Speaker upgrade choices B&W 685 or similar for small man cave ?
We have nice Yamaha AV amp, KEF KHT2005 satelites and MJ Acoustics Reference 100 Sub (KEF Psu died twice - not paying to fix again) setup in our main larger lounge. It fits the bill perfectly as a multi purpose tv/movie/music system for every day use. My only bug bear with this system is I much prefer listening to music in 2 channel stereo - switching the system to 2.1 the little KEFs do pretty well for their size all things considered (The sub helps out at the low end obviously) but they are a jack of all trades I guess.
We also have a smaller lounge which my wife has allowed me to turn into pretty much a music room in the last 6 months. I had a Cambridge Audio 540a Stereo Amp spare so I started from there and built up a reasonable system for not very much money at all.
New speakers is what I'm missing from the equation - this is where I'm hoping you guys can help out with your experiences
For the time being my son has donated me a pair of Q-Acoustics 1020i BS and some Atacama HMS1.1 stands to tide me over until I find what I'm looking for. I'd say my budget is about £700 for BS speakers including stands (if I even replace the stands) - I'm not sure floor standers are really a sensible option but read on.
The Man Cave/Music Room - is plauged by being pretty much square 3.2m along each wall. The back wall has a central window with blinds and big curtains to reduce sound reflection. A large sofa is on this back wall - maybe 15/20cm out from the wall to try and get as good a distance from the speakers as possible. The stereo/tv stand is on opposite wall and the speakers either side on stands - about 60cm from the edges of the room - about 10cm from the back wall. The speakers are clocked in slightly to focus the sound on where I sit in an equilateral triangle given the distance the speakers are apart - the sound is very nicely central. To the side of the right speaker there is also a pair of french windows - these have curtains that can be pulled over to help with reflection. The room is carpeted with another big rug in between the sofa and the tv stand.
My System was a bargin (approx £340 minus the amp which I already owned) and is as follows:
Cambridge Audio Azur 540A - happy with this - given the size of the room it can create a big enough sound - general listening the volume stays around 9 o'clock and rarely goes above 11 o'clock. I generally run the amp in direct mode and use both the A and B channels on the amp to act as bi-wire for the little Q-Acoustics 1020is - I run good silver cable to the main drivers - but I've found running good copper to the tweeters calms the top end down a bit - odd. Not sure if the bi-wire is just psychological - but to me the sound is fuller
Cambridge Audio Azur 540D - for £26 it was a steal - and had a good enough DAC to tide me over until the 640C for the right price came up - very little between them in sound. QED scart to an LCD TV for occaisonal film watching.
Cambridge Audio Azur 640C - nice CD transport for not very much money. Given it now just reads disks its more than good enough.
Cambridge Audio Azur 640T - My wife listens to the radio a lot so this was a sweetener for her
Cambridge Audio Dac Magic S - this helps out for a few digital sources. Xbox 360 via TOS Link, On the other optical/coaxial input I'm actually running the 640C through an expensive Van Den Hul 60cm digital coaxial cable - the upsample (linear filter) and differential DACs make a noticable difference - subtle but smoother more detailed sound. The USB input will eventually link up to another Mac Mini running the Plex Media Center so I can access all my FLAC encoded CDs same as in the main lounge.
Everything is joined together with good quality Cambridge Audio Pacific RCA interconnects.
We are quite happy with the sound but as the volume rises the 1020i's start to lose their control a little. I'd also like a little more low-end and a bit more separation. Give the 1020i isn't an expensive speaker it does a pretty good job.
We listen to a diverse range of music from Rock/Alternative/Post Rock (Pink Floyd, Deftones, Black Mountain, Soundgarden, Russian Circles, Explosions In The Sky, Pixies, Team Sleep etc.) HipHop/Electronic/Lounge LoFi (UNKLE, Amon Tobin, Massive Attack, through to Jean Michel Jarre) Jazz/Funk (Breakestra, JTQ, Beastie Boys).
Many friends have had B&W speakers in the past and considering my budget 600 series seem good considering their price point. A friend's DM 683 FS sound great - but they are in a room that is maybe 4 times the size of the space I have to play with and are being driven by a lot more than my 540a can give - so I've discounted them along with the 684 (which doesn't offer much more in the low end from the 685 as far as I can see). I think the DM 685 would work quite well for me:
1. Its front firing (I can't bring the speakers out from the walls too far)
2. For a bookshelf its not at all bad in the lower frequency range.
I've ruled the DM 686 off my list with it being rear firing - and this also concerns me a little if I start to look at say a B&W CM1 or CM5 Bookshelf. I really like my KEF speakers but I think something like a KEF Q300 may make things sound a little on the bright side.
I'll likely purchase from Superfi as we have a dealer in town. I know the only real way to do this is to take my Amp, DAC and CD transport into the shop and listen - but - their listening room isn't my lounge so I can't reproduce the exact same scenario - not to mention the hassle of lugging stuff about. I'll most likely start by trying to listen on something they have in the shop and if needed take my gear down for a final listen.
Do you think the B&W 685 and a set of FS700 stands is a good choice ?
Should I consider the front firing 684 floorstander (or stump up for the 683s which I know I like) or is that overkill on a room this size ?
Anything else I should listen to ? Monitor Audio RX2 maybe ?
If need be I can add, say, a small MJ Acoustics Pro 50 sub into the equation to fill in some of the low end - but that would have to come later
Thanks in advance.