Author Topic: Bowers & Wilkins Speakers (REAL) owner's thread - tips and info  (Read 159833 times)

Online petetherock

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I don't work for Bowers & Wilkins.
I own Bowers & Wilkins Speakers, and have used their speakers, ranging from the 3, 6 and now the 8xx series.

I see a need for a forum where owners can ask questions, post info and & tips without ads.

Owners and potential owners can feel free to post here or the ol' forum.

I will make this thread similar to the MA and Dynaudio thread where owners, buyers and past owners can feel free to post. I freely and openly support brands that I own, and I have no qualms letting others know my own preferences and bias, so feel free to take my posts with a pinch of salt.


Dealers can contribute their feedback and share info, but advertisements alone are best posted elsewhere.

Cheers
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Online petetherock

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Re: Bowers & Wilkins Speakers (REAL) owner's thread - tips and info
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2010, 13:10 »
Review of the B & W 805S



Equipment used



Onkyo AVR 906

Marantz SR 12 s1



QED XT 300



Marantz SA 8003





I have been toying with an upgrade to my Monitor Audio GS 10 speakers for a while. Even though I was not actively looking very hard, I have listened to setups in friends’ homes, looking for a sound I liked.



One good friend had just upgraded his system and one of his purchases was the B & W 805s, which was driven by his Onkyo AVR amp. A short audition later, it was sufficiently enthralling to burn a certain sonic signature into my mind...



In short, the sound was mildly warm, clear and precise, yet a sound that was accurate without being too forceful or fatiguing. It was something you can listen to for a wide variety of music for hours without tiring. The theme was an involving neutrality. There was detail in the music, separation and depth, but it was not the technical bits, but the sum total which got me hooked.



And then there was the bass... in a small room, you would not want anything bigger, such was the weight underpinning the bass that you would be happy with the kind of sound and impact in the bass. There was weight and the 805 was punching beyond what you would expect a small 6.5 inch cone to do.


But the trouble was it cost more than twice my GS 10, so the thought was placed in cold storage. Actually my first positive encounter with the brand was way back when I saw the CDM NT1, with its then unique tweeter on a sloping top surface of the speaker box, the real wood veneer and of course an impressive sound for such a small speaker.



I also tried the Usher BE 718, X 718, but it was not as impressive as I imagined, given all the press and reviews. Other speakers can and went until a mail one day with a pair of 805s on a special price I could not refuse. I packed them home, and viola, I have a pair of 805s in rosenut in my HT room, adding to the already crowded room.

But if you score the BE 718 at the ROC prices, then it is a fine deal.

I have them on Atacama stands connected with QED XT tube 300 wires to my Marantz SR 12 S1 fed by my Marantz SA 8003 SACD player.

Day 2 of the 805s

The sound seems fuller and more dynamic now, and there is a certain rightness about the sound, quite simply all the elements of music familiar to me all hang together quite well. No doubt a real floorstander will give more bass, but in my confined environs, I do not really miss much. Compared to the GS 10, there is more detail in each part of the frequency spectrum, and in particular the mid is liquid and smooth, without obliterating detail.

I think the use of silver cables and a more incisive CD player might help, but even now, with music player off an Ipod, it is still enjoyable and fun. Soundstaging is impressive with layers and depth as well as stability. However even though this speaker is touted for the smaller room, in my opinion, at least a 3 by 5m room with at least 2m or more separation in between the speakers, and shorter stands of around 600- 620mm will be best.

I had the same amp and cd player drive the 805s in my room treated HT room, and apart from the trial of the Audio Magic and the anti-cables, the key difference was swopping the listening area.

As any guru of bass or room treatment will tell you, and I totally agree, before all the fancy cables, conditioners etc, the thing which makes a very significant difference is the room.

In a large room of 8 by 5m, the 805s were allowed to breath and the results are highly satisfactory. In the HT room there is detail, but no dynamics and since I was using the Xindak it was also a safe sound. I felt dissapointed at my purchase.

But when allowed to sit in a more open space, about 60-70cm from the rear wall, the front ported 805s feel more alive and the details and dynamics are superior to what I hear in the HT room and even in the showroom.

The 805s offers detail, but remains just a tad on the warm side of things, so do not opt for too polite a set of partnering equipment. It does well with simpler music, and there is lots of detail retrieval and soundstage. But if large scale orchestral pieces form the mainstay of your listening diet, a floorstander with more drivers may suit better.

