B&W, Aerial 7B -- my impressions, something off?

Hi folks

I have recently started to look at speakers to replace my Thiel 1.2s. The present system consists of
CAL Icon Mk II (no power boss) ->
Sonic Frontiers SFL-1 ->
Classe fifteen ->
Thiel 1.2s.

Everything else is fine, but despite my trying, the system is still on the bright side. It sounds fairly smooth otherwise, but the upper frequencies seem to be tilted up. I would prefer a mellower setup. Given that, I have recently listened to a couple of speakers:

(i) B&W Nautilus 804: Driven by all Krell gear, they sounded much smoother than my system. They did not give up on the high frequencies at all -- those were still there; however, the overall balance was much more to my liking. The only downside -- sweet spot was very small, with small movements of the head changing image positions dramatically.

(ii) Aerial Acoustics 7B: The setup was Pioneer Elite CD -> Levinson pre-amp -> Pass Labs amp -> Aerial. The system sounded harsh! Everything that I threw at it sounded lean. It was not as if the bass frequencies were not there. For example, even on the cut "So what" (Kind of Blue -- special gold edition), the bass was there with the prominent role it plays in the cut, but whenever the horns came in, I felt like running out of the room. My present system sounds much better. Everything else was there, though. Imaging was fantastic and very stable. The moment I switched to the B&W 802s on the same system, though, the system sounded much better balanced (and in comparison, positively sweet). The imaging problem remained, though.

So, what gives? Are these impressions generally spot on, or was there something in either of these set-ups that undermined the speakers' strengths.

Any feedback will be very helpful.


(Amit Mathur)
What type of cables are you using? this could be your problem.

Happy Listening,

7b's- I only heard these once but,

"Where's the bass", is what I walked away with, empty handed.

Do you know if they were broken in well? I had the 7bs and now have other Aerials. These speakers take quite some time to come into their own. When I first received them I wanted a refund. It took at least 100 hours before they sounded good. I really enjoy Aerial so I can't imagine them leaving you disappointed.

Regarding the cables in my present system -- interconnects are MIT (cheap ones between CD and pre-amp, MIT Tube ?? from pre-amp to amp). The speaker wire is Synergistic Research Alpha -- I am considering changing these to something from either MIT or Cardas.

I asked them about the speakers being broken in. The response -- they had been used as demos for the past 12 months. That in itself does not guarantee being broken in, but the likelihood is high.

I also checked on the amps -- they were quite warm, so that was not a problem either. Again, like I said -- the same system sounded much better balanced with B&W Nautilus 802, which are not exactly known for their warmth. I just do not know what was wrong -- previous experiences with Aerial speakers (10t, 8b) was exactly the opposite.

I also heard the 8b's at the same time and my experience was the same as yours.
Something is definitely wrong - sort of. Your impression of the B & W speakers is very accurate; smooth, musical, "sweet", though to my ears not imaging champions and a bit fluffy down low. However, I have never heard Aerial speakers sound like you have described them. They are extremely tight and articulate down low and image like crazy. BUT, they need to be in EXACTLY the right spot in a room, or they simply don't work. Cable and system synergy issues aside, this is most likely the root of the problem. The 7B is a worthy speaker and very solid competition for the 804; between the two it basically boils down your taste in music and what pleases your ear.
I have found very few speakers can match B&W wide dispersion and pinpoint imaging. Only narrow baffle speaker like Audio Physic Virgo 3 were in the same ballpark. Maybe the distance between speakers. Try 8 feet or more apart and sit 8-9 feet away.
Aerial could be CDP - or amp not having enough power to produce bass. That could be the lean perception because the $3,500 Aerials I heard were warmer, richer, less detailed than B&W.