Bad rap for Cambridge Soundworks?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by ScottK, Dec 1, 2001.

  1. ScottK

    ScottK Extra

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2001
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hello everyone.. I've been reading this board for

    many months now and finally decided to become a

    member and post (first time)

    I was just wondering why there isn't much support

    for Cambridge Soundworks setups? When I purchased

    a little set for my PC years ago ($100) Everyone

    was amazed at the sound quality. Now I've ordered

    their Movieworks 5.1 setup (dipole w/12" sub) after

    reading good reviews. I know they are no Paradigm or

    super high end company, but it seems like nobody here

    gives them a thumbs up, and (gulp!) ranks them as a

    cheap Bose... What gives? Would appreciate comments,

    and hearing from anyone who has a CSW MW 5.1 setup.

    Thanx!

    ScoTT
     
  2. Sam Rossi

    Sam Rossi Extra

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Scott, I previously owned the CSW Movieworks 5.1 and for the money (purchased as re-furbished on Ebay) it was a darn good rig. Prior to that I owned Boston Acoustics but couldn't afford the VR 5.1 ensemble and wanted a 5.1 set-up, desperately. The affordable solution was the CSW.

    I have recently upgraded to Monitor Audio Bronze and there is to my ears a pronounced difference in overall sound quality over the CSW.

    Why doesn't CSW get its due, here ? In my humble opinion there are a couple reasons. 1) Quite honestly when you audition even the affordable/entry-level offerings from B&W, Paradigmn, Monitor Audio, Definitive Technology and Energy the CSW's just don't stand-up. If you haven't given these brands a listen do yourself a favor and seek them out at a specialty audio salon near you. You won't be sorry. Or, go for the CSW's which can be a great deal as long as you don't pay retail.

    2) To put it bluntly and this is not how I feel, CSW has no "cachet", that is it is a mass marketed product sold mailorder with little distinction in ownership. At least that's what I detect is implied from responses to queries like yours.

    I think the bottom line is, to state the obvious since speaker choice is so subjective, is what value are you getting for your dollar and are you satisfied ? Good luck with your decision.
     
  3. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2001
    Messages:
    549
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Actually, I think that CSW is better than BoseÑin terms of value for money and performance. I don't know if they get a bad rap, but they certainly haven't really done anything to make themselves stand out from the crowd for HTF folk. The Movieworks set-up that you've purchased is very decent in my bookÑprovided you're not trying to fill too large a room or using it for serious 2-channel music. I almost bought the same set-up about a year ago when I was living in a very small apartment. Not sure what the prices on the CSW speakers are these days, but I remember it was a VERY affordable way to get into HT. If this is your first intro to HT, it's not a bad way to go. And if you want to upgrade later, it'll make a nice bedroom system.

    What receiver are you using to drive them? I can't remember all the specs now, but I believe the bass cube that comes with Movieworks is passive. Again, memory could be betraying me here, but if the cube is indeed passive, make sure you have enough power to drive the cube and still deliver some punch for the other speakers.

    Anyways, for me the bottom line on CSW is that they make decent small satellites, but when you go up the line, there is quite literally, a world of competitors out there who do a better job for around the same price. Good luck!
     
  4. ScottK

    ScottK Extra

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2001
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It is my first dip into 5.1, and I have not yet

    purchased a reciever (shopping around online right

    now!) Considering a low end Onkyo, trying to find

    the website for Outlaw everyones talking about just

    to take a peek. As I said before, I was really impressed

    with CSW's computer speakers. A friend of mine has

    their 5.1 desktop speakers, and once I heard Santanna's

    DVD in 5.1 there was no listening to just 2 speakers

    anymore. Also the Movieworks includes a 12" sub with

    integral 100 watt amp, so it should cover the bottom

    end pretty well. I live in a small apartment, which is

    actually a remodeled barn & silo (very nice) it has

    one main room and a sloped but high ceiling, I have

    nobody else living besides me (yet) but my landlord,

    and he's a good friend. For an entry level system in

    an apartment, I'm hoping the CSW setup fits my needs.

