To Randall Smith,
A while back I wrote an e-mail to you with some questions about upgrading my older B&W 602s, in response to what I think is a very objective review of the B&W 684 speaker. To my surprise you actually responded back, which I very much appreciated.
I have finally had the chance to go and demo the 684. Obviously they had the entire line of B&W speakers, so I also listened to the 683s and the CM9s. I thought your review was dead on with the 684s. I also liked the 683s, and to my ears the difference being the 683 naturally had deeper bass extension and was just a touch cleaner in the midrange. Both speakers seemed to be very close to what I currently have, with the newer models being better.
While I was there I also decided to audition the CM9. Of the two speakers I reviewed in the 600 series (i.e., 684, 683), I liked the sound of the CM9s the best. Obviously they were also significantly more expensive, and the thought of price vs. diminishing returns strongly comes to mind. So I didn't purchase anything at that point.
I then went online to get some additional professional reviews of the CM9s. I noted that a number of reviewers liked them, however, with the comment of "mid-to-upper-bass prominence." I conceptually understand what that means, but my question is: As a professional reviewer of speakers, is that a good or bad thing?
Glad you found my review of the B&W 684 to be "dead on." As far as a "mid-to-upper-bass prominence," designers sometimes put in a bump in frequency response around 100Hz so that the speaker sounds bigger and more capable in the bass. Also, the boost at 100Hz helps the speaker to have more punch in the midbass. Designing a speaker this way is usually intentional, but it does stray away from neutrality. On the other hand, even though it isn't accurate to the music, it may be more fun to listen to. Ultimately, you have to decide if this is a characteristic you want in a speaker that you'll be living with day to day. . . . Randall Smith