Are you kidding? N802 are in another league over the 803!!!
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The 802 has larger cabinet volume and more importantly the Marlan head enclosure for the midrange driver. The shape and the material give the 802 an advantage in clarity and dispersion vs the 803. It also allows the tweeter to be mounted with additional free space around it.
Stingreen should change his user name to Vanderstringreen. BTW I think Vandersteen makes an excellent speaker.
here is a nice discussion comparing the 803S to the 804S. I know that you did not ask for this but this discussion reveals several characteristics of the 803S that might interest you. Also, several posters did a comparison with the 803D version & have compared/contrasted the 2 speakers. I think that it might worth your time to read these posts:
The N802 is a very good speaker & I would say that it is 1 notch below the best of the Nautilus series speakers of that era (which was the N800 even tho' there was the N801 which had the 15" woofer. The 15" woofer made it impractical in 99% of the homes as it would overload the room severely & make listening impossible). The N802 speaker is not to be underestimated in terms of your amp's ability to drive it. If you do get the N802 you'll probably have to change out your amp to ensure that you can drive it correctly & optimally to get the best from it; otherwise, you'll be wasting your money. The N802 *demands* the very best electronics if you want to hear what it can do (a good friend of mine has these speaker & he + I have been around the corner or two coaxing the best out of his speaker so I know what I'm talking about + I've owned B&Ws myself). If you are not ready to overhaul your system to upgrade to the N802 buy a more modest B&W like the N803 or N804 - you'll get much better sound for less cash outlay. My assumption here is that you are not made of money; in case you are, disregard my comments completely.
Thanks for the responses guys. I currently have a pair of 803s and enjoy them very much. I am driving them with a cinenova grande 300 watts per channel. I am not biamping since I have a htm2 which I am selling on eBay right now and a pair of ds3 rears. However I could sell my 803s and get a pair of n802 that a guy has here locally but I just want to here people's opinions especially those that have heard the two and let me know if it's worth the hassle.
I personally think that you will get lower-end reasonable sonics with your Cinenova Grande 300 watts per channel HT amplifier but this amp will not bring out the best of the N802 since it wasn't made to drive a load as difficult as the N802. I looked @ the Cinenova Grande 7-ch amp & noted that they used a 4000VA transformer divided equally amongst 7 channels. According to my calculations that amounted to 10A per channel. This 10A needs to be further divided to 5A per positive supply rail & 5A per negative supply rail. That's an OK amount of current for most other speakers but quite a bit shy for the N802. You'd need an amp with double the current delivery to make the N802 shine. My assumption is that your 5-ch amp is not better than the 7-ch (which had more info for me to work with).
However, your goal might not be to make the N802 shine; your goal might simply be to be a N802 owner. I don't know what your motivation is to get the N802....but your present amp will give you OK-OK performance. The N802 is a challenge to drive - my friend could not drive them properly with a Classe 400 in a 2-ch setup.
Whoever claims the 802N is fussy in the mids needs their hearing checked as they must have severe hearing impairment.In Fact they are just the opposite. They are ruthlessly revealing. Now, if they said the 802D was fuzzy in the mids I would agree.The latest diamond series strikes a nice balance between the 2 previously generations( imo).
Stringbean never had the N802 setup right. They have their issues like any other speaker (a slightly disconnected top end), but when setup right, ie. 18 x 21 ft room or so, plenty of room around them, with a minimum of 300WPC into 8ohm high quality high current amp (Krell FPB does apply) - they can blow one's socks off. Extremely dynamic, lively, and excellent overall sound for the $4500 or so that they go for used.
09-13-11: Stringreenwell, Stringreen, your comments are hillarious & quite out-of-line. There is definitely something wrong with your hearing &/or your amps that were driving the N802. The bass is *not* weak & is *not* devoid of extension, the mids are *not* fuzzy at all.
09-13-11: BudtI agree! (I believe that Budt meant "fuzzy").
I'm not a B&W fan but would like to give the devil his due. The B&Ws have many other issues which Stringreen could have named given that he lived with the N802s for 6 months but did not (meaning that he's clueless about this speaker).
After 4 months, the right tweeter needed replacement which B&W paid for...but which I did (very easy).,,but uncalled for with an expensive product.Now, I'm quite sure that the Ayre amps you had were not up to the job. Ayre are good amps no doubt but that does not mean that they worked for the N802. Many people (like you) completely underestimate just how hard it is to drive the N802s. Again, all these comments from my personal experience with my friend's N802.
09-14-11: GoatwussThat's right - he *never* did!
One important thing Stringreen: not trying to make you like B&W - that will never be my intention, just to be clear with you - but I'm sure that you do not like them for all the wrong reasons. That is my principal objection.
Maggies, Vandersteens, et all...but better yet...go to some live concerts.Chief, I've listened to the Vandy 5As driven by Rowland Model 10s.
I've listened to the Maggie 1.6QR driven by a Musical Fidelity integrated (model # escapes me). I've also listened to the smaller Maggie - was there a 1.2 model? I've listened to many, many Martin-Logan speakers including the Statement E2 which Gayle Martin Sanders personally demo'd when he did a road-show some time back & I own ribbons myself.
I go to many concerts each year - as many as I can get away with given that there are growing children in the household that cannot accompany us parents to such concerts.......
