The 803D is a better speaker. I've owned the 802N for over 6 years. The low's are more tight,and with the new diamond tweeter and also improved midrange unit it sets this speaker to a much higher level.
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I own a pair N802 & N803 speakers. I hope to upgrade to the diamond 802's. I can't comment on the diamonds because I haven't heard them in my system but there is no comparison between the N802 and N803. The 802's blow the 803's out of the water. I can't imagine that it would be any different with the diamonds. I've been told that the new diamonds have a tighter base in general so it is possible (remote in my humble opion) that the diamond 803 would have more bass than a N802. But the difference in cabinet size dictates that the 802's will move more air.
Brb9, you're right. That's why I vote for 803D. I heard them and heard the N802 and to me the 803D is just more refined. That diamond tweeter is silky smooth. The bass is tighter and more resolving than the N802's. And the mids are smoother and more full sounding.
I own N803 and although I got them to sound pretty good, the 803D is in another league. So much so, that it outperforms even the N802 by a nice margin. Just my personal observation.
There is absolutely NOTHING new or revolutionary about the newer series. These spkrs are DIFFERENT - modified drivers and hence a different crossover configuration. Almost identical cabinet. The crossover is simplified - hence the newer speakers are less NEUTRAL. Wether the new series are BETTER is yet another question that to ME does not have an answer. Let us say they are DIFFERENT speakers. A big + is that due to the simplified crossover better results can be achieved with a lesser amp...
Depends on what you want. The N802 is a little more relaxed/laid back type of sound compared to the 803D. The 803D has a more forward type of sound in comparison. The 803D has stronger bass output and a bit snappier/faster. The 803D also has a more sharply defined leading edge due to the diamond tweeter. This also brings the musical presentation a few rows closer to the listener, more forward type of sound. These are the virtues of the 803D. The N802, due to the separate Marlan midrange design, the presentation is more floating, more 3D type of soundstage. There is more front to back spacing, more layered where the individual instrument notes or vocals have their own defined space. This to me sounds a little more natural and smoother, but with adequate detail, not as razor sharp as the 803D, but I don't think it's that far off if you mate the N802 with the right cables and gear.
So if you value strong, fast, defined bass and want razor like defined images (but in a more 2D fashion), and want a closer perspective to the presentation (more forward), then I think the 803D would fit your needs better. But if you value liquid smooth detail, with 3D soundstage, natural laid back presentation, and that effortless disappearing type of feel, the older N802 will be a better choice.
Good luck !
courtvision, I'd have to disagree with you on something here. I think the new 803D sounds more relaxed. I think it's due to the new D tweeter, which is smoother. I audiioned 803Ds in 2 different stores and both times they impressed me as a much smoother sounding speaker than the Nautilus series. Due to this fact, I think, they could be more forgiving to components upstream, which in itself is an advantage over the N series. Whereas the N series is very critical in this regard. Being a smoother sounding speaker, at the same time the new D series doesn't lack resolution and defines images sharper than the N, this is where I agree with you. But the 803Ds do not present a more forward soundstage. I found it to actually be more laid back than the N802. If I would upgrade speakers and wanted to stay within B&W lineup, I'd go for a new 803D. No second thoughts. Just my opinion. Of course based on my room size, electronics, etc...
Certainly there can be numerous reasons why we differ on our impressions on the 803D. It can be gear,cable, or room related. However, my observations were derived from listening to the B&W 803D, N802,and 802D at the same dealer showroom, driven with the same gear and same cables on the same day with the same music cds that I brought. This paints a really accurate picture in relative comparison of all three models, so I was able to pinpoint each one's attributes.
From what I have found, the N802 was the most laid back of the three, and second was the 802D. The 803D was the most upfront sounding of the three models. Not saying the 803D is up in your face type of forward sound, but compared to the other two B&W models it was. This observation is consistent, because the diamond tweeter, though non fatiguing, does bring the presentation a few rows up front more than the older N802 (not the N803 or lower models). It also is consistent that the 802D , due to it's separate Marlan midrange design, was a little more laid back than the 803D design.
But I do have to agree with you that the Nautilus 800 series' tweeters can (at times) sound not as smooth and a little uncontrolled/harsh if upstream gear, or cables, or cds are not mated well.
The best of both worlds would be the 802D, because it has the qualities of the new 803D, yet have some resemblence of the older N802. But if one has to choose between the 803D or the N802, it's a matter of preference more than anything else. Each plays music differently, whether one is better is hard to say, it depends who you ask and what their preference is. You can't go wrong with either.
I appreciate what you're saying.
I've owned a pair of the N803s for a long enough time to know exactly what these sounds like and what they react to best and worst. So, my opinion, B&Ws Nautilus series of speakers are great speakers and I really like them, but the fact that they are all very picky when it comes to upstream components, makes it pretty much an art to match with proper electronics. Now, the 803Ds are a little different in this respect, I think, like I said before, I found them more forgiving, just based on what I heard them with. As far as midrange enclosure, I can not argue, the N802/802D are superior to 803, but not by a huge margin. Where I think the advantage of the 803D comes from is that it produces the midrange let's say 95% of what the N802 does but the extremely smooth highs and big, thight and powerfull bass on the 803D beats the crap out of N802 in this department.
I'm just saying that for the type of music I like to listen to, even if they cost the same, I'd go for 803D over N802. I was able to make my N803s sing with the electronics and cables I currently use. It was a pain to get all these things right(may be not yet, but close), but the end result is what counts.
I recommend 803D you say N802. Both of us are correct. Simply because each one of us heard it differently and pointed out some strong and weak points of each speaker. But, the most important thing is, that no matter how right or wrong you are, the person that is asking for advise should go and LISTEN TO THE SPEAKERS and not to what we are mumbling about here. LOL