Bowers & Wilkins 705 S3 loudspeaker Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Digital sources: Oppo Digital UDP-105 universal disc player; Custom Intel/Win11 music server running JRiver Media Center v30 and Roon; exaSound s88 Mark II and Okto DAC8 PRO D/A processors; QNAP TVS-873 NAS.
Preamplifiers: Coleman Audio 7.1SW for balanced source switching.
Power amplifiers: Benchmark AHB2, NAD C 298.
Loudspeakers: KEF Blade 2 Meta; Revel Performa3 F206; SVS SB-3000 subwoofer.
Cables: Digital cables: AudioQuest Coffee (USB). Analog interconnects: Benchmark Studio&Stage XLR-XLR; Kubala-Sosna Anticipation (RCA); Cardas Cross (subwoofers). Speaker cables: Benchmark Studio&Stage; Blue Jeans Canare 4S11.
Accessories: Furman Elite-15 DM i; Brick-Wall BrickWall 8RAUD; and CyberPower 850PFCLCD UPS power conditioners; Teddy Pardo 12V PS (for exaSound s88); HDPLEX 300W Linear Power Supply; AC filter (for server).
Room: 24' L × 14' W × 8' H, furnished with 2 MSR Acoustics Dimension4 SpringTraps in the front corners. Sidewalls lateral to L/R speakers have 2" thick, 2' wide floor-to-ceiling OC 705 panels. Front wall has large windows partly covered by fabric drapes and 4" thick 2' × 4' OC 705 panels. Rear of room opens into 10' × 7' foyer and a 12' × 8' dining area.—Kalman Rubinson

Bowers & Wilkins North America
5541 Fermi Ct. N.
CA 92008
(800) 370-3740

jimtavegia's picture

This speaker is probably right up my alley as it follows the Harman headphone curve I need these days. My only concern is the price with the stands as mentioned.

There are so many great floor speakers at $4K that would take up the same amount of floor space and fill out the bass region somewhat better. Still a great review with excellent info.

Ortofan's picture

... using an equalizer, such as the Schiit Lokius (or Loki Max) - along with the speaker of your choice.
While this B&W speaker has a high frequency peak at about 10kHz, the Harman curve peaks at around 3-4kHz.
Likewise, you could dial in however much bass boost is desired.

It'd be interesting to have a direct comparison between the 705 S3 ($3.4k + stands) and the floorstanding 704 S3 ($4k) to find out which one might be the better option for about the same total cost.

jimtavegia's picture

Your point is well taken and I would love a follow up review as you suggested.

I have looked at the EQs from Schiit as well. I have seen that the AKG K612 follow the Harman curve even better and I prefer the bass left flat for my tastes. I have found the Vali a very nice headphone amp as well and it does not have a "tube sound" that I can detect, but just sounds great to me, slightly less than my Asgard.

I have gone this route to not bother my family as much with all my music listening. I have had headphone amps from Art, Presonus, and Focusrite from my ex-USB box and the Schiit's all beat them quite easily and I have passed the others along to family and friends who could use them. Two of them are multi-headphone output models.

This might have been ever more interesting to compare the B&W's vs the KEF LS50 Meta, but the prices are quite different. This might be a good follow up for JA1.

Trevor_Bartram's picture

The Koss KSC75 headphones have gentle boost in the midrange you're seeking. They use a titanium coated polymer driver to achieve the 'sound'. Other Koss headphones using the same basic driver do not use titanium and don't have the 'sound'. The KSC75s are very inexpensive (<$20).

jimtavegia's picture

I have enjoyed my AKG K701s and just bought Monday a pair of AKG K612's for $140 off Amazon. They have a little more bass from 100hz to 400hz which makes them slightly warmer and fuller sounding with the same highs as the K701s. They are not broken in yet, but I think that based on the music it is an easy choice to pick which cans will sound better "to me". If you have excellent HF hearing you might enjoy the K612 better. The K701's are now $200 on Amazon. No dealer stocks AKG around here.

My Tony Kadleck Big Band CD "Sides" came yesterday and it is superbly recorded and sounds great. Don't miss it.

cognoscente's picture

What applies to wines also applies to audio. Or fashion. Prices are not objectively determined by quality but by prestige. I am now in the middle of the Bordeaux 2022 subscription campaign and bought a 96 point wine (average of at least 10 reviews) for 55 euros, while a wine with the same rating came on the market today for 302 euros. I would expect all 96 point wines to be about the same price. Not so, certainly not even. And 97-98 points wines are for sale from 150 euros to 999 euros. I also see it in audio, perhaps less strongly but still. Prestige determines the price and success. What is B&W type of wine?

