B&W 604 S3 or JM Labs Cobalt 816S for a large open room. [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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07-06-2007, 02:48 PM
First time here so I apologize if this is the wrong place for this....

I am setting up a 2CH system in my living room of my new house and need some input. I need a floor standing speaker that will go in the front corners of the room. The two speakers I am looking at are the B&W 604 S3's and the JM Labs Cobalt 816S.

I currently have B&W 601's for my surround system and love how they sound, look. So I figured I would keep things brand loyal, but my dealer went out of business and I went shopping around and was told that the JM Labs blow them away. I had a listen to the 816's and honestly was not that impressed. Mind you I was listening in a garage like setting (discount warehouse) and I am unsure of the amp they were using but he said it wasn't running direct. The bass did not sound all that great but the mid and highs sounded "decent".

The type of music I listen to most is Hip/hop, Classic rock, and Howard Stern :P
The second channel is some wall mounted bose that will probably be replaced a few months down the road, but they came with the house so ill use them for now. If I get the B&W they will be replaced with 601's.

The room dimensions is 16.9X30+ and as you can see has vaulted ceilings. I have attached pics to help.

(you can see one of their speakers hidden behind a plant in the right corner, each speaker would be in that same spot on either corner. Sorry the pics don't show the entire room)

Any help is greatly appreciated as I will be pulling the trigger on this soon.




07-06-2007, 04:03 PM
First off, my compliments on your home. It's breathtaking! As I sit baking in 111 degree heat, I can only imagine how much nicer it is looking out toward the water!

Both of the speakers you mentioned are very nice choices. I think the JML's are somewhere in between what people have opined and what you experienced in the big box store. IOW, they don't signify the second coming, but also aren't exactly leftover meatloaf either. Ideally, you should find a dealer that allows in-home demo's to see exactly which will fill up the considerable space you've presented. If that's not possible, I'd likely lean towards the B&W's if only because it will allow you to eventually move your 601's in as surrounds if you ever decided to go multi-channel hi-rez.

I have B&W's in my main rig and, like you, thought to stay within the brand when I went shopping for monitors for my bedroom. Interestingly enough, as I heard more and more speakers (including many JML's), I determined it would be fun to go with something completely different. Planers weren't an option for me, nor are they for you based on your speaker locations, but you might want to try speakers that present a different sound than B&W's or JML's, which are more alike than different, IMO. Try something like Taylor Acoustics, Von Schweikert Audio, or Green Mountain. You might find that if you dig a little, you can unearth a few gems in the audio world.

Hope this helps.

07-06-2007, 04:19 PM
Thanks Topspeed. If my local audio place didn't kick the bucket I would be able to in house test, but I have to drive a ways to get the B&W so I think thats out. I have heard the bass on the 604's is very good, can anyone vouch for this?

I am leaning strongly towards the B&W for the reasons i first mentioned and also because I have read that the JM Labs sound awesome (hope they sound better than what I tested) with a great recording but with a bad recording they really point out all the flaws, and in todays digital era with MP3's and compression I figure most my music is in MP3 and the B&W's seem to be a bit more forgiving. Any truth to this?

Also IMO the B&W look better, the Kevlar speaker with the two other speakers in silver looks pretty cool. Not sure if its a big difference but the JM has 2 6 1/2" cones whereas the B&W has 3 7"...

07-06-2007, 04:32 PM
Wecome to the forum and I second Speedy's assessment. What a great room and view.

If I am reading your post correctly, and I may not be so forgive me if I'm in error, but your new speakers will be along the far right wall to the sides of the wood-burning stove. If this is correct my concern would be that there's not alot of room between the seating area and the walls. This could potentially effect your choice.

That, in combination with the flooring and the ceilings, could lead to some bass issues of the "muddy" assortment. You may want to consider auditioning some front-ported speakers. Your room will tell you, as it were. You may do quite well with the B&Ws and the Tylers or you may want to throw in Dynaudio or some forgiving speakers like the KEF Qi11 in the mix.

My recollection of the JMLabs (auditioned in store) was positive but I don't recall them having the widest soundstage. That may be a concern depending on how much activity goes on in the rest room and the variety of your listening positions. To their credit, I remember with the correct amplification they sounded quite good in the sweet spot.

Good luck with your auditioning and keep us informed. I'd love to see how this room turns out.


