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B&W 685 experience

Audiolab 6000A Amplifier

dilsenme

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Hi folks,
I am planning to set up a Home theater with the following set up,
AV receiver : Onkyo TX-SR 606
Speaker package : B&W 685

Is this a right selection?? My listening proportion is 70% music & 30% movies.
Whats your take on the stereo quality of front 685 book shelves?

Looking for sound advice.

Cheers :)
Senthil
 

bhuvanmisra

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My 2 paise ...!

Speakers: With B&W 685's are you are looking to build a 2.1 setup? Or is a a 685+686+... 5.1 system?

Receiver: Maybe 30% music and 70% movies is what your 606 might be better at.
 

dilsenme

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Thanks..
It will be a 2.1 setup & later i will upgrade to a 5.1.
Front : B&W 685 book shelf speakers
Sub : B&W ASW608

You mean Onkyo receivers are not good for music ??
But most of the reviews have thrown 5stars for TXSR606!!!
 

venkatcr

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You mean Onkyo receivers are not good for music ??
But most of the reviews have thrown 5stars for TXSR606!!!

Dilse, let me explain this to your without ruffling any feathers, and getting bashed up !! :)

The general perception in the market and in this forum is that Denon and Marantz are good for Music and Movies, and Onkyo and Yamaha are good for Movies and Music.

In terms of technology all these AVRs use similar or processors that are very close to each other. They all use 192/24 bit DSPs, high quality components, etc. The DSPs are from Burr Brown, Analog Devices, TI and similar companies. Though one brand may be popular for some time, they are neck to neck in terms of specifications and capabilities. For example, some time ago Burr Brown had reached legendary status and were even mentioned in movies. At that time, it was considered that any amp that used a Burr Brown had to be good.

Coming back to AVRs, it may be only Yamaha that, for the same price class, provides extra features in audio processing. For example, if a Denon or Onkyo has 15 sound decoding processing at a particular price point, Yamaha would have 17 or 20 decoding processing for the same price point. This is because Yamaha has designed and created it's own proprietary DSP chips that it uses in it's AVRs.

Even in video processing, all these AVRs provide the same capabilities at each price point. Sometimes I think the designers of these companies have a monthly meeting when they talk to each other to decide what to give for a particular model in each brand.

So what separates one brand from the other? It is possibly the sound signature.

Designers of these companies use their own methods to handle the sound signature. Unfortunately it is not pure science, so a bit of subjectivity creeps in. Marantz and Denon are supposed to be 'good' for music. Why? because they are 'warm'. What is warm? Well when you play music, maybe because of the recording or the way the song has been played, you may find some high frequencies jarring to the ears, or you may find some of the drum beats to be hitting your chest. A warm amplifier is supposed to recognise those notes and tone it down for you. Now in one amp, you cannot have two sound signatures, can you? So what happens is that the same sound signature is carried forward to movie sound, and there the toned down sound may not fit. For example if you tone down the sound of a bomb exploding, it will not sound good. Or if you tone down the high frequency of a whistle, it will sound unnatural.

Yamaha and Onkyo, on the other hand, are supposed to do just the opposite. With an emphasis on movies, they actually enhance the sound. So a drum beat will sound deeper, and a whistle may really hurt your ears as it does the actor. Yamaha and Onkyo may call this 'Transparent', while others call it 'harsh'.

The net result of this is that, in spite of using very similar technologies, these brands all sound different. It is very difficult for someone else to tell you whether one is 'bad' or 'good'. It will better to say that a particular brand's sound is 'good' or 'bad' to my ears.

Posting in this forum can help you shortlist a few models from a large set. This will be based on budget, specification, and matching the capabilities of the amp to your requirements. Once this is done, the ultimate decision making authority will be your own ear. You have to listen to each of the short listed models, and decide which one you like.

Happy hunting.

Cheers
 

dilsenme

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Thanks a lot for your brief explanation.
Yea, I also agree onkyo receivers are primarily for movie sound then music.
But still, i shortlisted it for its various features at 36k. For example it has,
1) DTS,Dolby HD sound
2) HDMI audio in
3) Multiroom option
4) Video up scaling.
Above features are not available in Denon/yamaha for that price range.

I thought it would be wise to buy a product which is future proof. (atleast for another ten years)

Well, I am not a expert, its my conclusion based on reading so many reviews & discussion with audiophiles.
(Even B&W dealer recommends this AVR for HT setup)

BTW, Can you throw me some light on B&W685 speakers. I listened it and found awesome. Whats your take on it??

Thanks in advance...
 

venkatcr

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I thought it would be wise to buy a product which is future proof. (atleast for another ten years)

The product will certainly work for a long time, but future proof and that too 10 years!!!! No chance. No product in this line will be relevant for more tha 3 or 4 years.

