B&W 700 series vs Monitor Audio GR20s

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Daneel, Jan 10, 2004.

  1. Daneel

    Daneel Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2002
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    0
    I demoed the B&W 703s, 704s and Monitor Audio GR20s today hooked up to a Roksan Kandy Mk III amp and Rotel RCD-02. The room was not ideal, it was near a cube and not nearly big enough for these speakers, about 3.5m square. Once I’d settled on the volume level I didn’t touch it for each of the speakers. I didn’t have the use of a SPL meter however so there may have been some variance in volume level. The 703s had around 200 hours of play time, the 700s about 100-150 and I forgot to ask about the GR20s but I’d guess they were at least as well run in.

    The music I used was:

    The Corrs, Unplugged – tracks 2 and 3
    Katie Melua, Call off the Search – tracks 1, 2, 4 and 7
    Natalie Imbruglia, White Lilies Island – tracks 2 and 9
    The Cardigans, Gran Tourismo – track 2

    BTW, am I the only one who takes a note pad into demos?

    Rather than go through each speaker in turn I’ll go through the music and give you an idea of how each speaker performed. Bear in mind that the 704 and GR20 are £1400 while the 703 is £2000.

    Beginning with The Corrs I found the GR20s to have a natural sound to them for both the instruments and the voices. The 700s both had a more prominent midrange however that I felt placed the lead singer firmly in the centre of the soundstage rather than the somewhere in the middle I got from the GR20s. I also felt the 700s had more detail; this was particularly noticeable on the trumpet. As far as bass went the 703s were in the lead. It wasn’t as balanced as I had hoped (the volume of the bass line fluctuated a bit) but I would suggest that was down to the room rather than the speakers. The 704s were just as tight in the bass but didn’t have the same extension or punch as the 703s. The GR20s managed to go lower than the 704s but it seemed a little sloppy in comparison. Punch on all but the bass drum was very nice from the 703s and less so from the other two.

    Moving on to Katie Melua, I found her voice to be very good on all three speakers but the 703s gave a little more detail. Having heard her live twice I know what she should sound like. The GR20s were excellent with the piano on these tracks being a bit more dynamic and injecting a tad more life into the tracks that the 700s. Surprisingly I found the 704s to be more transparent that the 703s. They melted away more frequently than their big brother although again that may have been down to the room which was small for the 704s and GR20s never mind the 703s. The GR20s had a smoother sound which at times was more pleasing than that from the 700s but at others the lack of detail was noticeable.

    With Natalie Imbruglia the bass was most convincing from the 703s. The 700s gave clear highs but the 703s were verging on harsh at times in the vocals, unlike the other two. The GR20s were again smoother than but not as detailed as the 700s. I also noted that the 703s gave better separation of the huge number of instruments than the other two.

    The final test was Erase and Rewind from the Cardigans. The drums and bass on this track are pretty hard to reproduce and all three speakers made a good attempt. The GR20s had plenty punch but were not as tight in the bass as the 703s. The 704s were not as convincing on this track as the other two speakers, particularly the 703s although they had their own problems from a high hat that had a tendency to sound harsh.

    By the end of the demo it was clear to me that there was a definite difference between the 704s and 703s. In particular although the spec was suggest just an extra 2 Hz of bass extension on the 703s I found them to be quite useable alone whereas the 704s would be in need of a sub. I liked the GR20s but the bass just wasn’t tight or detailed enough for me. A sub would perhaps fix the low end but while the smoothness was useful at times, I felt it masked detail on a number of occasions.
     
  2. Daneel

    Daneel Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2002
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    0
    This wasn't actually meant to be a vs thread. I am giving serious consideration to upgrading my 602s3 fronts to the 700 series and when demoing thought I should trying something in the same league for comparison (the GR20s). There doesn't seem to be a lot on the 700 series on these forums so hopefully this will encourge some discussion.
     

Share This Page