B&W 801 vs 803s


About to finish my home theater room have B&W 803s right now and have a chance to upgrade to 801. both are nautilus series.. my room is 13 feet by 24 feet with 8 foot cieling. do you think the 801 are to big for my room. thanks for your opinions in advance..
palermo100
If you are going to upgrade, open the possibilities with different speakers. I am one of those who doesn't particularly like B&W's ....owned the 801's at one time.
I also had 801s.If you like the 803s you will like the 801s more, they are considerably better. You room is big enough but remember they like a lot of power.
thank you for the info. stringreen why dont you like B&W and what speakers would you suggest. Im open to trying something differant. what other brands should i try and why, what makes them better then what I have and give me details please..Stanwal I have audio research pushing my speakers now with meridian pro and dvd player.. i would like to know what else works well with my present setup or future one im considering like i said i will listen with a open mind..thanks agian guys for your opinions.
Palermo,

The 801 has a more open midrange (much less box coloration) and a lot more bass. Your room size is fine but they will need to be off the front walls a good bit. The down porting of the 801 can really over load the front corners...

Anyway I like B&W speakers (still own a pair of 703s) and have auditions both the 801, 802D, and 803D at length. But there are better and worse speakers out there.

In their price range I find the Thiel 3.7 out classed the 802D in all most all aspects for the same money. They are more coherent, dynamic, with a more natural midrange with AMAZING sound-stage (time alined...). They also look very good too. They can be had for 9,000 here on audiogon.

For me the down side of the larger B&Ws is they lose the punch and jump factor over the smaller B&Ws. They were hit or miss, some days I loved them and some days I wanted more bass punch and more midrange energy.

All in all if you likes B&Ws and can get a good deal buy them. I like them much better than the JM Lab line of speaker but not as much as Wilson's sophia... with the Thiels coming out as the clear winner for me.

As always use your own ears!
I went from the B&W's to Vandersteen 5A's...a huge step up. Personally, I think Vandersteen Quattros are excellent too. In my opinion, Vandersteen is the top of the heap at each price point. I also like Dynaudio, Magnepan and Thiels. They all sound different from each other, however, I think they all play sounds that sound like music in live space. I am a professional violinist, and am around real music every day. The thing for you to do is not strictly follow these suggestions, but to at least listen to them and allow your own tastes dictate your preference. There is no true right or wrong...my violin sounds different in Carnegie Hall, in Symphony Hall, in Avery Fischer Hall, and in my practice room at home. Although different at each venue, they all sound like a real violin playing in real space.
once agian thank you for the input, i will take all your opinions into consideration..
I'm not sure if you have a large enough room, honestly. I've auditioned the 801Ds (not Nautilus) in a room bigger than yours, and I thought the bass was overwhelming and the mid-range slightly muddled, no doubt because of the room size. For your room size, I think the 802s would be perfect and definitely an upgrade to your current 803s.
Abbey Road studios uses B&W 801 with Bryston 7B - they need power, power, POWER- he gives a cruel chuckle!

B&W are a popular design that fits many people's tastes. Purists can critique their tendency towards laid back midrange and hefty bass (for sure there are more accurate speakers out there) but this is perhaps the reason B&W are so popular with consumers and this makes them a useful tool in mastering. Go for it!
Yea, we all know the old story "Abbey road uses B&W"..Seems to be the only battle cry for the product ..IMO, I agree with James63 & Stringreen
..Much better speakers out there,go listen before ya buy!!!
But beware, some of the more "accurate" and "revealing" speakers can be very tiring in long listening sessions. I liked high power SS on B&W. Bryston, GamuT, or Musical Fidelity come to mind. The main question is, do you like the 803s? The other speakers mentioned will sound quite different, you may or may not like them; so don't buy different speakers without a long listen; with the 801s you already know just about what you will get.
But beware, some of the more "accurate" and "revealing" speakers can be very tiring in long listening sessions.

Agreed, that is why B&W and many other speakers have their rightful popular place (actually also B&W have several models that I would place in the accurate and revealing camp - I mean how many versions is it possible to make - ask Imelda Marcus about shoes I suppose). In any case, Palermo did not specifically ask for the most accurate or revealing speakers
The 801D is the most not-tiring and revealing speaker at its price range IMO. Forget the old N801, this is indeed balanced from top to buttom, with punchy, fast and heavy bass. Alot of dynamic, this sound awesome with many types of amps i drive them. I can bet that all audiophile people that owns other mark would like to have the 801D.
Missioncoonery, but did you know that B&W advertises the midrange drivers being made of bullet proof Kevlar? Most of the police officers and gangsters I know are rolling with B-dubs.
Well nothing wrong with marketing... think about all the berillium bs these days. Nothing wrong with berillium just saying every band has it's own niche in marketing.
Two issues with the 801 Nautilus: (i) they do in fact require a big room because of their prodigious bass and your room may be too small, and (ii) they require a ton of power, to the point of needing to be biamped with big solid-state, which means an amp that uses feedback (and thus all of the problems that feedback brings).