Well, I am not a expert, its my conclusion based on reading so many reviews & discussion with audiophiles. (Even B&W dealer recommends this AVR for HT setup). BTW, Can you throw me some light on B&W685 speakers. I listened it and found awesome. Whats your take on it??

The 606 is a good receiver and comes with a lot of improvements over the 605 that was a runaway success last year.

I have not heard the 600 series of B&W. I am sure someone else with pip in with his own review.

Cheers.
 

thevortex

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An interesting explanation, Venkat. So, by that token you are saying that Yamaha and Onkyo produce sound as it is while Marantz and Denon colour it;)
 

dilsenme

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In the october what hi-fi indian edition, B&W685 speakers won the group test with other 7 products in the price range of 30~50k. Amazingly they have beaten mezzo2 (mor.short), KEF IQ5SE also.
But many guys in this forum complain of overpricing of B&W speakers in India. But What-HIFi declares the sound per rupee value of 685 speakers are astounding & it should have been priced twice.
I have personally listened & i am truly impressed.
 

dinyaar

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Hi,
I dont want to be the party pooper here but do u feel the 685 pair is worth 45 K? Try and audition the MA silvers. Two of our forum members have just acquired the RS 6 for 50/55K which is a far better speaker and definately more VFM. I say this inspite of being a B&W fan and owner.
Dont let What HiFi cloud your mind. Hear the other options and if u still feel the 685 rocks your boat go for it by all means. IMO this entire new 600 series is average and it surprises me everytime it gets the 5 star rating.A few years ago what HIFI raved about the Nad 352( fantastic,remarkable, u have no right to get this kind of sound for the money,the HIFI steal of the decade!!!!!!!) Do u truly echo their opinion?
Regards
 
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particleman

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Dont let What HiFi cloud your mind.

Very, very well said! This should be a mantra for the site. Would you believe those jokers gave the new Arcam FMJ line a 3-out-of-5 star rating? They called it "lifeless and dull." What!! This is one of the nicest amps I've heard, you can listen to it all day without fatigue. It adds no colour at all to the sound. Partner it with a lively speaker like the RS6 and you have a match made in heaven. I now actually make time each morning to listen to a bit of music before leaving for the office.
 

dinyaar

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Hi again,
Actually i have been listening to music every morning from about 7 to 9 for ages now regardless of what system i own at the time. I feel its a great start for a new day. Rest of the day i am on a CNBC diet unfortunately
I second u on Arcam gear. Have not heard the new FMJ series though. The FMJ preamp is better than my Bryston pre IMO. Its the power amp that i didnt think much of.
Particleman which amp did u get finally?The A70 or the FMJ integrated?
Regards
 

particleman

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The A70 is still sitting in my house for now but will be replaced within the fortnight by the FMJ-A28 which is on the way. I feel it will drive the speakers better than the DiVA. I like the fact that it is made in the UK.
 

Rem

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Hi,
I dont want to be the party pooper here but do u feel the 685 pair is worth 45 K? Try and audition the MA silvers. Two of our forum members have just acquired the RS 6 for 50/55K which is a far better speaker and definately more VFM. I say this inspite of being a B&W fan and owner.
Dont let What HiFi cloud your mind. Hear the other options and if u still feel the 685 rocks your boat go for it by all means. IMO this entire new 600 series is average and it surprises me everytime it gets the 5 star rating.A few years ago what HIFI raved about the Nad 352( fantastic,remarkable, u have no right to get this kind of sound for the money,the HIFI steal of the decade!!!!!!!) Do u truly echo their opinion?
Regards



I second you opinion on magazine reviews clouding ppls mind I also read the speaker reviews on whathifi and was a huge fan of the magazines till I read their october edition in which they have again raved about the B&W's price performance.

And they finally awarded the B&w the best speaker saying that the 685's and Mezzos where close and finally they had to give it to the 685's coz its cheaper, well what they actually did with that article was copy the same article which whathifi UK did last month and just changed the last paragraph of the verdict and converted the price difference from pound sterling to Indian Rs coz in UK the 685's are cheaper than Mezzo's by about 70 pounds and wrote that B&w's are Rs7k cheaper in India which is not the fact.

I dont even think that the guys at Whathifi india auditions anything here other than just putting whatever the UK compatriots have reviewd in the Indian edition. I wonder why nobody has noticed it till now. I guess its the same thing AV-mag would also be doing.


I auditioned both the Mezzo's and 685's and found the Mezzos to be a better speaker and the dealer was ready to give it to me for 27k
B&W's the least I could found was for 39,900 for a 12k diff I thought the Mezzo's where streets ahead of 685's as far as price performance ratio was concerned.

