The Apogee buy far I have owned 2 sets of them, should of kept one.
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Before you buy either speaker, you really have to listen to them. I had the B&W's, but mine were the S3's. You couldn't pay me to listen to those things. You can do so much better for a lot less money. I don't have an exact date, but the S2's are from the 80's. I don't have as much experience with the Apogee, but its a ribbon. People either love them or hate them.
If it were me, I would look elsewhere. Speakers have come such a long way since both of those speakers were in production, that there's no reason to have to put up with the flaws of either one.
"this is one irresponsible statement. Looks to me that you don't know what you are talking about....."
Cry baby. Just because you like the speakers that means that everyone has to like them. Maybe if you put the magazines down for a minute and go out and get some real listening experience, you may one day be able to contribute something useful.
Zd542, search this forum with my username & you'll see that I have contributed a lot over the years that I have participated here. I re-state: you remain ignorant.
I was recently at RMAF2013 & listened to a lot of loudspeakers incl those that were made from original RCA drivers from the 1950s. Those speakers beat the pants of almost all the other speakers I heard at the show.
I don't subscribe to any of the audio rags; I trust my ears more than some audio press reviewer; I also have a good understanding of electronics & so I believe that I know what I'm saying.
You don't have to like to the Apogee speakers (or for that matter any other speaker) other than the ones you own but to write on this forum that "speakers have come such a long way since both of those speakers were in production, that there's no reason to have to put up with the flaws of either one" shows me that you have no understanding of this subject. On the contrary, I would say that you need to pull your socks up & contribute something useful to the discussion.....
I have had the privilege of hearing BOTH of these speakers when both were in their prime and with no doubt in my mind you are pitting 2 very strong contenders against another. My taste went to the Apogee Major (I own Slant 6s myself) In my very humble opinion I just preferred the bi polar radiation and imaging more than what the B & W provided for me. Should I have to depart with my Slants today I would gladly accept EITHER into my listening room but, of course I would prefer the Apogee Majors.
Well here we are again. This is one of those situations where I'm starting to feel embarrassed for someone else. That would be you. I doubt we can end this but I'll try.
Apogee speakerss: Are very difficult to drive. Don't have great bass. Are hard to place. Don't have the volume or dynamic range that most other speakers have. The company has been out of business for well over a decade. Anything that someone buys used will almost certainly need some type of service or repair just due to age, if nothing else.
I guess all that's not too bad. They do have a nice midrange, but so do a lot of other speakers. Now, just to be clear, I consider the above comments common knowlege. The OP already knows this. I assume he's asking if its worth all the trouble to buy a pair of these speakers. I still say no to these and the B&W's.
Now for the last part. What is it that you know? You made it a point 2x's to say that I'm ignorant and don't know what I'm talking about but don't tell me why. Given your ego, you have to have some subjective info that proves my subjective info wrong. So what is it? You used to work for the company, own the speakers, fix them, heard them at the big show..... What is it that makes your opinion right and mine wrong? Also, I have no idea why you would compare vintage cone speakers to ribbons. Just because they are both considered vintage products, maybe?
The B&Ws *can* offer superb sound to this day, but again, imo, it will fall just short of the 801Ds and 800Ds. As well as the high end JBLs and Tannoys. They're quite a bargain on the used market! The Apogees, no big deal on those. I consider them slightly above average. Plus, the company's out of business, which can never be a good thing overall...
The B&Ws *can* offer superb sound to this day, but again, imo, it will fall just short of the 801Ds and 800Ds."
How do you deal with the tweeters in those old B&W's? The midrange is excellent. Its clean and fast; no problems at all. I found the tweeter to be painful. I tried all different things to fix them, but could come up with no reasonable solution short of just getting a new pair of speakers. They ended up being a very good learning experiance, but a very costly one.
I agree with Rsjm80 that the OP is pitting 2 strong contenders against each other.
The B&W Matrix was designed when John Bowers himself was alive back in the early 1990s (maybe even the late 1980s). I've not heard the Matrix 801S2 but I did hear a smaller Matrix speaker (I *think* it was the 803) with Threshold & McIntosh electronics at Audio Consultants in the Chicago area. I really liked the sonics but it was unaffordable at that time for me. I have also heard the N801 overseas at a dealer driven by Rowland Model 10 amps. Altho' the room was large enough to accommodate the large woofer of the N801, I did not like the sonics - too tipped up towards the mids & highs & plenty of bass overhang.
