B&W CM8 review

The Bowers & Wilkins CM8s midrange performance is spectacular but at a price... Tested at £1250

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The CM8s have stunning midrange, but an inconsistent character takes the gloss off


  • +

    Striking looks

  • +

    amazing midrange

  • +

    punchy, weighty bass

  • +

    detailed treble


  • -

    Lack of cohesion

  • -

    requires careful partnering with electronics

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Bowers & Wilkins claims the FST drivers in its elegant CM8 floorstanders allow for ‘the cleanest midrange performance in the business'.

FST stands for Fixed Suspension Transducer and relates to the bright yellow Kevlar cone only having the smallest of surrounds. The idea is that the surround damps the cone optimally to produce the purest possible sound.

The driver setup is a trademark B&W 25mm Nautilus tube loaded aluminium dome tweeters, a 13cm woven Kevlar FST midrange driver and two 13cm paper/Kevlar bass drivers.

The CM8s are biwirable and feature B&W’s Flowports to promote tighter, better-defined bass. Ideally, you should position them in some free space, with a little toe-in.

Stunning midrange performance

We have to admit that the midrange performance is, indeed, spectacular – the clarity of vocals is stunning.

The CM8s have no trouble with Eminem’s aggression in White America. Bass displays a fine sense of slam and is delivered in an upbeat manner, while treble sparkles with plenty of detail.

However, the Achilles heel is that these various elements don’t gel particularly
well. The difference in character between bass, midrange and treble frequencies proves a little problematic, and there’s a slight lack of cohesion between drivers.

All the elements are there for a great – rather than just a very good – speaker (especially that FST driver), but the lack of cohesion means four, not five, stars.

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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