B&W 805 D3

Does anybody here own the B&W 805 D3? I just happen to read about this new model although it was launched sometime last year. Apparently the long-surviving Kevlar driver had been replaced by the new Continuum driver in the all new 800-diamond series now in their 3rd generation. Is the new Continuum driver a huge departure in sound quality from the previous B&W models which are on the Kevlar?

Is there a significant difference going from the following iterations :-

Nautilus 805 => 805S => 805 Diamond => 805 D2 => 805 D3 (new Continuum driver)

Any thoughts would be appreciated.


Speaker technology has changed dramatically yearly. Going forward with the use of different materials and computer has really allowed the engineer to generate better sounding speakers across the whole spectrum.

Yes, 805 D3 will have a significant different in sound and technology than the N805.

It would be an excellent opportunity to buy a pair of the older 805's on the cheap.
Has technology evolved?  Definitely.  Is there a "huge" difference in sound...that's a very difficult question, that each person has to hear for themselves.   I did an audition, and the difference wasn't huge in any context of the word, at least to my ears.

I've owned the N805 and 805 Signatures, and did a lengthy audition in a well-treated and equipped room between the 805 D2 and 805 D3.  Did the D3 sound different - yes it did.  But the difference was not "huge", to my ears and my perception.  There's another thread here about these speakers and I'll post here what I posted there on the same topic - my immediate reaction, after hearing the D2 and D3 side by side, was that I imagined buyers might use the D3 introduction as an opportunity to pick up D2 models on sale.    They were close enough that the D3 introduction seemed to me to be a great chance to get D2 on clearance.  If I was going to make a purchase that day, that's how I'd have gone.   Interestingly, out of the three of us (Magnolia rep, myself, my wife), both the rep and I preferred the D2 and my wife the D3 so she was outnumbered :-)

Short story long, I like Jafant's post before me - 805s on the cheap seems a great move.  They were fantastic when they were introduced, and still are today - all the technology in the D3 doesn't minimize how good the originals were and still are. 
I agree with bcgator.  After auditioning 802D3, I decided to grab 800D2. To my ears 802D3 were not substantially better to warrant their somewhat hefty asking price.  

Now this may not be a fair comparison but since my dealer so eloquently claimed that new 802D3 rivaled the performance of 800D2.  Well not to my ears, 800D2 was bit more transparent and offered much tighter bass.  The mid-range on both speakers were equally good.  

I still own a pair of 803s. IMO, B&W made biggest improvements from Nautilus to S series and then to Diamond D1 & D2's. 

If money is no object by all means grab the D3. Otherwise, any used D2 series speakers are easily the best bargains in already over crowded world of high end speakers.  
Thanks for the experience. Much appreciated. Looks like the new 805 D3 Continuum isn't exactly a significant step-up from the previous D2 model judging from the responses here.

It has been quite a while since I moved on from B&Ws. My first pair of B&Ws which got me into the audio world more than 20 years ago was the CDM 1SEs. I have lived with the pair for more than 10 years and owned the N805 somewhere along the road.

The N805, to my ears, sounded a bit warm and fuzzy especially in the mids. In other words, the N805 is not a very transparent and detailed speaker, at least to my ears. From the comments above, it appears that the 805S that replaced the N805 may be the best bang for the buck with the biggest improvement in sound quality (from the N805). Not too sure about the degree of changes or differences between the 805S and the 805 Diamond v1 and v2 though.

Nonetheless, from my experience, I would think that the 805S and later Diamond models are the ones to consider, not the N805, unless the price is too good to resist.
I compared side to side 802d2 which I owned against 802d3.  Same system, same wires, same songs.

because I wonder the d2, I knew it intimately.  All the wrongs and weaknesses of the 802d2, I knew.

so when I compared it, I knew the first momemt... The 802d3 was everything I wanted in a bowers.  Denser images, better staging, better palpability, and more analog sounding for lack of a better term:. The hash from the Kevlar coloration was no longer apparent, the d3 was better.  

How is much better?  I thought 25% better.  My audiophile brother and my non audiophile dad agree.

i brought a focal owner to the demo later, he said it was a stunning difference.  I asked him if he thought it was 25% better, he said no... He felt it was more than 25%.  It was the best speaker he heard up to that point.

-as for me, I sold my 802d2 after that demo.  I'm buying the 802d3 this week after I sold my Rockport Avior.

i find it interesting when people don't hear the magnitude of difference I hear.  It is very apparent and easy to tell if you're a bowers owner.  I listen for staging first and foremost and I focus on getting that vocalist to be palpable and dense... Weight and realism.  The 802d2 by comparison sounds flat and hazy... For lack of a better term.

i would listen with an open mind and formulate your own opinion.  

Honestly to me, I'm tired of reading what others hear or don't hear... I heard it and 3 others did as well, including my dad who is not even an audiophile.

it is one of the best transducers in my opinion.  

Just as a quick aside, the d2 to me seem brighter.  Off axis the d2 might sound better on a quick casual listen because it is more engaging in that sense.  But sit in the sweet spot in the right room in the right triangulation and positioning of the speakers... And the d2 are not even close to the d3.

i listened to 802d2 vs 802d3.
i listened to 802d2 vs 803d3.

i have also heard those 800d2 maybe 20x in an effort to buy them... The 802d3 is a better transducer, no contest.

But all my opinion.

i ran my 802d2 on several amps, I wanted to make sure I was optimizing them.  I used Cary 211FE tube monos, Classe M600 monos, and Boulder 2060 stereo amp.
I heard both, same setups, same everything except the speakers.  I am not a B&W fan, but the d3 805s were amazing.  The slight nasal and closed in character of the d2 (to my ears) is completely gone in the d3.  

I think Joey V said they're 25 percent better.  To me, and my non B&W loving ears, it was the difference between a speaker I could appreciate but would never own, to a speaker I'd be proud to own.

Everything just sounds so much bigger!
Heard it again today...

Close your eyes and you're there.  Tried it with the SF Olympica 3 today... Didn't work.  Sounds great... But the 802d3 just recreates all the little ambient information and creates a believable event.

Something I could not completely do with the 802d2 or the 800d2.  

That last 25% of delta change, that's it.  I think the guy posting before got it right.  It differentiates a great speaker from a good one.

Putting my money where my mouth is.  Placing my 802d3 order this weekend.