Earlier this week I did a quick take on the entire 5 channel Veritas setup (minus the subwoofer). Working at BB, I took advantage of my B & W discount and pulled the trigger on some CM5s to test em out and compare. I refused to listen to them at the god-awful Mag setup. So instead, I brought them to my acoustically treated room.
Anyways, let's start with the goodies of setup:
~~~~Pioneer Elite SC57 Receiver (9 Class D3 Amps, each pumping out 140RMS/channel. With 2 driven I believe I've seen 153/channel, and with 5 driven, it's something like 135. Not bad!
***Veritas 5 channel setup is hooked up via Zone A, while the B & W's are connected through Zone B. Therefore, switching between speakers is a button away!***
~~~~Sony 300 Disc Mega changer CD Player (Helps when you've got 198 CDs! (I don't buy into the fact that a "higher" end CDP reproduces "better" sound. 9/10 times blindfolded, you couldn't tell a difference)
~~~~Sony Playstation 3
~~~~Monster Power Center 1650 (Anything higher end apart from UPS are wastes of money!)
First, let's start with some pictures for any "non believers":http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images...videorack.jpg/http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images...rsveritas.jpg/http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images...veritas2s.jpg/~~~Introduction~~~
When it comes to speakers, I'm not the biggest fan of mainstream stuff. As much as I try to stay away from the big name brands, I've bought some in the past. For instance, I did a Klipsch Icon and Synergy series a year ago. Hated the sound. Tinny, thin mid range, and a muffled bass made these speakers sound poor to me. I then went the Paradigm Studio route, and I liked them at first. After heavy listening for a long period of time, I started to dislike them. They sounded "sterile" to me. There wasn't any depth or presence, just a good thick low/mid end and above average clarity.
So, I went for a few other setups along the way too. Didn't like them. I was gifted a large gift card to Vanns, so I checked their website for their best speakers. I found the KEF Q series (sounded good), and the Energy Veritas series. I demoed the Veritas elsewhere, and loved the crisp clarity and the large soundstage. Pulled the trigger on the 5.2 Center, 6.3 towers, and the 5.2 bookshelves. Loved these! After calibrating them and getting them setup to Reference level, I liked the clear and smooth bass response coupled with a tweeter which didn't shatter my ears when played loud. Still however, it sounded a tad bit sharp when a high voice would ring for a long period of time.
A friend of mine told me about Bowers and Wilkins CM series, and how we sold them at BB Magnolia. I instantly declined not wanting anything to do with them because they were at Mag. I knew we carried B & W's 600 series, but I heard them and hated them. They were messy, flat, and had no depth to them. At that point I didn't want to hear anymore.
However, he convinced me earlier this week to give the higher end CM series a shot. I had a friend with B & W's 800 diamond series, and those were a different story. I had thought if they were anything at all like those I'd be very impressed. So we walked into Magnolia and I purchased the CM5s to start. Again, I didn't want to hear a demo at the store.~~~Review~~~
The Bookshelves were packed just like any other bookshelves you've owned. Soft plastic wrapping with styrofoam. and wrapped grilles. Nothing fancy. However, upon taking the speakers out I noticed their fantastic build quality. They feel solid, and the Gloss Black lacquer is even and shiny. In most cases with mid-range speakers you feel as if your cheated on the finish. In this case that's not the story. Everything about the speaker says "Grade-A" quality. Everything.
In terms of source, I've ONLY demoed 90% music and 10% movies + games, due to only having a 2-channel setup for the CM5s.
The following CDs were used: Norah Jones, Elton John's greatest hits, Sophie Milman's self titled album, and John Mayer's Continuum. Sony 300 disc CD player was used for playback.
To hit brass tax right away: From the moment
I heard the B & W's, my pre-concieved notions were shattered about mainstream mid-end speakers. They are leagues above the Veritas. They offer a depth so monumental, it's unheard of for this price speaker. That's saying a lot coming from someone who is never satisfied or truly impressed from speakers in this level. I was able to get a clear comparison from switching speakers from Zone A to Zone B interchangeably.
The first thing you notice is how completely uncolored they are. Claiming to have a very minimal crossover, B & W claims they are as natural sounding as possible. Funny, because Energy says the same thing about their Veritas. Thing is, they sound completely different.
Earlier on in this review, I mentioned how the 600 series sounded very flat. I also said in my earlier review of the Veritas how they sounded smooth and natural. The CM5's take the best of both worlds and craft it into an ear melting smooth spectrum. They take warmth and grit and blend it into one. The sound is very linear, yet it's so incredibly crisp. They absolutely blow the Veritas away in terms of smoothness and clarity.
The first song I listened to on Mayer's album "Continuum" was Daughters. I usually like listening to this because his voice is smooth and refined, yet can bring out the ability of a speaker's tweeter because it goes octaves higher than a lot of other male singers. Also, it features a great set of instruments which allow me to judge depth and presence very well. These CM5s created a much larger soundstage and presence than I had expected. Turning off the lights I almost forgot they were bookshelves. With that being said, and the SW being turned off, the soundstage almost matched that of the Veritas towers. I sh!t you not.
What do I mean when I mention presence? Presence (in my vocabulary lol) means how you can hear the placement of instruments and vocals. Basically how 3-dimensional is the speaker? I didn't notice how flat the Veritas are in this category until hearing the CM5s. Each string instrument, percussion, brass, or vocal noise that comes out feels as if it's coming from a different part of the speaker. 9/10 for the CM5s on this category.
I mentioned earlier in my Veritas review I don't like an over-thick sound. The Veritas is thick enough, but it's slightly on the thin side. Still, the mid end offers great clarity and instruments sound crisp and detailed. The CM5s however, give me a thick mid-end without muffling things together. So in other words, I'm okay with the thick mid end here.
Next up was Sophie Milman which is a jazz artist from France I believe. This is what makes the CMs shine. I was intoxicated the way the drum symbols sounded, and how the piano keys were struck. The Veritas created a more "thin" sounding instrument panel, however were still transparent. A great way to speak about Milman's voice is to call it smooth. And what better speaker to portray the voice than the CM series. The more I kicked up the volume (Reached -8.0dB on the Elite), the better it sounded. Never ever harsh and never flat, the CM was incredibly natural. The Veritas when pushed high gave a bit more bass than the CM bookshelves, but started to get a small amount harsher and thin.
With a sub-par recording, the CM5s do not portray sound well. They stay true to the recording, and if you have a crap recording it will still be crap. The Veritas cover this up a bit better.
Movies and games follow the same path. Very natural and crisp. Battlefield 3 was a BLAST even with two bookshelves.
Veritas - 85/100
CM series - 95/100
They are that
I liked these speakers so much I bought the CM9s and the CMC2 center to replace the Veritas system. Will be moving the CM5s to the rear.
This wasn't a super full-review, but if anyone needs any more comments feel free to ask!