I have a friend who lives in Paris, FR who owned & still owns a pair of B&W Matrix 801 & really liked the sonics but he got 'upgraditis' when B&W introduced their N8XXD series (not this very latest series but the one just before). So, he called B&W in England & managed to snag a used pair of N800D from the manuf that they/B&W used in their listening room on-premises. He got a great deal on them price-wise & was really excited to get the latest & greatest from B&W. He drove from Paris to the manuf & picked them in person. After several months of listening, when I communicated with him, he told me that his Matrix 801 speakers were simply much better than his new N800D speakers. He told me that the new N800D had many of the audiophile attributes but it had no soul. Where the N800D made great sounds, the Matrix 801 made music. He had both speakers in his room & did many A/Bs in his setup. Soon afterwards, he sold off the N800D. The Matrix 801 are still in his listening room.
If the OP doesn't already know it, then several of the B&W fans over here can chime in - the Matrix series speakers from B&W were some of their very best sounding. The Matrix series speakers is what put B&W on the map & of course, it's use in Skywalker Labs in the UK. It's hard (but possible) to destroy the cone drivers esp. with the use of high order x-over like B&W likes to use.
Compared to B&W's present-day offerings, the Matrix speakers were easier to drive as can be seen in this measurement done by Stereophile http://www.stereophile.com/content/bw-matrix-801-series-2-loudspeaker-measurements
looking at the impedance & phase curves at, say, 200Hz, I see 12 Ohms & 22.5 degrees of phase shift. That translates to 11.1 Ohms real part (ie. resistance) & 173uF (imaginary part). The imaginary part is reactive power where the current in the capacitor is 90 degree ahead/phase lead compared to the voltage. I see that between 40-50 degrees the phase shift goes inductive (where the current will be behind/phase lag compared to the voltage). So, in the 20-200Hz region I see phase-lead & phase-lag meaning that the amp will have a relatively tough job as it tries to maintain the voltage-current relationships. But, you'll notice that the resistance values are pretty high - 11.1 Ohms in the above calc & 9 Ohms (minus a little due to phase lead). Driving current into these fairly high resistive values in the bass region (many of today's speakers go down to 4 Ohms or lower) means that the Matrix 801S2 is an easier load than B&W's today's offerings & by a long shot.
The Matrix 801S2 speaker is really very good sonically provided you have the room for such a large speaker & can give the 12" woofer the space it needs to go down to 20Hz (as the spec says). This is a very large room or a very well acoustically treated room.
I agree with Rsjm80 again that the it's very hard to beat the sonic attributes of a ribbon. Physics will always be on the side of the ribbons due to their lighter weight. I got a low-down from the seller from whom I bought my Apogees from. Over his music listening years he had owned 8-9 different Apogees including the Centaur Major. His present speakers are the Apogee Full Range & at that time his 2nd bedroom system had the Apogee Slant6. From the info he gave me I learnt that of all the hybrid speakers Apogee made the Centaur Major was their best. The integration of the cone woofer with the ribbons was done very well to where most of the time this person could not tell when the sound transferred over to the bass driver & back to the ribbon. Yes, the unfortunate thing about Apogee is that they are not in business today so if the ribbon needs replacement you are likely to badly off. I did find a seller in Singapore selling ribbons for various Apogee models but you might think 'who wants to deal with that' & maybe rightly so. The seller I was in touch with ranked the Apogee Stage as having the best mids & highs (of course within the Apogee offerings) which he ranked at 100, 2nd came the Centaur Major, which he ranked at 99 & 3nd came the Scintilla (these were the ones he was selling me) which he ranked at 97. So, all very close but he had finite ranking for them based on his extensive ownership & listening of these speakers. You can read a review of the Centaur Majors here: http://www.apogeespeakers.com/reviews/Centaur_Major_Stereophile.pdf
So, like Rsjm80 states, you can't go wrong with either speaker - both are really very, very good even today. From my personal experience the B&W Matrix series beats B&W's present day offerings any day - more soul, more music, more looking into the music & less audiophile attributes.
The Centaur Majors have hallmarks of a very good ribbon (that I heard in the Maggie 1.6, Soundlab U-1 at RMAF 2007, my own Scintillas, Selah Audio speakers based on Newform Research's ribbons). The mids & highs are very natural. You might want to check the conditions of the ribbons thoroughly before you buy. My Scintillas have original ribbons from the 1985 build so no reason why original ribbons cannot last long. If the prev owner has abused them then that's another matter.
Maybe the availability of replacement drivers will make up your mind??
Digital3 - Too very different speakers with different requirements with different camps as far as owners go.
I like both types of speakers which is why I have two listening rooms.
Have you not listened to both to hear the different presentations - panel versus cone ?
Its very obvious.
I don't think you are going to base a decision on a public chat forum?... so go listen to both as others have recommended.
.......and you know this how Dave ? Have you heard them together to compare ?
they are very different designs - matrix during John Bowers years and those that followed - two different sounds.
