Naim SBL vs B&W CM series

Hi Friends

I have B&W CM1 / CM5 loudspeakers and Ovator 600’s.

The Ovators are mostly used to listen to Organmusic and singer / song writer kind of music in my home office and they suit that purpose very well. They seem to do 50% of the music extremely well, and 50% of the music sounds dull.

The drawback is that they have educated me on the downside of the B&W’s in my living. I miss detail using the B&W’s and I experience that horrible mid bass focus which I’ve noticed with most of the B&W loudspeakers.

To minimize the bass energy on certain frequencies, I move the B&W’s a metre into my room - in the midst of the walking path and then they sound O.K.

But I don’t like the idea of moving the loudspeakers all the time, and as mentioned before, I miss details.

Since I have a solid brick wall, I consider SBL’s. Having seen much photos on this site, I believe the SBLs would do it, against a solid wall and the width of the space is 4 metres which seems to be just right for them.

I’m pretty sure they will bring an improvement in the way that there is less bloated bass energy and more detail, but I’m reluctant to have loudspeakers in my livingroom which do 50% of the music right and 50% of the music sounds dull like the Ovators.

  • the family will be happy with loudspeakers which are tucked away against the wall.

Any thoughts on my considerations?


Speakers are always difficult to predict versus each room and personal taste. I guess the upside is that buying second hand you should not lose too much, if any money if you do not like. Another consideration would be a pair of SL2,s, though not as-easy to find. And just like the SBL they are best close to a solid wall.

Thanks Gazza. SL2’s are out of reach currently, my wife would not approve a GBP 3000 purchase. The money would be better used for the source - which is now a simple Chord Mojo Dac.

But, when SBL’s work, I’m quite confident that SL2’s could work in the future as well which would be a nice finding.

Maybe I’ll run 2 loudspeaker pairs for a certain period, switching once per week and then keep the ones which suit the best - I won’t loose more than 100/200 GBP and some time that way.

Forgot to mention I used to have SBL,s 20 years ago in passive and active form, I actually sort of miss them. They are a great speaker, others on the forum including Richard would be able to advise on setting up the gaskets etc. But once properly installed they take some beating for a close to the wall speaker.

Ardbeg - What is the rest of your system?

As much as i’ve always admired the build quality of B&W speakers… my hearing ability seems to have a slight musical aversion to any make of speaker with metal dome tweeters, so B&W aren’t for me. I’m well aware this intrinsic preference doesn’t affect everyone, but it is a point of order to note for those of us that prefer the soft dome tweeter.

Moving to SBLs would be a very different experience from your B&Ws
Assuming you take time out to find and buy a fine pair of SBLs in good working order and condition, and correctly set them up in your own home by your solid brick wall, they could [ all going well ] be perfect for the job! : )

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Debs, my wife has always approved the B&W’s for how they look and feel. The build quality is absolutely good. If I could have the B&W’s a metre into the room, I would not feel the need to change or would consider B&W 800 series - I love the 805’s.

The rest of the current system is Allo Digione into Chord Mojo >> Nac 72 >> Nap 140 >> Nac A5. It is all either freshly serviced or in good condition. Realisticly, a hicap will be added and the Nap 140 be replaced by a Nap 250 in the next years.

I’m not familiar with the digital front end,
but 72/hi-cap/250 is a very fine and dependable partnership for SBLs via NACA5

And there is always the future prospect to add an additional 250 SNAXO + SC, and go active.

Or your 72 could go ultimate passive with a pair of 135s / SBLs - i lived with this for 5 yeas or so and there is much to be admired when Helmut Walcha is on the keys of the Schnitger organ of St Laurenskerk, Alkmaar.

But there is only one way you can find out the answer to your SBL question,
You already have in situ a purpose build SBL brick wall which was great hindsight from the builders of your property, would be such a shame to waste the opportunity, so what are you waiting for? :smile:


I just got a ‘so be it’ from my wife, my interpretation of that is that I got permission anyhow.

Regarding Helmut Walcha - I’m a different generation - Helmut Walcha is not an immediate trauma, but it comes close. My father was always listening to that generation of organists and on a certain day my organ teacher took me to the st Matthew Passion when I was 10 yrs old. I did hear a totally different interpretation of Bach. Then, I saved all pennies I had to buy the St Matthews Passion on CD - the first Philippe Herreweghe edition. I was lost for the Helmut Walcha generation from that moment on.

From the current English organists, I listen to David Goode a lot.

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Has any of you ever seen SBL’s with steel grills?

Contest has started. I have posted the image just as ‘proof’, the big repositioning festival has started. The sideboard must go I’m afraid.

Even unsealed and unpositioned well and unretorqued they sound (mcuh) better than the CM’s - either CM1 or CM5. I was expecting to have no bass, but even the lowest notes in Saint Saens organ symphony came thru - I repeat myself here: on unsealed SBL’s. It is a big misperception that these loudspeakers dont do bass.

I have ordered some steel grills for them - these loudspeakers have to survive the kids.

They remind me of Neat Iota Alphas which I have auditioned when they were just released. I might trick myself here since there are similarities in their looks.

Why o why do so few loudspeaker companies produce loudspeakers which go against the wall?


Can’t resist getting the socks out on a Sibbles thread!


Wife started moaning, never happened before.

A few years back, someone posted a photo of metal grills on SBLs.
iirc they didn’t go down very well with the purists,
but i kind of like the idea of metal grills on speakers, even in preference to foam.

Frieda doesn’t wear socks : )


Minet neither.


The sbls have convinced my wife. We listened to Ave Maria having a shouty soprano on the BW’s which was so much better on the sbls.


Couldn’t resist.


Lovely Baz(z). I have noticed these many times before.

A quick glance at a pair of ATCs with the grilles on should make you change your mind pretty rapidly, I’d have thought.

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Actually i’m well aware of ATC’s metal grills, and i like 'em

Practical, safe, nothing not to like IMO.

At least they won’t go grey, droop, shed or biodegrade like spongy foam :smile:


I had metal grills on some Gales back in the day. Loved them too. I would need convincing on SBLs though, both aesthetically and sonically. They are ugly without the foam.