Bowers and Wilkins: CM5 vs. 805 vs. 800 Diamond

I don’t really consider myself an “audiophile”, but I can appreciate music when it’s reproduced well. I went to Best Buy with my dad this past weekend to check out some of their audio gear.

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This is a standard bookshelf speaker that puts out a lovely sound. It creates a warm sound and favors trebles. Mid tones pop as well, especially when you hear instruments like bongos—yes, they almost sound real. The only thing the CM5’s need are a strong subwoofer. A pair of CM5’s run about $1500-1600 new.

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Okay, these are probably the best looking speakers. They have the sound the match their looks… as well as a hefty price tag. The 805 Diamonds are sharp and slightly fuller than the CM5’s. The best part is, they sound even better the louder you go. However, like the CM5’s they need a subwoofer to fill in some of the lower tones. Trebles are sparkly, mid tones are full and crisp. You also start getting a sense of sound staging with these speakers—you can close your eyes and visualize where instruments are being played. They run about $5k new.

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Lastly, I listened to the 800 Diamonds. Let’s first start off by saying that they’re insanely expensive… They run $15k new. If the price wasn’t so damn high, I would say these were great speakers. I honestly believe that you can set up something better for a fraction of the cost. Don’t get me wrong, the sound was great, but the 800’s weren’t astonishing.

After listening to these speakers back to back, I’ve found a new appreciation for achieving better audio for less money. My dad has a pair of Boston Acoustic monitors (judiciously powered by separate amps) paired with a 10″ Velodyne sub… and they sound BETTER than the most expensive setup at Best Buy. I’m not the only one who believes this—my dad has been complimented by several people with audio setups that cost over $25k.

After looking at everything, I’m seriously considering getting the exact same set up as my dad. This means that I’ll have to try finding some vintage gear.