B&W N803 vs AP Tempo IIIi vs VA Beethoven???

Hi All,

I am going to audition the following but I would like any input and experiences with the following speakers. I have narrowed down my speaker choice to the following 3:
- B&W Nautilus 803
- Audio Physic Tempo IIIi
- Vienna Acoustics Beethoven

The rest of the system is:
-Shanling CD-T100 CD Player
-Electrocompaniet ECI-3 Integrated amp
-Zu Cable cables throughout

One limitation is the amplifier which may be a bit lean, but that will most likely soon be replaced or a large power amp added.

Music ranges from new age (Adiemus, Vangelis), to light rock (Cranberries, Coldplay), light classical, and vocals (Diana Krall, Katie Melua, Norah Jones). Requirements are tight, accurate bass; clarity (especially with vocals) and imaging.

I listened to the VA Mozart today and they were very accurate, beautiful mids and highs but lacking in the bass. I am sure the Beethovens will be sufficient low down. However the 3-driver setup of the Mozart makes me wonder about the AP Tempo, which is also only a 3-driver setup (2x7" mid/woofer and a 1.5" tweeter). How is the bass on the Tempo IIIi's? Any own/listen to them extensively?

Any help appreciated,
Anyone have some opinions/advice? :)

I hear the AP sparks today and was highly unimpressed. I am leaning more toward the N803 or Beethovens. How would you compare the two??

I owned the Tempo 3 (not 3i) and liked them very much.All the attributes of the AP line (disappear, superbly detailed soundstage,airy but "earthy" too...). The bass was fast, clean and mean (in a good way) and generally quite satisfying when played alone.I had already owned a REL Stadium 2 sub woofer which I used with it and which integrated superbly (need the speed of the REL to keep up with it). Overall I would highly recommend the Tempo 3.Good luck, happy listening.

I own both the VA Beethoven's and the N803's in two seperate systems. Here are my thoughts:

The 803's have a bigger, fuller mid-range than the VA's. It is also a more transparent and accurate speaker than the VA's. It excels in the mid-bass not the low bass. The nautilus tweeter design makes for both a tall and wide soundstage and pushes the sound way into the room. The 803's play much louder than the VA's.

Also important to remember that the 803's are like a well-muscled, atheletic but lazy football player. They have great potential but they need to be kicked in the ass (in terms of juice) to really hear them at their best. I'm not sure your integrated amp can really push them. They don't have particularly fast drivers nor are they the most dynamic speaker either. Proper electronics and cabling though can more than compensate for these shortcommings. They need a minimum of 200W from a high current amp and 300 is even better. 400W will make the them levitate in mid-air and sing for you! Power has a huge impact on these speakers.

The VA is a tighter speaker. Mid-range and bass are very tight with no bloat in the mid-bass. Overall, they image better and it seems you can pick out invidual instruments and players on the soundstage better than the B-dubs. The bass goes lower. This is a warm, romantic speaker that can be downright seductive with the right matching components. The warmth comes from both the mid-range and the tweeter. The tweeter is a silk soft dome and the pesentation of the highs is very different from the B-dubs. Not quite as detailed as the B-dubs but still plenty of detail. They have two different perspectives with the B&W more forward (first or 2nd row seat) with a wider soundsatage and the VA's more laid-back (mid-hall seat) with a deeper sound stage.

The VA's performance also improve's with more power but they don't NEED HIGH POWER to perform well like the B&W's do. Its a more efficient speaker.

To sum it all up, the VA's have a more focused soundstage, deeper bass, better imaging and are warmer and more romantic. I think the Shandling would add more of the same (especailly if you use the tube output stage) and make the music too syrupy and smooth.

The B&W's have a fuller sound, more mid-bass energy (which I prefer considering most music rarely goes below 40 cycles)a wider soundstage, are more accurate and are more transparent to the source components. I also love the fact that off-axis response of the B&W's is excellent (no matter where i sit in the room its a great seat) as opposed to the VA's which have a smaller sweet spot.

Belive it or not, for HT I prefer the VA's as that tight sound makes for a great thrill ride on well recorded movie tracks. Regarding music, I prefer the B&W's (sometimes) basically because of the fuller sound, wider soundstage, added transparency and slight increase in detail. But there are have been many times where on certain songs I have preferred the VA's. That lushness and sweetness is intoxicating and the mid-range can be down right magical at times. The VA's are naturally magical..whereas the B-dubs CAN BE magical when paired with the right electronics. Choice of speaker cables are also critcal for the B-dubs.

I have no experience with the AP's. Hope my comments are helpful!


Thank you for the amazing reponse. It really helped clear up a few questions I had. I finally got a chance to test out the 803's properly and I really enjoyed them. Only problem is they are hellishly expensive here and will thus most likely try and find a pair on Audiogon. Are yours by any chance for sale? :)

I think that my mind is pretty much made up about the 803's, it is just a matter of finding a pair on A-gon soon. I may also be giving the Usher Audio CP-6381 a try as a final comparison. Have you perhaps heard any of the Usher Audio speakers?

Thanks again,

I sent you an e-mail regarding the 803's. Regarding Usher Audio speakers I have never heard them. Check for possible reviews at www.ecoustics.com or other discussion forums on this site.