Which WP version?
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I heard the WP5's quite a bit years ago. What impressed me about them more than anything was the fact that you could be anywhere in the house, and they sounded really good. There was nothing that ever got on my nerves no matter how long I listened.
I only heard the WP7's once. Unfortunately, the demo was a Mel Torme album that was made when stereo first came on the scene. Everything was panned either hard right or hard left, with nothing placed across the middle. I wasn't impressed, but I'm sure that it had nothing to do with the WP7's.
I heard the 803D's, not the 802D's, two weeks ago. It's the first time I've gone beyond "These speakers would be really nice to have" to "I want these speakers!". They are fanatastic! I've heard the 802D's are better, and for $4,000.00 more they'd better be.
If I had the choice and had around $24,000.00 to spend, I'd get the 802D's and use the other $12,000.00 to upgrade something else.
I owned a pair of B&W 802 speakers and upgraded to the 800 a year ago at minimal cost. Front-end is Levinson 33H driven directly by 390s CDP and Synergistic Research Cabling (Absolute Reference).
The new D series was released and I decided to upgrade once again. Dealer setup was Levinson gear and Synergistic Research (Designers Ref) cabling. On demo were the 802D speakers that was fully runned-in. The improvement over the 800 was mainly in the tweeter region with tighter bass but not deep enough. The pricing (after trade-in) however was expensive enough for me to consider other makes.
Wilson Audio dealer was kind enough to bring a pair of used Grand Slamm X-1s (series 2) in my home for a few days (the effort to install these was huge). Unfortunately, they were simply too large for my medium-to-large room but what it did well (dynamics, clean harmonics, better resolution) was enough to switch to a high-end speaker. Went back to the B&W 800 and what a disappointment. In comparison, the 800s sounded constipated. Due to room size, the option then was to consider the Watt Puppy 7s (which some reviewers consider these to approach the performance of the Grand Slamms). What became very obvious from this exercise was the awful midrange performance of B&W speakers (802, 800 & 802D).
Before making this decision I decided to give the JMLabs a listen. The dealer had a pair of Alto Utopia Be speakers on demo and once again it was fully runned-in. Setup included a Viola Amp with source components from BAT. To my surprise, these surpassed the performance of both the 802D and 800. The Be tweeters were more than a match to B&Ws Diamond, bass was first class and was able to go lower than the 802D. The large difference comes in the midrange and cross-overs. Here, JMLab is significantly better (more detail, speakers that disappear given the right track, more cleanly defined hormonics, etc.). I purchased and am currently running-in a pair of Nova Utopia Be speakers. In my room, the Novas are performing better than the Grand Slamms. They are excelling in all areas and most importantly, I am rediscovering my favourite CDs!
In summary, try to avoid B&W and definitely consider either the Watt Puppy 7 or better yet, JMLab Utopia (Alto or Nova). B&Ws poor midrange performance, its bad cross-over design (high cut-off frequencies and bi-wiring) together with relatively high 2nd and 3rd order harmonic distortion continues to prevent B&W to compete as a high-end speaker.
I aggree the B&W bass is not grate. It just doesn't have the deep bass and seems to have a sweet spot. The whatts is much better in the bass. When I listened to them I though they were even bass heavy but it was ina large wooden room that I'm sure had a sweet spot for bass. Given the 2 I think they are both colored a bit, but the Whatts definally fill the room better and have a fuller sound.
The most important thing is for you to decide for your self. Having listened to the WP7 and the 800D and 803D I prefer the B&W sound.
It is about the system and each component in the system creating a synergy. That includes the room.
The WP7 I found muddy and lifeless in the dealers system and room.
Even being a devout B&W fanatic I found the 800D to be over powering in the bass. But still tight and controled. Again at the dealer.
I am suprised at some of the posts as the midrange has always been a B&W strength.
I could use more adjetives(SP) but I think the most important thing is to take the system as a whole.
Decide for your self what you like.
An additional thing to consider- B&Ws are not tube friendly- the 802 in particular will not reproduce bass properly with a tube amp due to the impedance relationship between the amp and speaker in the woofer region.
Wilson, OTOH, have no problem with using either tubes or transistors as far as interface is concerned, although :) they will show you how much better most tube amps are...
ok... you guys cannot compare the 802D against the grandslams, Nova utopias, or even W/P7s!
they are all much more expensive than the 802Ds!!!
W/P 7 should be compared to the 800D and the rest should be against the *shell* Nautilus (B&W doesn't really have a competition for the grand slamms!)
I just had a lenghty A/B session this weeked comparing the 803Ds and 802Ds
the 803D sounded a little colored in the mid and the bass lacked a little
but No way these were true for the 802D!
I've heard both sophias and the 7s.. they are all great speakers- comes down to the personal choice..
yet the wilson speakers never appealed to me that much.. not only aesthetically but also sonically (I agree with Michael on the "muddiness" of the wilsons -at least the 7 and sophia)
The 802D employs a pair of 8 ohm woofers in parallel for an impedance of 4 ohms (roughly) in the range of the woofer (bass) region. The rest of the speaker is nominally 8 ohms. While you might think that a tube amplifier playing on this speaker is making good bass, it is a fact that most tube amplifiers would do a better job if the woofers were somehow 8 ohms with all other things being equal.
But here we are in the real world. In order for the 802D to make flat frequency response according to design, it must be driven by an amplifier capable of constant voltage response regardless of load; this means a transistor amp, as this characteristic is not associated with tube amps! IOW a tube amp will have shelved bass response (NOTE: *not* rolled off) as its output will be about 3 db less than anticipated by the designer in the bass region.
Some people hearing tube amps running this way will describe them as doing 'a fine job' but the fact of the matter is they can do better- they just need a proper load. My earlier point is that the Wilson provides a very friendly load for tube amps relatively speaking.
1. you are right on B&Ws sounding better w/ SS than tubes- 800N with AR tubes were the worst set up I've ever heard. very sharp observation indeed! :-)
a point to consider, though.
2. WP7's impedence plot shows that it too dips down near 2 ohms- stereophile sept. 2003
and JA also recommends a high current amp.. BUT you're still right that WP sounds better with tubes than the 800s with tubes ;-)
it is general notion that the wilsons are easier to drive.. (true for sophias) but.. could this be a marketing stuff?
the sensitivity and impedence are no where close to say.. JBL S9800 horns, which sounds FNATASTIC with anything....
looking at other measurement there are more resonance in cabinet and in the waterfall plot on the WP than say the old 801N or 800N... not to be a geek or jerk.. but I'm wondering where this superior midrange of WP is coming from?
I'm not trying to start a war or anything.. just MHO :-)
The WP7 has a 2KHz trap to deal with a resonance, resulting in an impedance dip at that frequency. As you might imagine, transistor amps tend to heat that trap in the crossover rather nicely, where in a tube amp the filter does its job rather well. Tubes have always driven the speaker fairly easily. Were that 2 ohms covering a spectrum rather then being a tight band reject filter, the speaker would be a lot harder to drive; the reality is it is easy to drive.
As far as which has the better midrange I am not commenting on that, merely that the impedance of the 802D points to compromising the bass performance of tube gear used on the speaker.
I say this a lot: if you are going to invest in tube amplification, your investment dollar is usually best served by a speaker that is 8 ohms or more (particularly in the bass region) all other things being equal. Tube amplifiers for the most part prefer higher impedances, and given what they are capable of, why not show them in their best light?
Why not use your ears not specifications. Almost everyone know that specifications are for technicians to see if the unit is working properly & have almost no reference to sound quality. You cannot measure detail,resolution,depth,imaging,sense of space. You can argue with specifications not real performance.
When is the last time you listend to live music?
yup you're right again :-)
ain't nobody's gonna make me drive my b&Ws with tubes .. :)
I think specs usually translate to actual performances...especially when it comes to mating a right amp...
- I'm not a speaker engineer by any means...
and last time I heard the live music? a month ago..:-)
i love classical music, and I've been to say .. 100+ live performances and I think B&W speakers are quite (not 100% of course) faithful when it comes to reproducing the realism I get from the lives :-)
btw... I love your system.. the original matrix 800... AWESOME!
good day, gentlemen
I owned both the Nautilus 801 using Krell FPB 600 w. upgraded mains & now the Watt Puppy 7s using the Krell & now VTL 750. It is an unfair comparisoin considering the price. But I will agree that the Watt Puppy 7s are a much better speaker. The 802D is a different question but I would guess that it will have the same problem as my 801s. The Kevlar midrange needs to be played loud to come alive. If it is played at low volumes it sounds muddy. In addition the Wilson is in an entire different league. The cabinet is sonically "dead" compared to the B&W. I love my 801s for years but am not sad to see them go. The bass on the Wilson is much more quick than on the 801s. I don't know if this problem extends to the 802D but the midrange is the same from what I am told & from the reviews. The midrange is incredibly musical at loud volumes. I hope this helps. I also found the Sophia to be an excellent speaker which sounded much better than a Nautilus 800 while listening at a Wilson & B&W dealer. I don't always trust dealers setups to demonstrate correctly the best of each speaker. Often it is too much work to move around equipment & optimize the system. Also, I have realized the you might hear an abused speaker or one that is not broken in. I was lucky to compare the speakers in my own house. It was no going back for me. I now just added the Watch Dog subwoofer. It wasn't a must but it definitely completes the package.
though I totally agree with you that the WP7 is an excellent speaker
I recommend you go listen to the new 802D or any of the new lines (802 or up) just for fun
the new bass driver is sooo much better (faster!) and I think the improvement is there from top to bottom.. tell you the truth, the old N800 didn't imipress me that much either but the new 802D was simply Da Bomb!
I want to, and plan to, listen to the Ds but no matter what will be biased to the 7s. My home system is so "there" that very few dealer systems will ever come close unless they let me set up the room. By the way I am not a diamond tweeter fan. I find it great sounding but not necessarily better than some of the great "old fashioned" tweeters. I still think the Dynaudio Esotar & the Focal are superior in areas that other tweeters are not. I also feel the diamond is superior. I do not like ceramic tweeters and love a great ribbon or planar for wonderful highs. It just goes to say, more money is definitely more money but not necesaritly going to result in a better speaker.
What are you going to get? And my favorite recommendation is to listen. Sometimes if you listen several times you will realize there are some attributes that will wear on you over time. Just think of it like going to a restaurant & your best friend recommending the restaurant. You eat there & are very unhappy. You find out you ordered the wrong item off of the menu & go back. You still don't like what you were recommended to order & realize that his taste in food isn't the same as yours. How can you accept a recommendation from anyone on a speaker unless you know their listening biases by going listening with them together & realizing you have similar taste. Good luck!
I also might be interested in the WP 7 or 802D.
I read a few threads about WP7 lacking in bass detail compared to a ATC 150SL speaker. I'm pretty sure the 802D is good in this dept.
In your set up can to sense/hear the drum skin textures and the subsequent volume air that radiates into the acoustic venue on cd recordings with small drum kits?
To be honest with you it is a tough call. Bass is very dependant on the room. WP7s which lack in bass often excel in imaging. They need to be 1/3 of the way into the room (approx). Not much reinforcement from the rear wall. As for B&W 802D, I had my 801s on the Sound Anchors stands. It definitely immproved the 801s bass & midrange. But still my WP7s have better, faster more articulate bass with texture & air. But for the last bit of bass I just added the WATCH Dog subwoofer. It really does ad bass. Sometimes you don't even know it is on. The WP7s do go to about 23 HZ w. very fast & articulate bass. If you speak w. Wilson they reoommend the Maxx IIs for more bass but the WATCH Dog subwoofer really is only barely needed w. the WP7s. If you turn of the sub you really don't miss it. You just love it added presense. I really feel the B&W needs to be played loud to come alive. At medium to low volumes the midrange is lost. I am fairly certain this has not changed. The midrange unit is the same. I am also very sure that the bass is fairly similar between both speakers. They both require very good system matching.
You might be right. I loved B&W in its time. It might be much better again. I know it is still a Kevlar midrange w. similar impedance so it might still should posses much of its original character. It might also posses a lot of new positive characteristics which should make it much better than the earlier generation. I did hear the 800s & it was not as I hoped. They were not the 800D but do contain the FST midranage as well.
Thank you for your comments!
