No, this is not a brand war bait. Instead, I've been so accustomed to the sound of JBL titanium tweeters, because most of my speakers belong to the family: JBL 120Tis, a single JBL 4410 for center speaker, JBL LX 44s, and JBL L20Ts on my secondary system. As such, I couldn't help but comparing newly acquired speakers to the JBL Ti family. Recently, I've been interested in soundstage depth. One of the models I'm interested in is Bowers & Wilkins DM302, and I just found a pair very cheap on ebay. So in an impulse buying, the speakers become mine. Then I connect them to my secondary system in the garage. I wonder how would they fare compared to the JBL L20Ts I've been using all along, especially when it goes to soundstage depth. The JBL L20Ts. Yes, I use them to play computer games too. The B&W DM302s I just acquired. The amplifier is a restored Sansui A-40. Certainly not the best of Sansui, but it sounds good nonetheless. The weakness is probably the source. I'm using my PC as source unit, without any external DAC whatsoever. Yup, the motherboard's lowly Realtek ALC662. It doesn't bother me though. I don't experience audible degradation in audio quality, so there. So, how does B&W DM302 compare to my existing JBL L20T? Here are the tests. The Coryells - Sentenza Del Core - Allegro I read somewhere that this is the best song to test soundstage depth, so I promptly bought the album (plenty on ebay anyway). During this song, there are occasional castanet rhythms that are supposed to come from behind the speakers. With JBL L20Ts, the castanet rhythms come from slightly behind the loudspeaker's front baffle. With B&W DM302s, the soundstage depth indeed extends quite far behind the front baffle. However, I only hear such impressive depth when listening in moderate levels. When I turn up the volume quite loud, the DM302s' impressive soundstage depth become less impressive --becomes harder to discern from that of JBL L20Ts. I don't know, perhaps my amplifier, or my source unit. I mean, B&W DM302 has 91 dB / watt / meter sensitivity, so I guess they were designed to tolerate loudness, no? Santana - Singing Winds, Crying Beasts This song opens with ringing wind chimes. On JBL L20Ts, the chimes sound more blurred, while on B&W DM302s you can almost hear every individual chime. However, the chimes sound more sustained on the L20Ts. On DM302s, it's almost like the chimes' high frequency harmonics are cut-off. Also, in the song's intro, from minute 0:42 to 0:50, there is guitar riff that pans from the right to the left. On JBL L20Ts, the stereo panning is very impressive. The riff nicely steers from the listener's right to the listener's left, it is almost like listening to a Dolby surround demo. In fact, I always use the guitar riff's steering to show off my garage system to visiting friends, because it always sounds impressive on the L20Ts. On the B&W DM302, not so. In fact, you have to squint to notice the aforementioned steering. I don't know why, but the steering is way more impressive on JBL L20T than on B&W DM302. "Scatman John" Larkin - Game Over Jazz This is the song that made me love the JBL titanium series, that made me fall in love with the JBL 120Tis. At moderate volume, the intro cymbals sound about the same between the L20Ts and the DM302s, but when the volume's turned up, you start to hear the difference. On the Ti series, the cymbals have more "tizz", and it is the "tizz" I like. What do you suppose to call it, high frequency harmonics? On the DM302s, on the other hand, the cymbals have more "body" --as if cymbals have body at all, one may say, but how else I should describe it? Subjectively, I prefer the L20Ts' cymbals, though. Herbie Man - Lugar Comum (Common Place) This song opens with the sound of twittering birds. On the JBL titanium series, the twitters are more tonally pleasant, but on the DM302s, the twitters have more soundstage depth. Just like the castanet rhythms in entenza Del Core - Allegro, the twittering birds nicely comes from behind the DM302s' front baffle. Not even JBL 120Ti can touch the DM302 in presenting the 3 dimensionality of this song's bird twitters. Overall Impression It seems to me B&W DM302 has more three dimensional soundstage than JBL L20T. One thing I notice is the DM302 can sound even more forward than L20Ts. When I move away from the DM302s, increasing my distance to the speakers, I can