B&W N800 vs Wilson WP7 vs Revel and others


I plan to upgrade my N802's in the near future and have a few speakers on my short list. I an interested in hearing everyone's thoughts or opinions. My short list includes:

B&W Signature N800's
Wilson WP 7
Wilson WP 6
Wilson Sophia
Revel Studios and Salons
JM Labs Utopia
Sonus Faber Amati

My current system includes Krell FPB 350 mono's and 7.1 processor. I will be using the latest EMC 1 cdp. Thanks
Bill
wvick
Your list looks alot like mine a year ago. At this level, the list doesn't get too long anyways but you should not confuse B&W and Revel with Wilson,JM Lab and Sonus Faber. The latter being levels better in sonics and build quality. No list is complete without Merlin, Aerial and AudioPhysics at this level either. With your amps in mind, I would lean twards Wilson or Aerial. I don't mean to slam B&w or Revel but marketing is one thing and head to head comparisons is another.
You didn't mention your musical tastes which might well influence matters or if price is an issue, all important considerations. I have heard some but not all the speakers on your list so I am cautious to say anything negative. Another line to consider, especially with krell would be the piega. A friend looked and listened to the b& w and went with the p8ltd, the new c series limited are substantially better IMO. The other speakers are well known and excellent but I think you might do well to try and audition. Good luck
Better ad Avalon Eidolon to that list or you will end up getting the wrong speaker. The Diamonds if you have got the scratch.
Thanks, this is the kind of info I am looking for. I am leaning towards Wilson but I have never seen or listened to JM Labs, Avalon, Merlin, Piega, Aerial, or Audio Physics. I would like to audition some of these but I am not aware of any dealers in the North West (Washington/Oregon). I listen to all types of music but my favorite is blues based rock. I like accuracy, detail, speed, and dynamics but I am also looking for smooth, sweet, and musical. Thanks for the info and please keep it coming.

Bill
As an owner of Revel Salons, I would have to differ with some of these opinions. I've not heard the Wilsons or Aerials but have heard the B&W's. From reviews and reputation I respect all the speakers mentioned. I've owned the Salons now for over a year and it is ridiculous for someone to slam their build quality or sonics. These speakers are highly accurate just as the others and deserve a lot of time tweaking the components, placement, and the room. Anyone that slams any of these brands of speakers without being sure that this is the best setup available needs to think again. I've heard some really great components sound horrid at some dealers when making comparison. In fact some dealers actually decide which brand they make the most money on and do their best to sells these brands over other lines they may carry or models they just happen to have. Sometimes dealers are credit hold and do their best to sell what they have at the time.
Now, I'm not trying to sell Salons or other brands I'm just saying be very careful of others opinions. Go listen for yourself.
As an owner of Revel Salons, I would have to differ with some of these opinions. I've not heard the Wilsons or Aerials but have heard the B&W's. From reviews and reputation I respect all the speakers mentioned. I've owned the Salons now for over a year and it is ridiculous for someone to slam their build quality or sonics. These speakers are highly accurate just as the others and deserve a lot of time tweaking the components, placement, and the room. Anyone that slams any of these brands of speakers without being sure that this is the best setup available needs to think again. I've heard some really great components sound horrid at some dealers when making comparison. In fact some dealers actually decide which brand they make the most money on and do their best to sells these brands over other lines they may carry or models they just happen to have. Sometimes dealers are credit hold and do their best to sell what they have at the time.
Now, I'm not trying to sell Salons or other brands I'm just saying be very careful of others opinions. Go listen for yourself.
Check out this web page to find a JMlab dealer near you. It is for the JMlab North American distributor. Go to their dealers link and put in your zip code.

www.audioplusservices.com

Good Luck,
Brandon
brandonblair@telocity.com
At the price and performance level you are considering, you really need to hear as much as possible what is out there. I heartily recommend the Eggleston Andra II's, which I own and which I believe compete head to head with any of the speakers you mention; plus they are designed to go within a foot or two of the wall behind them, which gives them a big leg up in some rooms. Oh, yes, and their build quality is at least as good as Revel's, which, as someone above pointed out, is a major compliment. And although I haven't heard the Aerial 20T's, I have heard exceptional reports about them, and the 10T's were a steal at their price. Finally, I would check out what speaker Dynaudio has in that range--their larger ones are stunning. Enjoy yourself.
Hello,

It is always interesting to read about what everyone likes. But rarely do we read WHY they like it over something else.
At this price range, the only logical thing to do is to devote several visits to audio shops to hear many of these for yourself.

