Sugg. Retail: $4000 pr, $2600US pr
Size: 39.4″H x 8.7″W x 12.4″D
Distributor: Equity International,
54 Concord St., North Reading, MA 01864-2699
(800) 370-3740 FAX (978) 664-4109
(Reprinted from the Spring 2001 Audio Ideas Guide)
The CDM9NT is the third CDM series loudspeaker we’ve reviewed, the last being the CDM7SE (Wtr 99), with the CDM1 evaluated in Winter 96. Writer Hy Sarick (Hy End) bought the 7s for his country getaway home, and digital editor Clive Allen seriously considered the CDM1 as a location recording monitor, but ended up buying Totem Model 1s.
The latest CDM iteration adds tweeters from the Nautilus series, and the 9NT is a completely new top of the range, using 2 paper/Kevlar bass drivers, a woven Kevlar FST (Fixed Surround Technology) midrange, and the aforementioned NT alloy dome tweeter. The cabinet is front ported, and a plug for the port of cylindrical foam is supplied. In the manual this plug is described as a “bung”, so I guess we’d have to describe the port as a “bunghole”.
Crossover frequencies are 350 and 4000 Hz, the latter number meaning that the unusually large 6 1/2″ Kevlar midrange covers almost 4 octaves. It is claimed that the Fixed Surround Technology reduces midrange distortion dramatically. A press release notes its “redesigned `fixed bullet’ dustcap that retains the earlier series’ advantages in mid-frequency dispersion while substantially reducing turbulence noise furthering its impressive detail and low-level resolution abilities.”
“The revolutionary Nautilus tapered-tube enclosure tweeter- housing, which efficiently and transparently absorbs the high- frequency driver’s back-wave radiation, sets new benchmarks for clarity and articulation. Another Nautilus characteristic, a freestanding, hemispherical tweeter `pod’ mount, virtually eradicates undesirable high-frequency reflections, promoting unmatched detail and uncanny soundstage precision.” I guess they believe in their product. What the tweeter mount does is eliminate diffraction, making our Imagers unnecessary on this speaker.
And, since I do play the occasional round of golf, I can’t fail to mention “B&W’s exclusive Flowport dimpling. This reduces turbulence, and thus distortion, via precisely the aerodynamics by which a golf ball’s dimples eke out additional distance.” That, of course, applies only if you don’t put the bung in the hole.
The rear panel sports bi-wire terminals of high quality, and to use banana connectors you simply flick out the little IEC plugs with a small screwdriver (my studio is becoming littered with them; I also have a large collection of Toslink plugs). The three very nice CDMNT finishes are shown, Black Ash (well, not so nice; I’ve always hated this one) Red Ash, and Cherrywood, the review samples being in the latter. The detailing on the cabinets is very nice, with rounded solid corners complementing the lacquered veneer on all sides. The enclosures are dense and heavily braced, weighing in at 58 pounds each.
The measurements reveal a very smooth speaker, +/-2 dB over much of the range in the Pink Noise Sweep (PNS), with a slight slope below 300 Hz, though bass is fully extended to 20 Hz. Putting in the bung results in further attenuation below 100 Hz, this increasing from about 2 dB at 60 Hz to about 4 dB at 25 Hz. Corner placement should bring up the mid bass a little.
The quasi-anechoic curve below shows a dip around crossover, but a very smooth midrange, while the axial curves beneath are closely grouped to 30o off axis, with a drop in level at 60o. In general, this is excellent performance, with a very well extended top end above 10 kHz from the Nautilus tweeter. In the Summed Axial Response (SAR) at top overlaying the PNS, the dip in the midrange is caused by the well controlled dispersion that brings the level down at 30 and 60o off axis.
These are very fine measurements, especially at frequency extremes, and are typical of B&W. However, the fairly broad midrange hump from 400 to 2 kHz is what defines the sound of the CDM9NT, the new FST midrange seeming to be just a little more prominent than its siblings over much of its range. This made female voice just a little papery in character, and orchestra a little more forward.
Otherwise, the sound of this speaker is powerful in the bass, with excellent extension for organ lovers, and with very fast and detailed midrange and treble. Imaging is especially good, with a wide, deep soundstage. Both our piano and baroque cello recordings (Francine Kay and Sergei Istomin, respectively) had a slightly drier quality to them, but showed great power and articulation. Jazz bass didn’t have quite the crispness heard from the Monitor Audio Silver 8i, Chuck Israels’ instrument taking on a slightly darker hue, but it was still very pitch specific.
The B&W CDM9NT is a very good speaker with a character that’s just slightly to the left of totally neutral, but one that is also truly full range, with the dynamics, resolution, and soundstage to match. It’s definitely worth a serious look and listen. And when Ash can look so good stained red, why would anyone paint it black?