ConclusionIt is with great pleasure and deep respect that we have listened to these DM5 speakers by Bowers & Wilikins, who at the moment of writing are almost half a century old. The seventies are also known as the golden era of Hi-Fi or High-Fidelity. Well, that statement is certainly true, having auditioned the DM5 and associated vintage equipment. We can hear the craftsmanship, the dedication to music and music reproduction. We don't have to position the speaker with a measuring tape. Just put 'em on the shelf, connect and play. What a delight!
Listen to the music
Time to listen. We first connect the DM5s to our Linn Majik integrated amplifier. This workhorse from the 90s still sounds like a charm and has lost none of its impact. We stream music using the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge (power supply from an Sbooster 12V) via Roon and Qobuz. We put the DM5 speakers on Isoacoustics stands.
There Is Only One Way, And That Is Two-Way
We immediately notice how relaxed and coherent the DM5s sound. The strenghts of a two-way system clearly come forward through these speakers. Especially the detailed and clear projection of sound stands out. The mids and mid-highs sound simply sublime. We have seldomly heard a piano sonicallypresented so natural and, again, coherent. If we are right in the sweet spot of the speakers, we get a nice soundstage in return. In comparison to modern loudspeakers, the soundstage is less precise. While the match with Linn is good, we feel it could be even better. The Linn Majik is a very refined amp but has quite modest power specs. The DM5s, with a sensitivity of 89 dB, are not the easiest speakers to drive. Time for more power therefore we branch the Luxman M12. This power amplifier was introduced in the late 70s and was the top model at that time. It is an almost 15 kilograms heavy power amplifier, mainly due to the two generously sized toroidal transformers and impressive capacitors of 10,000 mF. We did some maintenance to this power amplifier; so after some weight-lifting, the Luxman was installed in the audio rack.
Take it to the Lux
With the Luxman M12 we hear more punch and even more agility. What a musicality! And without sacrificing detail, soundstage and what not. This is really very good. We are absorbed into the music and not because the DM5s excel in abundant bass response or project the sound nice and far. It’s just the way these speakers leave the sound between them and still bring it to the listener. We’ll explain this somewhat paradoxical phrase briefly. When you listen to a piano live, the source of the sound is the piano. Standing a few feet away, you hear the source sound + the reflections of the room. These DM5s do pretty much the same thing and it reminds us of the review of the Quested 2108 studio monitors. There it was also as if the instrument was in the room. We obviously hear this best with music with a limited number of instruments, or solo pieces. Do not expect pumping bass from the DM5, which again is not to say that there is too little bass. It’s just right with the DM5 . We share our listening notes from a few tracks with you.
- Beethoven, Piano Trio in Eb Major, played by the Sitkovetsky Trio. A recent recording from 2018, where the acoustics of the room can be clearly heard. The grand piano sounds wonderful. The bass notes don’t sound too droning and in terms of soundstage, piano, violin and cello are where they should be.
- Take Five, Dave Brubeck. This classic recording, when done right, showcases a wealth of cymbals from Joe Morello’s drums. These provide a continuous and ever-changing spectrum of sizzling within which the other instruments play their parts. The subtlety of the rhythm section (including Eugene Wright’s double bass) is actually the magic of this song, which we know mostly from Dave Brubeck’s piano part and Paul Desmond on alto saxophone. The DM5s make the cymbals sing with a golden finish.
- Yoshikazu Mera, Japanese Art Songs. This Japanese countertenor who is best known for alto arias by Handel, Bach and other composers in the Early Music repertoire, has also released a number of albums of vocal pieces from his native country. Countertenors are characterized by a high (alto or mezzo-soprano) and powerful voice. A countertenor can therefore also sound very dominant and exhausting. You guessed it; the DM5 reproduced Mera effortlessly the way a countertenor should sound.