I have liked the overall presentation of B&Ws but they never got me involved like others, e.g., Magnepans. However recently when I was auditioning preamps at a dealer in Minneapolis, the 800 Nautilus was setup with the Electro EMC1, BAT VK31SE and Classe amps.....cables were MIT. This system was one of those rare cases where the dealer really had put so much effort for system synergy with incredible musicality. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. You can throw expensive products together but I have heard so very few systems that did everything so well as this system. This is why you need to audition all that you can in YOUR system.

And the dealer who also carried the large VTL amps, said the B&Ws just worked better with solid state. So based on your system, you really need to audition the 800N.

I have no experience with many others on your list other than Wilsons. Time and time again, every time I hear a system with Wilsons, the sound is just too analytical for me. I do not get involved with the music through Wilsons as I know I am listening to an audio system. But I guess such a viewpoint from a Magnepan fan would be expected.

Btw, my current speaker is Talon Khorus and these are just wonderful. Far more resolution than the Magnepans but a wee bit less harmonically rich. So maybe you should put Magnepans on your list to audition? They too love solid state amps and the analog sounding EMC1 could be an awesome match.
Wvick,
You have listed some great speakers. As always you can add many others and as you know many people will tell you brand X is better. I would like to make a suggestion. Go listen to as many of the above speakers as you can and buy the one that sounds right for you. If you can't listen to a certain one then remove it from the list. You will always get someone who says their speaker is the best thing going and that could be correct. But if you can't hear it for yourself who knows.

Just my 0.02 before taxes..
I personally removed Wilson and B&W from my list some time ago. I agree with the above posts which urge you to audition as many speakers as possible. I'm amazed sometimes how poorly a speaker I was excited about actually sounded.
Also, I have had luck asking employees of the better shops what their favorite speaker is. Many time it has taken me down a better yet less traveled road.
I've got Osborn Grand Monuments, which in reviews are often compared to the speakers you have listed. If your interested in listening to them, I live in the Lynnwood area(north of Seattle 15 minutes)e mail me.
Disclaimer: I am a Talon Audio dealer.

Given your list, obvious budget, and associated equipment, you should add the Talon Audio Raven-C and Khorus X to your list (we have the Khite-C and Raven-C available for audition, and will have the new Talon flagship speaker, the Firebird, available at the end of January). We are located in Boise, Idaho and in your vicinity. Please feel free to make an appointment for a listen.

Of the speakers on your list, the Sonus Faber and Wilson WP 7 are my personal favorites (never cared for the previous Wilson speakers, WAY too forward and clinical, but the new 7 is much more to my taste).

For what it is worth, I would put the new Raven-C up against ANY of the speakers you listed, regardless of price (Raven-C is $6950 retail). Ok...Start throwing the stones ;-)

Good luck in your search and a few points to ponder:

1) Trust your OWN ears. Buy what YOU like, not what someone tells you that you should like.

2) May sound corny, but the best equipment is the equipment you like the best!

3) Enjoy the search and don't let it turn into a chore (you would be surprised how many times this happens). If you start to feel overwhelmed after searching and listening after a period of time, back away for a bit and give your ears a rest.

Best Regards...Mike - Father & Son Audio
Funny that no-one has yet mentioned Vandersteens here... They tend to the mellow side, which may not be to your tastes (the speakers at the top of your list tend to the analytical side). I prefered the Model 5 to the Eidolon Diamond when I heard both at a dealer here in Portland, Or, recently (with Burmester CD and Jeff Rowland amps). I liked the WP7 (driven by CAM 350s) when I heard them, but they aren't very good value in my book. The Sophias are nice and very similar to the WP7s (I heard them driven by Levinson 434s), but again don't give you what you get with the model 5 (eg, world class bass) at about the same price. I would definitely encourage you to add the Model 5's to your list and go hear them.
Yesterday I auditioned a pair of N800's connected to Levinson mono amps and front end. I must say they were very musical, dynamic, detailed, and smooth. I will try to audition as many of the speakers mentioned that I can but I don't think I should remove the B&W 800's from my short list. Wilson W/P 7's are next on the audition list.
Thanks for all the different suggestion and insight.

