B&W 801M vs. 801 Series 2, etc


I found a pair of B&W 801M at a decent price but am confused by the model.  I currently own the B&W 802 series II and am familiar with their Matrix lineup. 

According to B&W's archive model sight and my general knowledge, I know there is the 801 series 80 (non-Matrix), 801 series 2, and 801 series 3, both Matrix.  I'm guessing the 801M must be essential 801 series 1?  There really doesn't seem to be any info out there about this model and it is the only Matrix model not listed on their archive site.

Does anyone have any info, specs, comparison to Series 2?

How much are u gonna pay for them? Are u sure u want bw? There are plenty of brands Thst will out sound bw dollar for dollar. Usher,  vienna even paradigm.
I'm getting a fantastic deal on them.  I was able to find out they are the series 2.

Sound quality characteristics and perspective are incredibly personal.  That is why opinions vary so wildly.  To answer your question, I've heard all the Paradigms and think they look and sound somewhat cheap.  I've auditioned the Vienna Imperials but wasn't moved.

I once listened to a pair of Wilson Sasha's perfectly dialed in playing acoustic Stones with top of the line Audio Research components- that was the best sound I've ever experienced.  But, there are people on this forum and around the world that will tell you they are ugly, overpriced, mediocre performers.
I know there is the 801 series 80 (non-Matrix), 801 series 2, and 801 series 3, both Matrix. I'm guessing the 801M must be essential 801 series 1?
Hi dastro 

It can get confusing but the label on the back of the speakers reveals the truth. Visually the first series 801 (non matrix) is a sealed box. Series 2 and 3 are ported designs and when used with the BAF are full range to 20 hz. Otherwise all 801' are good to 45 hz with the box size/tuning.

Some more info 

The Series 80 is also known as the 801F.  It was not officially called series 1 - but really is and would be if it was labeled as such. The 801 series 2 is the first model to use matrix technology, followed by series 3.

All details, specs, service manuals ,etc.... can be found at bwsupport.
Scroll down to the matrix 800 series and you will find that they included the 801 F with the matrix 800 series section. This is what makes it confusing.


Thanks, ct0517,

Here is the response I just got from B&W:

The 801M is the first generation that officially used the Matrix name. Before Series 2 came out there were the series 80 models and a few other letters like the 801F and 801M.

I'm going to go ahead with the purchase and see how they sound vs. my 802 S2.  Also, I'm curious if the 801 alignment filter works with the 801M.

Before Series 2 came out there were the series 80 models and a few other letters like the 801F and 801M.
confusing :^(

If the "801m" has a front port, and is bi-wire capable - I am willing to bet it’s the same as a Series 2 and this is a B&W marketing thing.
But - if either of those two characteristics are missing - and it has matrix construction inside - then indeed it is unique.
can anyone advice how much to pay for  B&W 801 Series 2 in good condition- Private buy. Thanks for any reply!
I just came across this thread and wanted to set out the models numbers for folks. There was a dealer’s newsletter once available on the internet to read, with all editions from the early 80s until 90s setting out the model changes and which they sold etc . Called "Audio Basics". It’s probably out there somewhere still. It's interesting to read as it criticises some of the models, some of the 802s for example, I think due to crossover design.

To sum up from reading those years ago:

Series 80 801 - the first model. Wooden midrange housing.
Series 80 801F - upgraded with a "fibrecrete" midrange housing (some fibreglass and concrete mix)
Series 80 801FS - upgraded tweeter. S="special"

You could upgrade your Series 80 801 and 802 to F or S or FS status (and it won’t say on the back).

Then came the Matrix models with new bass enclosures: Matrix bracing and ported.

801 Matrix (or 801M on the back)
801 Matrix s2 - new crossovers? Not sure.
801 Matrix s3 - new bass driver and crossovers.

My first 801s I had were Series 80 801Fs and I just straight swapped the tweeters for Matrix ones - Sounded fantastic. They were cheaper then, 15 years ago. Probably not technically right but who cares too much?