Originally Posted by Del Boca Vista
So I just listened to Totem Forest Sig ($5500) and Spendor D7 ($5300) - both towers, both were excellent . Very different speakers. Totems super holographic, vocals and instruments definitely recessed but the soundstage was deep and everything was 3d and super enjoyable in a relaxing way, magical might be the right word? Still could turn it up and get that detail but a different presentation, unique for sure. The spendors Were much more forward and detailed, but at the end of the day might be technically neutral? But just very dynamic, detailed, full sounding, got more goose bumps from these. The imaging wasnt nearly as good as the totems though. I would be happy with either of these! Apples vs oranges. Was hoping to hear the 702s2 back to back with these but they didnt have them....The spendors reminded me of focal electra 1038s i heard a month ago (10k retail, now 7k as a closeout). Electras took bass and detail to another level but they were actually too detailed for my sensitive ears, and massive..Dont love the cosmetic either I will also say that I may prefer both totem and spendor to the confidence 20 (standmount).
There is a phenomena @Soulburner
is alluding to above (I think), which I believe (in retrospect) is what lead me to making the wrong speaker purchase about a year ago (the B&W 702 S2) based on in-store listening tests I did: Specifically, the bass response of speakers can have a huge impact of how we perceive the overall sound quality, and rightly so! Bass is extremely important, and is IMO even undervalued by some audiophiles (the crowd that says "true audiophile purists listen to music in pure stereo, with no subwoofer, for the best music experience"
-- which isn't true).
However, the problem is: The influence of bass on our perception of a speaker's quality can overshadow other very important quality features, when the reality is you don't have to make any such compromise:
You can and will get the best of both worlds (quality and quantity deep bass, and the rest of the frequency spectrum) when you integrate a subwoofer or two into your setup (which FYI is sometimes actually cheaper in total vs a single tower speaker pair that tries to achieve the same bass extension).
Again I'm going to bring up the Ascend RAAL Sierra Towers, not because I'm pushing it as the right choice for you necessarily (though I am a fan obviously), but because I've listened to it for many hours side by side with the Bowers and Wilkins 702 S2 (which I still own and have), in multiple configurations:
1. Comparing without subwoofer, running both speakers full range
2. Comparing without subwoofer, but with a high crossover to artificially remove bass frequencies from both speakers so as to somewhat objectively compare everything else independent of bass extension
3. Comparing with subwoofer enabled on both speakers (same goal as (2), but can be tricky because the optimal subwoofer integration for each speaker is different)
The results to me reliably show that comparing different speakers without a subwoofer integrated (which is usually how it's done during in-store listening tests, at least) is an extremely unreliable
way to judge the relative quality
of speakers which have different bass extensions (and all speakers will have at least some difference there).
I say this, because in every test I've done using methods (2) and (3), the Ascend RAAL Towers win in every song I've ever tried, not just to me, but a few others who've compared. Yet, when I test in mode (1), the difference in bass extension can dominate the subjective sound quality of many songs (especially songs with important bass presence), to the point where some songs sounded better on the B&W 702 S2, but (after enough comparisons) clearly only because of the better bass extension. In fact, some songs were a tie as well because the bass was clearly deeper on the B&W 702 S2, but the treble and midrange was clearly incredibly better on the Ascend's -- for the same song. For these songs and in modes (1) or (2), neither speakers fully satisfied, since both were clearly missing something (which you may not have been aware of, if you hadn't heard the other).
Yet when a subwoofer is added and integrated well (so the bass is the same), there is nothing missing on the Ascend's, but the B&W's vastly inferior treble and somewhat inferior mids become the highlight of any comparison. Similarly, using a crossover to remove the bass frequencies from both, the conclusion that the Ascend's are much better is the same (it's just neither speaker is as pleasant to listen to when deep bass is removed).
The reason I say this is just to hopefully caution you against making the same mistake I did in any of the speakers you compare. In my case, I compared the B&W 702 S2 to other speakers I probably would have actually preferred (though not Ascend's since they're internet direct only), but for a few reasons primarily related to bass extension, the 702 S2 ended up sounding better in-store (even though this wasn't the right decision for me).
That said, if you do end up preferring the 702 S2's to anything else even independent of bass extension and listening to a wide range of music genres, maybe that will vitalize the used market so I can sell mine quicker
Otherwise, if you want me to provide some links to tracks that will particularly highlight some of the 702 S2's flaws compared to other speakers, I can do that too.