Even so, there is still scale and bass which belies the small single mid-range cone and with the same demo discs we used in some of the shootouts, you would not believe this is a bookshelf speaker. Its forte is imaging, which is stable and detail without a technical harshness.

Some final thoughts:

The clarity is well, clear, the mids are well defined, and there is copious bass, which is still fast and yet is able to plunge the depths.

It reminds me of a pair of Totem Arros on the end of 30k of amps. But with a good soundstage that has the singer placed in the centre, slightly behind the speakers, and there is good separation.

A large orchestra is probably it's main Achilles heel, as the 802D will still be better, but it is not shabby and on good stands, the soundstage is clear, and will better many cheaper floorstanders.

With each improvement though, the problem is this setup is revealing enough to show up the changes, and hence will entice you to give it better components.

This speaker has made my nights more enjoyable, but one main factor is the migration of my stereo system out of the small HT room, which allows the 805s to breath more and the lack of room treatment notwithstanding, sing with less impediment.

It still needs about 70cm or so from the read wall and being sited in the centre of the room, away from side walls helps, and I am seated about 3m away, which again allows enough space for a coherent sonic portrait.

Great separation and detail, without being too polite or too sharp either. Balance and most of all endowed with a good PRAT factor for many toe tapping hours of fun!

I can almost 'see the musician in the centre of my room.

For those considering a pair of these, they really deserve the best partnering equipment.

The word is smooth yet revealing. With each upgrade in component, you can hear the difference, which can be a bad thing, since this will lead you to spend more to improve the sound.

Changes in cables, conditioners etc all make a difference.

Avoid those nasty basic AV amps, sure they may have 100w to drive these guys to make some kind of noise, but a good stereo amp or pre-power will make them sing even more.

I would ask the potential buyers to start with something at least 1k and up, and more power helps.

Some amps:

- Roksan Caspian M series
- Audiolab 8000 pre-power
- Krell 300i
- AVI
- Music Fidelity kW 500


IMHO, it will also like the Marantz SA 15 more than my basic SA7001 KI S, or this older model - Musical Fidelity X-Ray CD player



At the time that I was auditioning the 805, I also tried the CM 5 and 7.

The CM 5 was in a glass filled room and coming from the 805, it was a little brighter and with less bass, the bias was towards a leaner mix. However at the end of Arcam electronics, the sound was not bad, and it was a little like listening to the MA GS 10, but it cost more and had less scale.

The CM 7 did have a lower bottom end, but it was a rather polite speaker, and will not shine if used with simple budget electronics. A person moving up from the 6xx series, using his cheap AV amp will not use the CM series to their fullest potential unless they are willing to upgrade more than just the speakers.
Please post instead of sending a pm, so more can learn.

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Offline txv611

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Re: Bowers & Wilkins Speakers (REAL) owner's thread - tips and info
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2010, 16:20 »
Very interested to know how the new B&W sounds like. Had experience only with CDM1 in the past.

Would you accede to a request for a short audition of your system (Not more than 30 mins)?

Thanks

Online petetherock

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Re: Bowers & Wilkins Speakers (REAL) owner's thread - tips and info
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2010, 16:22 »
Post more about yourself, I have a demo this Friday, you are welcome.
PM me your contact, I will let you know my address.

Cheers

Edit:

I have not heard from you, so are you actually keen bro?

Very interested to know how the new B&W sounds like. Had experience only with CDM1 in the past.

Would you accede to a request for a short audition of your system (Not more than 30 mins)?

Thanks
« Last Edit: February 10, 2010, 19:21 by petetherock »
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Offline isplash

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Re: Bowers & Wilkins Speakers (REAL) owner's thread - tips and info
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2010, 18:54 »
Hi guys,

I am sure there are a lot of B&W lovers in this forum. Maybe we can start off by posting our beloved setup here.  :)





« Last Edit: February 11, 2010, 18:58 by isplash »

Online petetherock

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Re: Bowers & Wilkins Speakers (REAL) owner's thread - tips and info
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2010, 19:38 »
Very clean lines isplash... nice... you are about 2+ m from your floorstanders?

Lotsa room treatment, and nicely done...

Cheers
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Offline isplash

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Re: Bowers & Wilkins Speakers (REAL) owner's thread - tips and info
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2010, 20:38 »
Very clean lines isplash... nice... you are about 2+ m from your floorstanders?