    I would love to go crazy, but I have another expensive

    hobby that sucks up my resources! I'll report back

    when I get my system setup, and maybe even post some

    pictures. I'm on a business trip right now in Oklahoma,

    and wont be back for a few weeks to set it up however..

    Thanks for the quick replys, hope there are more opinions

    to come!

    Thanx,

    ScoTT
     
  5. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2001
    Messages:
    549
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    ScottK,

    It sounds to me like you're on the right track for a painless entry into 5.1 sound. It's good that the bass cube is powered and your consideration of the low end Onkyos is a good option. I have the old TX-DS484 and even though it's fairly modest in power rating, I have no problem driving my Paradigms (Monitor 5, CC-170 and Atoms) with them. I suspect the new 494 and 595 should do the trick for you. However, if you think you might want to upgrade in the future with more power, I'd also consider the Denon 1802 which has pre-outs for the L,R and C. The Outlaw is also a very good bet, provided you don't care about DPLII. I'm probably getting one after the holidays, once I get all the Christmas shopping out of the way. Have fun setting up!
     
  6. Chuck Kent

    Chuck Kent Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 29, 1999
    Messages:
    983
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    IMO, based on the few models I have heard, I feel that CSW is a good value. The last time I checked, they offered a 10 year warranty on most of their line. And, like you note, they are more reasonably priced than the "B" word.

    I have not heard the new Newton series, but the original models have not been noted for being the most detailed speakers out there. (IMO, that is not necessarily all bad. Super detailed sound can also induce listening fatigue over time...) I believe that this lack of detail may be (in many users ears) the biggest obstacle.
     
  7. Russell _T

    Russell _T Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2001
    Messages:
    579
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    www.outlawaudio.com
    And do yourself a favor and audition some of the other entry level speakers mentioned above. Also check out this site for reviews of some better entry level set ups. After all you will probably end up living with this system longer than you anticipate, and auditioning costs nothing but a little time and should be fun. www.cheaphometheater.com.
    Russ
     
  8. Mike Burke

    Mike Burke Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2001
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Well as an owner of CSW's for 7 years..I think they are underrated! When I bought my Ensamble II's in Aug 1994 they were $460.00 and the Bose's were $700.00. I didn't feel there was enough of a price difference to warrant the cost increase! As the years progressed the lines started getting better.

    The Newton Series can EASILY compete with the Paradigm, B&W, Klipsch series!!! The T500's have great bass, excellent mids and highs AND do not require lots of amplification (Paradigm Studio 100's yeah that was to you!!!) For the budget minded consumers..CSW's deserve a fair audition!!!

    Mike
     
  9. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2001
    Messages:
    963
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Scott, If you're thinking of CSW speakers, I'd stick with the new Newton line. FWIW, I recently upgraded to them and like them a lot. My general opinion tends to be - stay away from the smaller micro-satellite (one driver speakers especially) packages whether its Bose, CSW, Polk, or any other company. You'll get much more bang for the buck with a good set of bookshelf speakers (for CSW that would be the Newton M50s or M80s) and then match the center and rears to them. But as others have said, let your ears be the judge.

    cheers,

    --tom
     
  10. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2000
    Messages:
    3,185
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I went to check out The Newton series' largest bookshelf speaker, the M80. It was on sale for $300.00/pair, originally $450.00/pair. I have to say the M80 is definitely one of the best-sounding bookshelf speaker I've heard. And I've owned some of them, like the NHT Superone, Paradigm Mini-Monitor, and the JBL S26. Excellent workmanship on the cabinet and the drivers. Excellent sound quality. And I've not even gotten to the 10 year warranty. I hope people can hear these excellent speakers a chance.
     
  11. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    I completely agree with ThomasL. The Newton line is far superior to the regular line of CSW speakers, though the lower line is not awful. On sale, it is hard to beat the M80 or M60. I would not go with the M50 - not quite enough bass. Definitely an overlooked line of speakers.

    For HT, there are also the MC Newtons, which are also not bad at all.
     