That said, if I had a huge room, listened only to rock/pop (i.e., crap multitrack recordings of electric instruments), and didn't have a lot of money, I would definitely consider them - great bass and boom.
all your opinons are very interesting, I should note im not to into classical but will listen to a telarc disc from time to time. I do like rock really like live cd's of any kind and love mike oldfield and am exploring artist like sasha and atb, with that said i love my present 803s, im torn that if i go ahead and upgrade i should check out other speakers just to make sure im getting the best bang for the buck. you guys have to understand im not wealthy so whatever i choose i will most likely have to live with for some period of time. and Raquel i like fast tight bass not boom, dont confuse me with some retard.
Palermo100: You misunderstand me - by "boom" in the context of the 801, I mean thunderous dynamics, not what I suspect you refer to, which is one-note bass from a poorly designed ported speaker. The 801's are great in that regard, assuming they are driven properly, which I again note means bi-amped with really beefy solid-state amps (the speaker cannot be properly driven by a single "normal" muscle amp like a Bryston 4B - it needs a ton of power).
I have owned several B&W speakers over the past 10 years including 802 and 803 n's as well as some 801 Matrtix. About two years ago I wass going to listen to and buy 801 D's. I happened to hear them along sied of Wilson Watt Puppy 7's and 8's. There was no comparison in my mind. The Wilsons sonded so much more precise and accurate with a very hard driving bass. I since have had Merlin, Dali and watt puppy 6's and 7's and now Egglestons. They all, in my mind are vastly superior to the B&W line. It is my opinion that the majority of B&W owners have never heard of most of what I just mentioned. If they heard them side by side I don't see how they would chose the B&W.

They do look good and are easy to sell on audiogon but as far as performance its like comparing a Chevy to a Porsche. Its eassy to live with a Chevy if you've never owned a Porsche, becasue you don't know what you are missing.
Being wealthy has nothing to do with how long you keep your speakers. The great thing about Audiogon is you can try many different speaker brands and if you decide to try something else you don't have to lose your ass when you sell them.

Just make a somewhat decent buy and selling them shouldn't cost much at all. Play your cards right and you may even make a buck or 2! Sometimes its just fun to try new things.

Good luck with your purchase
Mpit, don't be an ass. The Watt Puppy 8s are relatively new and cost about $28K, way more than the 801N, which are discontinued and which the OP is obviously going to buy used. Even second-hand WP8s would cost ways more than the 801N. What a pointless and self-serving comparison.
well said Dylanhenry

HEre it go the prices MSRP
N801 - USD11K
801D - USD18K
WP7 - USD22,5k
WP8 - USD27,9K

The 801D should play less than WP7 as it cost almost USD5K more. So thereĀ“s no way to compare or judge a speaker that have different price.
Well I think it is some what fair to compare Wilsons to B&W. How much do N801 cost use $4000-$5000? On audiogon there is a pair of Wilson Audio Sophia 1s for just under &6,000 right now.

I think for most people a grand either way is doable.
yes dude. But in this case THESE 2 models cost the same price used or NEW.

We are not discussing about marks but SPEAKER PRICES. THe most important is compare speaker at the SAME price range.
My point is that even though the WP8s are 15,000 used he might be able to get a similar "house sound" for 6,000 with the sophia 1s...

I have never compared the two. I have only heard the Sophia 2s and never heard the WP8s. I do know that I personally would by the Sophia 2 over the 802D. Used the 802D is around $9,000 and the Sophia 2s go for around 11,000 (both in the 10,000 +or- price bracket)

Back on track with the OP. There is nothing wrong with B&W's sound and they look GREAT. Where the Wilsons look like sin IMO sitting beside other hi end brands (Focal JM Lab, B&W, Sonus Faber).

One thing that is often forgotten on these sites is that we all like different music which have different points of interest. I was demoing the 803D (different but similar rooms) and Focal 1037B about a year back. I only took two CDs, Metallica's Black album and Nora Jones newest CD (not sure the name).

I started off listening to Nora Jones. The mids of the 1037B had more inner detail than the 803D and delicate highs. I was really liking the 1037s. Then I put on Metallica and things changed very quickly. The 1037s did not have the scale or coherence of the 803D. The 1037s burped out odd bass notes (in the given room) while the 803D's bass was great with no weird corks. On Metallica highs of the 803Ds filled the room while the 1037s were more directional and loosing scale on the big rock and roll tracks...

