Comparison of B&W's 685s and CDM or 805 Nautilus?

Hi Folks,

as I've posted elsewhere, I'm on an upgrade kick for my 2 channel setup. I'm shopping used Rotel, Creek, NAD and Musical Fidelity amplifiers. (yeah, pretty broad, depending on budget.)

For speakers, I have listened to B&W's 686 and 685 speakers and I really like their sound. I also love the CM1s and of course the killer 805 Nautilus.

My budget allows for either the 686 new or something used. I'm shopping the CDM range and the older 805 Matrix. Is it safe to assume that the older models sound better than the new 68 series, seeing that they were higher end when new? I don't have a local shop where I can compare new B&Ws to older models.

any advice appreciated

That's a good and tough question since "better" is clearly a subjective measure. But given some fundamentals, I think it's fair to say that older Nautilus and CDM series would quite easily outperform current 600 series in overall performance.

This would be primarily due to cabinet construction. My CDM cabinets exhibit a relatively dead response to the old knuckle rap test as compared to my 603s and 601s. They are less resonant and provide a more stable foundation for the drivers. In my experience (and room) the outboard tweeter nacelle in the CDM has a profound affect on soundstage, expecially height.

So while the active components of the newer 600 series incorporates some great trickle down refinement, I believe the design and construction differences found in even the older CDM and Nautilus series to have a more significant impact.
I would agree with Kjweisner - I've heard the 685s and own the CDMSE1s, and while the 685 are indeed great speakers for the dough, the CDMs, in my opinion, are much more refined and ultimately more truthful to the recording space and detail - soundstage is deeper and easier to see into. YMMV of course!
Hi Guys,

thanks for your response. the CDM1s for sale on ebay look beautiful and I'm quite interested in trying them out. Ebay also has some CM2s that look quite nice.

I had some CDM 1NTs and really liked them, they were an excellent speaker for the money. They were so good that at the time I could not justify the cost of the 805s so I enjoyed them for 5 years. Upon looking for a replacement I auditioned the 705s and 805s again. I ended up buying PSB M2 Platinums in the end because to me they were an incredible speaker for the money but I miss the CDMs, if I could have afforded to keep them I would have.

I think used CDMs represent the best value and balance of sound quality for the buck vs. new 600 series.
I agree with others here, CDM1SE-is an excellent value-they
sound great--
I have 2 pair-about 2 yrs ago upgraded to Merlin TSM-yes the Merlins sound better--but I still recommend the cdm-
I have owned many b&w's--for the $$ vs sound the cdm's are
hard to beat.