OK - here goes!
I set the speakers up in basically the same position as I had the trial 683s in a couple of weeks ago (2.8 mtrs centre to centre, 400mm from back wall, toed in about 10 degrees). I left my 685s in place and played 4 or 5 tracks from my Avalon SACD (stereo layer) just to make sure their performance was in the memory bank.
I then switched the speakers and started the disc again on pure direct mode. What an amazing difference! The first thing that struck me was the soundstage, it was huge and multi-layered in both directions. I had to check twice that there wasn't sound coming from the surround speakers. The soundstage filled my listening area and I could "see" and feel where instruments were. The clarity was superb with a rich full smooth character. I wasn't looking at the speakers because to my ear the sound wasn't coming from them, such a weird feeling for me as I have never had a really good setup before. It is so much fun picking up sounds you never heard before on tracks.
Initially, if I had to be critical, I would say that it got just a little bright at the top at times, but after a while this doesn't seem to be an issue. I played cd after cd for about 4 hours. The soundstage continued to wow me, during "Fade to Grey" by Visage, I could have sworn that the girl speaking French was on the couch next to me, whispering in my ear, it actually gave me butterfies in my stomach! The music just filled my apartment. All this time I still found myself occasionally looking around at my silent surround speakers!
It didn't take long to identify another amazing trait of the CM9s - the bass reproduction. It is taut, controlled and clear with absolutely no hint of woolliness or booming. I played some tracks to test the bass capability further. Some jazz, Enya's "Carribean Blue", a few Cure tracks from the "Faith" and "Disintegration" albums and Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy" which all sounded very average on my old setup and on some speakers I tested last week due to overblown bass. The CM9s handled everything I threw at them with aplomb, damn the bass is good on these speakers!
On my old 685 setup and even on the 683s, there was no real difference between using the analogue stereo from the Oppo SE and HDMI. I tried the same test today and it is night and day. As soon as I switched to HDMI the soundstage shrunk back to the speakers and the quality certainly suffered. I can finally justify the extra money I paid for that player and get the enjoyment of those Sabre DACs. So obviously the source has a big part to play in it all.
My 2 major concerns before these speakers were delivered were:
- The way my listening position is set up and that I wouldn't get full value from them without making some major changes and using the full length of the room.
- That I would have some bass issues due to the proximity of the wall and the rear ports.
Well, both these issues are now non-issues. Yeah, maybe one day I can move my setup to the short wall and perhaps get a benefit, but it is certainly not neccessary right now. The bass performance is just exquisite, so I can put the standby socks away again
I have heard some people say that the CM9 is a 683 in a nicer cabinet, after having both in my apartment I can simply say that is not true. The difference to me is phenomenal. Soundstage, bass reproduction, detail etc. is all so much better on the CM9s. And again, the difference is much bigger in my apartment than it was auditioning them at the store?
So my summary? Not hard to guess based on the above. These speakers are perfect for me, they sound even better in my apartment than they did at the store
Imagine how good they'll sound when they've been run in! Tonight I will run Audyssey and test the home theatre aspect together with my new CMC2 and sub.
Thanks for listening