Random Dude's B&W CM9 / Emotiva Rig

It started with a text message from Mike in the middle of the week about some B&W speakers and Emotiva gear, both of which I had somehow managed to avoid hearing before. B&W's are known to measure in very specific not neutral ways and Emotiva is the crack rock of the budget audio nerd, so I was stoked to give it a listen. Mike came and picked my sorry ass up and we got down the road to the destination.

The quality of this photo is my artistic representation of the sound in this room. The black blobs on the left and right are B&W CM9's and the Emotiva stack is somewhere in the middle of that grey blob.

This was a really nice house, but holy shit this is the worst room I've ever been in for audio.. concrete floor, plaster walls and ceiling, nothing in the the room to absorb the sound, and almost cube dimensions I would guess 16' x 18' x 12'. The sound was bad, like really bad.


Note the little tiny, probably retardedly expensive B&W ASW610XP subwoofer hiding in the corner.

B&W CM9's are the defacto standard for people who are not into audio but have enough money to "get something nice." Here you can see why people like them, they are pretty in an iPhone kind of way.. obviously from China, but made with fancy materials and with high attention to detail.

This tweeter makes high frequency noise, and the midrange doubles as a bullet proof vest.

Here is the Emotiva UMC-200 preamp/surround dac thing, it's putting sound to the Emotiva XPA-5, yeah Random Dude plans on adding surround speakers as some point. The amp seemed under powered for the task, but I think it had more to do with the maximum output you can get from the CM9's.

Only thing I can say about the UMC-200 is that the subwoofer integration menu is both limited and a pain in the ass. Something I did not think would be possible, but somehow managed it.

Fighting with nulls and room modes from hell we ended up just running the speakers full range and plugging the port with the supplied foam. We crossed the sub extra low keeping it confined to the world of rumbles and vibrations.


This listening position response is not real indicative of anything other than a falling response that looks suspiciously like the Harman recommended room response but on steroids. Dropping 5db per decade(10 octaves) is a little bit much, especially for someone who listens to a pretty flat response.

You remember how I said the room was shit, here is the proof. An average untreated room will drop 20dB after 150ms, for high frequencies. This room is still putting out above -20dB at 300ms between 300Hz and 4K. the sound just has nowhere to go.

Before I left I made sure to try for a close measurement to see what these B&W's were actually trying to do. Standing from about 5 feet out this measurement is windowed to 4.5ms, so it's only direct sound from the speaker. Here we can see the fabled B&W 5k drop out, along with the rolled off top end like a 60's console. Over all a very strange response that I'm almost certain would sound goofy if I could have heard it in a good room.


I don't want to say this was a wasted trip, Random Dude was a really cool guy and the gear looked pretty fancy, but this was a wasted trip. Random Dude is not willing to compromise his sense of style for an audibly comfortable to be in room. When it comes down to it, the investment he made in speakers can be seen but not heard. Here is to hoping that shag carpet comes back in style and things will start to sound right in this room.

Other content you may like: