Help with speakers: B&W or KEF or...?*

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by 4011021, Jun 5, 2018.

  1. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    I'm moving my current 1996 B&W CDM-1 to my bedroom and want new speakers for the living.

    System: Pioneer PLX-1000 with Ortofon 2M Black > Parasound JC3+ > Parasound Halo Integrated.
    Digital: laptop connected to the Halo (maybe better DAC in the future if I feel the need).

    I usually listen in low to mid volume. Sometimes I crank it up.

    Imagine a living room 5m x 6m (16 x 20 ft), front wall is the smaller, with an adjacent dining room 4,5m x 4,5m (15 x 15 ft) in the right (looking from the listening chair), so I don't have a right wall, only a small wall that comes from front wall until the dining room begins (like an "L" shape). The living room where the system is located is 16 x 20 ft but I don't have a wall in the right, so front wall is 5m (16ft) but the back wall is 9m (30 ft). I hope you can figure out. Ceiling is about 2,5m (8 ft).

    I auditioned B&W 683 s2, 704 s2, 804 D3 and 800 D3.

    800 is the best but too expensive. No way.

    I thought that the 704 was much better than the 683. The 804 was audibly better than the 704 but not that much. I ended up thinking that the 704 was much cheaper and almost as good as the 804 so this would be my choice among these B&W.

    While I was doing some research I found this and maybe it describes my experience with the B&W:

    While I didn’t review the R500, Doug Schneider did, I currently own R700s, and previously owned R900s, so I’m very familiar with KEF’s R series.

    I always hesitate when I’m asked about which of two speakers is “better.” As always, what’s better for one person might be terrible for another, so it’s all relative to each listener’s sonic preferences. That said, the R500 was chosen as one of our Recommended Reference Components for a reason. As you can see from the measurements that accompany the R500 review, it’s a very well-designed, neutral transducer. If you’re into a neutral sound, with no part of a musical performance over- or under-emphasized, then I’m not sure you can do much better for the price than the R500. But -- and this is a substantial but -- if you prefer an exciting sound, one where instruments sound ultra-vibrant, voices pop from recordings, and recording spaces sound cavernous, then the 704 S2 is absolutely worth considering. If you take a look at the 704’s accompanying measurements, particularly the “Listening Window” chart, you’ll see that the 704 S2’s averaged frequency response peaks at 1kHz, and then again at 4kHz and 9kHz. Those peaks (and corresponding troughs) aren’t inherently a bad thing -- there's a reason so many people like messing with an equalizer when listening to music -- but they’re absolutely audible, and you should be well aware of that approaching a potential purchase. My strong suggestion would be to listen to a pair of 704 S2s in person. I suspect that you’ll hear much of what I did during my review process. As for whether or not you’ll like what you hear -- only you can decide that. . . . Hans Wetzel

    SoundStage! Access | SoundStageAccess.com (GoodSound.com) - Bowers & Wilkins 704 S2 vs. KEF R500

    I can't audition but can buy online here the KEF R500 and R700.

    What do you think? Does that make sense? How would these speakers compare?
     
  2. Doc Diego

    Doc Diego Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Nevada
    I got a chance to audition the R500’s at CES a few years ago, thought they were great and the description above nails them, very neutral. I haven’t auditioned this particular model from B&W, but what’s stated above and the What HiFi review would make me choose the KEFs.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  3. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    Assuming you run no sub, my feeling having listened to a number of speakers lately is that twin 6.5s are much better than twin 5s as the bass is less strained. I especially felt that to be true of those KEFs. I'm a longtime KEF admirer, but lately I found the Monitor Audio Silver 300s ($2k) and especially the Focal 936s ($4k) much more to my liking. Now, can you get those in Brazil?

    On the one hand, I think if you liked the B&W 704 S2s you should get those. Speakers are SO personal, it would be a shame to order KEFs and not like them, unless the return policy and shipping costs are very easy. On the other hand, those only have twin 5s...so I'd suggest the 703 or even 702 whose sonic character should be very similar, but with better bass presence.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  4. Dhreview16

    Dhreview16 Forum Resident

    Location:
    London UK
    You won't go wrong with either B&W, KEF, Monitor Audio (or Focal) at those price points. But they do sound different. So buy what you can hear, and like.
     