I've have heard the 800d's
I prefer my matrix 800's. If you want to know why pm me as this if off topic.
zd542 -How do you deal with the tweeters in those old B&W's? The midrange is excellent. Its clean and fast; no problems at all. I found the tweeter to be painful. I tried all different things to fix them, but could come up with no reasonable solution short of just getting a new pair of speakers.,
here is a clue
Stereophile review of the S2.
"Higher in frequency, the response trend (averaged across a 30 degrees lateral window on the tweeter axis) is basically flat, but with a slight excess of energy in the presence region and a corresponding lack of energy in the top octave. All things being equal, this will make the speaker both a little too revealing of recorded detail and somewhat fussy when it comes to the quality of source and amplification components, just as LL noted in his auditioning comments."
What were you using as a pre and amp, source ?
Replacement Ribbons for Apogee speakers are available from Graz in Australia and you can find his info at the Apogee Users web sight. Graz has been making and improving his ribbons for some time now (and is a great man) and everyone has always sung his praise with the difference the new Ribbons make incase you ever need new ones, he does the full line.
Ct0517, no I did not hear them side by side, so you got me there. I admit that a more thorough testing is what was called for. Although memory of sounds can be a strong thing, it's certainly not the same as side by side comparisons. Nevertheless, I still feel the 801D and 800Ds are the better speakers, but to each is own. The 801 Matrix can compete well as I alluded to before, I suppose.
Hi Digital3 - I don't know how familiar you are with the B&W BAF. All the 800 matrix series speakers 800, 801, 802, 803, 804, 805 followed John Bowers vision as an active design.
The BAF - basically an equalizer is inserted and boosts the low bass as well as getting rid of of sub sonic nasties that make woofer pumping a problem.
Here is an frequency response graph plot from B&W with the 801's - filter and no filter.
I listen to music that has material below 40 hz so the filter is important to me.
I also found the bass boom around 100hz in my room without the filter was eliminated making placement easier.
If you are going to keep the S2; I recommend at least
searching on ebay or here at audiogon for the filter.
they come up for sale. This way you can at least hear the speakers as designed.
You can always sell it later if it doesn't work for you.
They are always in demand because the BAF's were all originally shipped with the speakers but they got misplaced and lost as speakers changed hands.
Dave - if you ever get an opportunity try to hear the matrix 800's.
There's another comment I want to make re. the later versions of B&W speakers that used 6" & 7" Kevlar midrange drivers. I used to own a pair of B&W DM604S2 speakers that used a 7" Kevlar mid & I found that when Diana Krall was playing, she sounded like she was in the plane or slightly ahead of the speakers (& I was seated 10 ft from the speakers). When I played Frank Sinatra, he sounded well behind the plane of the speakers. I found this perplexing. When I did some research on AudioAsylum I found an owner of a N801 in New Zealand had found the very same issue on his speakers! He & I got chatting on this issue & what we found was that a 6" Kevlar midrange in his N801 was beaming at 2200Hz & my 7" Kevlar midrange was beaming at 1900Hz.
When I say beaming what I mean to say is that the Kevlar midrange is beginning to enter its cone breakup mode & the sound coming out takes the shape of a beam of light from a lighthouse during the night. I.E. it becomes very directional. With mid being one of 3 or 4 drivers in a floorstander, the integration of the drivers fail & the balance of sound is disturbed thereby moving the soundstage to the front or the back as I was hearing. The matter is made worse because B&W (in all their infinite judgement) decided to cross-over the mid to the tweeter at 4KHz!! Well above the 6" or 7" Kevlar mid cone break-up mode! Why did they do this?? I could not understand....
You will not find this issue with the Matrix 801S2 as the midrange driver is 5" & the cone breakup frequency is 2700Hz & the cross-over frequency is 3KHz.
In more than one way, the Matrix series speakers were engineered correctly: selection of drivers, selection of cross-over frequencies to match drivers, cabinet contruction, offset of drivers to make them time-aligned, Ct0517 brings up another good point - the BAF module to make the woofer integrate correctly with the other drivers.
B&W seems to have thrown all this out of the window with John Bowers' passing when they introduced the N8XX & beyond models.....
here's a pix of the Matrix 801S2
and here is a pix of the N801:
check out the vast difference in the sheer size of the midrange driver (I realize the pix are not the same size but even then you get an idea). The Matrix 801S2 driver a lot more flange & I'd not be surprised if the actual area of the driver is less than 5". Whereas the N801 midrange has almost zero flange - I can only see a rubber surround - it's all driver right to the very edge meaning to say it's all of the advertised 6".
I *did* hear the Matrix 800s way back in '91 driven by Krell amps and preamp at a local dealer. From what I remember, it was good, but no big deal. Of course, it could have been placement, the room, and maybe the electronics too. I would definitely like to hear them again. But that's a long shot since they've been out of production for a long time...anyway, I still like the 800D and 801D. Especially the 801D. Too bad B&W discontinued those...