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  1. #1
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    B&W 603 S3/LCR600 vs. Infinity Kappa 600/Kappa Center

    My search for speakers has finally been whittled down to 2 configs. In my title line I mention fronts and centers, but I intend to buy a full set for a 7.1 system (full set o'Kappas or full set o'B&W series 3's. I like what the B&W's do with midrange, and I *love* the Kappa tweeters. Can anyone give me advice or maybe something else to think about in comparing these 2 speakers? The Kappa center is very good too...although I think the B&W setup is more musical.

    EDIT:
    BTW, I have an Onkyo TX-NR901 for a receiver. Between listening at the store, and listening at home on my receiver, I heard pretty profound differences in both speakers. The B&W's were on a very good amp, and the Kappas were on a lesser amp at the store. On my system, the B&W's were a bit more laid back. The Kappas had more everything on my receiver (I believe they were on a 100w Denon in the store).
    Last edited by goatspeed; 06-16-2004 at 12:10 PM.

  2. #2
    RGA
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    The question is do you like more laid back or not? Which one do you prefer? What we prefer is irrelevant.

    I suggest you just keep listening - try and listen for long periods and see which one sounds better over longer listening sessions. Listen to a lot of different styles of music. Sometimes what initially sounds laid back can sound better over longer periods while the more in your face one sounds cool at first but can become annoying later on. It is also possible that this is not the case and the laid back one is just dull. I personally like the B&Ws and the new infinities are not sold here so I can't comment.

    But long listening sessions should reveal which one you can live with long term. And really only you can decide which is best for you.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your sound advice RGA, I appreciate it. My problem is that I'm worried the 603's are dull on my receiver. They sure jumped out at me more at the store, but I didn't dislike them at home either...it just didn't blow my mind like before. Yeah I really like alot of things in both of these speaker options.

    I undertand that ultimately my ear has to be the judge. I appreciate when posters on this board pipe in when somebody is talking about speaker X and say things like "well that one doesn't do this or that well". I'm fairly new to *really* listening to speakers although I've heard speakers all my life. So I appreciate when I get tips from others as to what to listen for in this speaker or that.

  4. #4
    RGA
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    The best thing to listen for is a speaker that doesn't make you listen for one thing - chances are when a speaker is drawing attention to how well it images or the impressive idetail it may in fact be doing it wrong - consider that at a live concert chances are you're not saying wow check out the detail on that cymbal.

    I was in a kinda argument over My Audio Notes versus someone else who was supporting a compnay called Elac. Personal taste rules the day in the end - but we were looking at the review comments. Both are on opposite ends of the spectrum in that Elac is very new made of Aluminium casing a ribbon tweeter etc. They said it sound cold and analytical - some will view that as accurate - I would not. The Audio Note was viewed as engaging and liveable long term. Both were recommended.

    B&W is highly praised - in the price range i find it to strike a very good balance. That doesn't mean that certain other speakers in the same price range won't be it in any given area. Indeed, B&W is often reviewed as a good allrounder - because they are.

    You can do research on the Infinity Kappa series

    http://hifichoice.co.uk/review_read.asp?ID=2646
    http://hifichoice.co.uk/review_read.asp?ID=471
    http://hifichoice.co.uk/review_read.asp?ID=1108

    B&W 603S3 won a nice Best-buy tag against others in the competition http://hifichoice.co.uk/review_read.asp?ID=2322
    http://hifichoice.co.uk/review_read.asp?ID=2451

    This is all stuff you have probably seen before and regardless whatthey say - in the end it is still up to you - and system matching is important. If you are not planning to upgrade your receiver then an easier brand to drive might be better.

    B&W also tends to have a slightly fatter bass response over the more cutthroat punchy variety - I know I would take the former but there is nothing wrong with the other kind and to be honest I like it as well.

    I can't comment on the new Infinities the older lower end ones i felt were pretty bad but most companies have ebs and flows where some models just are not up to it.

    B&W may possibly have more name recognition should you want to sell them.

    And if you're planning on buying a subwoofer one day the 602S3 may be a better option - and cheaper.(but you need good stands).

    If it is JUST two channel music and you 're not planning to really do home theater or are overly anal about it I think you could perhaps look at totally different brands or lines.

  5. #5
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    Thanks again RGA, that was very helpful. I believe the Infinity speakers are off my list, but I heard some Monitor Audio Silver series speakers that are now in the running. They cost more, but I'm prepared to pay a bit more as they really blew my mind. I heard a pair of S8's. All the reviews I can find for Monitor and even ones for B&W, alot of folks like 2 way bookshelf type speakers better than their counterpart tower 3 ways. I'm planning on getting a decent Sub, like I mentioned a VTF3 and I'm now also looking into some of the SVS subs that are the same range. What are the benefits that bookshelves have over 3 way towers that people seem to like? I mean, with a stand and whatnot, you take up as much room. I gather from alot of posts that people like the sound better. What are your thoughts? This system is for 50/50 music and HT.

