Just a note. There's a few things which make up 'speaker performance'. But there's two opposing school of thoughts which really contradict each other. Musical vs Accurate. A lot of people think that speakers should make the sound pleasant
. That is, do something to the music to enhance it. It can be some unevenness to the frequency response of a speaker. Or a particular curve, for example, a bump in the bass... Lowered treble... Other times, it can even be adding something to the music which shouldn't be there... Distortion, artifacts... Here, there's really no criteria to what sounds good. It's basically subjective, as say adding some bass might be loved by some, but hated by others...
Others, instead, strive to reproduce music as accurately, or with as much fidelity as possible: As truth to the source as possible. In contrast to trying to 'making the music sound better'.
The 1st is JMLabs Utopias, as you can see, very straight from bass -> mids -> treble, and the 2nd is Totem Rainmakers, you can see bump in bass and in the treble.
If you were to compare these 2 speakers, you'd probably find the bass of the Utopias lacking. They'd seem to have much less bass, and the bass of the Rainmakers would sound more impressive. But in fact, Rainmakers exaggerate bass... For the treble, cymbals, again, you might find that the Rainmakers sound a lot more metallic, and in contrast, the Utopias would seem not present, like they're not even there maybe... As for the mids, you might find that the Utopias actually seem to have very forward mids, even annoyingly so, because with the Utopias they would seem a lot more forward than the Rainmakers... Even the details, when listing to acoustic guitar you might a lot more of the harmonics on the Rainmakers (because of tipped up treble), so you might say that the Utopias are much less detailed...
And if you're used to the sound of the Rainmakers, I really wouldn't be surprised if you'd find the sound of the Utopias, boring, uninspiring, just plain non impressive for 7000$ and really would be totally unimpressed when compared to your 1000$ Totem Rainmakers.
But in fact, you'd simply be used to the coloration of the Totems. The lack of 'detail' I mentioned earlier, for guitar harmonics, wouldn't be real
details... It would simply be the result of tipped up treble. The Rainmaker treble isn't better quality or more detailed than the Utopias, it's simply exaggerated, and so you hear MORE of it. You could use an equalizer with the Utopias and add treble so that they're as much of it as on the Rainmakers, but that wouldn't make it better
, that would only unbalance the sound. That's not better.
The bass is the same thing. While it might seem
that the Rainmaker has better bass because you hear more
of it, it's not better, there's just TOO MUCH of it!
For the mids, again, why would Utopias seem to have maybe too much of them when compared to Rainmakers? Again, maybe because the Rainmakers present less mids than the Utopias and so the Utopias seem to have too much of it...
REAL detail, real sound quality, doesn't come from exaggerating certain frequencies. If you could hear beyond
the frequency response of the Rainmakers, then you'd notice that the bass of the Utopias, although there's less, is actually more accurate, realistic, than the Totems. The cymbals & highs would be the same. Yes you hear more
, sometimes things which are harder to hear with Utopias, but it's artificial, you're hearing more because Rainmakers exaggerates them, not because it's better. Again, seeing beyond the colorization, you'd see that the Utopia's treble is actually again better than the Rainmaker, and actually allows you to hear more real
details. And the mids... Again, you'd realize that everything is much better balanced on the Utopias, and you'd probably again see that's it's of better quality...
That's the kind of improvement you should notice with the Sierra vs the B&W 602s. The B&W might always seem
for example to have a more realistic 'metallic' sound to them, but hey, how should
it sound? Like the B&Ws or like the Sierra? What about the voices... You said some voices sound lush on B&Ws, but not so much on Sierras... How should
they sound? Do they sound lush on the recordings or not? Are the B&Ws changing their sound to make it sound lush? Or are the Sierras really unable to reproduce the voices?
(Sierra)Their is a distinct clarity in the midrange. I'm having a hard time calling it good or bad as a lot of vocals are sounding different to me. Some better, some different, and some not good. For example I thought Blue October and Coldplay sounded really good; better than the B&W's. However, I'm torn if I think Sade's voice is better or worse; maybe Sade's is just different. Chris Isaac however wasn't so good. He was sort of hollow and unpleasant.