vaguely hear a 3-dimensional sound stage formed in front of the speakers, while only a small portion of the soundstage comes from behind the speakers. With JBL 120Tis, the entire 3-dimensional soundstage comes from in front of the speakers. But with JBL L20Ts, there is no 3-dimensional soundstage at all. I have tried moving away from my L20Ts, and the "thickness" of the soundstage just didn't change. So yes, listening nearfield tends to flatten the soundstage to be 2-dimensional, but only on the DM302s. On the L20Ts, the soundstage is flat all the way. However, the 302s' soundstage is not as impressive as described on the reviews I read. Nossire. Take a look at this review, for instance. "The 303s soundstage performance is very good, it's just that the 302 is *amazing* in this area. It almost sounds like some sort of electronic spatial manipulation has been inserted into the signal path." Amazing soundstage depth? Hardly. B&W DM302 indeed has more noticeable soundstage depth than JBL L20T, but hardly amazing. It's not something that give me a "wow" moment. It's unlike the first time I heard cymbals on JBL 120Tis. Yes, soundstage depth is better, but not a "wow" moment. What really intrigues me is actually how similar do the L20Ts and the DM302s sound. JBL L20T has titanium dome tweeters, while B&W DM302 has soft dome tweeters. JBL L20T is ported, while B&W DM302 is sealed. Yet, they sound quite similar to each other, which surprises me. The nearest record store is at a place called 'Setra Sari Mall'. The store uses a pair of Mordaunt-Short 902i to play songs. The Mordaunt-Shorts sound vastly different than my JBL L20Ts. First, the bass is more impressive. Way more impressive, especially for speakers of that size. But then, the HF is nowhere as refined as my JBLs, and center image is virtually non-existent --unlike the L20Ts, whose center image is prominent and solid. The Mordaunt-Short 902is owned by a nearby record store. In the last Ramadan I spotted a pair of highly acclaimed B&W PM1s while looking for a restaurant to break my fasting. I decided to audition the speakers, and they sound noticeably different than my JBLs. For instance, they sound way gentler, as if the sound has round edges. Even without AB comparison (I was in a business trip out of town at that time), I realized my JBLs sound rough compared to the PM1s. In January 2016, I auditioned a pair of Klipsch KG 4.2 in a used audio store. Again, it was out of town, so no AB comparison possible with my JBL titaniums. However, the Klipsch sound vastly different than my JBL. First, the bass is chest-thumping. But then, the HF is really anemic compared to my 120Tis. But the DM302s... they don't really sound much different from my good old L20Ts. Sure, there was certain moments where soundstage depth behind the speakers really show, but they are hardly "wow" moments. And the soundstage become 3-dimensional when you move away from the speakers. But again, it's hardly amazing. Also, as far as 2-dimensional soundstage is concerned, the JBL L20Ts seem to have more pinpointed stereo imaging. But otherwise, the two models sound quite similar, despite based on different design. Titanium vs soft dome, ported vs sealed. As such, this Stereophile review sounds like over-enthusiastic exaggeration. "You might not expect speakers this size to totally disappear and re-create the original performance, but they do. While small cabinet loudspeakers are known for imaging well, the DM302s throw a soundstage that consistently startles with its openness and ease. You don't get merely a taste of what the full-bore high-end speakers do, you get way into *serious audiophile territory*. Yes, B&W DM302s may be better speakers, but JBL L20Ts are not far behind. Or perhaps I should be happy that my good old L20Ts are pretty close to "serious audiophile territory". What Should I Do, Then? So, is B&W 302 'The Holy Grail' in my quest for small speakers with amazing soundstage depth? The speakers are quite satisfactory, but not quite amazing. Should I go for NHT SuperZero instead? But is the current production NHT SuperZero still the same with ther legendary SuperZero designed by Ken Kantor many years ago? Anyone? Or perhaps I should use better upstream components? Better amplifier, better DAC. Perhaps the differences between B&W DM302 and JBL L20T will be more noticeable with better electronics? Anyone?