The WP 7 bass will be enough for me but was puzzelled by the fact that it could lack detail/texture. Once my dealer has one available I'll will have a chance to audition the WP7 and find out for sure. Most reviews have never mentioned this and I would tend to believe bass would not be a prblem. What I maybe concerned about is the highs. I listen to lot of pop music like Eagles, Eric Clapton, U2, Oasis, Coldplay etc..., that are not audiophile mastered so I'll have to hear its presentation.
I found the WP7 bass to have detail just not the last bit of bottom. A lot of it will depend on the remainder of your system. The WP7s will show off everything you put in. Currently I just put a lot into my system. I am "there" unexpectedly. All I have to say is I want more, but really don't feel that any genre of music or listening level is missing.
The Nautilus will be a fun speaker. B&W make a great product in their price range. They manufacture all their own drivers. A big benefit. Wilson,is not willing to commmit to their own drivers as they prefer to be able to choose from what is out there. Their cabinets are truly dead quite. The WP7 will sound great if set up right. If not, you will miss out. Hopefully you will get to hear it with tubes. Even better is with a very good CD player as anything bright will be bright, rolled off will be rolled off etc. etc.
Midrange magnet and crossover changes were originally introduced in the 800 model. Comparing to the 802, there were some improvements (of which the most noticeable was better bass definition). The marketing stuff on the new D series refers to stiffening of the 800 midrange chassis (and its carried to all models as well). I couldnt find any midrange differences in my listening session of the 802D. They were very much in the same mould or character as the 800.
Looking back at my experience over this midrange is one of fatigue. It tends to creep up on you rather slowly but enough to make you stop. I thought this was the result of bad CDP performance and started looking to upgrade changing the speakers was the answer.
it's true that the magnet change was first introduced in the sig 800, but NOT the crossovers
the 1st order xover is the new for the new 800 series
btw, what kind of music do you mostly listen to?
I agree with you that the bass of WP7 is awesome.
it doesn't lack a bit
btw, IMHO, the midrange of the 802D was much better than the 803D's..I don't think you can claim that the midranges of all the 800 series are the same- why would they put the head in the first place...
I'm gonna go do A/B on the 802Ds and the Sophias this weekend -
who knows I'll become an wilson fan after this weekend :-)
Bass on Wilson speakers is a step above B&Ws and this also applies to JMLabs (Alto & Nova). My only reference on Wilson speakers is the Grand Slamms (Series 2). Whilst there are improvements in B&W, these don't approach the performance of either Wilson or JMLabs. I find B&Ws can't go low (the 800D specs refer to 32Hz & 25Hz @ -3db & -6db) and don't have the necessary midrange clarity to deliver the critical bass harmonics.
BTW, on low end, the Sophias go down to 29Hz, WP7 to 21Hz, Alto is 30 (25 @ -6db) and Novas 25 (20 @ -6db).
Jungsan: My music preferences vary from classic to pop&rock and I have a strong bias towards natural instruments.
Also, be careful when comparing speakers in fixed price ranges. Some comments suggest that its unfair to compare high-end Wilsons and JMLabs to B&W as the price differential is high. I would suggest that you take a total cost view over a longer term (2 years).
Lets say you shelved out $12000 for an 802D - its obvious sonic performance is a high priority. Once you get over the honeymoon period, you start to realize some weaknesses as I have. So in the case of the 802D, going lower on the bass will mean you either buy a subwoofer or change to 801D/800D. After a couple thousand more dollars (including cabling etc. if you go with the subs) and more time, you realize more performance is needed. This is where you get stuck with B&W as it does not offer a high-end speaker. Now you faced with switching to a high-end make but you loose more dollars on your initial spend as the dealer cant do a good trade-in deal (or alternatively you go through the hassle of selling privately ).
If you do the sums, it makes better dollar sense to save more upfront and get the high-end speaker than to spend less upfront but pay much more once you add up all the incremental spend. Put another way, you eventually buy a high-end speaker that you couldve bought upfront but instead have had to suffer more losses.
for me to buy the Alexandria?
not in next 20 years :-)
I gotta have something before then, right ?
yor analogy applies not only to the B&W speakers but also to any lesser speakers than.. say Alexandria or Nova Utopia (i.e. I'm sure I'll desire more bass from the Sophia, according to what you say) To my ears, the bass of the 802D was enough... I don't listen to much rocks at all
btw, did you see the THD/frequency plot of the 800D in their white paper? it doesn't seem high to me...at all :-)
and..I've seen some pple switching from the wilsons to the B&Ws... again, it boils down to the personal choices
my next speaker upgrade will be a long-term temporary settlement- at least 5 yrs- I gotta get new mcintosh or pass amps, too...
