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Bowers & Wilkins CM4 Loudspeakers Print E-mail
Monday, 01 October 2001
Article Index
Bowers & Wilkins CM4 Loudspeakers
Page 2
Introduction
ImageThe CM4 ($1,500) is the top-of-the-line speaker in B&W’s new moderately-priced CM line. The CM line consists of three speakers: the stand-mounted CM2, the CMC center channel and the floor-standing CM4 reviewed here. The CM4 speaker weighs in at 40 pounds and is fairly compact at 35.8 inches high, 7.8 inches wide and 11.5 inches deep. The CM4 has a very compact, clean and modern appearance. The well-executed cabinet comes with a real wood veneer of either maple or rosenut. The review samples were a light maple. Upon first glance, it is immediately evident that the design team paid attention to aesthetics. The speaker starts out as a tall, narrow, well-finished maple box with a simple black cloth grille. Once the grille is removed, things get exciting. Beneath the grille is an aluminum baffle with three drivers. The tweeter is on top. Directly beneath the tweeter is the telltale yellow Kevlar midrange with a gray, cone-shaped dust cap. Below that is an aluminum-coned driver with another gray cone-shaped dust cap. The surrounds for the two lower units are a light gray rubber. This speaker, contrary to popular belief, may actually be more aesthetically appealing in a modern design environment with its grille removed. A close review of the speaker will reveal that, despite the moderate price, B&W has not relaxed their standards for superior fit and finish.

The driver complement consists of a one-inch metal dome tweeter, a 6.5-inch Kevlar bass/midrange unit and a 6.5-inch aluminum bass driver. B&W considers this design to be a "two- and-a-half-way" speaker, due to the overlap between the two 6.5-inch driver units. The speaker can be bi-wired if desired. The frequency range is stated as 38Hz to 20Khz and the recommended power range is 50 – 150 watts per channel. The binding posts have plastic plugs that prevent the use of banana plugs, but a determined listener could potentially remove the plastic.

The technological highlights of the CM4, and indeed of the entire CM line, include Nautilus-type tube-loaded tweeters, Kevlar cone midrange and "flowport" porting. The Nautilus tube design reduces the chances of unwanted radiating sound waves from reaching the back of the tweeter, resulting in cleaner highs. The Kevlar driver allows for a stiff and lightweight driver, capable of handling a large bandwidth accurately. Lastly, the "flowport" uses golf ball-type dimples and flared port ends to reduce port turbulence.

Set-Up
I placed the CM4s in my two-channel system, which also includes a Krell 300iL integrated amplifier, a McIntosh Labs MC602 stereo amplifier, a Sunfire Subwoofer Jr., a Yamaha TX-950 tuner, a Theta Data Basic CD transport and Perpetual Technologies DAC, connected with Audio Analysis interconnects. I also experimented with both Audioquest Gibraltar and Monster Cable Z2 Reference bi-wire speaker cables. I found the CM4s need several days of break-in before reaching their sonic potential. My collection of subwoofers were used during set-up but not during any critical listening, as I found subwoofers to be unnecessary after the initial break-in period.

Ultimately, my CM4s were placed close to two feet from the rear wall and exactly six feet apart. I experimented with varying degrees of toe-in. I ended up with only a slight toe-in, perhaps less than one inch.


 

 
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