All is all I like the 803D much better because most of my music is hard rock. At the time they were $8,000 MSRP and the 1037s were $11,200 MSRP. But the my real point is not to compare speakers in this post but to show how musical taste affect speakers choice. If I only listened to soft Jazz the 1037s would have been my choice.
Mpit - your statement "its like comparing a Chevy to a Porsche. Its eassy to live with a Chevy if you've never owned a Porsche, becasue you don't know what you are missing". Analogies and generalizations such as this don't make sense, nor does comparing speakers at different price points. By the way - a friend of mine has a Chevy - a Corvette Z06 - you are welcome to bring your Porsche any time.
you can buy watt puppy 8's new in the crate for $16000 or maybe even less.

you can buy used 7's for $10,000 or less. And they are far more speaker than the B&W's he is talking about
J stereo.

Drive a Porsche and then drive a Vette. I have owned several of both and they are non even in the same ball park.

The Porsche is reliable, handles way better and is just as fast and way more fun to drive. The vette is like riding in a lumber wagon. That is if you can keep it out of the shop.

comparing vettes to Porsches is just like comparing B&W's to Wilsons.
btw based on what some of you guys are inferring. You are paying close to retail for speakers? New 7's could be purchased for under $13,000 over 2 years ago. Comparing retil prices on speakers is not even relevant. If you are paying anywhere close to retail on any speakers you are paying too much.

If your dealer is not willing to deal go elsewhere. The internet is a great tool for getting good prices on speakers.

B&W is a classic example. People payin near retail on them are just blowing away money. Shop around and use your head.
BTW j stereo

I recently worked at one of the largest Chevy dealers in the country. I lost a deal on a Z06 because it took our service department over 2 weeks to intstall a new clutch. This car had 13,000 miles on it.

The car was bought and paid for and all we had to do was install the new clutch. We had to refund his money. Talk to just about any service manager at a chevy store about Z06 cars. They put out a lot of power but are not well built cars. Typical domestic car i guess.
My point is that even though the WP8s are 15,000 used he might be able to get a similar "house sound" for 6,000 with the sophia 1s...

I have never compared the two. I have only heard the Sophia 2s and never heard the WP8s. I do know that I personally would by the Sophia 2 over the 802D. Used the 802D is around $9,000 and the Sophia 2s go for around 11,000 (both in the 10,000 +or- price bracket)

Back on track with the OP. There is nothing wrong with B&W's sound and they look GREAT. Where the Wilsons look like sin IMO sitting beside other hi end brands (Focal JM Lab, B&W, Sonus Faber).

One thing that is often forgotten on these sites is that we all like different music which have different points of interest. I was demoing the 803D (different but similar rooms) and Focal 1037B about a year back. I only took two CDs, Metallica's Black album and Nora Jones newest CD (not sure the name).

I started off listening to Nora Jones. The mids of the 1037B had more inner detail than the 803D and delicate highs. I was really liking the 1037s. Then I put on Metallica and things changed very quickly. The 1037s did not have the scale or coherence of the 803D. The 1037s burped out odd bass notes (in the given room) while the 803D's bass was great with no weird corks. On Metallica highs of the 803Ds filled the room while the 1037s were more directional and loosing scale on the big rock and roll tracks...

All is all I like the 803D much better because most of my music is hard rock. At the time they were $8,000 MSRP and the 1037s were $11,200 MSRP. But the my real point is not to compare speakers in this post but to show how musical taste affect speakers choice. If I only listened to soft Jazz the 1037s would have been my choice.
All is all I like the 803D much better because most of my music is hard rock..
Your ears must be burned out..Ive never heard anyone choose B&W over Focal...or Wilson
thats my point!

How anyone can compare a B&W to a Wilson is beyond me. The Sophias are ok, but the watt puppies, espcially 7's and 8's are not even close to any 800 series B&W speakers. I have heard people who pay what we do to buy speakers are all old fuddy duddies anywhay but really do we neeed to start compensating for Brain Damage?
guys u are all getting a little to sensitive here, and off the point of the thread its about room size and 803 vs801, i know wilsons and focals are nice but they COST TO MUCH i cant afford 10 or 20 k for speakers im talking 5or 6. if i could afford them i would, now if your going to compare other speakers try to keep them in the same ballpark or let me know the sonic differences or better bass ect ect. and raquel im sorry for misunderstanding what you ment.keep the info coming thanks..
"Ive never heard anyone choose B&W over Focal...or Wilson"

I do not really want to get off topic but the Focal 1037 are really not that good. They look nice but in no way do they sound like 11,000 dollars. Focal might make some nice drivers but the speakers as a whole came up way short. The tweeter did not integrate well with the midrange and the narrow dispersion of the tweeter did not help the situation. The bass was very room dependent and needed boundary reinforcement to have any bass.... and then it was muddy (because of the boundary). Put the focal in a room with Thiel 3.7, Wilson, or speakers of your choice and the short comings will be very apparent. They chose form over function... I love the look but the sound/price ratio is terrible.