I'm not completely leaving the wilson's out from my future path- my current options are - Sophia, 802D, Aerial 9T, or ML Summit... happy choices :-)
as far as the bass go, the ML summit goes lower than any of these guys! a self-powered woofer for my mama's sake :-)
good day, gentlemen
Hello Jungsan, that's not what I'm saying.
I'm suggesting that costing is done over a 2 year period. So a speaker costing x, one adds additional upgrade costs if incurred giving a total cost of y. Comparatives are then made against speakers at this level.
In your example, y could be well below alexandria's and wouldn't be compared. Instead, should you find a speaker at y or less, and wouldn't need upgrades for 2 years, then this is a better decision.
On THD, i've looked at the 800D white paper. Wilson's for example offer better performance, a characteristic of high-end speakers. B&W also don't show the 2nd & 3rd HD which is worse than the THD profile presented. I will gladly send you the HFN review where this is measured via email.
Hope this clarifies.
Ps- my need for bottom-end performance comes from some instruments that go really low and when reproduced they bring a different perspective entirely versus speakers that can't.
That'll be very kind of you if you can send me a copy of the review (email@example.com)
I understand what you're saying and I do agree with you on the excellence of the wilson's; your choices of the wilson speakers are very well respected. Like I said, the wilsons, especially the bigger ones, are simply astonishing!
however, here is a little catch on juding speakers solely on the measurements:
take the paradigm signature 8 (or even some NHT speakers). it has less THD than both the 800D and the WP7s. Not to mention more flatter response over the entire frequency range.
Does it mean that we should all buy the paradigms and a subwoofer for total $10K and save the other $10K for say... diamonds for wives? :-)
(based on the measurements published by soundstage.com) I'm not a speaker engineer but THD of the WP7 and the 800D seem about the same... :-)
to me, buying hifi equipments are based on 1. science and 2. X-factors (all kinds of stuff...).. of which the latter often prevails..To me, at this high end, arguing one is better than the other is like saying "my wife is better than yours cuz she's got___" (fill in the blank with whatever you wish ;-)
I'm trying not to be judgemental as possible in life and like i said in the other post, I might become an wilson fan as early as next week, too. However, for now I'll stick with what sounds better to my ears which have heard numerous live classical concerts :-)
to me, consumers at this level are not dumb at all.. they cannot fool us with some junks with ridiculous price tags.. I re-empasize, I believe all the speaker companies discussed here make great products!
btw, I envy your system, ML 33s etc. I hope I can afford that kinda goodies when I get a little older :-)
(post some pics of your system that I can drool on !)
here is my update on the battle between the Wilson and B&Ws
I had a very long session comparing the ML summit, Wilson Sophia, and B&W 802D
electronics were MuFi A5s (int.Amp and CDP) some thick transparent single wire speaker cables and it was the same room as the one I heard the 802Ds last time, but different directions (the longer side of the rectangular room)
ML Summit: very transparent clear.. arguably the best on vocals (both classical and jazz) but it sounded so much laid back.. easy on the ears but not so involving..
generally very good bass.. however, I'm not gonna consider this speaker any more..
B&W 802D: sounded much forward compared to the Summit.. maybe a little harsh.. bass didn't really impress me this time.. amp? room placement? it sounded equally good at vocals and instrumentals
Wilson Sophia: ... well I have to admit.. I retract all the comments I've made about the wilsons... it was a revelation... I can see how I and others perceive this speaker as cold, analytical, and not involving...
it is so DARN NEUTRAL and ACCURATE !!!!
it was right in between the logan and BW... superb imagery.. focus, and seamlessness top to bottom.. and the mid sounded acutally clearer than the 802D's!!! (I can't belive I'm saying this...) Bass does not yield at all either.. very firm, tight and deep.. (deeper than the 802D). No muddiness at all! every aspect sounded better than the 802D..... simply..musical!