See that's what you seem to be trying to vocalize. The Sierras ARE, well according to many, more detailed, a more refined speaker than the B&W 602. BUT, the B&W somewhat have their own sound, and make the music sound different, in many case in a way which you seem to enjoy.
There's many things which a speaker can do to sound 'better', even if in truth it's less faithful to the recording. Even distortion, adding distortion can even sound somewhat pleasant in some cases. Sometimes speakers can add noises which can be perceived as added details and again sound better, you hear things you don't hear with other speakers, ah! So this one must be better I didn't hear that on other speakers! Or this one the bass is a lot more powerful, it has better bass... Nope! It might simply have exaggerated bass! This one makes her voice sound lush... Well it's not lush so it shouldn't sound lush!!
So... As said, not everyone likes the same thing. If you really like the sound of B&Ws, then you should find speakers which sound similar to B&Ws. Maybe audition the Totem Rainmakers, see what you think, maybe then you'll find what you were looking for. But in truth, you have to be careful to differentiate speaker colorization to really speaker quality/performance. If you like a certain balance of bass/mids/treble, or a way a speaker make voices/instruments sound, that's somewhat different than speaker performance/quality.
what you could do: Go to different shops, bring the same disks, and listen to them on their most expensive systems. You might realize that they sound closer to the Sierras than the B&Ws, and that these super expensive systems also don't have the qualities you're looking at in the B&Ws. And might even lack the same things as the Sierras or have the same flaws...
Anyhow, it's hard to explain, and I know it's hard to understand or conceive, but what you think sounds better
on B&Ws, might actually something the B&Ws are doing wrong
when compared to the Sierras. lol I know it sounds like it might be ********
But it's true. If you have an equalizer, bump the highs/lows of Sierras, see if it sounds better or worst to you.
It's not too late to go out and audition many speakers. Hear many other speakers. Get a different frame of reference than your B&Ws. Now you somewhat think that the way the music should sound is the way it sounds though the B&Ws. Hearing many different speakers, and better quality speakers should change that perception.
Is the Sierra the be all end all of speakers? The reference? The way it should exactly sound like? No... There's no perfection in speakers. But according to many they do something right.
Read some reviews, then listen to Sierras/B&Ws... See if you can hear what they talk about..http://www.soundstageav.com/onhifi/20070901.htm
With the Ascend Acoustics, something did: From the very beginning, I could tell that the Sierra-1 had outstanding clarity, and was conveying much more low-level detail than any other under-$1000 two-way I’d ever heard -- qualities that became even more apparent when I sat down to do some critical listening. In fact, the Sierra-1’s ability to let me hear into recordings was right up there with Paradigm’s Signature S2 and PSB’s Platinum M2, two of the best two-way monitors on the market, and each of which sells for about two grand per pair. (I own a pair of Signature S2s.)
Some may think that all this detail I was hearing was simply a result of a tipped-up treble, something that’s done in some speaker designs to give the perception of heightened detail -- sort of like punching up the color and contrast on a video display to make the picture seem more alive. In fact, it was the opposite. The Sierra-1 sounded well balanced from top to bottom of the audioband, even if it didn’t seem quite as unfalteringly neutral as the CBM-170 had in my room -- surprising, as the Sierra-1 costs more than twice as much. But the Sierra-1 was relatively neutral -- it seemed to reach to below 50Hz quite comfortably and solidly in my room, and above that there were no obscene deviations in its response other than a bit of emphasis in the lower mids, perhaps to give this small speaker a dash of "presence" in the absence of extreme low bass.
Seeing through the FR, or seeing the difference in FR anomalies and identifying real detail can be somewhat hard for 'new' listeners, but it's something which gets easier with time and experience... And I feel somewhat poorly by saying that, because it makes it sound like there's 'class of listeners' which fits into the audiophile crap I don't really like... And that some people can't hear 'right' or don't hear correctly... And that can somewhat alienate someone who doesn't know what I'm talking about in this post about 'real detail', FR anomalies, artificial detail, etc... But I just don't see another way of saying it... And it's all subjective anyhow, maybe you just don't dig the sound of the Sierras which would be perfectly fine too... I just hope this post might have helped in seeing things from another perspective...