Sunday, April 10, 2011

Speakers Head-to-Head - Bowers & Wilkins B&W DM12 VS KEF 103.2

I thought I'd use this new loft stereo system as a comparison bed for bookshelf speakers. First up - B&W vs KEF.

I love these little B&W Dm12 speakers. Love them so much, in fact, that I hated to pit them against the KEF 103.2 because I knew they would inevitably pale by comparison. I was [sigh] right. 

Once again, the openness of the KEF 103.2 soundstage exceeds any other small speaker I've listened to, including these. In the case of the B&W DM12, however, the difference is not night and day. 

In fact, while most music I played sounded better on the KEFs, Karen Carpenter's close-miked vocals of  "Close to You" sounded too brilliant and harsh on the KEFs, but much more controlled and mellow on the B&Ws. "Infinite Arms" from Band of Horses revealed fewer differences between these two speakers. Both reproduced the sounds with similar sonic characteristics. Still, the fact is, when I closed my eyes, the B&W still sounded "boxy," and with the KEFs, the box disappeared, to leave only the vocals and instruments.

In all fairness, the B&W DM12 and KEF 103.2 are not the same size, and, of course, the cabinet size has impact on the sonic qualities of all speakers. 

That being considered, the B&W DM12 is an excellent mid-sized bookshelf speaker and fully-worthy of consideration if you ever get the chance to purchase a pair. 

Have any experience with either of these speakers? Chime on in :)


  1. I have the DM12. I still love them. They are powered by Marantz 170DC/Marantz3250B. They beat the Jamo`s I had before.

  2. Try the B&W DM4. They will beat the 103.2 hands down. The DM4 is bettered by its larger sibling, the DM2a.

  3. Seriously: you're using The Carpenters to test speakers? That's bullshit.

  4. No BS..... Carpenters are very good for testing ! productions with 14-20 doubling vokals can realy tell what your speakers can do....try it

  5. DM4s are good but Kef 103.2s are better. The B&Ws sound more analytical and bright, not as smooth and well balanced as the Kefs. Detail on the B&Ws may seem higher at first but that is because the HF level is so tipped up---the bright HFs giving the impression of detail. The DM2As are a much more mellow affair than the DM4s with lot's more bass and a bit recessed sounding in the upper mids. Typical of large woofers crossed over too high. Back in the old days B&W never had a "family sound". One model typically sounded very different than another. You'd never know they were even made by the same company.
    Bottom line is the Kef 103.2's overall lower distortion, focus, openness and lack of coloration renders them superior overall than any competitive B&W.

    Joe Bigliogo

  6. Still listening to the DM 12's that I bought appr. 30 years ago. I was a student then, and it was the best thing that I could do with the little money I had. DM14 was even better, but couldn't afford these at that time. Never regretted the choice.

  7. Just got these dm2 for close to nothing .. just currious .. WOT ... im in love ... 35 years old and beats my beloved audiovector ... so warm detailed .. and power full

  8. I fell in love with DM14's in 1985, but bought DM12's because i was moving often and the size worked for me. I kept them for about 3 years and then traded them on Rogers LS 7 T's Which I still own and have yet to find an affordable upgrade from. I recently had the chance to buy a used pair of DM12's to put into my teenagers system. They sound as I remember them and are very listenable. The protection circuits work, so hopefully the will survive some parties where earlier speakers have died. Running through a Lux L-100 they run cleanly until the protection cuts in



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