I must say that I've always loved B&W so my sway towards these speakers may be ever so slightly bias. They've always seemed to create and style their lines exactly to my taste, weather it be their P5 headphones or their Zeppelin iPod dock they're attention to detail has always hit the nail squarely on the head. Sure you can't always judge a book by its cover but when it comes to something thats more often than not the largest part of your system it will inevitably be the one thing that will intrude most into the aesthetics and decor of your room. But from day one B&W have always made it clear that their styling well and truly goes hand in hand with their science. Besides, for the last 20+ years the famous Abby Road studios have been utilising their expertise - if thats not a glowing endorsement nothing is.
So, on with the job in hand. Standing just shy of a metre in hight and a width of about 17cm the CM8's are a shade smaller than the average speaker of it's kind, making them the ideal floor standing loud speaker if you're finding space a little on the sparse side. But don't be fooled, what these babies lack in size they more than make up for in one hell of a kick. With the 25mm domed aluminium tweeter who's design has been derived from the companies mind blowing flagship speaker the Nautilus, you'll find the high end never falls short of being tight and precise and with a real bare minimum of coloration. As for the mid range, well truth be told it rarely comes better. This is also where B&W's 40 plus years of pain staking perfecting and mastery comes to the very forefront. As their patented FST technology (thats 'fixed suspension transducer' for all us mere mortals) comes heavily into play. Utilising kevlar to absorb straying sound waves heading towards the edge of the cone, the result being a greater response time and phenomenal clarity. This can be heard most evidently within vocals, lighter string instruments and suchlike. The FST also plays heavily when in moments of sudden melodic aggression. Perfect examples of which you can hear in the albums 'I, Vigilante' by Crippled Black Phoenix or Refused awesome 'Shape Of Punk To Come'. Those moments before the storm where the vocals and strings gently build up before being met ferociously by exploding bass, percussion and unadulterated overdrive often suffer from a brief second of confused muddiness as all the elements collide together. Evidently not here though as clarity seems to certainly at the top of the agenda.
Even with the addition of the twin bass drivers working to their full capacity nothing seems to buckle under the pressure.
As far as the aforementioned bass goes in and of itself, it is fantastically tight and coherent and without a doubt some of the best I've ever been fortunate enough to hear outside of a studio. Some have argued that B&W's end results within the mid and low range collaboration have tended to produce a sound thats all in all a bit clinical and un-involving. On the whole I really can't say I agree on this front. It may ultimately be down to the particular acoustics of my room, but I'm more inclined to think that it may well be the outcome of the synergy between the CM8's and my valve amp. The inevitable warm tone associated with 4 glowing KT88 tubes may just soften that apparent bite enough without compromising their cutting edge kevlar infused monolithically beautiful craftsmanship.
Available in a choice of four finishes - gloss black, white, wenge and rosenut you'll easily find a ascetically complimentary solution to your system, be it to partner brand new and shiny Onkyo M5000 amp or a lovely wood and brushed aluminium Pioneer Pl-500.
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