- Written by Chris Heinonen
- Published on 10 March 2014
The B&W CM10 Speakers In Use
I have a standard playlist I use to listen to everything that comes into my theater. Each piece of music typically has something I am listening for, and cues for me to pick up on. With the B&W CM10 it was apparent right away that it is not a fan of the loudness wars. Tracks with lots of dynamic compression and it did not coexist well.
"Reckoner" off Radiohead's In Rainbows is a gorgeous song with a sub-par mastering. As much as I love the song I moved on quickly with the CM10s. The cymbal crashes are harsh and unforgiving and fall flat. The soundstage is large and deep and the instruments are there, but the CM10 does the song no favors. I can pick up little drums at the end of the song that had escaped my attention in the past. Perhaps they've always been there, waiting for me to discover them, but my usual speakers could not separate them from the rest of the sounds.
As soon as Natalie Merchant's "Carnival" started the CM10 morphed into a different speaker. Drums are tight and detailed with none of that flatness to them. Natalie Merchant sounds as gorgeous as she ever does. Her voice is smooth and clear but it is always the drums that pull me in here. Tight, clean, and full-bodied.
The real killer from the CM10s is "So What" from Miles Davis. The saxophone is just glorious. Packing tremendous weight and feel without any extra brassiness or harshness. Where bits of Reckoner would start to split my ears the sax here just sounds like a sax. Nothing more, nothing less, just closer to the real thing than I've heard in my home.
Counting Crows August and Everything After has not sounded better than on its DSD download or SACD release. Even when the album really starts to take off and build into a giant wall of sound the CM10 does not fatigue my ears. It sounds big and bold, and fills the room with its sound. With the Blu-ray Pure Audio version of Beck's Sea Change the picture thrown by the CM10s is amazing in size. Filling the front of the room you'll check to ensure you didn't select the 5.1 channel track instead of stereo. The soundstage moves out well past the limits of the speakers while reaching clear to the ceiling. The CM10 has a gigantic image that is not trapped inside a box.
Blu-ray films sound great on the CM10. The classic Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds Live at Radio City disc is first-rate. The metallic strum of a guitar is captured by the CM10 with just a little bit more top-end than some speakers. Vocals on films like Argo and Drive are crisp and clear. B&W has a matching center for the CM10s but run in stereo mode they still make a movie sound fantastic.
With my over-compressed musical tastes, I found I could get around their harshness using the vinyl version over my digital copies. Daft Punk's Random Access Memories sounds great on the CM10 off vinyl but you wouldn't want to listen to the CD version of it. Recent Radiohead albums also sound great on vinyl but harsh on CD. I can see why younger people can drift away from higher-end audio when it only serves to show off the flaws of their favorite albums.
Frequency response for the B&W CM10 was measured in-room using RoomEQ Wizard and a calibrated microphone. A 1 kHz test tone was used to set the output level to 90 dB and then 48 total measurements were taken, 8 measurements at 6 locations, and then averaged to get an in-room response. I measured with both the port plug in and out.
With the rear port open we see a good frequency response that starts to roll-off around 15 kHz and offers bass extension well down below 40 Hz. There is a small dip at 180 Hz
With the port sealed the response is almost identical except it falls off a bit faster at the bottom end. Below 40 Hz the open port offers an average of 6 dB greater output compared to the sealed configuration. Go to Page 4: Conclusions