  6. #6
    RGA
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    Bigger boxes resonates - as such many floorstanders are not sufficiently damped and these resonances smear the midrange. While they do add a bit of bass and sensitivity the quality of bass is usually poor. 3-Way designs require a more complex crossover - it requires yet another driver to handle a certain part of the frequency range and it must integrate properly(smoothly) with other drivers. 2-way designs typically sound better in the midrange through to the treble.

    However to get a lot of bass and volume from a 2-way is expensive. So manufacturers come out with subwoofers - they really are not subwoofers but woofers in a box - most are not subsonic. But can play 40hz really loudly so I guess that is what's acceptable these days. Certainly this is FUN for home theater and enhances the movie going experience.

    The other advantage of standmounts is instead of paying for more cheap wood you can buy a stand of much higher quality/rigidity and less resonances. All this said ceertain floorstanders will sound better than the corresponding stanmount - the N802 is better than the N805.

    The 602S3 sounds cleaner than the 603S3 but the latter is no slouch and you do get various gains with it over the 602. And some people will like the full bodied sound of the 603S3.

    For music I'm not a fan of adding a sub. For instance my speakers(AN/J) are a two way design which are more or less full range speakers. I had the option to keep the lower AN/K and adding a sub - but it's just not the same - and most subs can't do what the J can do anyway when it comes to bass. Reviewing the costs the J would was cheaper than a subwoofer/standmount combo.

    This is one reason I scrapped home theater - I would rather have two awesome channels than 5.1 also-rans. Such set-up s don't thrill me for movies - don't do anything for me for music --- it's like an all in one printer - does everything but nothing well.

    That's just personal choice and i don't expect others to follow it. I would simply buy whatever speaker you like best - if you like the monitor audio floorstander better than their standmount buy it. You may think you'll be doubling up the bass with the sub - but a sub sat is not the same sound as a full range speaker for music.

    I would buy the best possible speaker for your front two channels as you can possibly afford. Most receivers have a phantom mode for the center speaker...they often sound better without center channels. Often when a center speaker is required is when the front two speakers lack and the receiver is smudgy.

    You can also always add rear/center and subs at later dates. It is important to listen to the combinations - two great fronts(and rears) versus 5.1. Listen to both for music and movies and you might be surprised.

    I have not heard the latest from Monitor Audio.

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    Yes, I like the full bodied sound of towers. But I also like the midrange to jump out. That's where I thought the 603 really shined. To me, it didn't sound like music coming from a box, and the mids were vivid and pronounced. I don't care for overpowering bass, and as for B&W, I liked the 603's better than the 604's. I'm about 90% sure I'll end up going with floorstanders, and your advice backed up what I thought in making the front 2 as good as possible. Thanks again.

  8. #8
    eqm
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    I've got a Kappa 7.1 setup

    I personally went with the Kappa 200 bookshelfs for my fronts and surround backs for a couple of reasons...first, the 400s and 600s have the side passive subwoofers which are pretty difficult to drive, and second, the speaker is 6ohm nominal which means your receiver is doing even more work. I agree with you, the tweets on the Kappas are clean and smooth while allowing upper end extension, but I wouldn't personally get the Kappa towers without a separate amp for the passive subs on those towers. Although...Kappas have ceased production so you should be able to get some on closeout fairly inexpensively and use the extra money to by a good 2-channel to power the subs.

    hope this helps and have fun listening!

    btw: floyd toole does dbt tests for industry reps at the LA infinity building...and B&Ws very often come in last or next-to-last place on a lot of people's scorecards.

  9. #9
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by eqm

    btw: floyd toole does dbt tests for industry reps at the LA infinity building...and B&Ws very often come in last or next-to-last place on a lot of people's scorecards.
    Of course because Harman international - who owns Infinity - also employs Floyd Toole. No conflict of interest there. Hi-Fi Choice magazine has a panel of listeners listening blind and level matched - odd how they get a different result when they are not directly affiliated with the company running the test. Odd how Harman speakers do well in harman approved tests.

    Yes Ford cars are safe when Ford runs the test - too bad real world results are quite different.

  10. #10
    eqm
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    sorry i didn't explain how the tests work

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Of course because Harman international - who owns Infinity - also employs Floyd Toole. No conflict of interest there. Hi-Fi Choice magazine has a panel of listeners listening blind and level matched - odd how they get a different result when they are not directly affiliated with the company running the test. Odd how Harman speakers do well in harman approved tests.

