Review: B & W Loudspeakers CDM-9nt Speaker

Category: Speakers

In today’s economy there are probably allot of us out there who are hesitant to shell out $10,000 or more on a “proper audio system” thank goodness for B&W. B&W have (in my opinion) supplied the consumer with many viable loudspeaker options for those of us on a limited budget. (In this case speakers for less then $5000.00 US)

Enter the CDM-9NT: With some of the same drivers offered in their 800 series, these speakers sound exceptional. Offering a nice soundstage, great imaging and accurate non-colored representation of the recorded information, truthful vocals and plenty of power handling capability. On the visual side, these speakers are finely crafted and there’s lots of attention to detail and B& W have offered these in colors that will look great in any décor. I selected the Red Cherry as they look great and match almost perfectly with my Cherry hardwood floors.

What are some of its strengths? The strengths are many, including great soundstage, super imaging, adequate bass*, non-fatiguing midrange, super non-exaggerated highs.

*with inexpensive low-end consumer amplifier components the really low bass and to a lesser degree the midrange, sounds suppressed.

What are some of its weaknesses? They need a decent amplifier to really shine (Like most loudspeakers in this class) Even at 89db efficiency, the bass sounds noticeably suppressed with my Pioneer Elite, I also noticed a weak midrange in piano recordings that sounded muted, this disappeared when I added a Mark Levinson 333 to my system with the pre-outs from my Pioneer, the current in the 333 easily supplied the drivers what they wanted. The bass was great, the pianos came to life.

If money was no object, would you still own this? Yes, I’d have a pair of the 9nt’s for the rear channels and (800’s in the front), another set in the bathroom, two in the dinning room, another set in the garage and 4 or 5 more by the pool.

What is the worst thing a system could do to turn you off? Colorizing the music.

How long has this piece been in your system? 15 days

My musical tastes: Rock, New Age, Progressive Jazz, Blues, Classical, Acoustic.

Recordings I used for testing? Chuck Mangione “Feels So Good”, James Taylor Live, Sting, Pictures at an Exhibition, various Telarc Samplers, Fleetwood Mac “Tusk”
1812 Overture, Loreena McKennitt's “Book Of Secrets” Chip Davis’s Fresh Air IV, Tori Amos “Cornflake Girl” and many others.

Associated gear
Pioneer Elite 110 Watt/Ch
Krell KAV300CD, Monster Cables.

Similar products
B&W CDM-2SE, various Polk Audio, Mirage OM5, B&W 802 Nautilus,
I bought the CDM 9nt two weeks ago at a local dealer based on couple good reviews and few hours of audition. The sound is wonderfully neutral and the soundstage is pretty open right out of the box but in no way the CDM 9nt can come close to my GP Sonus Faber in A/B switching comparison. Now let talk about B&W build quality, I had to bring the CDM 9NT back two times for exchange due to poor workmanship on the woood works and the third pairs are not any better. If you are looking to buy the CDM series, be careful with the RED CHERRY finish or you will be a very unhappy camper. With DIM light, the CDM9 NT red cherry looks gorgeous but if your listenning room is moderate BRIGHT and has some INDIRECT sunlight, the red cherry finish will show all the ugly marks of the uneven-applied veneer. My son's IKEA veneer funitures have better build-quality .
I purchased the CDM 9NT loudspeakers within the last two months as part of my first full system upgrade in 17 years (time to get rid of the old college stuff). I have been extremely pleased with the detail, imaging, and clarity of the sound. I was recently able to make an interesting near A/B comparison using live chamber music. I attended a performance by a string quartet and purchased a well recorded (incl. HDCD) CD by the same musicians at the show. Less than ten minutes later, I was at home listening closely to some of the very same compositions on the NT's. The reproduced sound was accurate and clear; I was especially impressed by the articlulation in the highs. On other well recorded CD's and LP's, I have noted very nice handling of sound across a wide dynamic range. Acoustic bass and low cello notes are distinct (e.g., Meyer, Hayden), plucked strings are crisp and decay well (e.g., Fleck-Perpetual Motion, Tales From Acoustic Planet), and violin solo is remarkably clear (e.g., Hahn's Barber and Myer concertos). Less well recorded CD's are exposed by these speakers. I noted an interesting trend in 1980's recordings by the Pat Metheney Group. Through 1984 (First Circle), the recordings are a bit bright with respect to high cymbal notes, but by the latter part of the decade, the recordings were much better balanced. I did note that the same studio was used, but the engineer was different by then.

I have found these speakers to be somewhat sensitive to placement. The user guide comments on placement effects on bass response; however, I have also noted changes in treble (and midrange to a smaller degree) with placement. Large, reflective objects between the speakers seem to limit the soundstage and imaging to some degree, and increase percieved brightness unless the speakers are placed forward. I noticed the same trend while auditioning at dealers. At one dealer, the speakers were part of a dedicated audion setup; at another, several other pairs of speakers were in a line. I found the latter less than ideal, so I advise some caution when A/B comparing speakers placed side by side.

I have not had any trouble with the finish-they look nice.
I have had theses speakers for about 1 year,and I could not be more happy.I bought them and didnt even need to hear them.Read old review reviews on the SE'sand I have owned B&W's before.And only found a few I did not like.The CDM9NT are great speakers and the whole line NT line is good.They just need A lot of time to break in three to six months.MY only complaint is the finish. The cherry is really soft and there is not much lacquer either.