Ortofan's picture

... variety of grapes and the production process are specified by a vintner located in the UK, while the grapes are grown and the wine made and bottled in China?

cognoscente's picture

Viewed exactly does any comparison fall short on the basis of differences that are always there, indeed. I'm just trying to make a point and clarify. Btw there is also sympathetic made-in-China like my Holo Audio dac. Invented, designed and made by Chinese in a small factory in China. To me that is the same as made-in-UK or made-in-EU or made-in-USA. Even though wages are lower there. But they are also in Greece or Italy, just to name two countries where audio also comes from.. Then we are not even talking about Romania. But I get your point.

And there is Iranian wine. Grapes from Iran, shipped to France where they are made into wine and then sold as Iranian wine world wide. Except in Iran itself, although people there make their own wine in the cellar.

Anton's picture

Is there a certain method to how they taste and rate the wines you mention?

If there are two 96 points ones, what happens if you prefer one over the other?

cognoscente's picture

As for wine ratings and reviews, I think and hope the same as with audio. Professionals who put aside subjective preference and judge it by objective standards. As I trust (some) audio reviewers, I do the same with wine reviewers. If everyone has more or less the same opinion, I trust it. Not if one or two reviewers love it and everyone else just likes it.

And yes, in the end it is the end consumer who makes an individual and personal choice. But the pre-selection, at least I leave it to professionals, after all, there is too much on the market to make the big pre-selection yourself.

PeterG's picture

A great review of a fine speaker. But having owned 3 B&W stand-mounts over the years, I'd say they are really meant to be paired with a good subwoofer. Though this adds obvious issues into the review process, I'd love to know how they'd fair against the Revels and KEFs when given an extra boost for the low stuff

Long-time listener's picture

I just don't understand why B&W continue to think that boosting the highs is such a good thing. Even listened to way off axis, the response is still significantly high between 4-8 KHz. And it's not really balanced by deep bass. As John Atkinson said, the measurements are a bit "enigmatic." I.e., puzzling.

David Harper's picture

I bought a pair of B&W stand-mounted speakers a few years ago. They were very well reviewed in the audio press. I think they were model 606(?) I don't remember. Brought them home and listened for a week.I hated them.
They sounded LOUD, harsh,bright and unlistenable. Returned them to Best Buy. I was used to Polk speakers which have a very smooth laid-back sound so maybe that's why I hated the B&w speakers.

Ortofan's picture

... high-frequency peak represents an ideal response curve, you wonder why they don't include a switch/control that would allow the selection of something closer to a flat(ter) frequency response, let alone a slight roll-off.

Given that the woofer and tweeter connections are brought out to separate terminals, one could experiment with an external network to bring down the high-frequency peak.

jimtavegia's picture

Maybe their new marketing plan should include AARP's magazine.

remlab's picture

paired with a relatively large, baffled midbass. Looks cool, but from a physics perspective, it's just a terrible idea. I'm amazed that B&W has stuck with this gimmick over the years.

johnnythunder1's picture

France's Jean Marie Reynaud brand - their Cantabile Jubile to be exact - has a decoupled silk dome tweeter and it sounds amazing. Lovely, smooth, bright and musical. They have an almost effortless electrostatic sound to them. The sound has a delicacy and spaciousness that is very appealing to me (I own them.) B+W speakers always have sounded too bright to me. Metal dome tweeters vs. silk domes maybe. Or just a tipped up treble that isn't to everyone's liking.

Ortofan's picture

... a function of the material used for the tweeter dome, consider the performance of the recently reviewed (and similarly priced) Monitor Audio Silver 500 7G. It has an aluminum/magnesium tweeter, yet the frequency response is "impressively even from 300Hz to 11kHz" and then it rolls off above that point in the audible range.

johnnythunder1's picture

- I'm sure there are speakers w silk domed tweeters that are executed poorly and metal dome ones that are smoother (or at least voiced to sound smoother.). I have never owned a speaker with a metal dome tweeter finding them just too fatiguing to my ears (sensitive+tinnitus.) Spica Tc-50s. Spendors. JMRs for the past 20+ yrs..). I have also enjoyed and considered purchasing QLN speakers and NOLA Boxers....

Trevor_Bartram's picture

What you're getting here is a superbly manufactured speaker, just look at the cumulative spectral plot to confirm, that is designed for a well heeled audience with hearing loss. The bass alignment (+3dB, 150Hz) will lead to chestiness from radio announcers etc in-room. My Paradigms have the same problem. I've inserted passive electronic equalisation between my pre & power amp to solve the problem without effecting low bass (<100Hz) as tone controls would do. Perhaps I should manufacture the circuit?