Stringreen may not like the midrange. The design is definitely a smile EQ type presentation with recessed upper mids and accentuated bass and tweeter. You can see this from Stereophile off axis frequency plots of its successor the 802D. This kind of presentation is indeed extremely popular. Not fuzzy but slightly recessed. It will alter the timbre of violin for sure. Violin tends to have more reflected sound than other instruments (as it really projects upwards) and the lower off axis response in the 802 mid range should create a noticeable imbalance in most far-field setups.
Now you done did it, all of us B&W owners are going to need to now defend the honor of the brand since someone tinkled on it.
I dont own the Nautilus line but do own the 803 Diamonds and must say they sound simply delicious. I would imagine the compaison here between the 803 & 802 Nautilus is very similar to the comparison I did between the 802 Diamond & 803 Diamonds not too long ago.
I went into the store with a "Must Have" attitude towards the 802 but after hearing the two side by side and taking my room dimensions into heavy consideration I went with the 803 instead and have no regrets. The 803 is a very capable speaker in a properly matched system and room.
Shadome keeps bringing up the one plot of the OLD 802D and I completely agree but the OP is not asking about the old 802D. I had the 802D and thought they left much to be desired BUT the 802N is not the same speaker but has it's own weaknesses but a midrange dip it does not have. The new 800 diamonds are very good speakers.
Lastly,we all hear differently and have different rooms and therefore speaker/room interfaces.If we all had the same tastes we would all have the same speakers and the same rooms ect etc. You may not like B&W but they are one of a handful of good speakers.I would also include PMC,ATC,Tannoy,JBL etc in the "good speaker club". There are others of course but those are the ones that come to mind.
There are also others which have been highly touted that I don't like one bit.However, I don't feel the need to constantly visit those threads to BASH the product.There are some on here who feel it is their duty to continually bash a good product they don't like. These people tend to think much more highly of themselves than anyone else does. It's time you got over yourself and accept the fact that many don't share your opinion.
B&W are tremendously successful. The majority of their designs have a recessed mid range or a smile EQ presentation due to the narrowing (beaming) of the upper mid range. This is caused by having a crossover at 4 KHz on a 6 inch mid range driver. It is simple physics. B&W are not the only one, in fact, the vast majority of speakers do this. Why? Because people prefer this presentation and it sells well. Given a stereo with bass and treble controls, most people tend to boost treble and bass much more than any other settings (with the exception of flat). A speaker that is already boosted in the bass and treble is likely to win in comparisons on the Hi-Fi store floor. Like food with more salt and spice - a small taste demands more attention - even if it may be overpowering when sitting down to a full meal. There is only a very small minority who do not appreciate this more spicy presentation and who would prefer to have a more balanced presentation - all I am saying is that Stringreen may be one of those very few. That B&W is so extremely successful speaks for itself - they make great sounding speakers. B&W is an admirably long-lived successful company in a niche that is littered with has one-hit wonders.
So although you may not like a little criticism of B&W, you see we actually agree for the most part. Great company. Great speakers.
Well put, Budt. I agree with you. There are certain people out there and you know who you are, that just can't get it thru their thick heads that there ARE people that like B&W speakers. I don't claim they are the best but do offer good value for the money. Just read the many favorable reviews. All of these reviewers can't all be wrong. Certain people in this thread seem to be compelled to constantly bash B&W or try to steer the person who started the thread away from these speakers. Why? Just because you don't like them don't think for a minute that all others will feel the same way. As the other gentleman said, get over yourselves and your shallow opinions.
I just bet most audiophiles do not have their listening areas treated properly and so frequency response would be all over the place anyways.I think this is the reason people search for and talk about system SYNERGY, toe their speakers in/out etc . The other totally misleading thing audiophiles tak about is "dispersion " . This a a TOTALLY meaningless characteristic for 99% of serious audiophiles.Why? cause we all do our serious listening by ourselves and therefore sit in the sweet spot.So between treatment and positioning etc we can get good sound as long as the speakers are reasonable well designed and have good drivers. The better the design and drivers the easier it is to accomplish( usually).
Ok guys back to the opening subject . Do you think I should sell my 803 s speakers to purchase some n802 ? Would you and why?
Thanks for the responses and it's a pleasure to see all different opinions. I have owned a few different speakers and these b&w 803s are the best yet . Nice full sound and imaging just enjoyable that's why I would like to stay with b&w but the diamonds are to bling bling for me now that's why I am even considering the 802n.
I have listened to my mate's N802 driven by Conrad Johnson tube monoblocks. He previously used a Mcintosh MC402 with the N802s and didn't like the result too well, too laidback and flat sounding according to him.
Personally I think it is difficult to advise on the 803S vs N802 even though one may be very familiar with both speakers, since the speakers may sound differently in a different room with different electronics, not to mention dissimilar listening preferences. One may feel the N802s to be superior to the 803S in his room with his amps(that if he managed to compare the speakers side by side), but another person may feel otherwise in his own room together with his own amps. As most have mentioned here, the amplifiers play a major role in making the B&Ws shine.
Personally I prefer the N802s shape more than the 803S. Sound-wise is another matter.
FWIW I find the bass of the N802s(in my friend's setup) to be pretty loose and doesn't go too deep. Possibly due to the room and amps. Great sounding speakers nonetheless.