I know Wilson owners have some special place for Focals because they use their tweeters. But look at the most common complaint about Wilsons, the tweeters.

As for the wilson I have only spent a few hours during a demo with the Sophia and Duetts so I can't really comment on them. But the demo was MUCH better than the focal demo.

I stand behind my original statement, 803D>1037be.

I had 803 Nautilus and sold them about 3 years ago. I then purchased some used watt puppy 6's for about $7000. the difference was night and day. I liked the 6's so much i also bought watt puppy 7's.

I also had some Sophias up until aobut 5 months ago. For a large room i prefer the watt puppy as they seem to fil the room much better. With the Sophia i had 2 jl audio 113 subs for home theatre.

You should be able to purchase used 6's for around $6 to 6,500. If you watch you can also buy Sophias for around $5,000. You can buy 5.1's which i have never owned for under $5k. I have heard and read both good and not so good reveiews on them.

I believe they are both far more speaker than any B&W for that kind of money. I base this on the fact that i have had all of them including 802 and 803 n's. I used the B&W's for around 5 years. I had the Wilsons for over two years.
I stand behind my original statement, 803D>1037be.

I wouldnt want either!...I thought the original post was about 801N/803N not the diamond series?? Palermo100,do yourself a big big favor and go listen to speakers.You may find better speakers in that price range,bet ya do...
I continue to be fascinated by all those posters who hate B+W, Wilson etc. Why do they keep responding to threads about a product which they claim to have no interest in?It really seems to bug the hell out of them when someone likes something they detest.One even claims to have owned 802N,802D and 801D and then goes on to say how terrible they are, how he was never a fan of the B+W sound. The why were you on your 3rd highend model from them? I think the answer is quite clear.
There are a number of brands I don't care much for, yet I will rarely if ever even comment on them.
If B+W is SO SO terrible then why do many studios use them for mastering? Engineers want to hear what is actually on the recording so please don't tell me they are using them to give the public what they want. They often use small inexpensive monitors in the final process for that purpose.No, they use B+W because it tells them what is on the recording.
Who knows more about speaker design, Dave Wilson, B+W engineers or you?
"There are a number of brands I don't care much for, yet I will rarely if ever even comment on them."

That's kind of weak. What is a forum if you don't have some level of disagreement and challenge other thoughts? We don't all have the same ideals or priorities but neither did any of the great thinkers. Take your rant and...
09-28-09: Bjesien
"There are a number of brands I don't care much for, yet I will rarely if ever even comment on them."

That's kind of weak. What is a forum if you don't have some level of disagreement and challenge other thoughts? We don't all have the same ideals or priorities but neither did any of the great thinkers. Take your rant and...
Bjesien (Threads | Answers)

Think about it carefully for about 10 seconds and you should be able to figure it out.
Is this some sort of Zen koan? I'm just saying we will never hear the same. In these forums I think it is important to convey your personal experience to other members, again, as this is what a forum is.

Agreement is less important than sparking a new or different thought. It's impossible to say who is correct.

I can agree that people whine or moan and groan, but that's part of the forum IMO.

Sorry I think B&W get down deep on moose, but there are so many better speakers out there.
read the post Budt thats not what was said.

I was happy with B&W back when i didnt know about Wilson, Merlin DAli and eggleston etc. NOw that I know they exist why would i want to buy B&W.

Just like I was somewhat happy with the way my vete drove until I got to drive a porsche. Does that mean i now don't have the right to share with others what i have learned?

This whole sight is about getting the most bang for your buck. You don't get that with B&W, period. There are too many other better speakers for the same money but they don't have huge advertising budgets. Thats why this sight is so valuable. Guys like us can share what we have learned. If you read the first post the guy was looking for suggestions and help. And guess what he got it.