Bill
I am also in the market for new speaker, what is the really different between WP6, and WP7. Since wp6 you can get them at very good price right now.
Goone

Try the Sophia and you will not go back. I pair mine with Rowland with good result.
I have listened to all the above speakers.I would check out the Vandersteen 5 or dynaudio C-2.I feel that the wilsons are very overated!
I have been listening to as many speakers as I can for the last two weeks to include the N800's, WP7, Sophia, Revel Salon & Studio and Amati. They are all great speakers and each of them brings their own special character to life. The difficult thing about auditioning is that they are all connected to different brands of equipment and they are in different rooms. Most of them sound extraordinary but the one that tops the list is the WP 7. The WP7 is an outstanding speaker that gets it right. The sound is full, detailed, smooth, and alive without being bright. I know it is expensive but all the speakers on this list are. It also has the smallet foot print and is aesthetically pleasing. That's not my final answer but the WP7 is what I will be comparing all the others to. Better save my beanies.
I have been listening to as many speakers as I can for the last two weeks to include the N800's, WP7, Sophia, Revel Salon & Studio and Amati. They are all great speakers and each of them brings their own special character to life. The difficult thing about auditioning is that they are all connected to different brands of equipment and they are in different rooms. Most of them sound extraordinary but the one that tops the list is the WP 7. The WP7 is an outstanding speaker that gets it right. The sound is full, detailed, smooth, and alive without being bright. I know it is expensive but all the speakers on this list are. It also has the smallet foot print and is aesthetically pleasing. That's not my final answer but the WP7 is what I will be comparing all the others to. Better save my beanies.
Since you already have N802's, you obviously like the "B&W sound" in general. As an owner of S800's (same speaker, fancier cabinet), and as the owner of B&W speakers for the past 20 years (including M802's and M800's), I can state categorically that if your tastes run toward classical music, there is no finer speaker on the market than the N800. They are absolutely holographic. I can't imagine ever owning anything finer.
Dollysowner, I have since sold the 802's and do agree with you about the N800. It is one of the finest speakers I have heard. I have to say that right now it is almost a toss up between the N800's and the WP 7's. They both have their own character and I would be proud and happy to have either one in my system. The WP 7 holds the edge right now only because of it's size, weight and aesthetics. There are other factors that could easily swing the final decision the other way.....such as price and dealer support. Thanks to everyone.

Bill
I wanted to upgrade from my Dynaudio Confidence 5 to something larger and easier to drive. My list of speakers was similar, this is my observation.

Wilson is too lean for home usage even though they might be "accurate" or able to show slight changes in upstream equipments.

B&W can be fatiguing after a while. I will blame it on the metal tweeter even though it's one of the better metal tweeter on the market. Midrange transparency also lacks a little. And the base, they got to lose that base. That's major afterthought.

Revel is similar to Wilson and the driver integration is not optimal. This is based on listening session with Levinson amp which is usually lifeless, so my opinion might not be accurate. But I have heard more musical sound from other speakers of the same price or size.

JM Lab fails to image well and it's easy to understand why, the large face plate. And like any speakers with more than one midrange driver, imaging will suffer.

Dynaudio Temptation or C4 are overall very musical, but lose the quickness of C5 in bass. Top end is probably the best in this price range. Image is somewhat large, probably due to multiple midrange drivers, even though Dynaudio use difference x-over freq for all drivers.

Sonus Faber Amati is the most musical speaker in this list. Accurate? Probably not. But overall the best speaker for classical music and even better than Dynaudio. I have been a Dynaudio fan for years, so it takes a lot for me to make such statement and my local dealer who carries most of the speakers above agrees. Strings and vocal are reproduced with stunning realism and liquidity.

So my vote goes to Amati and that's what I bought.
Wvick,
If you get a chance, try to hear the Shahinian Diapasons. I arrived at them after listening to the Watt/Puppies, Wilson Grand Slams, B&W 800's, Soundlabs and Thiels. You can get a brand new pair for $12,000. A lot of money but compared to others a real deal. Gordon Holt compared them favorably to the Wilson Wamms. These loudspeakers make no compromises in the reproduction of live music at live levels!! There are no U.S. dealers that I know of yet they have been in business a long time. For the money you will save on the speakers, fly out to New York and hear what I believe is the best speaker in the world.

