You're correct on both accounts: the N804 has a very lean (im)balance...B&W's attempt to make a small-scale 803N to satify the US distributo's request for a lower price-point item is quite a failure! As well, ALL Nautilus require a rather distant listening position in order for the drivers to cohere properly. The 803N requires about 12' before it snaps into focus. I doubt that the 804N EVER does! Ha!
In contrast I've only listened to the Beethovens briefly, but was much more positively impressed with them than the 804. If you listen in the nearfield you have other choices; if in the farfield, I'd get used 803N instead of the 804N new...but only if your sidewalls are damped enough
to tame that splashy tweeter, too! In other words, the 803N requires a LARGE room. Just my limited opinion...good luck!
Right on Subaruguru. B&W is garbage. The fact that they are among the top five largest speaker mfg'r in the world shows how effectively they have brainwashed people all over the world. They are the Bose of high-end. The entire Nautilus line is a failure.
Scott, may want to consider upgrading the Denon along with the speakers.
I've sold both lines, and I don't think the 804's sound very good overal! I like em quite well actually, especailly bi-amped. I wouldn't necessarily rate the Bethoven's any higher overll either. But then I'm not a big Vienna Fan. Personal taste will win out there.
Also, consider that set up, room acoustics, proper associated equipment, etc, all will determin what you heared from those AUDITIONS you had! It's too hard to tell in DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS, in different situations...just not a fair comparison.
I have however had very good experiences with the B&W 804's in the right system/room. They do a lot right for the money..and I wouldn't call em GARBAGE!..as one personal called em. While I have come across higher end speakers than the B&W's for sure, they certainly aren't slouches or junk. Infact they make fine speakers at all price points, including the N800 series.
Yes, be sure, the DENON receiver(like all receivers) will be a weak link in your system. With this level of speaker, you should be considering saving for SEPARATES..IT'S JUST NO CONTEST HERE! However, depending on your budget, the speakers are the most important part of the gear-chain.
Keep in mind, if you're looking for DUAL PURPOSE higher end speaker, that the room and set up will have a lot to do with what's going to work well and what's not!!! If you have low ceilings, and/or sit back further from your speakers in proportion to WALL PROXIMITIES TO THE SPEAKERS, a standard traditional MUSIC SPEAKER (like the Bethovens or B&W's) aren't going to work so well ideally!..especially for HT! The sound will be more colored, the immage more BLURED, the dynamics and focus of the sound will be SOFTER and more DIFFUSE sounding! Unless you have MAJOR ACOUSTIC TREATMENTS in your room in this situation, or you sit CLOSE to your speakers in a smaller room environment/set up, you should STRONGLY consider a more HT friendly, and even dedicated cinema speakers!
There's a reason ALL THE HT MAG reviewers and STEREOPHILE writers and such use DEDICATED HT SPEAKERS for their HT systems!..they work better! And there's some very very musical and MUSIC FRIENDLY HT types of speakers out there, or speakers that do HT BETTER at least. If you notice the vast majority of these guy's use either DIAPPOLITO, HORN LOADED HIGH END SPEAKERS, THX DIAPPOLITO monitors, or other more CONTROLLED FOCUSED SPECIALIZED speakers for their HT's.
There are quite a few hi-end, more refined speakers that won't cut you short of what a good DD/DTS movie soundtrack has to offer, and will sound superb on music as well! If you look closely at all the reivews for equipment in some of these magazines, such as HT mag, Stereophile Guide to HT, etc, you'll notice what speakers and gear these guy's have in their REFERNCE SYSTEMS personally!!! Trust me, they know what works well, because they've heard most everything, for every purpose!!!!
Personally, a lot of what I would recommend for your application, would largely depend on what your room set up looks like! This will have a lot to do with what you can and can't do to be the most effective with your speaker chioces.
I've gotta disagree regarding the N804 analysis. Granted, the 804s don't have DEEP, booming bass. However, they do bass extremey well depending on the particular recording. Well recorded/mastered bass sounds extremely robust on the 804s while poorly recorded/mastered bass does sound lean.
I happen to love the sound of the 804s. To me, they sound "right." I picked them over the 803s since I didn't hear THAT startling a difference. The big step up would've been the 802s if $$$ had permitted.
It's also true that the 804s require really great power and components to really sing. I've got a Musical Fidelity set up (Nu-Vista CD, A3cr preamp and A300cr power amp at 225 wpc) coupled with Coincident CST-1 speaker cable. This set up does wonders for the 804 and makes them sound fabulous. Also, I sit about 8' from the speakers.
I don't think B&W is garbage at all or that the Nautilus line is a failure. Their sound may not be for everyone, but they are great speakers nevertheless.
Look, the 804 and 803 differ VASTLY in their spectral tilts.
The 803N can work in a large room in free space, and perhaps quite nicely. Its splashy tweeter is anathema for HT, though....
