I've just become a hi-fi enthusiast - help!
I just had my new speakers delivered, and I thought I'd share my experiences. I finally chose the B&W PM1, and I'm very pleased with the result. If I'm honest, I chose them as much for their looks, as for their sound, and the fact that there was a 15% discount helped. I listened to them in the hi-fi store (big shout out to Unilet.net in New Malden - highly recommended service) using a Sonos source through my very old Naim NAC32/NAP160 combination, and through a newer NaimUniti. It did sound really good, much more detail discernible, e.g. the movement of Dominic Miller's hands whilst playing his classical guitar on Shape of my Heart, and greater control of the decay of cymbal crashes.
The speakers weren't the biggest revelation, though; it was the fact that the more modern NaimUniti was hugely more satisfying than my current setup. It was a night-and-day kind of difference. Listening to the live version of No Woman No Cry from Legend, my amp was adequate, but the new setup made me feel like I was there; each hand clap was discernible, and it felt like the band was on a small stage right in front of me. Playing The Evil That Men Do from Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was worse than flat on my amp setup; the vocals felt pushed back and the guitars and cymbals crashing around too much. On the newer amp, the soundstage and instrumentation was suddenly fully resolved, everything was where it should be, driving the music into my gut. I spent a happy hour just listening to a variety of stuff, from metal, rock, electronica, classical, and back again, and the newer Naim with the PM1 seemed to have it all. I was told by the hi-fi salesman that they match together so well that they appear to be voiced for each other. So the bad news for my wife is that the purchase of a NaimUnity2 has just become top of the list.
However, I'm not going to junk my old Naim gear just yet. You see, one of the other things Unilet did was to service my very old Systemdek IIX (apparently the bearing oil was more treacle than oil) and install a new Ortofon 2M Red. Running that through my NAC32/NAP160 has been a joy. My old records have been rediscovered, and there's more vitality and head-nodding enjoyment there than ever before, currently even more than my lossless digital streaming. So my intention is to use the NAC32 as the phono stage for a NaimUniti2, so get the best of both analogue and digital worlds.
After that, I can see that there are a good few months of happy tweaking ahead. How much baffling should I use in the bass ports of the PM1, to overcome the necessity of being close to the wall? Upgrade the speaker cable to NAC A5? A new SNAIC, clearly. Bi-amp using my NAP160? (I know a power supply is the recommended upgrade, but seeing as I've already got the power amp, it's a no-cost upgrade.) And much more fun than all of that, the wife and I are going to spend some sunny weekends browsing the second hand vinyl shops of Brighton, then playing the new-found treasures at home. Happy days!