    Art K, Bananas&blow and 4011021 like this.
  5. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    Maybe B&W has some signature sound (those peaks in some frequencies) that I already experience with the CDM-1 and got used to and that's what I liked the 704?
     
  6. TerpStation

    TerpStation Forum Resident

    Location:
    washington, dc
    I have had a pair of b&w cdm7nt in my house for 15 years or so. Good speakers, they are in my office system now. I have a pair of Tekton Electrons as my main speakers in my den system. However, because i got a great deal and i was curious after reading all the rave reviews over the years, i recently picked up a pair of used Goldenear Triton 2s. Not saying they are replacing my Tektons, but they are really good speakers and i would encourage you to audition something in the Goldenear Triton line as someone familiar with b&w.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  7. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southern US
    I found the R500 too polite/soft, but that may be another mans treasure.
    May have been the source which I think was Integra or Parasound I don’t remember. Beautiful looking speaker though.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  8. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    Yes I can. Brand new Monitor Audio Silver 300 and 500 and Focal 936 all available to buy online. I also found a used Focal 936 for sale in a town nearby. I just sent messages to some sellers. Thanks!
     
    Dan Steely and mike catucci like this.
  9. GyroSE

    GyroSE Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sweden
    Why don't you go for used B&W 804 speakers? I believe you can get a good deal if you can find a pair of these in great condition.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  10. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southern US
    I have and love Focals, they take FOREVER to break in ( and it’s real) but well worth it.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  11. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    My experience with these brands (being driven by the Halo Integrated) from mellow/warm to forward/bright was this:

    KEF > Monitor Audio > B&W/Focal > Golden Ear.

    That was with KEF R500s, MA Silver 8s, B&W CM9s, Focal Aria 936s and GE Triton 1s. These were all auditioned with the Halo I owned at the time but not all in the same room.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  12. mike catucci

    mike catucci Forum Resident

    Location:
    PA
    Another vote for the Focal 936. I would have recommended them even if they needed to be shipped. The fact you can get them local makes them even more of a no brainer.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  13. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Try as many different 'house sounds' as you can. B&W is fine, but just one option. Their will probably be others that appeal even more once you get to hear them. Focal, KEF, MA, Harbeth, Tannoy, Audio Physic, Totem, Audio Note, are some of the must hears in my opinion. Sure I am leaving out a couple more.

    I have a special thing with Tannoy DC and with Audio Physic. Very different approaches to sound reproduction. Tannoy DC because it is a big, visceral, woody sound. AP because of their refinement, speed, and 3D imaging.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  14. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    The Monitor 300s' only fault is they are not 936s ha ha. I hope you can check out those Focals, and good luck!
     
    4011021 likes this.
  15. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    Seems like B&W 704 is the only one I'll be able to hear in my system. The dealer will bring them here in a few days.
     
    Doc Diego likes this.
  16. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Do you have Revel available in your area? They're definitely worth an audition if you like the B&W sound.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  17. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    I'll check it out, thanks.
     
  18. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    Hi guys, I have a question.

    Today the dealer will bring B&W 704 s2 so I can hear them in my own room. Given this facility, I'm pretty much decided to buy the 704 s2 if I like it here because it's the only one I can hear before buying. Seems safe. The same dealer also sells 703 but doesn't have them available for demonstration. Actually he has the whole 600, 700 and 800 series but I dislike the 600 and the 800 is too much for me.