The 804N is REALLY anemic by comparison, and again, an afterthought at B&W, produced after marketing pressure to do so. They were the last to land here because B&W wouldn't give up 803N production line space to the 804N until the 803N pipeline was filled, if that tells ya anything....
I could see where the 804N works in a small room if some boundary support is used, but then the soundstage is foreshortened, of course. But they DO need lots of help at the bottom, but even then you end up with a west-coast sway-back freq resp, not a bad thing for rock/elec jazz, but anathema for classical or acoustic jazz....
Sorry to upset N804 owners with my impressions. I even found
lowly Paradigm Ref 20s to sound better balanced, or the sublime new Thiel 1.6 as another $2k giant-killer....
Thanks for the HT/2ch radiation patter/room-interface reminder, foreverhifi.
My post was not to be taken seriously. "Nuff said.
Cdc, your original tongue-in-cheek hit too many nails on their heads, as I keep running into musician after musician who, after stepping into mi-to-highend waters ALL complain about how UNnatural the Naulius' sound to them! Again, I WANTED to like the 803, especially as my wife said it was tolerably attractive (you should have heard her swearing about the Revel F30 and Aeriel 8) but in a nearfield setup couldn't get them to cohere...nor tame those bright tweets. If only they had padded them a bit more to allow that decent midrange driver to come forward a bit. I'm not alone on this. B&W IS a large manufacturer...and so is Bose.
I'm not a real big B&W fan. But what matters is what you like. The Viennas and the B&Ws are very different sounding speakers. If I had to pick, I'd definittely go with the Viennas. Also consider Aerial.
I just auditioned the Aerial 7B's. I thought these also sounded better than the B&W 804's (Hard to compare to the Vienna's, as they were not in the same store). But, they didn't have the 803's, only the 804's and 802's. The 802's are way out of my price range, and now I am certain that the 804's lack any real bottom end.
So, I have three questions:
1)Do the 803's have the full sound I am looking for, or should I move on to the Vienna's or Aeriels (My room is 14 x 18, with a standard ceiling.?
2) Which are better, the Vienna's or Aeriels?
3) Is my Denon VER4802 really so bad?
I have a Denon4800 which is great for home theater, great decoding of those DVD's, DTS ES especially, and I'm even delighted with it on the synthesized Wide Screen for the older laser discs. But it just doesn't compare, even on Direct, to the musicality of a 2 channel Audible Illusions preamp and a monoblock B&K M200. Your weak link is certainly the Denon and IMHO you won't hear quality of these speakers.
Vienna gets my vote hands down. But something else to consider is the Beethoveen's are a 4ohm load (I don't know how low they go either)--many receivers won't do well with that. I'd recommend looking for a new amp/pre before new speakers.
Here we go again, another BW "bashing". What a crock!
For the price, the N804 is a very fine speaker. Using a Denon HT receiver to power it is like putting an old VW bug engine in a new Corvette. you're only going to get out of it what you put in it. While the 803 has greater depth and better bass response, the law of diminishing returns kicks in here and I can't see spending and extra grand or more.
I think the Vienna'a are very comparable speakers, but it all comes down to individual taste and what you hear. I lean toward a love for accoustic piano, guitar, voice and the 804s fill the bill. They are quite dynamic with a good HD rock, such as Pink Floyd, or jazz, but hey, equal strokes...
Happy with my 804's.
Classe CA 300 amp
Classe cp 50 pre-amp
Classe cdp .45 cd player
I think a lot of people that are not happy with their N804s either try them in a big or medium sized room, or with a receiver. B&W says they are for small rooms. I bought mine since my listening room is 11x13. These ain't no HT speakers. The DM and CDM lines are for HT. I have a seperate system with a Marantz SR18 and CDM speakers . It's a killer. N804s like all the N series B&Ws are audiophile speakers. They sound like what you feed them. They are my third set of B&Ws and like the rest of them, they sounded like crap until you have 100 hours on them then they keep improving until about 600 hours. I began powering mine with a Classe' CAP 151 integrated. Use at least 100w/ch of good quality power . Presently mine are powered by a Cary V12i, Cary SLP2002, Cary 308T, Rega P25 .
The beauty of the B&W N series is that you can hear each change you make to your system.
Look! I have listened to B&W line extensively as the are the most widely avl. speakers to demo and these are good speakers in alot of bad demo systems in bad rooms with uncompatable equipment ect. I have heard them sound bad, I have heard them sound great!This has alot more to say about the shop than the line. I just visited Audio Exchange in south Bend Indiana while I was home for T day. They have a Mac C2200(nice!) hooked to ARC VT100,or Sunfire with a Marantz sacd or thier early 90's statement CD player (CD11 mk2)& B&W 804N. All I can say is this system had great synergy and I could easily listen for hours...
My advise is take the whole system into context and listen!