Originally Posted by djp2k7
Seems a little harsh critique but everyone has their listening preferences and opinions I understand.
I've owned B&W DM302, DM303, 685's, CDM2's, and listened extensively to my friends 602 S3's, CDM 9NT's, and 804's. My 685's were anything but thin and shrill. They had an immense engaging sound. A little too much bass actually. Around the same time I also had PSB Image B6's and Paradigm Mini Monitors V6. The 685's were every bit as good as those. The CDM2's were better than all three. Now the 302's to me sounded exactly like you described the 600 series. They were unlistenable for me. 303's were muddy and poor imaging. The CDM9NT's were great though I did think a little on the bright side, but that may have been due to eq. The 804's are incredible.
I agree every speaker manufacturer has holes in their lines. Not necessarily a hole, but you can only do so much at a particular budget. You said B&W is not a company where every single product has been a home run for you. There's not one speaker manufacturer where that is the case and if anyone says that they are lying or delusional lol. The B&W 805 doesn't cost more than the 685 S2 just because it looks different. You always have to use the caveat "for the price."
The 600 series, to me, is the most damning thing in B&W's line. The CM product is good, I'm just not of the opinion it's anything that B&W is known for and it strays a little from their center.
My overall point is not that listening preference don't matter. They absolutely, 100% do! What I am saying, however, is that some companies are consistent in their message and how they do things and this plays well from the top down throughout their entire line while others will sacrifice values and quality to hit a price point or to be in big box or sell online, etc. etc.
From my experience (which is 17 years of working with various speaker & electronic manufacturers) speaker companies where everything I've used (basically every series of product since, we'll say, 2006) is absolutely great at their given price point and fit their intended purpose, while staying consistent in either quality or engineering. There are no dogs, so to speak, in their lines:
- Phase Technology
- James Loudspeaker
- Monitor Audio.
I have not used one product from the above companies at any price point that was underwhelming or not representative of who they are in a positive way. They provide quality and consistency through and through. That's not to say they are all better than any others. That's up to individual opinion - and everyone is entitled to theirs, but I can point to engineering and/or quality goods history and they don't stray much. I value that very much when looking at products in general.
- BG Radia. Unbelievable speaker from the top down that used planar magnetics.
- Snell. THAT was another one. What a great speaker manufacturer and shame on D&M for not knowing what to do with it.
- Atlantic Technology (sorry, but their new line of subs, sound bars, and mini monitors are uninspiring). They used to have it nailed down when they focused on multi-channel systems and the HPAS towers and bookshelves. AT has one foot in the grave, I'm afraid, and is a shadow of it's former self.
- KEF: KEF is going that direction with the elimination of their C series of speakers. That was a DISGUSTING line of speaker. NOTHING redeemable about it. They will get there, IMO, once they have migrated their entire offering over to using Uni-Q and refresh their subs.
Parasound, Primaluna, SONOS.
Yamaha. I think they make as good a receiver as anyone, but I haven't used all of their soundbars.
^ That's NOT to say everything the above companies make is better than anyone else's all the time. I'm saying that the above companies, from my experience, make a top shelf, quality product at their price points all the time. From the top of their line all the way down to the bottom, these guys are consistent in their engineering and quality message. They don't cut corners in regards to what they do and I know what I'm going to get every time I have brought in their products at any of their price points.
There are brands outside of A/V that I feel the same about. Everyone has their own opinions and experiences, though.