Went to Magnolia tonight and listened to:
- Energy CB10 - $269.00/pr
- Energy CB20 - $369.00/pr
- B&W 686B - $479.00/pr
- B&W 685B - $649.00/pr
The CB10's simply didn't compare. They won't be mentioned again in this review.
The CB20's were a nice speaker, and played louder than any of the B&W. However, I think in their loudness, they lost a lot of clarity. My room is 1/2 the size of the "Studio" Magnolia had set up, so a much louder speaker won't benefit me at all. While this speaker was turned up louder, it got pitchy at times, which is a turnoff.
The 686B's were beautiful. I demoed them using "Chris Botti: Live in Boston" and "John Mayer: Where the Light Is" blu-rays via Denon receiver and Denon blu-ray player. Their size is perfect for what I'm looking for, their voice is clear at all levels, and never once got pitchy. Just a beautiful speaker.
The 685B's were everything the 686's are, but better, and bigger. Unfortunately, due to budget AND size constraints, I don't think the 685's are the best option for me at this point. I truly believe I will never regret the purchase of the 686's.
That said, I told them to let me think about the purchase and Ill let them know. I was told B&W set their prices corporately (similar to Apple) and doesn't let retailers discount them. This got brought up because I had to wait nearly 1 hour before ANYONE in the Magnolia store acknowledged my existence and offered their assistance. Im in Business Development myself, so I know that this is basically unacceptable in this day and age. I'll likely be calling tomorrow to speak with the manager in an effort he's able to do something to retain my business.
All in all, the B&W did not disappoint. Now I just need to decide whether to purchase new, or look used through audiogon, ebay, etc. for a slightly older setup that might be better.