    Yes Ford cars are safe when Ford runs the test - too bad real world results are quite different.
    RGA- I apologize for not mentioning that Dr. Toole works for Infinity and Harman. The important thing is that Infinity in the past few years has really changed how they approach speaker design. They do buy a LOT of other companies' speakers and do a true DBT that is all computer controlled as to which speaker plays in which order, so neither the testor nor the testee (making up words as i go) know which is playing. The speakers are brought to the exact same physical location, hooked up the exact same way to the same amp, and the same source material is played on each trial and so forth. The interesting thing to his methodology is that all the tests are done in mono...so as not to bring imaging and soundstage, only tone response into the rating decision of the listeners. I really don't want to sound like a commercial for Infinity or Harman, but I know Dr. Toole is respected enough in the industry that I don't feel comfortable simply discounting his DBT trials simply because of the results. Rather, a very strong case (with backing from the progress in design and testing made recently at Infinity) could be made that the research is used to make their speakers better than any in a similar price range, rather than a doctored useless demonstration they show to very few people. Make sense? BTW...I very briefly had a very nice Audio Note tube amp in my possession for a short while. Good times!

  11. #11
    RGA
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    I'm not anti-Toole - I question his white paper though on a number of issues. For instance there is no reason he should be testing in mono? This is absolutely a WRONG thing ot be doing.

    The notion of valididity - which is critical in psychology and ALL psychological testing - is not at all discussed by engineers who are in actual fact performing pschological experiments. The idea behind validity is that in order for a test to be valid it needs to recreate - preferably actually BE - the identical environment in all regards to real life. Ie; if RGA is the subject of a test then the test would be in RGA's environment listening with RGA's equipment at the times RGA listens with RGA's music - and no forced selections.

    The one GOOD thing about Toole is that much of this is at least attempted - while it should not be forgotten that it is in fact a false environment. When we listen to music we are engaged in the act of listening to music - when we are in a test we are engaged in the act of having a test. They simply can never be the same things.

    The reason i bring up Hi-Fi Choice is because the magazine does all the IMPORTANT things associated with a blind test - BUT it remoeves the test aspect. The levels are matched(not in the case of speakers I would bet since that could not be done nor should it be), blind - no panelists knows what product is being tested. The build quality aspect is obviously evaluated sighted and they do make a "VALUE" judgment based on the price of the units. They review products in a general price range - and are scored by panelists. Afterwards when the price is revealed they may say well yes I gave it 3 out of five stars against the competition but given the price it could actually get a best buy tag.

    Interestingly my NAD turntable was given a best buy tag despite scoring 3/5 on sound quality - but because of the price being half of the better units they considered it a bargain. You should also note that B&W has done very well in their blind auditions.

    Taking out a speakers ability to image and soundstage makes no sense. As a buyer or a listener that is the way people listen to music - to me that handicaps the product. Positioning them exactly the same - wow my speakers would do less than steller. In fact Hi-fi Choice positioned my speakers incorrectly in their test - though they still came out on top - it could very well have not ----- my question to them would be why not follow the guidelines of the manufacturer??

    I digress. No matter how rigid a test may seem to be - as soon as there is a conflict of interest red flags have to start flying - who is doing the indepenant check? Hi-fi Choice yielded different results - B&W did well Infinity did not do as well. This does not mean that Infinity is BAD or that Harman is bad - but B&W measures the way Harman says are "good" measurments - so the fact they score at the bottom makes no sense to me.

    And interestingly read this about the JBL S26 very carefully:

    "During a recent visit with several other audio journalists, I participated in a sample test run in the MLL, which was conducted by Sean Olive, manager of subjective evaluation for Harman International. Three consumer speakers were mounted behind the grille cloth: a Boston Acoustics CR8, a B&W DM601, and a JBL S26. At the end of the testing, we learned that most of us had ranked the JBL S26 as the best speaker on most clips, which certainly pleased our hosts."

    "Most of us" which means not all on "Most Clips" which means not all. How many listeners were there? 3, 4 , 5? Behind a grill cloth - was the B&W and boston Acoustics designed t be behind a grill cloth? (They claim acoustically transparant?) Do not some speakers react very badly to such a set-up? I should also add which 601 - the S2, S3 or the original - none sound anything alike the first one was a BAD model. We dont know. And who ran the test - Harman.

    I have long said that in short duration listening sessions sighted or blind a speaker with a wow factor - a lilt in the treble will be more impressive. The Flat Midrange speakers they claim will be chosen ALSO have measurements with a rise in the treble frequencies and are usually peaky from 1khz up.