--one minor point is that the 802D was not biwired-.. I'm a beliver of biwiring..and belive that single wiring to the tweeter side always makes things sound more forward and weaker in the bass.... or is the MuFi A5 not good enough for the 802D?... but sure it was good enough for the Sophia...
I'm going to have at least one more head-to-head comp. between these guys before I make up my mind (with a better amp and biwiring etc..)...I still prefer the aesthetics of the 802D... and the bling bling on the top.. :-)
good day gentlemen
I my self had a nice listening session with the 802D for the first time last night. I have heard the 803D and 800D before. I started my session listening to the Sonus Faber Stradivari driven by the MF KW500, front end was the new esoteric player ($13,000) retail. Of course all hizute cable including the power cords.
Then the 802D driven with Classe' electronics, front end was a lesser esoteric DVD player ($6,000) retail. The Classe' electronics were mid level not to be compared to the MF KW500.
These speakers were well broken in and in a large rather dead room. The bass was tight and focused the mids were to die for. Track 8 of disc 2 Neil Diamond's Hot August Night the drums came to life. Not the feel but you could hear the volume of each drum as it was struck. Vocals were spot on. On other track's and disc's the acoustic guitars were to die for each and every pick the decay. The symbols sounded like symbols.
Just a few thoughts.
your impression is more or less the same as what I felt before... until I had a serious session with the Sophia...
like I said.. there are some things about t the B&Ws that still attract me... and I think the Sophia is butt ugly...
but.. I should have mentioned this on the previous post.:
The darn ugly sophias disappeared on me... (for the first time for any speakers..)
the difference became more obvious when the music was more challenging than say jazz or contemporaries... (i.e. some serious concerto, orchestral pieces)
I might change my mind if I give a few more auditons.. (hopely?!?!)... jeez...I sound like almost desperate for the 802Ds...
btw, whatever I say is true only to my own ears.. :-)
and I don't mean in any way that the ML Summit and the 802Ds are inferior to the Sophia.. I just liked it better in my last visit to the dealer... YMMV..
Thanks for sharing your auditioning experience with us!
BTW did you find the Sophia to have a superior treble to the 802D?
Which speaker produced the deepest soudstage?
I too will go on a speaker pilgrimage soon!
Wilson WATT/Puppy 7/Sophia
Avalon Opus Ceramique
Marten Design Miles II
Living Voice OBX-R2
Any other suggestions?
Thanks! Good luck with your *Mission: Sophia* as well :-) don't forget to put up your system pics here when you get'em
btw what color are you gonna get?
allow me to elaborate a little more on the comp. b/w soph and 802D
I should say that my comparison is 99% based on reproducing classical music (orchestral, various concertos, choral, and fat ladies singing etc.)
voice sounds more round and organic/rich
sound stage is more holographic
bass is a little deeper and more well defined (room?)
clarinet and violin sound much more sweeter and realistic
the mid sounds so much realistic... the 802D sounded kind of *shouting in your face* at times like my 703s.. blame the kevelar?? yet the mid of Sophia.. omg...!
and finally to answer your question
to be 100% honest.. I'm becoming skeptical about the diamond tweeter... it sounds more extended and silky compared to the old ones.. but still a little harsh...compared to the Summit and Sophia
sadly, I do not have any experience with or means to give auditons to any of the speakers you listed other than the Wilson duos in my area..(give some steroids and plastic surgery to the Sophia and than it becomes WP7)
Not me, but my dad has heard the Eggleston Andra II (sorry no Rosa) and he actually preferred it over the WP7 and N800 of B&W.. and put it par but different with the JBL K2 S9800 (if you can find this guy here in the states )
The 802Ds not being biwired make no difference w. Transparent cables. They are not allowed to be used in a biwired configuration. The networks are voiced for full range. That is why they weren't biwired. In my opinion it doesn't matter at all when you use trasparent cables.
Don't worry about them being "ugly" they have a better resale value & wife acceptance factor because of the simplicity of design.
Order the Sophia in a custom color. It will look amazing & have a faster resale. I would go for Jaguar lime green or dark green depending on the house. Maybe even a metalic lilac similar to Porshe 911s.
