If you really want B&W's, why not look for something like a used pair of 801, 802, or 803 Matrix series. I bought a used pair of 802 series III's about 2 months ago in excellent condition for only $1300. You could take the extra money you have leftover and probably find a used pair of North Creek crossovers. You'd end with something that sounds much better than a pair of 804N's, for the same price.
Fist I would like to say that I am a B&W fan. I like the B&W sound and have had several B&W speaker over the years. With that said, I just want to make sure you understand that every one does not like the same sound so I feel you must take what anyone states as information only.
I started with the 803 Matrix speakers and really liked them. I then went to the 801 Series III and also liked them. I then added a pair of 802's for my rear surround.
The 801'S and 802'S were very good, but with the small 5.25 Inch mid range driver I felt they could not quite match a portion of the mid range that the 803'S could with the 6.5 inch mid. But over all I found the 801'S to be better, but I did miss that small portion that just was not there.
When B&W released the Nautilus line with the 6.5 inch Nautilus mid range driver in the complete line up (except 805 & HTM2 which is a 6.5 driver, but not " A Nautilus drivber" ) I listened to them and decide I had to have.
I now have a Pair of the 801 Nautilus for 2 channel and and use as front left & right for surround and I have a PAIR OF 804 Nautilus as rears and the HTM1 for center.
I have listen to the 804'S as mains for about 600 hours and feel they far exceed any of my 800 Matrix series in the mid to high range. They go where none of the 800 Matrixs could even come close.
To me if you want to play Metallica they will go where the 800 Matrixs would have fell short. The 5.25 inch mid in the 801'S and 802"S was really soft there. Look where they crossed over and you can see where they had to handle a lot for such a small driver.
I have only heard the CDM 9NT in the dealer show rooms. I would not say that is fair, to compare them to listening to the 804 Nautilus at home. However I thought the CDM'S were good. I do feel that when I listened I heard more detail and more depth from the 804'S. The 804's seemed to be more to my liking.
I am not sure if you plan to use a SUB. With either the 804'S or the CDM'S a GOOD MUSICAL SUB (not boom BOX type) will make a large gain.
The other thought is that if you can get a GOOD used pair of speaker it will save you some money and if you decide to up grade later it will help there as well. The loss that comes from taking them out of the store is already gone, so you can do better on recovering a larger amount of your money back to spend on your next speakers.
For me I would go with the 804 Nautilus. I feel they are more Detailed and have more depth, with a slightly larger sound stage.
The Nautilus line of speaker can put out a great deal of information, for the entire band width.
With any B&W choose your interconnects and cable. They will let you know that, you can hear a diff.
When I got my 804'S I used them as mains to break them in. It took them over 300 hours of play to start to break in.
I have some fair electronic, which also helps. I like the Audio Research LS 25 as a pre-amp, and Theta Gen 5a dac and Theta transport. Cardas and/or Transparent cables work well in my system. But cables are very system dependant, so who know's.
Good Luck Bob
Great post Bob! I am very impressed with the amount of detail. I have 802N , 805N , 804N , 802M-3 and 805M in my house. For obvious weighty reasons the 802Ns do not get moved. Also have the bigger center channel nautilus. I agree that the Nautlius series is a whole step up. I started 20 years ago with B&W and I am still there. My old DM-14s are going to one of the kids soon.
Sorry Brewsky, but I have not heard the CDM9T so I cannot comment. I am going to switch the 804N from the home theater to a 2-channel system in the bedroom soon, placing the 802M-3s in their place just to see what happens. If I remember I'll come back to this thread and let you know . Meanwhile, Bob seems to have the best info for you.
I listened to both the CDM 9NT and 804N with the same front end and CDs. I can hear the obvious difference and decide on the 804N. Clearer, better soundstage, imaging ... like the above extensive input. I bought the 804N used instead of new CDM 9NT. Of course if I could afford it, I would get the 803N used.
Excellent posts Bob and Snooker14! I also owned the Nautilus 803 and I'd be curious to hear what amps you are both running for Nautilus speakers.
805N = Cary sli80 integ. tube w/ 303 CD player
804N = Krell kav250a in home theater
802N = Classe401 w/ Meridian 508-24
I find the krell the least enjoyable so it stays in the theater where the Lexicon can process it . The other theater channels are Bryston. Anyone want to trade my Krell for Bryston?
Thanks for the responses my friends. They have helped and at least I know that I am not the only one that really enjoys the B&W sound. Plus, my wife liked the looks of the N804s more but didn't like the price tag of new set. Going
with a used pair may be just the thing to do.
I am also interested in what amp pairings everyone is using with these speakers. I have heard Rotel, Classe', and Bryston's pair nicely with B&W. Not sure about B&K, ATI, or the new Outlaw amp. Any opinions?
Thanks again for the helpful advice.
Regarding the amp for the N804s:
I'm using the B&K 202 (one generation removed from the current 3xx series), pushing N802s: the B&K is transparent, although for the hungry N802s I added B&K monoblocks, with the 202 driving the HTM-1 Center (a N804 in a box), as well as N805 rears: the amp is a great reasonably priced solution. The Rotel was rated very well in the articles that I read.
I listen everyday to both speakers at work and for me it's hands down the 804's.Yes more wheight with the 9's but your looking at B&W's because of the midrange anyway so go with one tha does that better.805's with a REL or Vanderteen sub is another option.Of course if you could swing the used 803N's then that would be the way to go.I don't agree with the Stereophile guys all the time but the 803N is the least expensive class restricted LF speaker listed.I've put themup against good competition like the Maggie 3.6 and the Aerial 10T and the kick the crap out of all comers under $8K.I Never really liked the old 804 and 803 matrix as I thought what you lots in imaging over the 805's wasn't worth it especially since one could dial in a good sub and get "the goods".For me in the Matrix line it was the 805 and 802 both of which I owned that were the ticket.But now the 804N's hold their own at a very competitive price point.But hell in for a penny in for a pound.Save up get some good solid state power and the get the 803's (I say this about amp as though the 803N's have 91 db sens they have a nasty impedance swing down to 2 ohms.200 watts of SS or 80-120 of tubes would be min.Of course the 804's need less and could be run 45-60 tube and 100 SS.They have an appetite for current)
Just got a used pair of the 804's for 2700, 6 months old. absolutely wonderful, even with mediocre electronics (NAD monitor series amp and surround receiver).
can't wait to get a good amp and cables, have been drooling over a bryston, but would like to get some other recommendations for these speakers. what would B & W recommmend? tube? only thing is, i don't want to spend more than about 2 grand on amplification at this point.
the matrix 802 series 3 or 2 are awesome like them better than nautilaus series IMO they sound more natural and relaxed but with plenty of detail much like the quads.
Soundwatts: What are you using for electronics? In two recent threads you prefer the matrix to the nautilus. I also have several matrix and several nautilus and I have a definite preference for nautilus. I wonder if it has to do with our other gear, or just our ears. Both are very good speaker lines.