Forgot to mention Quad 988's. Absolutely fantastic loudspeaker. I heard these at Promusica in Chicago and they were very impressive. They are the personal favorites of several Promusica employees who have access to speakers many times the price.
Your thread appears to be a bit dated (no new entries since mid-January and now it's April), but I wanted to add the obvious, namely, that your best move would be to demo speakers in your home with your equipment if possible. Doing so is the only way to know what sound you are going to get and to know whether a given speaker mates well with your room and your electronics. If you buy speakers that sound great at the dealer, but get them home and find that they excite a room node or don't have synergy for whatever reason with YOUR room and equipment, you're dead (this is a real risk given that most of the speakers you mention can really do bass and you are using Krell monoblocks, which themselves have prodigious bass). A decent dealer should cooperate with you in this regard (although many, if not most, don't want to do this), especially given the sticker on the speakers you are considering -- their mark ups are usually at least 40% on speakers, and more so on expensive speakers, so they should work to earn, for example, the $10,000 they clear on a pair of Watt Puppys.

Good luck.
I ended up going with the Watt Puppy 7's and am very happy with the choice. I have since replaced the Krell HTS 7.1 with a Krell KCT pre for better 2 channel performance. I still need to replace my old Denon CDP but even with that the sound is spectacular. I am a bit undecided on a cdp at this point and have decided wait a while longer to see what is on the horizon. Any suggestions?

Bill
MahanDave: Not to be rude but you really dont know what your talking about here. Stating a Wilson(which uses generic drivers of AVERAGE quality at best)is a better build over ANY Revel Ultima(or Performa even in some respects) product is a farce at best. Lets start with the paint. WIlson speakers use a relatively cheap clearcoat that has a VERY POOR molecular bond. Its like comparing a Maaco paint job to a high quality MFG.(like Honda)paint job.The Revel's clearcoat is of a much higher quality, and people will see that difference after owning their speakers for many years. Driver selection is another thing. Wilson driver's are generic off the shelf components(some of which are available and used in cheap car audio components, like the tweeter which alot of insiders know about)that are average in build quality.Revel uses either special in house drivers and or high quality Scanspeak drivers.And all their speakers run super flat in their designed frequency window) Ever compare the quality or design of the Xover's? Revel sure holds its own here. How about inlab design and research?The actual cabinet? Revel's cabinet is quite well braced and resonant free, as much as any cabinet Ive ever seen regardless of price. And routing every single surface sure doesnt cheapen the cost of these speakers. I remember hearing the Wilson MAXX speakers for the first time. These are what $40,000??I was pretty damn excisted but my wife and myself found that they were poor sounding speakers in a variety of different rooms that they were auditioned in.Plus their exxageratted SSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! All Wilson's have this Ive found. Just a week ago the local WIlson dealer got the new Version 7's in. Same ol,same ol. The Watt's are really no better than the Maxx's.They are poor "eq'd" speakers that require alot of room treatment to band-aid them is what I have always heard and felt, and alot of people in my area feel strongly about that too. Ariel I feel is a much better speaker(though I feel build isnt spectacular but well above average) and compares well with many of the best(Like Vandersteins,Revels, B&W 8 series etc), but please keep Wilson's out of that comparision.
Not true! Scan-Speak drivers used in Wilson midrange is one of the best, if not the best midrange you can find regardless of the origin (off-shelf, or house made). Wilsons, just like any and every other speakers have its issues. He went and at least listened them for himself.
Although, would like to hear them against Joseph's Pearl.
Errr better check real hard again. Wilson's use Focal tweeters, midrange drivers and bass units, the same cheesy ones you find at discount warehouses all over the US,in fact I can even name off the exact model's of the drivers used. I used to sell Wilson,which is known for having the highest markup known to mankind when it comes to money in the dealer's pockets, LOL! And I sure wouldnt put Wilson's midrange anywhere near the best.Its a poorly EQ'd speaker.If you like the "smiley face" setting from the 80's then youll love Wilson Audio! Ill take an Arial or Dynaudio any day of the week for midrange, or full range for that matter.
Well, YOU better check again. Focal is only the tweeter. And nothing wrong with them either. Scan-Speak 8545 is widely used mid/woofer. Seas Excel is another "cheesy" off the shelf driver that was succesfuly utilized by Joseph's (20K) Pearl. Quality of the Individual parts doesn't mean much, but the sum of the whole. 'Till recently Dynaudio drivers were also available off-shelf to DIY-ers. That didn't mean that they were "cheesy". If you want "cheesy", try opening-up your Dynaudio Countour 3.3, and take a look at the $20 crossover parts!
Also, i do not believe (ANY) speakers should cost $20K either!
Actually Wilson uses focal for all 3 mentioned drivers, depending on model of course. As for the sum of the whole theory, I actually agree. I also agree that no speaker actually is "worth" $20k plus. I just feel that Wilson is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to cost/quality ratio which in all honesty kind of sucks. Companies like Revel,Arial,B&W are all also overpriced just like ANY speaker, but when you have a chance to actually take apart the speaker(s),you can see which mfg. took more time and care in the quality of parts used and selected. One reason why Ive always been a fan of Revel(and why I bought em for my own personal system). THey dont just sound great, but they look great, and their parts quality across the board is excellent.

