and the bass specs and determine if those meet your needs. For pure music, you don't need ultra-deep bass, but you need it deep enough to suit the type of music you listen to. Though, the GX100 seem pretty good as Bookshelf go; 6.5" bass driver, response down to 42hz, which is likely at -3dB, which means you can subtract another 5 hz bring you down into the 30's (37hz). That's pretty good for a bookshelf.

Next, how much quality to you need? For example, the Dali Ikon 6 is a highly rated floorstanding speaker for about £1000/pr.

Dali Ikon 6 MkII Speakers (Pair) at Audio Affair

Whether it suits your needs, only you can determine.

Even the Dali Lektor 6 might meet your personal taste -

Dali Lektor 6 Speakers (Pair) at Audio Affair

If you are more interested in clarity and presence than bass, then consider the very impressive Focal 807V -

Focal 807 V Stand Mount Speakers (Pair) at Audio Affair

Each speaker brings something different to the table. In terms of sheer quality, I think the GX100 top the list, but they are not big speakers. The Dali Lektor are probably not as stunning in quality, but they are bigger with a lower price. The Dali Ikon are definitely a very nice speaker right at your price point, floorstanding, highly rated. The B&W CM8 are clear and most importantly detailed, every impressive, modest floorstanding, should work well in any room, but they are not a bass dominant speaker. Though those who have them and like then say the bass is fine. It depends on what you are looking for.

Again, focus on your priorities.

In a similar vein to the B&W CM8, consider the Focal 726 floorstanding. Modest in size, not bass heavy, very clear -

Focal 726 V Speakers (Pair) at Audio Affair

Certainly not GX class speakers, but if you like a bit more bass, consider Monitor Audio RX speakers -

Floor Standing Speakers Monitor Audio RX6 | hifix.co.uk

Floor Standing Speakers Monitor Audio RX8 | hifix.co.uk

Impressive speakers, but do they suit your taste and your needs? Only you can know.

Of the two original speakers you picked, I don't think anyone can fault either one, as long as you are aware of what you are getting and have determined that choice meets your needs.

Just a few thoughts to hopefully get the discussion started.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Nick1881

Well-known Member
Have a look at the Kef R300, they image very well indeed with beautiful instrument separation.

I also demo'd the PMC twenty 21 at the same time, using an Arcam A28, I found them to be very detailed but they didn't have the smoothness I was looking for, they also lacked in bass. The R300 blew me away and I fell instantly in love. Give them a try.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
The Kef R300 is certainly a worthy speaker to consider, and right at your price point.

KEF R300 Speakers (Pair) at Audio Affair

Notice that the upper driver is a concentric (Uni-Q) 5" Midrange/tweeter making these 3-way speakers. The lower bass driver is a 6.5" with response down to 42hz at -6dB.

When you see specs at -3dB, that is essentially flat. -6dB is down a trace but is still usable sound. I try to give the -6db or at least estimate of it on all the speakers I reference. That way we are always comparing apples to apples.

In a different vein, let's look at the specs of the B&W CM5 and you will see what I mean about them not being a bass dominant speaker. It has a -3db response of a not very good 69hz, but it rolls off slowly to a pretty reasonable 43hz at -6dB. That's neither good nor bad, it is a simple fact, and you must determine if that meets your needs. Remember those who have and LIKE the CM8 think the bass is just fine.

If you are age 14 bend on annoying your parents and the neighbors, then this is not the speaker for you. However, if you are a sane person who wants detailed music, then perhaps this is right.

If you listen to Jazz, Blues, Folk, or Rock you are unlikely to encounter any fundamental notes below 40hz. If you are into organ, synthesizer, or full orchestra music, then you might need to go deeper depending on what you priorities are and the specific nature of your music.

In floorstanding speakers, I like to get as close to 30hz as I can. I think my current speakers are about 34hz or 35hz at -3dB and 28hz at -6dB as rated by the manufacturer. However, my second set of main speakers are 12" DIY and they are good to roughly 40hz, yet they still sound good for everything I've thrown at them over the years. Generally, in bookshelf speakers if you are around 40hz at -6dB, you are doing pretty good.

