If you haven't heard the Vandersteen equivalent, you should.
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I have used B&Ws in the passed and move on because of the poor base performance. The 804D/s are going to be thin in your room and are thin IMO regardless of the room. There are speakers that go a good bi deeper with more output and control for the same money.
I liked B&Ws pretty well at one time for the reasons you stated but you can do better for the $$$.
There are a number of "best speakers for $4000-5000" threads you could read.
i auditioned the b&ws against some magnepan 3.6s (perhpas an unfair comparison, but they are in the same price range). i honestly didn't like the b&ws either--it wasn't so much bass quantity as it was balance and driver integration--the low end sounded muddy and out of synch with the mids and highs. as noted above, there are a ton of great speakers in that $4-5k range--i like revel, psb, totem, vmps--but of course yours are the only ears that matter.
PSB Synchrony One and Thiel CS2.4 can be bought off of Crutchfield and both will out perform the 804d. They have a 30 day return policy on all their products (call them to make sure). You just need to pay the return shipping if you don't like them.
I bought a Peachtree Nova from Crutchfield and returned it on their tab because I did not car for it...
From direct experience and listening... the new changes to the Diamond Series are marked. The re-aligned bass drivers demonstrate a marked improvement in low end extension; your ears though will serve you best for what will work best for you.
Alternatively, at the new price points... buying old-stock 803D's may be a better financial option (price:performance).
For what you listen to, and for your room size, the 804Ds are a great choice, but not suitable for your NAD. B&Ws are often slagged due to poor pairing with most solid-state amps. They simply reveal the best or worst of what's in front of them. The Sonus Fabers will sound comparatively colored and muddy.
The 804s use a first order cross to the tweet and are bi-amp capable, so get yourself a decent SET for the mids on up, then bi-amp with a good inexpensive class D amp for the woofs. Both amps should have similar gain, unless you get a preamp with variable gain on its second output. This latter option will allow you to fine-tune the bass output for your room and tastes.
Thanks again for your responses. Fla, I hadn't thought of what you've suggested as an option for fine tuning the bass if necessary, great idea.
I had the opportunity to hear a pair again, in a better environment, and am comfortable now that the bass is ample for a medium size room (albeit dry, but I like that). I also compared again the Liutos and felt that they were incredibly smooth and easy to listen to (no risk of fatigue whatsoever), but not quite as exciting or detailed as (I realise now) I appear to like (ask me again in six months).
Talk about unending variables! I think this hobby will do my head in.
A few years ago I upgraded from 804S to 803D because I could not get the bass performance I was looking for from the 804S. I suspect, but cannot verify first hand, that while the 804D bass will be better than the 804S, they are still likely to be slightly lean simply due to physics - the enclosure is not large enough to support deep bass.
Going back to my experience with 804S - brilliant on vocals, but not great on electronic music with decent bass.
On the other hand the 803D has more than satisfied me in terms of overall balance and bass quality. Even after 3 years it still surprises me with how deep it goes. What is also great is that the bass quality is retained at late night low volume listening levels.
So my suggestion is try to compare the 803D to 804D at the dealer to gauge whether the difference in bass weight is significant to you.
By way of update, I finally have my 804D's and after around 20hrs of break-in can confirm that there are no issues in the bass department. Bass is extended but taut, a lot more focussed than the woolly sound my 604s once produced. The bass is there only when it's in the recording, but when it is, I've been surprised by how deep it goes ("checking if sub is on" deep and being pleasantly surprised). All in all thrilled with these.
Next stop new amp, though I'm not sure I need it as they sound so good across the spectrum. Still, have been doing a bit of reading on the MC252 and it sounds brilliant... something about the idea of plonking a boulder of an amp beside these babies feel right!!
Thanks again all
Glad to hear you like them. I love the way they look, one of the best looking speakers out there. For what it is worth I have always liked mac gear.
I did however find the bass was best with a Wyred4Sound ST500 vs the mac 252. I took my ST500 to the dealer and demoed the MC252 back to back. I did the demo with a pair of Magnepan 3.6 so it may not be very relavent but I still own a pair of B&W 703 that are in he bedroom and the ST500 really brought out the bass (where there was none before). If you can get passed the looks the ST500 is only 1000ish here on audiogon. I believe the high damping factor is really what B&Ws need to shine.
It was too bad for me I did not like the Mcintosh better because I really love the look. Don't get me wrong I like it pretty well but I do not feel it is worth $4500... maybe used...
Thanks for the tip James, I'll look into the ST500 also, I've also always factored aesthetics in a way that would probably disqualify me in the eyes of a few! It's just that apart from sound quality our equipment become prominent items of art/design and that's of varying importance to different people. There's a certain wow factor with Mac gear I can't get passed, though price is indeed steep.