Somehow whathifi guys are way too eager to give some products way too much hype than what they really deserve, anyway I learned my lesson not to trust any reviews blindly but to audition the speakers myself and make up my decisions.

If anybody is planning to buy budget bookshelfs do listen to the Mezzo 2's its awesome.

I listened to them in Bangalore at Audio Planet behind BDA complex Koramangala.

Dinyaar and others if possible do audition them I would appreciate it if you guys can give me your opinion on those. I heard it with CA 640A amp and CA 640C CDP.
 

Rem

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To be fair to B&W I heard them with a Oppo DVD player and some amp( I only know that the amp was 1lac plus priced one) I dont know how much that would have played in their performance I just did not think that the 685's was as detailed as the Mordaunt Short Mezzo 2's .

I have heard the source plays an important role so I have asked the dealer to pair it with a proper CDP unfortunately he did not have the Rotel CDP's which he deals with in stock.

I will be going there again in 2 weeks time to listen to 685's with the Rotel CDP and amp hope it would be better.
 

dinyaar

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Hi Rem,
If i do get a chance i will definately listen to the Mezzo s and revert back.
Rem the Rotel gear is not the best gear to demo any speaker IMO. Its actually in the same league as Nad/Ca but priced as Mid Fi. While i agree its a cleaner amp than the Nad and gives more detail the Nad has a fluid midrange which makes the end result musical and fatigue free.
Owned pre/powers from both brands and this was my conclusion.
Regards
 
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Rem

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Hi Dinyaar,

Thanks a lot for the info I hve just started to look for speakers and amps and cdp to setup my stereo system. So have not auditioned too many high end products(considering this range is high end for me).

The ones I have auditioned till now are the

Mordaunt Short Mezzo 2 ( My current fav heard it for close to 3hrs at the demo place) It was played using CA 640A V2 amp and CA 640C V2 CDP and also with the CA 840 A & C amp & cdp.


B&W 685 Played using Norge Amp( I think it was norge it sounded something like that) and an Oppo DVD player( that is what I think dampened the experience )


KEF IQ5 with Denon CDP and Denon Receiver Not impressed at all it sounded pretty lifeless when compared to B&W and Mezzo's.

Heard the Wharfedales also with Marantz amp and CDP which was not in the same league at all.

Now I need to audition soem Monitor Audio bookshelfs,Quads and Usher since some have suggested that as well.


AS you said I need to audition NAD I think I would be able to do that with the Monitor Audios in Bangalore the same dealer deals with both.

Thanks again for all the help yaar:)
 

thevortex

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Rem, I am not sure if the Oppo DVD player would have dampened the music experience. It has got very good ratings for its audio capabilities. In fact it is said in many reviews that it betters the audio quality of even CD players costing upto $1000.

The Norge Amp on the other hand might have something to do with the quality reduction. But this is just hearsay as I have not heard a Norge Amp in action.

Also I have a question for you. It appears that you have compared the Mezzo 2 (a bookshelf) with the KEF IQ5 (a floorstander). On what parameters did you compare the two? I am in a similar position and would like to see how you compared these two. In general, I had the same impression of the KEFs - I heard both the iQ3 as well as the iQ5.

Also did you try the PSB Image B25 or the EPOS M12.2 or M5?
 
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particleman

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B&W 685 Played using Norge Amp( I think it was norge it sounded something like that) and an Oppo DVD player( that is what I think dampened the experience )

I assume it was a Nu-Force amp. If memory serves, that is what they were using here as well in the Mumbai showroom to power the speakers. With a Classe CD player.
 
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panditji

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It must be the Nu-Force Integrated Amp IA-7 that AVI uses for demos. They are pushing the Nu-Force gear pretty aggresively in their sales demoes.
 
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Shahrukh

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In general, I had the same impression of the KEFs - I heard both the iQ3 as well as the iQ5.

Rem said:
KEF IQ5 with Denon CDP and Denon Receiver Not impressed at all it sounded pretty lifeless when compared to B&W and Mezzo's.

Good sirs. A lil info about the KEF iQ5s. I own these speakers so I might sound biased. But this is my 2 paise.

The KEF... the iQ5 in particular... is a very refined speaker. Mature - if I could put it that way. B&Ws in comparison are more "exciting". What you probably consider as dull is the sound you heard in relation to the slightly bright (IMO) B&W. I would suggest listening to the iQ5s for a longer period of time (a good hour atleast) to really assess what this nifty pair is all about.
For me it came down to choosing between MA's Silver floorstander (forget the model) and the 1Q5s. I went for the KEFs because of this "easy listenability" factor.
 
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