Lotsa room treatment, and nicely done...

Cheers

Thanks Pete. You are right : ) I am about 2.5m away. The room size is abt 3x3m.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2010, 20:44 by isplash »

Online Bongteo

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Re: Bowers & Wilkins Speakers (REAL) owner's thread - tips and info
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2010, 20:44 »
Isplash, i like ur whole package alot :) 2 thumbs up
HT setup : Epson TW6100 / Emotiva XMC-1 / Simaudio 700i / Emotiva XPA-5 G2 / Oppo BDT-101CI / PSB Synchrony 1 with Crystal cable Standard ic & sc / PSB Synchrony 1c with Nordost Frey ic & Crystal cable Piccolo sc / PSB image B15 with Nordost Red Dawn xlr & Kimber 4tc sc / Rythmik F12 with Nordost Frey ic / Sine SA-6 ME Distributor & Iego & Sine pc / Guizhu Rack

Stereo Setup : MBL 1511E / Cystal Cable Reference IC >> Simaudio 700i

Head-Fi : Hifiman 400i / Chord Mojo

Online petetherock

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Re: Bowers & Wilkins Speakers (REAL) owner's thread - tips and info
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2010, 20:57 »
You will want to watch out for phase coherence....since you are sitting quite close to a 3 way floorstander..the bass and the treble may not reach your seat at the same time.

And I am sure you took into account the squareness of your room during all your room treatment and acoustics planning, which will bump up the 50-60Hz region...

Thanks Pete. You are right : ) I am about 2.5m away. The room size is abt 3x3m.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2010, 22:27 by petetherock »
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Offline DanDon

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Re: Bowers & Wilkins Speakers (REAL) owner's thread - tips and info
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2010, 21:00 »
Nice set-up there, isplash  ;)

A lot of diffusers, bass traps and an adjustable bass trap. The sound must be awesome.  :P

Offline isplash

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Re: Bowers & Wilkins Speakers (REAL) owner's thread - tips and info
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2010, 21:33 »
You will want to watch out for phase coherence....

And I am sure you took into account the squareness of your room during all your room treatment and acoustics planning, which will bump up the 50-60Hz region...


There was a peak around 51Hz initially but manage to smooth off using bass traps. (behind the speakers and adjustable bass trap) Though the room may not be perfect but with the treatment it still sound decent with a floorstander in it.

Thanks Bongteo and DanDon : )
« Last Edit: February 11, 2010, 22:16 by isplash »

Online petetherock

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Toe-in
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2010, 08:09 »
B/W owners out there, do you toe-in?

I found that the 6xx & 8xx series both benefit from a little toe in such that the tweeter points to the ear on the same side.

Cheers
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Offline crazysurfer

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Re: Toe-in
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2010, 10:14 »
B/W owners out there, do you toe-in?

I found that the 6xx & 8xx series both benefit from a little toe in such that the tweeter points to the ear on the same side.

Cheers

Yup, that is also how my 803S is currently positioned; toe-in with tweeters pointing towards the same ear. It helps to lock-in the imaging.

Online petetherock

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684 review
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2010, 06:51 »
http://www.soundstage.com/equipment/bw_684.htm

It mentioned a hot treble?

Quote
However, there were times when the 684’s high-frequency reproduction seemed a bit hot, as on Sunny Sumter’s cover of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s "Day Dream," on Sunny (CD, Mapleshade 5932). As I listened to this track, there were moments when Sumter’s voice exposed the limits of the 684’s 1" aluminum tweeter -- even at moderate listening levels, the highs were a little overbearing. B&Ws have the reputation for being ruthlessly revealing in the highs, and with this recording the 684s revealed that characteristic.

Quote
Conclusion

The B&W 684 was a treat to have in my system. It was nice to have a well-designed, very affordable speaker on hand to deflate my speaker snobbery. The speaker’s performance as a whole surprised me, and the detailed smoothness of its midrange wowed me. I enjoyed listening to my music through the 684s, and appreciated their honest reproduction of each track. While the 684 will need the aid of a subwoofer to be truly full-range, its mid-40Hz output was good enough for most recordings out there. It was easy to drive, as hinted at by its 90dB sensitivity, so pairing it with a good receiver or multichannel amplifier should be easy.

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