Spendor A5 vs B&W CM8 / CM9 and finding a suitable amp

westerniser

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Apr 8, 2010
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Hello all,
I tried some speakers today - KEF XQ30 (really enjoyable, natural sound but the bass seemed a bit light) and the B&W CM9 (sounded really good - a nice big sound with lots of detail and clarity, much better than the CM8 and the 684). These were twinned with a Yamaha A-S500, which sounded pretty good, although a later trial with a Creek amp (at around £1000 I seem to remember) sounded more natural, it sounded softer and more enjoyable.
I have just read about the Spendor A5 speakers and looking to demo them soon. Has anyone any opinion/experiences of the A5 speakers vs the B&W CM9 in particular, or perhaps the CM8 or the KEF XQ30?
I like a wide range of music and listen to it a lot, although much of it comes from my laptop these days (I always aim for the highest quality files) and I hardly buy CDs, so I guess a DAC will be required too. I would say, however, my music taste leans towards minimal electronic, some progressive bands like Radiohead and some odd dubstep and soulful material like James Blake and not to mention a good helping of jazz. I generally like carefully produced, clean sounding music as opposed to hectic and full bodied rock and roll / hip hop / pop etc.
Just a bit of background; last year I bought some AVI ADM9.1. I tried them for 6 months but didn't really get on with the sound. I found them a little muffled and also light on the bass (as most people report). Anyway, being popular, they sold easily.
So, with this in mind, please can anyone shed some light on the speakers and perhaps recommend a good amp? I was thinking of spending up to £1000 on the amp but ideally looking around the £500 mark. I guess the speakers will come in at £1500 and a DAC, say an Arcam rdac, for around £300, so I'm looking at around £2500-£2800 for my total budget.
Many thanks, I'm looking forward to hearing your views!
 
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Anonymous

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I've heard all the speakers but with different amps and sources but these were my findings:

B&W CM8's and CM9's

Both superb speakers and well finished as well. Heard these with a shop demo system: Arcam FMJ A32 integrated, FMJ P35 power amp and a Rega Saturn & Audiolab 8200CDP's. System sounded fantastic with both sets of speakers but my choice would have been the CM8's as they had more 'wife friendly' appeal to them re their size but also they would have suited my room size a lot more as well.

I have heard the CM9's with a Cyrus 8XPd and iTunes via an iPad but it wasnt an all out demo; just a stand and listen demo (still sounded superb though).

I've heard the Spendor A5 speakers (which I've recently won on the comp on here and no idea what to do with them as of yet
smiley-undecided.gif
) with a Cyrus 8XPd amp and Rega Saturn CDP as well as a Cyrus 8XP amp with the Cyrus XPower power amp and PSX-R with the Audiolab 8200CDP and a NAD C165BEE pre/C275BEE power amp set-up matched with the Arcam DAC and music from a MacBook

The Cyrus/Spendor system sounded fantastic; even more so when the power amp and PSX-R's were added. Very smooth and detailed with plenty of punch but an overall quality soundstage with superb midrange and crisp/clear treble.

The NAD/Spendor system sounded great but for me the NAD sound wasnt at it's best through the Spendors. Along came some Monitor Audio GS20's and GS60's and that ALL changed (for the better IMO) but I'm a huge NAD & Monitor Audio fan!

If you're looking at buying these speakes then numerous demo's are needed; more so with your own music etc...

The Yamaha amp, as good as it may be for the budget range, is out of it's depth with the above mentioned speakers IMO

You REALLY need to be looking (at a minimum) at amps like the Cyrus 6XP, Rotel RA1520, Creek Evo II, Leema Pulse and NAD C356BEE to be getting the best out of the speakers & above as well.

Do you have an idea of what other brands youre able to demo? Do you want all brand new as well or will you look at decent quality 2nd hand seperates (i.e. more bang for your buck etc...)?
 

westerniser

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Thanks for the repsonse - that's really useful.

I'm flexible on things being ex-demo or on eBya, it's just finding them that's sometime tricky for specialist kit like this.

I think I will try the Cyrus, Creek Evo2, NAD C356BEE (Quite like this option as it has tone controls for the neighbours!) and I was also thinking about trying the Naim 5i, which I could pick up for about £600.

The Spendors that you won, are they black by any chance?
 
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Anonymous

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westerniser said:
Thanks for the repsonse - that's really useful.

I'm flexible on things being ex-demo or on eBya, it's just finding them that's sometime tricky for specialist kit like this.

I think I will try the Cyrus, Creek Evo2, NAD C356BEE (Quite like this option as it has tone controls for the neighbours!) and I was also thinking about trying the Naim 5i, which I could pick up for about £600.

The Spendors that you won, are they black by any chance?

Haha sorry no; I've asked for Light Oak but Black was my 2nd choice
smiley-undecided.gif


With regards to amps; the Naim is 'ok' but IMO doesnt have the right sound nor depth of soundstage for the B&W or Spendor speakers

Those speakers do need an amp with some good grunt behind it; the likes of a decent 2nd hand Cyrus 8VS2 integrated with the XPower amp would be a superb combo IMO but so would a decent 2nd hand Arcam FMJ A32 integrated and again, perhaps with a decent FMJ P35 power amp (this combo is currently for sale on another known hifi forum website)!

If you can defintely have a listen to the Rotel RA1520; it's a superb amp indeed
 

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