Initially, I had the CM7s pulled well into the room to keep the bass in check, but then I started to experiment with the foam port-stuffers that come with the speakers. Once I installed them on all five speakers, I found that not only did they make the bass significantly smoother, but I was also able to move the CM7s back closer to the walls. (Measurements later confirmed that the plugs significantly tamed bass output; see Test Bench.) I ended up with the CM7s about 28 inches from the side walls, 20 inches from the front wall, and pointed straight ahead. The center and surrounds went in my usual spots under the TV and directly to the sides and about a foot above my ears, respectively, with the subwoofer just to the right of the left CM7.
MUSIC PERFORMANCE It's clear that someone at B&W has been doing his homework, because once you put all of the talk about the various technologies aside and start to listen, you soon realize that this is a system that can really deliver the goods musically. Overall, the emphasis is on its warm and articulate midrange, balanced nicely by a detailed but well-behaved tweeter and an articulate though slightly lean bottom end (at least with the plugs inserted). Even a midrange torture test like "Voca Me" from Libera's Free, with its powerful yet pure treble voices singing in close harmony, was handled with aplomb. Donald Fagen's Kamakiriad, which provides a tough test for tweeter blending and smoothness with its hot top end and punchy dynamics, sounded quite exquisite and refined. The bouncy yet deep bass line of that album's "Trans-Island Skyway" was delivered with plenty of weight, while each note remained clear and easy to follow. The neat, well-ordered sound makes it easy to follow individual instruments in a way that serves many types of music - although anyone looking to blast some AC/DC will probably want something with a little more raw excitement than provided by the B&W's slightly polite, pipe-and-slippers approach.
Although the center and surround speakers can't quite match the CM7's FST midrange performance, multichannel music was still well served by the complete package. On the DualDisc of the final Talking Heads album, Naked, the surround mix of "Nothing but Flowers" had an excellent immersive feel to it, with the band up front and percussion spread around to the sides and rear.
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