“ Great price quality comparison, and B&W are known for good quality. The bass is really tight and steady, and the speakers could not make the voice tones clearer. Complete speakers with other equipment for under ?500. „
After many years of listening to my dad's Hi-Fi speakers and having to put up with small inexpensive active speakers, I decided to treat myself to a pair of decent passive Hi-Fi speakers to really get the most out of my music. Therefore these speakers were bought about a year ago now from eBay as I had a limited budget being a student. It took quite a lot of searching to find a pair of speakers that I could visit to hear them working and see that they were in near perfect condition as I am a bit of a perfectionist with my items, but the wait paid off as I found these beauties.
---REASON FOR BUYING---
Apart from my budget as I already mentioned, and seeing these that were within my range and in excellent condition I was actually on the lookout for a decent brand of speaker. In fact my father's speakers were Bowers and Wilkins and they are over 20 years old now with not a scratch to their name.
B&W are known for making good quality products, and products of this age were made in the UK which is always a plus. (I am not sure about products nowadays but they might still be manufactured in the UK).
I was also particularly on the lookout for a bookshelf speaker that had a decent sized bass, as I could not sacrifice the room for a floor standing speaker but wanted at least the same sized bass (7inches) as my father's speakers.
Well they look impressive to put it short. Being larger than most bookshelf speakers, more onto a monitor kind of size, they really stand out in your room for all the right reasons. My speakers were finished in a dark Black ash and they have a black grill over the entire front of the speakers. At the edges the grill tapers back to reveal the curved surround of the plastic front panel before smoothing out to the wooden sides of the speakers. The front grill also has B&W on the top of it. A small little plastic addition to remind you that these are a quality brand.
When you take the front grill off though is when you see the real beauty. The top of the speakers houses the 1inch metal domed tweeter, which is gold on the series 1's but silver on the series 2 and 3. This is taken straight off the top of the line nautilus line-up and is in fact still available to buy now if you need a replacement, handy to know. Below this is the beautiful 7 inch yellow Kevlar bass/midrange. With a black rubber centre this is really something to look at and quite mesmerising to watch sometimes as the speakers play, and this vibrates. Below this is the bass reflex port which frankly looks huge and very impressive.
It's safe to say that anyone who walks into a room with these in it will notice them immediately and be dumbfounded by their gorgeous looks, and this is even before they hear them.
Okay so I thought it would be important to mention this here and not in a footnote as with speakers this is quite an important factor. Each speaker is 49cm high, 23.6cm wide and 30.6cm deep. This makes finding suitable stands a little more complicated than usual as apparently each speaker is also 10Kg or 22lbs in weight. In the end I have ended up buying smaller stands and making them larger and sturdier myself as suitable stands were too expensive for me.
Though please do not spend lots of money on a decent pair of speakers and try to save money elsewhere as I promise you that you will hear the difference with poor stands, thin wire, or a bad amp. If you don't believe me just hear how different/bad they sound when you place them on carpet.
When placing your speakers I would avoid placing them too close to a wall behind them or too close into a corner as the bass tends to become slightly too woolly and is tighter when out in the open. Apart from that though, put them on some stands so they are at roughly the right height for when you are listening to them and enjoy.
Not only are these speakers made well and they are robust but they sound great too. Yes I have finally got to the sound quality of these speakers which I can only describe as amazing considering their price. The bass is really tight when placed on decent spiked stands, and the speakers are particularly clear with voice tones. When watching films the bass can give very deep rumbles and you would certainly need an expensive subwoofer to compliment these as otherwise you would hinder these speakers rather than aid them. For the size of speaker and price there really is little complaint that can be made. Of course more expensive speakers will sound better but I would hazard a guess that you would need to spend close to £800-£1000 for a pair of new speakers that you could really hear the difference with.
These speakers also have separate inputs on the rear of them for the High frequencies and the low frequencies. So on the rear of the speakers you see four lovely gold connectors. The speakers come supplied with jumper plates between these terminals but if you are going to bi-wire or bi-amp these speakers you have to remove these plates. And even if you are not planning on this is would recommend changing these plates for thick 4mm speaker cable to increase sound quality.
One word of advice would be that I have heard that the tweeters are a bit delicate and have the tendency to break. A nuisance, well yes, but they are very simple to take out and fit a new one, (20 minutes each) and replacement tweeters are still available from B&W for around £40 each I believe.
As with all speakers the sound will also be dependent on the rest of the equipment that you are using these with but even with the cost of the other items you can get a set up here for under £500 if you buy them second hand. And that is a set up that I personally will not change for many years to come and love listening to.
