personally, i’ve always found a wood veneer is the safest, hassle-free choice when it comes to speakers finish. I’ve never understood quite well the huge success on this gloss-black finishes, piano black, diamond black, call them what you want, but truth be told, they’re absolutely have nothing to do with a genuine black piano lacquer.
i’ve learned this the hard way, my old pair of LS50 speakers, the original anniversary model, had some very bad swirls and and light scratches, to the extent that when lights was on, i could spot them from across the living.
I brought them to a artisan here near Paris, with whom i’m still in contact today as he also worked on my current pair of B&W PM1s flanks (that gloss mocha finish is very reflective and deep, absolutely beautiful) who suffered from just fine hair-like scratches.
That guy did a marvellous job on both pairs, especially on the Kef. I just couldn’t believe my eyes. The artisan does woodworks for luxury yatches and boats. He’s a master ebenist. The day i went there to get my speakers back, he had an 70 years old steinway “half-tailed” piano he was getting ready to apply some lacquer on. That’s when he explained to me that the lacquer he was preparing required several days to put together and not less than 20 fine layers on the piano, several hours of hand-sanding, in between each layers once dried. All in all, that was more than 300 hours, paintjobn tweaking, packing and delivery included. the customer who brought the piano in had it in the family for years and was ready to pay a very hefty price because the process.
He charged me 600 euros of work for each pairs of speakers, and at the time, he confirmed that the original so-called gloss finish certain manufacturers rave about was rather fine and not protective enough, it is mainly there to look pretty. However, i remember him clearly saying that the B&W “lacquer” was way, way, way better than the one from the other speakers, even though by his own standard, he would never call it a genuine “lacquer”, it looks more like a varnish to him.
Long story short, i ended up selling the Kef at its original selling, about 1,100 euros, they looked terrific, even more so than when i bought them. The guy i sold them too, confirmed he hadn’t done a thing several years after, they don’t have a single scratch or hairline on them, and they’re just as a shiny as the day he came down to my place’s to pick them up. That was 2 days after i took them myself from the workshop.
I still have the B&W PM1, right now in the living room, and they look gorgeous.
These, together with five Dali Menuet SE are the only speakers I’ve bought in a gloss finish. Any other speakers that would make its way to Bouba’s Chateau ever since, and in the future, will be finished in veneer, not in a gloss/lacquer finish.
As they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to me the safest bet still remains veneer. much more forgiving and easier to clean up and maintain on a longer run. And I’m sure some will still prefer the gloss black finish. I must admit the finish on the Menuet SE is just stunning; however, i still think that long-term it’d be more fragile than a more “rugged” veneer finish.
And BTW, does anybody here had an opportunity to hear the latest 700 S3 series ? I visited B&W booth at the last Paris Audio Video show, but sadly the speakers were just sitting there static. Since Bowers is under umbrella of the Sound United group, they preferred to showcase Denon and Marantz staff during the day.
I did see the Mocha veneer in person on a pair of 707 S3, absolutely gorgeous. And when i tried to lift them from their stands, they appeared to be deceitfully heavier than I expected.
So did anyone here heard one of these along with a Naim kit. I’m very curious and seriously considering to buy a pair, found the 707 so cute and harmonious.