Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 vs B&W 705

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by VinhT, May 26, 2004.

  1. VinhT

    VinhT Second Unit

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    I am having tremendous difficulty deciding between the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 and the B&W 705. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    My Application
    Extreme nearfield use. I need speakers that I can listen to while I am working at my desk. Unfortunately, the desk is pretty much up against a wall, so I will be unable to pull the speakers out into the room. If I get the Ascends, they will be wall mounted using the mounting brackets that Ascend sells. If I get the B&Ws, then they will be placed on the desk. In both cases, the tweeters will be at ear level and the speakers will be toed-in.

    The speakers will be used primarily for two-channel audio. Eventually, I may expand the system by adding two to four more speakers for home theater. Typical usage will probably be less than half an hour each day. Amplification will most likely be Rotel or Outlaw. Pre-amp is unknown at this time. Subwoofer is a 25-31PC+.

    Ascend Comments
    The CBM-170 is perhaps the epitome of ridiculously high value. I like how the company seems to focus on accuracy. I may have to plug the rear port for my application. Unfortunately, I will be unable to hear the speakers during the decision making process. It is too much of a hassle for me to do the trial period option. Subjectively, the CBM-170s always receive rave reviews. Objectively however, I have not seen enough to inspire complete blind confidence in the product. The National Research Council measurements are excellent, but I am still missing spectral decay, enclosure resonance, and impulse information.

    B&W Comments
    Low value products. Why the 700 series? Frankly, at such a close price point to the CBMs, I don't think the 600 series stands a chance. Additionally, from the measurements that I have seen, B&W speakers don't seem to approach neutrality until the 700 series. Furthermore, the 705 is fairly new and should represent B&W's best efforts for the time being. At my local dealer, I listened to the 600, 601, and 705. I did not bother to check out the 805s and CM 2s. I was not impressed with the 600 series, but definitely liked the 705s. The only problem is that the salesperson played pristine recordings, whereas I only listen to mainstream, poorly produced material. I plan on another demo session with my own CDs later this week. I do have some concerns about the design of the speaker. First, while most designs strive to place the tweeter as close as possible to the midrange driver, the 705's tweeter seems a bit high. This may just be an optical illusion. Secondly, despite the ability to place the tweeter anywhere, the drivers of the 705 are still not time-aligned as advertised. Lastly, the sloped baffle is supposed to reduce diffraction effects, but most traditionally shaped speakers with rounded edges do not seem to have a problem. Is it just form? Or is it really function?

    Closing
    Price is not really a big concern. I just want to know, which is the better speaker for my application? Which is the better speaker overall? Since I will be unable to listen much, I want what little I do hear to be as accurate as possible.
     
  2. Ned

    Ned Supporting Actor

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    Will there be a monitor in-between? I don't think the 705's are shielded. I have the very similar CDM's and I would not use them in that sort of application. Have you seen the new Rocket tykes? Currently $399 for a full 5.1 setup and probably much more suited to a desk.

    tykes
     
  3. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    I hate to be that guy who doesn't answer your question and offers something else . . . but with near-field monitoring and the potential sheilding problem as mentioned above, you should take a look at Genelec. They are used in many professional recording studios and are incredible near-field monitors.
     
  4. CurtisSC

    CurtisSC Screenwriter

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    While I love my Ascend setup, and the CBM-170's are known to have good nearfield performance, I think you would be better off with a speaker designed for nearfield use.
     
  5. Mike^C

    Mike^C Stunt Coordinator

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    Mike
    For near field use, you should really go with Studio grade monitors. They're made for near-field use. I suggest Mackie 824's, they're very popular in studios. They're also active speakers so they have their own amping.

    Review of HR824
     
  6. Yousaf

    Yousaf Second Unit

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    The Mackies are good, but if his speakers need to be shielded those are out of the running.
     
  7. VinhT

    VinhT Second Unit

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    Thanks for the responses.

    I listened to the 705s extensively yesterday evening. Maybe it was the way the room was set up, but it seemed like the more I heard, the less impressed I became. Imaging was pretty good, but depth was quite lacking. I also may have experienced listener fatigue, as I had a headache for the rest of the night.

    The idea of using Mackie HR624s is intriguing. On paper, they look extremely impressive, even more so than comparable Genelecs (although I noticed that Genelec is more honest about their products). I also realized that by not having to purchase a separate amp, I could spend nearly double on the processor if I wanted to. This is definitely a solution that I will have to strongly consider. There is a Mackie dealer near me, so I will try to check them this weekend. Of course, when you can get two drivers, a passive radiator, electronics, and amplification for only $500 each, it does make me wonder about the overall quality of the speaker.
     
  8. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    VinhT, I just noticed you're from Virginia Tech . . . so am I. I actually recommended the Genelecs based on the studio in the music department here at VT. I helped a friend do some recording in there about a year back and the studio had just purchased a 5.1 set of Genelecs that sound wonderful. If you know anyone in the music department you ought to see if you can take a listen (my friend in the department graduated, so I couldn't get you in unfortunately).

    I've never heard the Mackie's, but I've heard some of their PA products that sounded pretty good.
     
  9. Chris Muollo

    Chris Muollo Stunt Coordinator

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    I have my CBM-140s in the exact applicatoin you described, near field and mounted on my desk. They are about 7" from the back wall and I haven't had to block the ports. They sound great and I highly recommend them.
     
  10. David Fabrikant

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    Hi Vinh,

    Thanks for considering our products!

    Actually, the CBM-170 work quite well as nearfield monitors. We have many customers (like Chris) using them in a nearfield situation (less then 1 meter) and the reported results have been excellent. So much so that we have a growing number of recording engineers using them for mixing as desktop monitoring systems.

    Give us a call or send me an email and I would be happy to discuss your situation in detail.
     

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