B&W Matrix 801 Series II

There is a pair for sale in my area for $2000. Anyone have an opinion on these speakers? Are they good sounding speakers or just okay? I believe they are pretty old. My interest in them is because they are local so no shipping and I understand B&W makes some very good speakers. Thanks for the help.
I had a pair that took me a couple of years to get the best out of them. I initially powered them with a 250w Bryston amp but it was not until I added another 250w Bryston that they really bloomed. I had the original stands but I found that they were much better when they are 18" - 24" off the floor. This is how a few studios that I know use them. I also used Acarian Black Orpheus bi wires that are excellent with these speakers. Now they will truly rock and you can close your eyes and it's as though the band is in front of you. They were never very good at low volumes (although not too bad with $5k worth of bryston amps) but the closer you get to concert levels the more impressive and realistic the sound.
Btw- there is a pair of Blk Orpheus cables for sale here on agon at a very reasonable price - these are tough to find (I have no idea who the seller is)
Wemfan - good that u got them home safe.

With your amazing 29 x 29 x 11 room and no one to tell you how the stuff in the room needs to be arranged;
you are seriously this audio hobby's version of a kid in a candy store. can u see us drooling ?

If I woke up from dream and was placed in this situation; this is what I would do based on the info you have provided.

Initial placement.
Place speakers 10 feet out from the front wall and separated by 10 feet.
Put your listening chair 10 feet away from them making an equilateral triangle.

Try to get your existing amps that you will experiment with as close to the speakers as possible.
This will allow for the shortest speakers runs (this is important).
Use double runs bi-wire coming from the amps to the speakers.
All 800 series I have owned personally - 800(quad wired) , 801, 802, 803, 805 (bi-wired) - benefited
801-805's Matrix series were designed to be biwired and is the reason they have separate bass and mid/tweeter terminals from the factory. The better the amps the more the differences can be heard.

1) Hook up the parasound - listen to the music you like.
2) Repeat with the McIntosh - tapped on its 4 ohm terminals.
Note the difference between SS and Tube presentations.

3) If your preamp has two outputs - do the dirty and hook the parasound to the bass terminals and the Mc to the Mid/Tweeters. Listen again. Set preamp at 0 gain. Slowly increase with full range music. Adjust the parasound gain controls for tonal balance.

All 3 experiments allow you to hear the speakers without the room coming into play too much.

Room test
Start moving the 801's closer to the room boundaries. You will start to hear the rebounded bass waves come into play.
The closer you get to the boundaries the sound will eventually get muddy - too much bass.
These are serious monitors with prodigious bass. So you will know in your room when this happens fairly quickly.

Amp Test
Leave the speakers as be - and move your listening position back in increments.
This will put more load on the amps and speakers as you will require more power for the same levels.
I expect the McIntosh to cough up its ghost first when used separately.
This experiment will give you a good feel for how good your current amps will be for you.

Look forward to your impressions as you play !
As my fellow CT resident Ct0517 has described his experience with this speaker I realized how good they really are.
With the room dimensions mentioned you should be able to let the 801's bloom with authority providing you are willing to put the horsepower to them. It gets a little tricky with the Kevlar mids which, in my experience also came to life with plenty of class a power. It was the tweeters that were the bugaboo for me.
Big as they are they are still monitors and they can become holographic if put on good sound anchor stands 18"-24" off your floor. Abbey Road Studios used them in this manor as well as many other studios.
I've gone to CES for the past 10 years and have heard the best of the best and the 801's will never be mistaken for MBL's but for $2k and proper power and set-up you will be in the conversation with 75% of speakers out there. I was forced to downsize to smaller Joseph Audio monitors which are really nice but I miss the big sound of the 801's.
Congrats on your new speakers and listen to Ct0517 for setup advise; he knows his stuff. I have heard the 801's in at least five recording studios and at least that many non-studio setups, and learned very quickly just how good these speakers are. Not because the sound was always so great, but because it ranged from "what-the-f%#k" bad to incredibly good. There is a reason that these are/were used in so many studios. They are very revealing of what you feed them; not only in the usual "too bright" or "too dark" sense, but of subtle instrumental textures and phase issues. I have heard some setups using dated digital equipment or mediocre ss amplification sound practically unbearable over the 801's. I also have heard some of the most memorable and realistic sounding playback from them. 801's powered by the classic Conrad Johnson Premier 1 tube amp produced one of the most realistic sounds I have ever heard with fantastic (and correct) mid and lower midrange fullness, image density and dimensionality. I would take that setup in an instant. Enjoy them!
Well, the short answer is that I am very impressed with the 801s. When I first hooked them up in place of the Khorns for the few minutes I thought these speakers are going back. They were so different from the Klips it took me a while to get used to them. At first they seemed slow, almost lethargic compared to the Klips but after listening back and forth to the speakers I started warming up to them. The Khorns have this live, open airy, dynamic sound that I love and am used to hearing. They are also a good match for my MC275 tube MAC which really is not the best choice for the B&Ws. However, going back and forth between the speakers really showed me their differences.

The Khorns--- Very live sounding, open, airy with a tendency toward harshness at times. They make some studio recordings sound almost live. There is an excitement and clarity. You almost tense up sometimes because it feels live and you expect a passage to possibly get louder. They also sound exceptionally good at low volume and on acoustic music. Negatives are the tinge of harshness or rattiness of the very upper end which makes this speaker a bit fatiguing to listen to for longer periods. In my experience, this speaker still rates at the top of my list.

The B&Ws--- They seem like a true studio monitor as has been mentioned. They don't color the sound like the Klips do. They are smooth and not fatiguing to listen to. That is a great plus. Great low end and a B3 organ sounds incredible through them. Drums are really lifelike. Like ZEN, I thought the very upper end seemed not quite as good as the rest of the tonal spectrum. Voices sound really good. The MC275 just doesn't have enough horsepower for these speakers. With the right amp and preamp my guess is that these speakers are really going to get where I want to go.

I recently acquired a Parasound Halo A31 (250 watts per channel) for a system in a bedroom and hadn't heard it yet. The difference between this amp and the MAC with the B&Ws was really huge. Of course, the Parasound added a bunch of really good tight bass slam as you would expect but the little MAC was no slouch in the bass department either. What really surprised me was playing Patti Griffin in a very laid back acoustic track was how much more definition and clarity the MAC had over the Parasound through the B&Ws. The Parasound was also a little muddy. It is a $3k amp and really not up to what I would want to run through these speakers. I was surprised comparing these amps through the 801s. You could go out and have a cup of coffee and come back and you would have no trouble telling which amp was playing. They sounded that different from each other. The Parasound did sound good enough through my KEF LS50s which is what I bought it for.

ZEN, what is a MBL? I will take your advice and acquire some stands but why does getting these speakers in the air help so much?. Also, I gave $1500 for them. How'd I do?

CT0517, I set them up as you said but I didn't run the lows with the Parasound and the higher end with the Mac yet. I forgot about trying it until I reread your post tonight. What is bi-wire? I suspect it is the same as bi-amp? I am familiar with biamping. Remember , I am a musician not an audiophile. :-)

I am ready for some amp/preamp suggestions. What am I going to have to spend to do these speakers justice? I think I would probably prefer a used amp so I can get more bang for the buck. Would the $5000 range for each piece get me where I need to go? There are a pair of Krell 350mcx mono blocks down where i bought these speakers. They would be the only higher end amps I would have access to in my area.

Frogman, i have never heard a CJ but I have wanted to. They are on my short list.

I need to reread the posts on upgrading the crossovers. That is something i would think would make an appreciable difference on these old speakers. i want to get the most out of them i can.

So, what do you guys think?