  12. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2001
    Messages:
    963
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I got the M50s, mostly because of space constraints (nothing bigger than 10 inches high and 7 inches wide). At $200/pair on sale, they were comparable to the Paradigm Atoms which were $190/pair at my local dealer. Unfortunately, they were a little too tall. But for sound, they were both good sounding to me.

    As for the MC line, the MC300 is a nice center speaker. The MC500 was way too big for me but if you have a big enough tv to put it on, then for $50 more (on sale), it would be worth it. The main problem with the MC line, unless you are more constrained space-wise, the bookshelf models offer better value. A pair of MC200s is $300/pair - the same price as a pair of M80s on sale and you can get the M50s for the above mentioned price. I needed a pair of rears to match this line and in the end bought a pair of S300s for $300/pair which essentially in direct mode is an MC200 yet you get more flexibility with the dipole/bipole settings. How much I don't know but it seems to me that the MC200 is overpriced. I think my choice would be another pair of M50s for the rears if I could fit them and still get a high WAF rating. I have halfmoon shelves in the rear (purchased well before these speakers) and the S300s are halfmoon shaped so the WAF rating is high at the moment. And it doesn't appear that the M50s are currently on sale although I've found CSW to be flexible when it comes to price. If you got something on sale previously, they seem to be willing to sell the same thing to you for that sale price.

    cheers,

    --tom
     
  13. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    I had Atoms, and returned them for the same reason I wasn't as impressed with the M50 - just not quite enough bass response. Both are quite detailed though.

    The MC line sounds good, but I have to agree, now that they dropped the prices of the M60 & 80 to what I would consider resonable, they are a good value for what you get and are comparable to plenty of other good speakers out there.
     
  14. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2001
    Messages:
    963
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    John, yes, the M80s do give you that little extra bass down under 60-70Hz. I think I'd recommend the M80s over the M60s for people since it's a 3 driver unit and I wonder whether the M60s may be lacking a little in the midrange while trying to handle more bass than the M50s. While on that subject, I should mention that while I liked the Newton line, I wasn't as impressed with the BassCube subs and couldn't afford the higher price Newton subs (a friend has a P500 and likes it a lot). My space was also very constrained (width mostly) so I went with a Paradigm PDR-8 over a CSW sub. It blends in well with the M50s for my smallish room.

    cheers,

    --tom
     
  15. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    I forgot to mention the subs also. The CSW subs are not bad for punch, but do not have the low end excursion (I have not heard the 8s, but it is supposed to be better). The Newton subs, however, I was VERY impressed with, but not their price. Lots of power and very smooth sound for both music and HT.
     
  16. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2001
    Messages:
    549
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think that part of CSW's problem is that they have a bit of an identity crisis going. On the one hand, as many in this thread of noted, they have some very good speakers in the Newton line--stuff that would compete with the Paradigms, PSBs and NHTs of this world. But that's a very crowded market place. In order to stand out, brands like Paradigm, PSB and NHT appeal to the inner-audiophile in all of us--people who want to get on the high-end ladder without paying big bucks. The problem for CSW is that they present themselves as a mass consumer/retail player. In the mass market JSP arena, people are less willing to pay for the quality of the Newton line--while the people who would appreciate the quality of the Newtons (like people in this thread) have a wide selection of similar or better speakers at around the same price points. I think they need to separate their mass market position from their high-end ambitions in order to gain better respect/regard for their Newton stuff.
     
  17. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    Eujin, I think that is a very good point.
     
  18. Peter Gordon

    Peter Gordon Auditioning

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2001
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I tried the M80s as the three fronts. A lot of speaker for the money. I ended up with the SVS for a sub and B&W CM series fronts. In the end, I decided to spent more for the long run- the B&Ws were just more detailed, and this was worth it to me. The P1000 sub is fairly good- not an SVS, but it has a better WAF.
     
  19. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 1999
    Messages:
    2,568
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    If anyone is looking for a pair of good switchable dipole/bipole surrounds on a limited budget. They still have the Surround 5.1 for $199/pair. I've been using them with an inexpensive subwoofer for several years and I am very pleased with the results. They come in off white and charcoal. With their 45 day return policy you can't go wrong.
     

Share This Page