B&W CM5 review

B&W's CM5s look like the Award-winning 685s in a posh frock, but can they cut the mustard? Tested at £780.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The CM5s wow in certain areas, but leave a little to be desired in others – good, but not class-leading


  • +

    Can be pushed hard

  • +

    powerful bass

  • +

    focused sound


  • -

    Midrange and treble sounds weak

  • -

    a slight lack of finesse

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Here are the striking CM5s from B&W, a halfway house between the company's Award-winning 685s and the high-end 805S.

There's a definite allure to the CM5s. They're stylish and desirable, but they're also a fine example of speaker engineering.

It's difficult to point to a rival here that looks as classy or, indeed, can claim to be as technologically advanced.

The CM5s use B&W's Kevlar mid-bass driver and Nautilus tube-loaded aluminium tweeter.

And the CM5s are impressive straight out of the box. Faced with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Zero, they show that they are very detailed and that at the heart of their spacious soundstage, they present a precise and focused stereo image.

Attention is also drawn to the force with which low frequencies are catapulted towards the listener.

Crank up Lady GaGa's Lovegame and the B&Ws manage to harness more than enough power to fire out the song's slamming bassline at an impressive pace.

Turning up the wick
The large-scale dynamics of this track are handled confidently. Succumb to the temptation of turning up
the volume, and they rise to the challenge without protestation.

However, the CM5s aren't completely excused any criticism. The upper midrange lacks substance and the refinement of class leaders.

The vocal for the acoustic version of Maximo Park's Going Missing sounds less believable than when heard through the Roksan Kandy K2 TR-5 or Spendor S3/5R, and you miss the natural tone we've come to expect from the best speakers at this price point.

High frequencies sound a little thin and one-dimensional – others do a significantly better job of differentiating between the highest notes.

Playing the LSO's version of Tchaikovsky's Trepak, the CM5s are sensational in some areas but out of their depth in others; and it's this inconsistency that holds the B&W's back from a five-star rating.

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