ConclusionIt was a great battle: UK vs NL.... Two very different systems, each with their own charms. And that was well seen in the comments... What is better is irrelevant. That remains taste. An electrostatic system with dynamic closed low plays very differently than a dynamic system with bass reflex. We found it particularly interesting to put two reasonably similarly priced systems side by side. We hope you also enjoyed these two beauties and of course the live music.
What do these two wonderful systems sound like? Let’s start by saying that they are two very different systems. That’s mainly because of the two completely different speakers: a dynamic model from Bowers & Wilkins and an electrostatic model from Van Medevoort. Now both systems come across as very clean and rich in sound. But the approach is quite different. The Van Medevoort presents big, loose and very neutral.
The Bowers & Wilkins is a brand new model. And therefore pretty new. In our opinion is not yet 100% loose (unfortunately, we have in two days playing during construction already observed a considerable difference), so we hear a very rich and loose image, but also a touch of compression still in the midrange. We know that 800 series needs a lot of time to really loosen up. So we estimate that with a played model this is gone.
What we find striking is that the Bowers & Wilkins 804 D4 (12,500 per pair) comes across as more balanced than the D3 series. The ‘Bowers bump’ as we have christened it, seems a little less present. Also helping is the bi-amping with the Quad Artera Stereos (2190 each). By using four channels and thus controlling the high/mid and bass separately there is more grip and therefore more looseness audible. So that’s some advice for those who want to get more out of the speakers.
Also striking is how nicely the QUADs drive these Bowers. There is really no shortage of breath, harshness or lack of dynamics. And that is quite an achievement considering the load these two QUADs have to deal with. And the price of just under 2200 euros each. Especially in this setting where they have to fill a large space. 2 x 140 watts seems a lot, but with an 804 D4 and over 100m2 to fill, it is really quickly used up!
The pre-stage (Artera Play +, 1790 euros) has many connection options, including digital inputs (coax and optical), digital outputs (optich and coax), Bluetooth, analog in (rca) and of course the CD player that we have used in this test. To go to the Artera Stereo power amplifier, XLR and rca are available. We used balanced pairing. And that went very well.
Conveniently, Transtec modified the Artera Stereo for us to bi-amp. Nice service! Looking at all the tracks and listening back via the lossless files, it is striking that the Bowers gives a rich presentation and that the Quad maintains excellent control. With 4 x 140 watts that may seem like a crazy remark, but considering the size of the room and the volume at which we played…(sometimes peaks at and over 80dB(a) and then it’s still a great performance!
Download the Lossless files
A system from one manufacturer: Van Medevoort. We have the vM ED 7.2 electrostatic speakers (9,980 Euros per pair), the completely analog vM CA470 preamplifier (3490 Euros), the vM CT360D CD player (2490 Euros) and the (dynamic) class A PA472 stereo (dual mono) power amplifier (4990 Euros). Everything is paired with vM silver wire interlinks and speaker cables. The vM ED 7.2 is connected bi-wired.
It is quite clear that this is a total system. It comes across as particularly well balanced. Everything falls into place beautifully. The mids and highs are silky smooth and rich in detail. The vM set plays less up-front than the Bowers & Wilkins which projects big energetically and forward. A bit “studio monitor-like. The vM Electrostats do that differently. Don’t be afraid though: we can clearly hear effects around us and behind us in, for example, Blof’s “Mooie Dag”. In short: there is enough depth and width with this system.
It is nice to see how the artists react to the totally different experience with an electrostatic. As soon as they sit on ‘our’ chair you see a frown and then some back and forth and up and down. “It’s really a 3D sound bubble” you go into,” Synga says. “Very different from the Bowers & Wilkins where a stage is set up, like you’re more used to.”
As we also explain in the video, the vM electrostatic is different from a large electrostatic with a wide panel. By grabbing a narrower panel, you have much less of a problem with beam and that infamous small sweet-spot. The vM radiates wider which improves the distribution of energy through the room and thus creates a larger sweet-spot. This is definitely a more pleasant listening experience. Now there is no room-sized sweet-spot to be realized, but that is not possible with any speaker; not even a dynamic speaker. Every speaker has a point where everything converges. Electrostatic, dynamic, omnidirectional….
Download the lossless files
It was a great battle: UK vs NL… two very different systems each with their own charms. And that was well seen in the comments… which is better, is irrelevant. That remains taste. An electrostat with dynamic closed bass system plays very differently than a dynamic system with bass reflex. We found it particularly interesting to put two reasonably similarly priced systems side by side. We hope you also enjoyed these two beauties and of course the live music.