My quest for a better sounding setup than B&W 685+Marantz


New member
Aug 10, 2019
What I've heard thus far:

Speakers with Marantz Pm8003+Marantz SA8003.

Wharfedale 9.1 - Muddy but had good bass for it's size, was also very punchy sounding.
Wharfedale 10.1 - Sounded alot like the 9.1's (was auditioned on a seperate day from the 9.1's so I can't say whether they sounded better or not)

B&W 685 - Very well balanced speaker with plenty of bass, had no real weaknesses.
B&W 684 - Didn't notice any difference compared to the 685's even though floorstanders are supposedly supposed to give out more bass.

Monitor Audio RX1/RX2 (not sure) - Muddy sounding with boomy, uncontrolled bass.

Epos M5i - Detailed and clear but was missing alot of bass.
Epos M12i - Sounded exactly like the M5i's but had the bass that the M5i's lacked, they did however sounded bright even though the M5i's didn't have this problem.

Amplifiers and CD players with B&W 685 speakers.

The Marantz line were very dynamic/musical sounding. Didn't have any problems with them whatsoever and didn't notice any differences in sound between models but the 6003 series may have been slightly worse in detail and clarity compared to the other Marantz models.

Marantz Pm6003
Marantz Pm7003
Marantz Pm8003
Marantz CD6003
Marantz SA8003

NAD C326BEE - I thought they sounded similar to Marantz. They didn't seem to have as much clarity as the Marantz but this could just be my imagination.

Rotel RA06 - Detailed but dull, unenteraining and bright sounding. I didn't need to spend too much time listening to Rotels before I realised how bad sounding they were.

Ok, now my question is, what combinations of speakers/amplifier/CDP have you heard that share the same sound characteristics as the B&W 685 + Marantz, but is considered a level above them?

I obviously do have a limited budget but you can forget about that for now.

I normally listen to music through a Grado Sr60 directly from my PC's 3.5mm Jack, I listen to all kinds of music and only at lossless of course. These sound great, they are best described as musical/dynamic, punchy, very detailed but however sounded muddled when too much was going on at once, occasionally bright sounding depending on the track, bass can only be heard and not felt, could not do really deep sounding bass.

I am looking for the hifi equivalent or am I just expecting too much without spending thousands of pounds?


I originally only had a £80 Panasonic CD player coax connected to a Beresford DAC (TC-7510), to a Marantz PM 7200 amp and B&W 684s with Chord Crimson interconnect and Chord Carnival SS speaker cable.

Initially, I though this sounded pretty good, but over time realised that all music sounded quite warm with vocals and instrumentals and bass was big and powerful, yet quite boomy and not very clear (experimenting with the foam bungs and room positioning helped a bit). I put this mainly down to the amp, since I had read that this was a characteristic of some Marantz amps.

Then, I borrowed a Rega Apollo CD player from a mate and found it to be excellent, so I bought a new one (£475). It removed a lot of the warm fuzzy kind of taint to the midrange, as well as sounding a lot more detailed, tighter bass, etc. I had also loaned several better interconnects (around £100 price range) and found after a lot of switching and testing that the Atlas Equator Mk2 Superior sounded best in my system (£80). It genuinely made a difference - not so much in the detail (it was vaguely noticeable), but by removing all but the last trace of the warm sound. Not just that, it really brought the high/midrange out - so much sweeter and seemd to make this more pronounced and vivid.. Tigher bass too, which eliminated the need for the bungs - my speakers are not very close to the walls, so before the use of the bungs was false since the boomy quality was down to distortion before the signal got to the speakers.

Deciding I wanted to optimize further, I trialled better speaker cables just to see if this would help. Initially disappointed, since there appeared to be a lot less improvement overall, I tried several cables around £15 - £20. Among several, I found Atlas (again) Hyper 2.0 to be the most improving (marginally over the others).

The main problem with the more expensive cables was that they seemed to almost make my system sound too bright in the midrange (highs were better, more sparkly), and with less impact and slam in the bass, although it was really tight. You said "bass can only be heard and not felt, could not do really deep sounding bass". I must admit I kind of had the opposite to this.

After much messing around, I found that if I bi-wired my existing Chord Carnival SS (bass) with the Atlas Hyper 2.0 (midrange and high) the overall balance was superb. Perfect midrange, highs and nearly perfect bass. A lot more punch with the bass, yet retains the detail and control due to bi-wiring (I am guessing, since the bass was always fairly boomy with just the Chord cable yet weak with just the Atlas).

Basically, I am absolutely flippin' blown away now, that much difference for a few hundred spent on cables (obviously the CD player was the main factor compared to the original set-up). I was listening to a £30k Bryston (CD/AMP) and PMC speaker system in my lcoal hfi shop a few days ago too, and although this makes my system sound cheap, my system is considerably closer - it has that kind of high end feel about it now, despite only costing around £1500. In fact, I initially thought the £30k system sounded too bright, and the soundstage was no bigger than mine, but the detail was fantastic.

Not sure if you are looking to definitely get B&W and Marantz kit, and everyone likes different sounds, but you just have to try and listen to as much config as possible. Obviously, stick with well reviewed products and optimize the setup one chosen. I've always gone for 5 star rated products and never been let down.

Anyone who says cables don't make a difference, try them over a period of time and compare lots, on a system capable of bringing out the extra special attributes to the sound. Psychoacoustics? Maybe to a certain degree (initially when first starting to experiment with new stuff!) but over time, not really since the differences become more recognisable and repeatable after cable swappings.


I'm not much of a believer when it comes to cables but I guess trying different ones won't do no harm, then again, I always do wonder what the salesman is thinking whenever I'm auditioning hifi equipment for hours, or maybe even days, yet leave the shop without buying a single thing because I can find the same equipment elsewhere for cheaper lol


Latest posts