    I suppose that if I like the 704 I'll like the 703 even better, so to buy the 703 without listening would be safe too. The differences in specs between 703 and 704 are as follows:

    703 s2

    Drive units

    1x ø25mm (1 in) Decoupled Carbon Dome high-frequency
    1x ø150mm (6 in) Continuum cone FST midrange
    2x ø165mm (6.5 in) Aerofoil profile bass
    Frequency range
    -6dB at 30Hz and 33kHz
    Frequency response
    46Hz - 28kHz ±3dB
    Sensitivity
    89dB spl (2.83Vrms, 1m)
    Harmonic distortion
    2nd and 3rd harmonics (90dB, 1m)
    <1% 90Hz - 22kHz
    <0.5% 120Hz - 20kHz
    Nominal impedance
    8Ω (minimum 3.1Ω)
    Recommended amplifier power
    30W - 200W into 8Ω on unclipped programme

    704 s2
    Drive units

    1x ø25mm (1 in) Decoupled Carbon Dome high-frequency
    1x ø130mm (5 in) Continuum cone FST midrange
    2x ø130mm (5 in) Aerofoil profile bass
    Frequency range
    -6dB at 43Hz and 33kHz
    Frequency response
    48Hz - 28kHz ±3dB
    Sensitivity
    88dB spl (2.83Vrms, 1m)
    Harmonic distortion
    2nd and 3rd harmonics (90dB, 1m)
    <1% 100Hz - 22kHz
    <0.5% 300Hz - 20kHz
    Nominal impedance
    8Ω (minimum 3.1Ω)
    Recommended amplifier power
    30W - 150W into 8Ω on unclipped programme

    Tweeters are the same but midrange and bass drivers are bigger in the 703. This gives the 703 a much larger frequency range in the lower frequencies (30Hz vs. 43Hz). However, frequency response is not so different (46Hz vs. 48Hz ±3dB). I'm far from an expert, but I guess this means that the lower frequencies from 46Hz down to 30Hz that the 703 produces would probably sound shy and barely audible at lower volumes. So bass wouldn't differ that much in low to moderate volumes. Does that make sense?

    Also, how important are the differences in sensitivity and harmonic distortion?

    Thanks!
     
  19. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    In any case, whatever the technical similarities, the 703 will be different from the 704. So if it turns out you love the 704, you will have to buy the 704... Your dealer is not a strategic man.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  20. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    I can try the 703 in a different showroom located at a 1h30 drive from here. He offered me to. Maybe I should do that.
     
  21. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    (Sorry, I edited my previous post so now it doesn't match your quote anymore)

    Yes, that would be a good option.

    On the other hand, if you love the 704 in your own room/system, I would not hesitate to go for the 704. Spend the savings on cabling upgrades etc.
     
    4011021 likes this.
  22. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SLEAZY SOUTHAMERICAN CAVEMAN

    Why do I think this is your best option ? You auditioned them and loved them. You are used to the brand's sound and love it. And you only live once. Try and get the 800s.
     
  23. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    It costs over 60K in Brazil. I'm not that rich unfortunately. I'll have to live twice or somewhere else.
     
  24. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SLEAZY SOUTHAMERICAN CAVEMAN

    Oh....Brazil; I get it. It's worse yet in Argentina. I have Klipsch floorstanders; love them yet I'd love to get the top-of the line model (Palladium P-39Fs) but same thing plus I'd have to move to a bigger house:(
     
    4011021 likes this.
  25. 4011021

    4011021 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brazil
    I have tried the B&W 704 s2 at home with the system described in the OP.

    Positive: They deliver a great tridimensional soundstage and great detail. For example I tried Simpathy For The Devil, the opening track from the Rolling Stones' Beggar's Banquet, Brazilian pressing from back in the day. Not only I thought I could hear every detail of every different instruments and vocals but if I closed my eyes and let myself immerse in the music, I could point and almost touch each one of them. Very impressive.

    Negative: Still, I missed some emotion, color and texture. I felt them to be a bit too analytical and pale. Instead of all different instruments to be colorful and vivid, I fell like if I had different tones of the same cool ice/white. Different vocals and horns had too much in common lacking a bit of diversity. Distorted guitars lacked some weight and punch.

    I understand why a lot of people love these speakers, but I still miss something. It's a bit subtle and of course too subjective but it's there and I can't feel completely satisfied.

    I come from older and inferior speakers and maybe it's just the impact of the difference. I'm not sure. I wanted to be blown away but despite all the positive aspects some emotion is absent.

    I'll try it a little more to see if I get used to and end up liking them. Otherwise I'll send them back and try a different direction.
     

Share This Page