B&W 804s or 703s?

Hi. I have never posted before, but have owned smaller B&Ws for nearly 5 years now.

Due to a move, it is time to upgrade to bigger speakers.

I can get both the (old) N804 or the (new) 703 for about the same price from a local dealer. I am concerned about the lack of bass on the N804, but I believe it is considered to be a better all around speaker. I listened to the 703s and really like them, too.

I like both. Please help with your opinions. I am using a Sony 777ES amp for now, with a 777ES cd/dvd player. My usage is evenly split between home theatre and 2 channel audio, although quality of 2 channel audio is much, much more important to me than home theatre. (I know either speaker will do well with stupid home theatre use).

Your opinions will be appreciated. Thank you.
I haven’t heard the 703s but I own pair of 804s now for about two years. I find them very neutral, transparent and incisive with a slightly tip up high end that sounds very refined and detailed particularly when feed with good quality electronics and recordings. I don’t find them bass shy. I suspect this perception is due to their lack of mid bass bloom and neutral character. However when partnered with a good quality (high current) amp the 804s really blossom with surprising bass extension and weight that matches the agility and natural clarity of its mids and highs.

When I first bought the 804s I owned a Rotel RB1090 power amp (380w/ch) and was impressed how the 804s expressed the full body sound of this amp. However when I recently upgraded to a pair of Jeff Rowland 201 mono blocks (250w/ch)and a Wadia 301 CD player not only did I hear how much more refined and musical these devices are but also how much more capable and deserving these speakers are of high standard partnering equipment. Like most of the B&W range they are well made and look pretty good too.
The choice is simple....non of them. i made the mistake a few years ago but I still hear that metalic ringing in my ears.
Henryk, thanks for your thoughtful, well written post. It added a lot, I'm sure the person inquiring appreciates it.

James, if you have the option, try and audition both in your room. I've always thought the Nautilus line was quite a bit better than the 700 series. The other thing to consider is that if you buy now, and deicde to sell and upgrade later, the 804's will have a higher resale value.
I think what Henryk meant to say was if your going to be buying speakers, it makes sense to look at a variety of options at your intended budget level (mine always seems to shift up towards the end of this exercise). I did not find either of these B&W speakers appealing after several auditions (B&W dealer is very close to where I work). The 703s seemed to be better to me if I had to make that choice. I would suggest Sonus Faber, Von Schweikert, and Vandersteen as potential alternatives. They all sounded better to me then the B&Ws you are considering.
James - I auditioned both the 703's and N804's about 18 months ago, along with the Sonus Faber Grand Piano, and ended up with the 804's. As with most speakers, they were dependent on the electronics and room setup. Also, the 804's were powered by Musical Fidelity X150 and the 703's by Rotel 1070 (100 w/ch). Both speakers provided good, enjoyable music. The bass on the 804's was tighter and more controlled, with the bass on the 703's being slightly muddy, not objectionable mind you, but slightly muddy. IMO, the 804 has plenty of bass - at least for me. Midrange was good on both speakers, but I have to give a slight edge to the 804 on the highs. I can readily understand that some folks may find these speakers too bright, metallic or shrilly, but I really think that it dependent on the front end and room placement. Driver integration was good on both speakers, but again, I thought that the 804's had an edge providing a more musical presentation. The SF were a bit laid back for me, (maybe a bit warm?) although I liked their sound very much and the drivers were well integrated. They were also driven by the MF equipment.

I am now using a VTL 5.5 Pre w/Krell 2250 amplification w/the 804's. It took me about 2 weeks of experimenting in a now dedicated listening room to get the placement right. I recommend you home-audition both speakers if that's possible. It's really the best way to tell what will work best for you. Good luck and happy listening.
I would go for the 803's, the 804's do not have any deep bass, check B&W's own specs, they are -2db at 45hz on their specs. the 803's go -3 at 35hz -6 at 28hz, which is more reasonable for a floor standing speaker. Many high end monitors have much better bass than the 804's, and also are better integrated than their 2.5 way design which is a compromise from the 3 way in the higher Nautilus series. I found the 804's to lack any magic that the higher end N series had, even though I found even the 801's lacking quite a bit compared to others in their price range.

B&W are not bad speakers, and they do hold resale exceptionally well, but there are many other and possibly better alternatives, so please, even though you are a B&W owner, listen to some other lines before you decide.

I would suggest checking out Totem, Vienna Acoustics, Audio Physic, and Von Schweikert just to name a few. All have their own sets of strengths, some very similar to B&W's.
i own a pair of 703 speakers i think they sound very good consertering that there far from being broken in yet and im playing them with my dads 1971 sony intergrated amp and kimber kable 4vs speaker cable.im upgrating to creek 5350se amp and more expenseve kimber speaker cable.they should sound awsome.i think right now the bass is solid and mids and highs sound very good, warm sounding, strings sound natural i have not herd the 804s yet
Sbrtoy, he was asking about the 703 (not the N803) vs. the N804 as he can get them around the same price. I'm not sure what you mean but the 703 & N804 are both 3-way designs, neither being a 2.5 way as you mentioned.
On to the original poster, the N804 shares very similar characteristics as the 703 yet is more refined and yes, a better overall speaker. Everything the 703 does, the N804 does a bit better and for the same price should be a no-brainer.
Sbrtoy, "...check B&W's own specs, they are -2db at 45hz on their specs. the 803's go -3 at 35hz -6 at 28hz, which is more reasonable for a floor standing speaker."

You are comparing two different spec's. The spec's for the 804 is -3 (38hz) and -6 (30hz). This is a relatively small difference.