Review: B&W FPM 6 Monitor

Category: Speakers

Hi-Fi audio speakers have always been a goal of mine, and recently, my wife and I decided to take the dive and get a nice set of speakers. My wife wanted Bose-sized speakers, and I wanted great sounding speakers. Let me say right now that I do not feel compromised in getting the FPM6's! They are fantastic speakers, and are not intrusive in terms of space. They are fairly tall, but are only 5 inches deep, and abou 6.5 inches wide. Now onto the discussion of sound. I'm going to do this a bit differently, and break this review up into musical genres.

Vocal Music: This category is a main reason why I love B&W speakers in general, and particualarly the FPM6's (with 2 kevlar midrange/bass 5 inch cones). I auditioned these against Klipsh and have listened to Martin Logan's, both of whom have flat moniter models - and am thoroughly happy with the vocal clarity and warmth of the FPM's. While listening to Orlando di Lasso's "Tristis est anima mea" (a sorrowful song done by an accapella boys/mens choir) I was able to experience the FULL spectrum of the vocal range. The human voice goes, at it's lowest, around 80hz, which is not a problem for the dual functioning drivers. The depth of the cathedral was apparent in the recording, as was the virtuosity of the chior members, who cleanly articulated all harsh consonants (t's, d's, s's, etc). These speakers are VERY at home with any vocal recordings.

Instrumental: What way is better to test the range and diversity of a speaker, than using a grand scale pipe organ recording? With the largest frequency range of any instrument, and a huge number of tonal selections (reed werkes, trumpet werkes, etc. - oh yes - werkes are the pipes that form the sound quality of different organ sounds). I decided to use J.S. Bach's Preludium et Fuga in Am (BWV 543 for those who care) in my audition. From the soft flute like sounds, to the sharp trumpet werkes, the tonal clarity of the numerous werkes used was fantastic! I could distingush the sounds of the organist's feet clicking on the foot pedals, and fingers tapping on the keyboards - which gave it a very live feel! The bass extention offered by the FPM 6's is very astounding considering their size, but for any bass enthusiasts - they may fall short. The low extention of the organ was realized more fully as I turned the volume up on my receiver, but to get the full feel of this piece, the speakers should be paired with a nice sub (B&W reccomends the PV1 - but I didnt have the money or desire to purchase a sub). Overall, the speakers performed exceedingly well, but again - do not have the low end extention of a full floor standing speaker.

Rock: I listened to Switchfoot's "This is your life," since it distplays many electronica sounds and also has a lot of edgy distortion and fuzz. You'll hear distortion in a whole new way with these drivers. I'm a guitarist and play guitar with distortion all the time, and the only other times I've heard it so crip was when I was recording in the studio. Needless to say the guitar reproduction was more than satisfactory. The drums brought out the analytical side of the speakers. B&W speakers in general, being used as studio moniters becuase of this quality, do have the ability to distinguish many 'voices' and have them all come across very cleanly. I could listen to the track over and over, focusing on one aspect (the ride cymbal for example) and learn something new each time. This may be a good or bad quality depending on your opinion. They don't 'tear apart the music,' but they are a warm speaker which can distinguish between many different sound qualityies.

Jazz: For all the cool cat's out there, you cant have a musical genre review without Jazz! Albeit - some may not see my choice of Nora Jones 'shoot the moon' as true jazz, but I chose it largely because she uses a VERY acoustic and earthy band - which is hard to reproduce accuratly (especially the acoustic bass). The FPM 6's DID reproduce it accuratly. From the nuaces of Nora's sublte piano playing, the harmonics on the acoutis guitar, to the hollow sound of the acoustic bass, the details were captured. Nora's voice came thru cleanly and evenly - again - vocal music is part of the reason I chose these speakers.

Conclusion: I never realized how much I truely liked these speakers until I sat down to review them. I gave them about a month to break in and open up (which they did) and fell in love with the sound all over again! These speakers are very solid - and you get what you expect - a great sounding system. I'm no audiophile, but I am a musician with a critial ear who loves to listen! I should mention that these speakers are mounted on the optional floor stands - which helps the imaging tremendously. Hope this review helped.

Associated gear
Rotel RSX 1052 Receiver (stereo 100 W.P.C)
Toshiba CD player
Monster HTS2000 A/C Filter
Monster MK100 RCA interconnects

Similar products
Klipsh - Flat monitor range
Martin Logan Fresco
"I'm no audiophile, but I am a musician with a critial ear who loves to listen!"
You, kind sir, ARE an audiophile, at least in my book! After all, you have a critical ear, love to listen, AND have written a loudspeaker review, PLUS you're a musician! (I'm an "audiophile" and I take piano lessons, but I'm no "musician"--LOL!). It would seem to me that you are an audiophile, but maybe you just haven't been one for very long. Welcome to the "club", and happy listening!
p.s. I should have mentioned it above, but at least can say it now: Very nice review, you really covered the "werkes". I listen to Bach organ fugues also. Have always wondered what BVW stood for, but never bothered to look it up. So, what DOES BVW stand for?*

*Footnote: It's a dumb question, perhaps, but curiosity trumps my pride and laziness trumps my curiosity, so I never looked it up, and since you brought it up, well...
Thanks for the kind words Bill. You're exactly on target in terms of me being new to the world of hi-fi listening - so I guess I could be an audiophile, though I've never thought of myself as one. By the by - keep up the piano playing!
Ahh the werkes - speaking of which, you're question brings up an error in my review... I should have typed BWV - Bach Werke-Verzeichnis (German: catalogue of Back's works) instead of BVW (which actually is a common mistake even in many cases). Either way, he was a fantastic composer, and I love listening to his stuff, as well as who knows how many others (i'm on a Faure kick at the moment). Enjoy the music.
"Ahh the werkes - speaking of which, you're question brings up an error in my review... I should have typed BWV - Bach Werke-Verzeichnis (German: catalogue of Back's works) instead of BVW (which actually is a common mistake even in many cases)."
Ummmmm.....uh.....YEAH.....that's EXACTLY what I was that you mention it!

OK, maybe not.

Actually, I HAD honestly wondered (for a long time, in fact) what that meant and had GUESSED in the ballpark but, as mentioned, never looked it up. Thanks for the answer.

Also, I DO plan to keep up the piano, but it's very clear to me that I stink at it! I'm doing it only in the vain hope that the Mozart Effect seen in kiddos might also occur to some extent in adults. No guarantees, as this line of wishful thinking bets heavily on the hope the neurological plasticity persists to any significant degree in adults. It's a very safe bet that you're ALREADY more of an audiophile than I am a musician! Welcome to the club. Your next rite of passage probably involves looking into one of the many Clever Little Clock threads, if you have the time for it.