b&w 685: heard 'em, liked 'em, but wondering

howdy audiogon community,

Im looking to buy a pair of new speakers for no more than $700 or so. They will be my first pair of somewhat decent speakers and powered by an 80w per channel marantz receiver. In shops I've been listening to the b&w 685 and cm1, dali ikons 1 and 2 and some speakers from paradigm and kef.

While I do like what I hear coming from the 685s- for the money, It sounds damn good- I am wondering if there's any other new speakers out there worth considering within my budget before I bring home the 685s.

My taste in music is fairly varied. I find myself listening to albums by the following- Wilco, Leo Kottke, The Allman Brothers Band, Charlie Parker and Sublime. That said, I would rather see more of my money go towards reproducing detailed mids and highs than powerful bass.

Looking around this site, I'm humbled by the knowledge and dedication you all have for hi-fi. I'm new to it all and am eager to hear some recommendations.

If you get the chance you might want to listen to the Usher S-520. Also if possible check out Energy RC-10, and the NHT Classic Two and Three. Used some Quad 11L or 12L would fit into you budget, and would probably sound very well with your Marantz receiver.
If you really want the most for your money I highly recommend GR-Research kits. I just built there NEO-2x for $800 and crushes a lot of speakers under $3k IMO.
I suggest you take a listen to Vandersteen offerings
I have the 685s in my living room and absolutely love them. While its not in the system I use for critical listening, they are so musical that I have absolutely no intention of changing them. I power them with a Rotel integrated and a the Rotel 1072 cd player. Absolutely wonderful! They have adequate bass, a nice lush midrange and a fatigue free treble. They actually are mounted sideways in a bookcase and yet they still image fairly well. They are not as neutral as the Revel M22s I use upstairs in my serious rig they are just as satisfying in what they do.
Check out the Kef IQ9's from audio advisor for around $700 on blowout! They were rated product of the year by Hi Fi + along side the Magico V3's ($20K+ speaker). Read the reviews and you may find yourself buying something you can consider truly high end and worthy of holding on to for many years to come:)
If you are willing to buy used, here are a couple speakers to consider:

- Green Mountain Audio Europa
- Vandersteen 2ce or 2ce Signature (the sigs will be tough to find in your price range)

And you may also want to investigate Trianglezerius' suggestion of the GR Research kit /w cabinets from Parts Express. I've not heard them, but Danny is a good guy, and his kits do have a solid following.
You may want to check out the Era D4 or D5:


When I auditioned the D4s they were noticeably superior to the correspondingly priced B&W monitors using a receiver.
I've had the 685's in my PC system (Musical Fidelity DAC, Cayin A50T, M Audio Firewire, Monarchy DIP) for about 8 months and still can't beleve how good they sound for $600 bucks. They image nicely, have decent bass, awesone soundstage, low level detail and are not fatiguing at all. They are also pretty transparent. I am very happy with them. I have each of them sitting on three symposium fat pads.
What powered subwoofer would you suggest to use with the B&W 685 speakers?

Also, would these work well in a 12'x14' room?
I can't/won't recommend any particular sub, but will say that you should seek out one that is intended for music rather than home theatre. I'm using a Paradigm PW2200 right now and, well, I just think that there is something not right about the combo with my 685s. Unfortunately, I lack the proper vocabulary to articulate what I want to say about the combo.
Will the Marantz receiver drive the B&Ws properly? Are they not a somewhat difficult load...typical of most B&Ws? I'm suggesting some impedance dip coupled with some high phase angle type issue.
You may also want to consider the Rega RS1 because they are a fine sounding speaker and easy to drive.