I also have to add that my feelings on their sound is nothing more than an opinion so if any Wilson owners feel offended, it wasnt meant to be voiced that way.
I guess, we agree more than the initial posts would suggest. I own Dynaudio 3.0, and after the x-over upgrade took the sound to the new level. Bennic mylar and Solen caps were replaced with Mundrof and Hovland. Very disapointing finding that relatively expensive speakers would use very cheap parts. My friend did the same with his 3.3. I would hate to be owner of the >$20K, and find less than premier parts in any way!
Ritteri, Wilson uses Scan Speak mid range drivers in the WP 7's.
Yeah, see I feel the same way. =) When we first got the Watt puppy/6 versions in the store, we set em up broke em in,and also decided to take em apart(if the owner ever found out we would have all been fired!)to see what they are "made of". With the nice binding posts and decent decouplers we were hoping to see the same goodies inside, but were a bit dissapointed. First cue to me was the focal tweeter. My longtime friend had a pair of them in his car that the previous owner put in. They were very harsh no matter what tuning we did. Even with the tweeter's tamed they had a really bad "mettalic" sound to em. Seeing these come on the WIlson's didnt help my feelings any. Nor did the bass drivers. When we took em out of the cabinet, we werent fully impressed. Xover boards(in a casing that must attrack RFI or EMI no doubt) were populated with iron core coils. Dampening was ok. Bracing was decent, nothing special. Drivers had really short coils of marginal quality, frame wasnt too impressive either. Just wasnt impressed, especially with its pricetag. Floor spikes were flashy and of good quality, as were binding posts as mentioned. Im sorry even the cheesy velcro used to hold on the grilles.Plastic ports, Get my point?Geez, even the paint job, they used like 1 coat primer,1 thin coat of paint and a coat of clearcoat that doesnt bond well to the paint. Really easy and prone to chipping. Big time dissapointed. To the trained eye this is bothersome. Couple this with less than stellar sound, at least to my ears. Some people call it musical, I call it EQ roulet. Im sorry but when you buy a speaker in this price range, it shouldnt just sound good, it should abound with quality components throughout too.
Yes I am aware that they now use more scan-speak components. They still use that damn Focal tweeter though! =P
to me the the verity parsifal encore is more musical and accurate. any feedback b/w 800n and the veritys would be appreciated.
Put the PMC MB-2/XBD system and the Legacy Focus 20/20 on your list. Both are pretty serious. The PMC is the most dynamic of anything your've listed and is what you'll find in many of the studios where the music you love is actually produced. PMC spends most of it's time suppling to a large percentage of the world's best recording facilities and artists...but they make consumer versions as well with some gorgeous cabinet work...they will stun you. If you happen go be going to CES, they'll have a set of them there.

The Legacy Focus 20/20...take a look at the Jan 04 Stereophile...yes they are that good. They are also a screaming deal.
Interesting thread, one of the reasons I bought my Hales System 2 Signatures back in early nineties was incredible build quality. A few years later, I ran into Paul Hales himself. He told me that the cabinet in these speakers was so expensive to manufacture, never mind the drivers and x.overs that he actually could not afford to make them for very long. I think he actually lost money in the end on this speaker! So, I am pretty sure that what is being said about the Wilson's has some validity, however, if they sound as good as advertised( I have not heard the WP7's or any of the later models) then the value to the consumer might be acceptable and obviously the business plan of the manufacturer works.