In terms if pure quality, I would have to say the GX100 and the Kef R300 top the list. Though, all the speakers mentioned are very good speakers, each in their own way.

Another question, what size is your room, and where in that room will the speakers be placed?

The Dali Ikon 6 are a very present speaker, that is, they tend to reach out to you rather than being a bit more laid back. That can give real presence and life to the music, and floorstanding will do a better job with movies.

But I suspect the absolute clarity of the GX100 and the R300 is indeed impressive.

Best to go out and give a listen to a few just to get a sense of the characteristics of each speaker.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Richy1984

Active Member
What is your budget? I personally think the PMC twenty series blow the KEF R series and MA GX series away with relative ease! However they all give a different type of sound, so it depends what you prefer.

To me the Monitor Audios give great detail to the upper frequencies, but the smaller speakers in the range are a touch harsh. I prefer the gx200s of them all.
The Kefs are full and warm sounding, lots of bass, but for me, they just dont do it. However the R100 is a steal at £600
The PMCs give bags of detail and a cracking soundstage. They are very involving but a little lean in the bass.

Richy
 

madman1887

Active Member
Hello, and thank you for all your replies. I just sold off my BX2s today, so I'm going to need something pretty soon. My brother's HT system currently has the B&W 684s as the fronts, and today he 'should' be picking up a pair of CM8s as an upgrade. He should let me use his 684s for a bit, until I decide what I really want, so I have something for the mean time.

Ultimately, my budget can extend to a maximum of around £900. I am happy to buy new or used/ex-demo.

I went with my brother yesterday to a guys house to buy the CM8s for his HT, but unfortunately the tweeter was poked in the last second, so he should be replacing it today. He let me hear a few songs, and I must say, I don't find the bass lacking at all on the CM8s. He had Cyrus electronics.

I am particularly interested in the B&W CM5 speakers now, and if I can manage to find a good deal, I'll take them, too bad I can't find any deals on them though. I've heard the CM5s before, but I may need to hear them again. After hearing the CM8s, I'm sure the CM5s would be enough for my room, in terms of bass.

I've heard the KEF 'R' series of speakers, and I don't really like them to be honest, they didn't really sound relaxed, like I want my system to sound like. I've never heard any PMC speakers, particularly because I can't afford brand new.

The type of music I like does vary, but I want a system that can excel in blues/pop/jazz music. Some artists:
Adele
Angus and Julia Stone
Charli XCX
Guards
Imogen Heap
Joanne Shaw Taylor
Keiko Matsui
The Neighborhood
She and Him

I'd always listen to quite a bit of mainstream music, but not too concerned about the quality of that since it usually is recorded terribly anyway, just some R&B mainstream pop and club/dance music. I have a custom subwoofer that I connect when i'm in the 'party mood', but I mainly want a system that has a relaxed sound.

I have the Arcam A85, and I have an AVR300, so I got a bit of play with that. I only intend to use these speakers for music though, with the source being my computer.

Also:

In a different vein, let's look at the specs of the B&W CM5 and you will see what I mean about them not being a bass dominant speaker. It has a -3db response of a not very good 69hz, but it rolls off slowly to a pretty reasonable 43hz at -6dB. That's neither good nor bad, it is a simple fact, and you must determine if that meets your needs. Remember those who have and LIKE the CM8 think the bass is just fine.

Were you actually referring to the CM5 or was it a typo of CM8?

At this particular moment, my eyes do seem to be set on the CM5s, but I'm still not definite.


I also did consider the B&W CM1 speakers, but I thought that I would prefer the CM5s since they would give a more 'bigger' sound and soundstage/image better? To be honest, I think many speakers can image well, but soundstage is very hard to achieve.


My room measures:
4.8m length x 3.3m width x 2.8m high

My room has a trapezium window bay at the length of one of the sides, where I intend to have my speakers placed on either side. I will have enough space behind the speakers, at least 50cm, if not more.
 

madman1887

Active Member
Hi, anyone know if the Arcam A85 is good enough to feed the Bowers and Wilkins CM5 speakers? Not going to bi-amp yet, but possibly in the future.

Thanks.
 

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