This is a question that cannot be answered by anyone other than yourself. You will get many different responses to this but it really depends on your own perception, in other words, you are the only one who can tell if another speaker images as well as the 800 or 802. The highest percentage of responses will be for Quads, Maggies and Vienna Acoustics. These responses can give you some ideas to start listening to. I recently asked a similiar question and listened to a lot of different speakers - the above and many more. Ultimately I stayed with the B&W. I agree with you - I did not like the maggies and martin logans - although I will say that these imaged very nicely. My dislike was also non-musical, it was not so much the look but the technology that I shied away from. So many things go into the mix. One factor that may also be of consideration is the availability of parts and support down the line, for a 12 to 20 k$ set of speakers it would be nice to be able to find the tweeter three years from now if you need one. There are a lot of B&W speakers out there and a lot of parts. This of course would not be a first concern but it is something to think about. Good luck. Let us know what you find.
Take a look at the Vandersteen 5A. The performance is a bargain, and if you upgrade to the beautiful optional woods, the speakers are gorgeous.
Well I have been looking at 802Ds and have listened to them 5 or so times. I think one of there greatest features is their wide sound stage and looks. I looked at several brands (focal, Wilson Duette, martin logan). After all of my listening I liked the 802D best.
That was until I heard the Thiel 3.7. It is a great speaker and looks good too. The sound stage was bigger and located musicians better than the 802D. The midrange is much sweeter and more detailed (I find the 802D biggest flaw is the recessed mids). There was not as much bass but it was still potent, detailed, and never lacking. But the most notable thing about the Thiel is that nothing stood out. It was all great and very very coherent. At $13,000 you should put them on your list of speakers to hear. I have all but forgotten about B&W after my Thiel audition.
I recently underwent a journey similar to the one you are emabrking on. Iswitched from 802's. I listened to many which is also what you should do. Unfortunately you probably cannot bring home 5 pairs and try them all but in reality that's what you need to do. I listened to Dynaudio C-4's (very good and about $9k used), Avalon Eidolons (awesome and about $10-$11k used but require an excellent room and space to set them away from the rear wall), Wilson Watt Puppy 8's (Also good but not as much my taste and very expensive), and finally Aerial 20t's (these are what I settled on. They are about $13k used for series 1). I wanted to try Stringreen's Vandersteen 5As, and I know the Thiels are nice too but I was so happy with the Aerial 20ts I stopped. In the end I could have happily lived with any of them. Good luck in your search.
Good info. It is most certainly up to my ear to determine the sound but I appreciate the suggestions. It gives me for food for thought and more speakers to audition before making any decision.
IMO ...plenty that sound as good and even more that sound better..but if your into following the crowd and buy for just a name,no
I have heard the B&W's using McIntosh and quality set up. Legacy Audio in their new HD series an option to hear. The B&W is a warmer sound ( with the mac's) or as some say... neutral. The Legacy is more defined or revealing. Meaning bad recordings will be more obvious. A lot of people did not like the older Legacy line. The HD series is a completely new sound. Hope you find what you are looking for......
You may want to look into the new Avalon Indras. They image spectacularly.
Thanks for all the suggestions. Is there an area on the forumn boards with a majority of the hi-fi speaker makers listed?
Look at Eggleston Andras.
If you are looking for the same looks and sound for less, check out B&W's own Nautilus 802 and 800's here on Audiogon.
I am a bit surprised that nobody has asked you yet what amps you are intending to use with the speakers? I like Avalon speakers and that is why I own a pair of Opus Ceramique but in the end it's all a matter of taste and system synergy. I personally don't like the 802's because of what I would desribe as incoherent sounding. I also think of them as being "slow".
JC1's or rotel 1091's. Right now I have the 1091's and if I'm not happy with them I'll go for the JC1's.
You really need to get out and listen. What brands do the dealers that are close to you carry? I would start with brands that are local. If nothing knocks you out then look at other brands. IMO with just a little looking B&Ws will be out done. I once rolled my eyes at comments like that but I have found it to be true. One other thing to consider is that the 802D take some very big amps ($$$) to get the best out of them. While some other brands (say Wilson Sophia) will not take the monster power the 802D needs. So even though the Wilson cost more up front they my be cheaper in the long run...
Also if you find a speaker that you like but is not enough to buy. Some one could suggest a speaker that does what you are looking for better. Can you list some of the brands your local dealers carry?
I would like to note, that I like B&Ws pretty well even though my posts do not seem like it. I still keep a pair of 703s in the bedroom. There are many other brands that have less performance for the same dollar.
I 100% agree that I need to listen at the local dealers. That was the main reason for my post, I was certain there had to be better speakers out there for the money then B&W's but I just don't know where to start. Getting a few starting points and tracking down the sales teams with this equipment was/is the plan. I figure a few posts can set me off in the right direction and I can spend the next half a year to a year tracking down what I want.
Try the Revel Ultima Studio 2's.
Have you looked at Von Schweikert? The VR4SR MK2 will out perform the B&W. Looks are personal but the sleeker styling of the VS speakers IMHO looks much better. The VS VR5 Anniversary is another sonic step up with the same footprint as the VR4SR. Check them out.