I got turned on to Wilson and eggleston by fellow participants here at Audiogon. and I am glad i listeened to them or i might stil be listening to B&W 802's that sound muted with a very boomy slow bass.
If B+W is SO SO terrible then why do many studios use them for mastering?
Again, we all know that "one pony" battle cry,Its as tired as the product.Give it up,please...Why do so many jump in on the B&W bashing?Simple,they cant stand up against other current makers and to simply buy for its long ago established name is lame!.B&W survives off the fact that they had little competition years ago and had big ad budgets,not the case now! .I agree with the above poster..There are speakers that blow away anything B&W produces in the same price range or less..The makers are too numerous to list..You like B&W more power to ya...but our advise to the original poster is go listen and learn..Its that easy!!!!
So we have to assume that when B&W gets good reviews, as they usually do, it is because of corrupt or deaf reviewers? One of the chief curses of a forum like this is the tendency of many to denounce the sound of components they do not personally like as junk. THERE IS NOT ONE CORRECT SOUND! Check out reviews of live music, what pleases one reviewer turns off another. We all hear differently, listen for yourself! Is B&W a good speaker ? YES! Should you get one? Only you know the answer to that.
Should you get one? Only you know the answer to that.
Thats why we say go listen!!!!
Just because a studio uses B&W 801's or whatever, does not necessarily mean they will churn out well recorded music, just the same with the sometimes inconsiderate dozey I own the road coz my car is faster than yours *Porsche owner who likes to think and pretend to himself as a Schumacher clone.
* from a personal perspective, and probably not the general rule of all Porsche owners I might add.
There is nothing wrong with comparing Wilson's or any other
high end loudspeaker with a huge price tag (same as the studio) does not necessarily mean a loudspeaker is any good and musical, they ought to be, but it is not always the case. I have heard a Porsche price loudspeaker that I would not give the price of a 15 year old Chevy truck for.
To my ears B&W are hi-fi speakers and not that musical, I would never own a pair and have no desire to unlike the comment from a previous poster that thinks we all would like to deep down. The key as also been stated is, go listen, use your ears and do not be swayed by what others say, opinions are like assholes, we've all got one!
If B&W or any other make of loudspeaker floats your boat then that's all that really matters.
What better place than the RMAF this week?
Happy listening folks (and driving) beep beep!
Wow, lotta haters out there... car analogies...

Palermo, though the 801N is a much more dynamic and capable speaker than the 803N, it is surely too big for your 13ft wide room to support.

Is the 802N an option? It sounds closer to the 801 than the 803 IMHO, and would work better in your room.
The fact of the matter is it can be very hard to listen to most of the high end speakers we are talking about here, except for the B&W, before we purchase them.. Wilson, Eggleston, Thiel, Merlin etc are not that easy to find and one may have to travel hundreds of miles just to listen to them. Most of the speakers I have purchased over the past few years I had never heard until they were dropped off at my door step. I relied on reccomendations from fellow audiogoners. Reviews can be helpful but I have read good reveiws on many speakers that most people would agree sound like crap.

Are some reviewers on the take out there. Yes, reviewers are looking for favors. If you say something good about my speeakers I will give you a hell of a price on the pair you reveiwed. Also they may not say that many good things about a particular speaker but will avoid stating the obvious such as the speaker may suck! With the advertising budget of B&W a magazine has to be very careful what they print about that product.

Reviews from magazines can be a very bad place to find about about speakers. They tend to sugar coat what they say. Where one would hope fellow audiogoners would be truthfull about how they feel about a particular speaker.
Are some reviewers on the take out there. Yes, reviewers are looking for favors.

Yes - one should be well aware that reviewers get demo or discounts (at cost) for some review equipment which they can then use and then sell used, sometimes for a small profit. This is especially true for audio cables that may sell for factors of ten or more times their cost.
Mpit thats one of my problems i do not have the time to go listen to wilson's or jmlab speakers and there is not a local dealer even remotely close. i would like to thank everyone who voiced their opinion, because of this thread i will try and go demo a few different makes of speaker, thanks again to everyone.
The nice thing about audiogon is you can take a chance on speakers you may have never tried before. If you change your mind or just want to try something else you shouldn't lose much money at all.

I have purchased probably 10 or more pair of speakers over the past couple of years and have never lost much more than a ocuple of hundred dollars on any of them.

It can be a hassel loading up heavy speakers like the Wilsons or Egglestons but it is a lot of fun trying different speakers. Most of them sound good and its just a matter of opinion.

The wilsons, Merlins, Dalis Egglestons, Sonus etc all sounded good in their own way. I still have to say they all sounded way better than the B&W's i had, including 802n, 803n and a few matrix. Other speakers sound much better at the same price points.


I heard about Wilson, DAli etc from fellow audiogon members and I thank them for sharing their experiences with me. Before I owne any Wilson, Daqlis etc I was very happy with B&W because i didn't know other better speakers existed. Now I do.