    I would just be very careful about what Harman advertisers/spinsters/engineers/blind testers are doling out. Reading through their articles and being critical of who they are testing and how they are training their listeners(like it should even be necessary - music movcies you or it doesn't) there are just so many odd things they're doing and it "should" be attained by more normal listenings environments which are also blind at Hi-fi choice. And yet that is not the case. Which doesn't mean they're results are bad - but it is clear they are going after B&W. I think they doth protest too much.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Yes Ford cars are safe when Ford runs the test - too bad real world results are quite different.
    Like when the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation and Safety Admin) runs them and gives the Freestar, F-150 (the ONLY truck to get this btw), Taurus, Expedition, Focus, Mustang, Crown Vic, and Escape a 5 star safety rating? Or do you think Ford owns the NHTSA or just greased the administrators? Maybe it's just a huge government cover-up in attempt to bolster the home team?

    I've said this before RGA; talk audio all you want but don't talk cars. The problem is you don't know what you don't know.

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    Those CMMD tweeters on the Kappas really have some zing. I didn't want to give them back...wanted to listen to more and more stuff. But they didn't play some of the midrange detail in my test music to my liking.

    I pulled the trigger on Monitor Audio setup. I got the Silver S10's and matching center channel (for now). Thanks again for the words of advice, RGA and others.

  14. #14
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    Like when the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation and Safety Admin) runs them and gives the Freestar, F-150 (the ONLY truck to get this btw), Taurus, Expedition, Focus, Mustang, Crown Vic, and Escape a 5 star safety rating? Or do you think Ford owns the NHTSA or just greased the administrators? Maybe it's just a huge government cover-up in attempt to bolster the home team?

    I've said this before RGA; talk audio all you want but don't talk cars. The problem is you don't know what you don't know.
    I notice you left off the Focus and Explorer - or are these supposedly safe cars - if you want I can post all the numerous class - action law-suits - the FOcus is maybe the worst car in history - in this regard. And the Crown Vic - ask the police what they think about the 5 star crash ratings - I guess they don't hit the cars from behind in those tests - or have the cars filled with gas in those tests.

  15. #15
    Just passing thru topspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    I notice you left off the Focus and Explorer - or are these supposedly safe cars - if you want I can post all the numerous class - action law-suits - the FOcus is maybe the worst car in history - in this regard. And the Crown Vic - ask the police what they think about the 5 star crash ratings - I guess they don't hit the cars from behind in those tests - or have the cars filled with gas in those tests.
    First get some glasses, the Focus is listed.

    The Explorer is a 4 star on the driver side, 5 star everywhere else. The Focus is 5 star in the 4 door and wagon, 4 star in the two door. Good enough? I don't even understand your police car reference or are you stupidly trying to equate the Crown Vic with some Pinto tie-in? The test results are what they are. If you don't agree with them, go do the testing yourself and see if you come out alive at the end. Who knows, you may be lucky enough to prove the NHTSA wrong.

    Look, I could care less if you dislike American cars as everyone has a right to an opinion. Just don't try to support your personal feelings with sweeping generalizations and misinformation.

  16. #16
    RGA
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    Then Topspeed I do question that organization - as many such organizations can be influenced by very deep pocketed organizations and lobby groups. Have you looked up the ratings on the Focus by real world drivers over the last 4 years? (recalls, advisories, safety issues, lawsuits - yes it may do fine in a front on collision under 30mph speeds - but do they mention that a wheel could fall off at 80mph which could cause an accident that would never have happened with just about any other car on the road? Do those tests note that in fact the gas tank placement on the Crown Vic is leading to a far higher police death rate than the previous GM counterpart and that FORD engineers have even SAID that this is a problem and beancounters ignore. Comparing it to the Pinto is damn right. They had the same problem on a Mustang in the 1960's that on rear impact would spray gas INSIDE the driver's compartment ignite and you're done like a nice piece of burnt toast.

    If you do a quick google search on the Focus and the Explorer - REAL WORLD results are showing that those tests - while great in a test environment are not proving true in the real world - geez where have I --- "HEARD" --- this before.

    I base my personal buying decisions off of personal experience with products - all products because usually there is an alternative. Lots of different car compnaies. If a Ford displeases me why would I buy another one? Fool me once shame on you - fool me twice shame on me. That said I don't base my views on my own personal experience - though I'll gladly share them.

    I had a Ford I won't buy another one - simply because they have proven to be lousy corporate citizens that disregards the safety of their customers, police, other road users etc. Besides all that the car i had from them was atrocious - and there is a reason why Fix or Repair Daily and Found on Road Dead came about - art imitates life.

    We'll see if they can make Hybrids any good - unlike the focus perhaps the engines won;t just catch on fire for no good reason. The again maybe I won't risk it and buy a Honda. Invariably a better car for less money - yeah that's a hard decision.

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