07-06-2007, 04:44 PM
Bobsticks, the speakers will be in the corners of the room, you can see the right speaker behind the plant and the left is in the same location on the opposite side of the room (out of view in each picture. (PS this is not my stuff, these are the pics the realator took.) There will be a leather sectional facing out the window, and a leather lounge chair facing toward the sectional.

You can see the left speaker here: (you can also see one of the tiny bose speakers that are included, and might be gone sooner than later :P)


07-06-2007, 04:45 PM
PS. Thanks to both of you for the compliments, I can't wait to move in!

07-06-2007, 07:46 PM
On a side note is a Arcam Alpha 7R to wimpy of an amp for the B&W's? I was going to use it just because I had it and figured I would save a few hundred by not buying a new amp.

If indeed this is underpowered for these speakers could someone suggest the best amp for this speaker under $800?

07-07-2007, 01:41 AM
rotel is a good match for B&W's, however, your arcam seems to have pre-outs, so you could get a seperate poweramp (a rotel RB-1070 or a parasound Halo A23 will fit in your budget) and you could get a dedicated pre amp later on.

Good luck, & have fun,

07-07-2007, 10:32 AM
Thanks basite, I will look into that.

Anyone have any other input on the two speakers?

07-07-2007, 01:58 PM
that is a beautiful home,where you located ? i want one just like that one when i retire.Anyhow i would think the b&w's would be a good choice.I use to have 603s3's with a rotel rsx1056(still have)for about 2-3 yrs in a 22x19 room and they were great and pretty easy to drive with a good soundstage.As previously mentioned i also heard that the JML's dont have alot of soundstage dont know since i never heard the one's you mentioned.But in all fairness you need to audition if at all possible.

07-07-2007, 06:23 PM
First off i second previous posters,love the house.About 5 years ago i was shopping for a set of HT speakers and B&W and the Labs wwere the last 2.The b&w were the 603 series and the labs were Chorus line.After much thinking and listening I ended up with Cobalts and have been very happy.I will say that they don't really get their voice until there is about 150 hours on them and then wow.I have 816s in front,806s in back plus center and sub.Great for music and home theatre,but you need to match them with good gear and speaker wire to get the best from them.


07-07-2007, 06:45 PM
Hey bill,

You're the guy we really needed to hear from. Out of curiosity for Bhh and myself, are the Cobalts finnicky on placement. Look at the pics. Once you get beyond how gorgeous the house is, it looks like there's going to be some challenging placement situations for the speaks. Do you think placement so close to the wall will be a problem? What has been your experience with soundstage in relation to the distance Bhh will have between cabinets? Inquiring minds want to know...:)


07-08-2007, 04:27 AM
Good point that is a fair distance between speakers.In my set up they are about 7 feet apart and almost 4 feet from the back wall and about 3 feet from side walls.In this position they soundstage beautifully.As for putting speakers against the wall,i don't think thats a good idea,few speakers would sound their best set up like that.I have not tried them that far apart before as my room is not that large,but i would think that far apart may be a problem.What do you think is the distance?I have trouble judging such things.A bigger problem he may face is all those reflective surfaces,lots of glass and hardwood floors.
I just reread your posts and i missed your question about good and bad recordings.The labs are more revealing than the b&w and therefore will not hide bad recordings but this is a plus not a minus.What is the rest of your gear?


07-08-2007, 12:40 PM

I have the B&W's and i like how they sound, just my 2 cents..................

07-08-2007, 06:16 PM
Thanks for all the help so far folks. Just by the nature of the room they will be pushed up pretty close to the corner, no more than a foot (if that) in front of any wall. I know this is not the optimum way to run any speaker but it sort of has to be done in this situation. The room was built for a view not a listen :P

07-09-2007, 12:20 PM
Since the speakers will be up against the corner, will Speaker Spikes make any noticeable difference?

07-10-2007, 09:20 AM
Yes, but not because of the speaker location. Spikes will help decouple the speakers from the hardwood floors so your floor doesn't act like a giant sounding board from the vibrations emanating from the speaker.. I'd seriously consider some discs to place underneath the spikes to save your floors. At a little over $8 bucks, they are certainly cheaper than sanding and refinishing your floors from the scratches spikes will invariably leave. Audioadvisor.com is a good place for audio gear and their prices are usually very fair.


07-10-2007, 01:40 PM
One thing to consider - B&W have a new 600 series in which models are priced approximately the same as the S3's, but (at least on paper) appear to have significant improvements.

If you can still get the 604 you might be able to get a good price on it, or you might prefer the new 683: http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/display.aspx?infid=2281&sc=hf