To finish with I am very pleased with my purchase and I would say that if you see these for safe that you should buy them without a doubt. They are excellent value for money and paired with the right equipment sound very impressive indeed. Decent well-made speakers at an affordable price.
Description - 2 way vented-box system
Drive units - 1x25mm metal dome high frequency
1x180mm woven Kevlar cone bass/midrange
Frequency response - 52Hz-20 KHz +/- 3dB on reference axis
Sensitivity - 90dB spl (2.83v, 1m)
Nominal impedance - 8 ohm (min 4.3)
Power handling - 25-120W into 8 ohm on unclipped programme
Dimensions - 490mm high, 236mm wide, 306mm deep
Finishes - Cherry or black ash vinyl with black cloth grill
I bought these speakers a fair while ago for use in my home cinema system, and have nothing but praise for the sound they produce.
#~~~ WHY I BOUGHT THEM ~~~#
B&W (Bowers-Wilkins) are perhaps not one of the best known speaker manufacturers, but what they do make is built in the UK and is of superb quality, something which helped swing the purchase for me.
These particular speakers are an ideal choice for those reluctant to allocate floor space or sacrifice aesthetics for a floor-standing monster, but who find the average bookshelf speaker a bit lacking, which I certainly have done in the past.
#~~~ APPEARANCE ~~~#
The size of these is an eye catching 49cm height x 23cm width x 30cm depth, you wouldn't really want these on a shelf. I place them on Atacama Nexus stands (www.atacama-audio.co.uk/nexus.htm) which seem an ideal partner.
The casing is a cherry wood veneer look (not real wood), the wood effect is pretty realistic and ensures the speakers fit into your living room rather better than the more common black might. Mine have the wood effect and I've had one or two comments on how nice they look.
Really impressive is the main woofer, with its yellow woven Kevlar backing and little pointy black centre. You hate to leave the front fabric grille on these speakers as it hides this feature, but if you had young children visiting it would be wise to use the grille as that silver tweeter might prove tempting to push...
The small tweeter unit at the top is a silver colour and is apparently taken from B&W's top of the range Nautilus line-up, but for a lot less money in this case. The vent is also on the front at the bottom, which does enable you to place these speakers closer to walls and corners without too much loss of sound quality.
#~~~ SPECS ~~~#
Otherwise, the important bits you need to know are that:
Nominal Impedance is 8 ohms (minimum 4.3 ohms).
Power Handling is 25 - 120W into 8 ohms on unclipped program.
Drive Units are the 1x 26mm (1") metal dome high-frequency tweeter, and the 1x 180mm (7in) woven Kevlar® cone bass/midrange woofer.
The weight of each speaker is 10kg or 22 lbs, which is not a problem when it comes to positioning the speakers onto the stands. I recommend using something like spots of blu-tac or similar as most stands just have a smooth surface, and you wouldn't want these to fall off.
Behind each speaker you have two red and two black banana plug sockets (that's the round type), and a metal bar linking the two, so that you can choose whether to run just one, or the audiophile's dream two, sets of cables from the amplifier. The terminals are gold plated and of a high quality and very robust.
#~~~ PERFORMANCE ~~~#
Now I could go into all sorts of esoteric detail here, but I won't, I shall try and keep it concise and simple. So...
The speaker is capable of producing some jaw-dropping low rumbles in cinema use, so much so that I didn't bother buying a subwoofer for a long time, as I thought it unnecessary. However the speaker does not seem to produce thumping rock bass as well as some of its rivals - I would suggest this is more of a pop/jazz/classics speaker, which suits me fine as that's my more usual choice.
The speaker has a very refined sound, once you've allowed several hours of use to pass. It's not aggressive or blary, it sounds like something you'd pay much more for. Where it really seems to shine is in orchestral scores and instrumental jazz, and where it perhaps lacks a little is in vocals. Having said that, many of my CDs are vocalists, and I've always enjoyed listening to them. I get the feeling that male vocalists are handled better than the female ones, overall.
I would suggest avoiding placing these speakers too close to a corner position, as they will rumble a bit too much. They are happiest out in the open, and they are also happiest once they've been used for well over 50 hours playback.
As with all speaker reviews, so much depends on the equipment with which it's being used. As my amplifier is a Sony Home Cinema Amp and not a Stereo Hi-Fi one, that has to take some blame for any negative points I have mentioned.
I think the speakers could be summed up for me by saying that I never get tired of listening to them, and that I still have found no desire or need to change them, despite having several years of service to their credit.