You can have a lot of fun. PS they are voiced with grills on. Most speakers sound better once you remove the grills. Not the Watts. A huge plus.
Spent 4 hours with the Sophias and 802D's today at a great audiophile store. Brought and used my own electronics for the demos, which included a Classe CA200 power amp, Classe CA-50 and a high-end Sony ES CD player. MIT interconnects and speaker wire. These are old electronics, but are still fine.
For me, the B&W's were the clear winners. I played mostly rock (melodic acoustic and guitar rock), some blues, jazz, piano and big orchestral music.
To me, the highs on the B&W were more beautiful with more sparkle, without loss of detail. I found both speakers to be very close in openness and sense of air, until we listened to this sensational jazz track (salesman had me put it in), which revealed to me that the B&W's won out in this category also for my ears (and his).
For some tracks, it was harder to tell which one I liked better.
I could not say which clearly had a better soundstage & imaging. Both were great and it varied.
As far as heavy guitar rock, the Wilsons did not sound as well rounded, balanced and punchy as the B&W's. But the Wilsons sounded great.
I don't know if you would call it slight colorization or complete accuracy, but whatever you call it, it was really clear to me that the B&W's were better for my taste. The best way to describe what made the B&W's better for me was that is sounded "more musical" to my ears.
It sounds like I did not like the Wilsons, which is not at all the case, they were great. But compared to the B&W's, it was clear which one worked best for my taste and electronics. So I bought them (ouch!!)
No matter which speaker you pick, it's a win/win situation except for your bank account. :-)
I currently own a pair of B&W 802Ds. I decided to go out last week and audition the Ayre C-5xe universal stereo player for my system.
The dealer had the Ayre C-5xe set up with an Ayre amplifier and an Ayre Preamp and the amplifier was connected to a pair of Wilson Watt Puppy 7s.
I had heard my 802Ds and 800Ds, both on great Classe gear, as well as with Halcro Amps, Bryston amps, and dCS stacks as source equipment. I also recently listened to the 800Ds through the Halcro and dCS stack today just to check on my subjective experience last week, because what happened when I listened to those Ayre components through the Wilson Watt Puppy 7s not only inspired me to buy the Ayre C-5xe, but to go about rebuilding/reorganizing my whole system. I also tested out some Avant-garde duos on BAT equipment today as a recommendation from the B&W dealer as being better than the Watt Puppy 7s (I certainly didn't think so at all after doing my demo today...).
I was so blown away by the organic sound of the Ayre system matched with the Wilson speakers. Not only did the music sound live and in front of where I sat, each element of music, each instrument, each vocal, had a distinct air around it. The instruments were audibly separate and did not blend/mix together, but still fit together cohesively within the piece of music. Not only were they distinguishable, they actually sat in their areas of the recording space and the recording space was clearly definable/recognizable, i.e. not only were the instrument acoustics clearly defined, but the acoustics of the space itself were clearly defined as well, I was in a room within a room when listening to the music. One of the final things that struck me as awe-inspiring was how every element of the music (instruments, vocals, etc) retained complete control of their dynamics. Nothing was absorbed by anything else; nothing became diffuse by the strength of nearby elements power, or likewise, nothing absorbed anything with less sound power nearby. Each individual entity within the musical recordings retained its unique character, easily definable and natural.
I knew I had to go listen to the B&W 800Ds again, and if they didn't elicit the same experience, at least something close, I would not bother upgrading from the 802Ds to the 800Ds, but would be compelled to do whatever it took (within legal means) to purchase the Watt Puppy speakers with the exact Ayre gear I had demo-ed or perhaps one step up from the Ayre 150 WPC amp to the 200 WPC amp.
The 800Ds and the Avantgarde Duos did not come close to competing with the Watt Puppy 7s and the Ayre components together. So, I am now trying everything and anything to trade in, or sell my 802D towards the Watt Puppy 7s. Sadly, I have only had the 802Ds for around 2 months, but this is really a great thing, truly a blessing in disguise. I discovered the perfect system for my particular listening pleasure, and even though I may lose a little on the price of my 802Ds, I have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. I wish I could go out and buy everything immediately, but it will take around 6-8 months to save up, but worth it IMO.