B&W Nautilus 801s vs. Wilson Audio Sophia?

I'm considering the above 2 speakers. I have a Krell KSA-200s amp, Krell KRC-2 preamp (which I may replace with a Conrad Johnson Premier 17LS), and for my CD will either get the Krell SACD Standard or the Esoteric DV-50 (neither of which I've yet heard). I listen to classical music and hard rock, in a 13' x 23' room. Any opinions? Thanks.
You have to listen to both of these.... you will either love the Sophia and say it is the most detailed and precise imaging speaker you have heard (if setup correctly) or you will not like this attribute.
System synergy will be key and the CJ would be a requirement or your highs on both of these speakers will sound etched with the Krell.
I like B&W's for movies as they have a mid bass hump that is very pleasing for dynamic movie sound tracks. Once again with the wrong front end the B&W tweeter could be harsh. The B&W will throw a fuller less detail and less precise soundstage...

Both speakers have the same low bass roll off but the Wilson will have faster bass response.

If you liked planar speed and imaging but wanted dynamics.. then Wilson.. But buy the speakers and put 200 hours on them before changing your equipment, because they are extremely revealing!

Actually listen to the 802's also because I found those better sounding then 801 (too much midbass ), you could pair either speaker with a Rel subwoofer or Wilson Watch later!

PS... I own Wilson Watt Puppy 7's so I'm biased but I choose a pair of speakers over a new car because I am a planar guy. Oh yeah Metallica rocks on Wilsons! Classical music recordings will let you identify the specific chair of the player.. utterly amazing.
Wilson Sophia's hands down on rock and classical.
You have a nice size room but I would be concerned it is too small for the N801's. I have heard the N801's sound very, very good but the room was extra large. You really need to listen to them in your room or at least a similar sized room.
(Anything but the Wilson Sophias)
The most analytical, COLDEST, uninvolving speakers ever made.
WOw, I cant agree on the WIlson Sophia/N801's comparison here.

Sophia's bass is nowhere near the same league as the 801's. THe 801's is just as fast with more detail and resolution while playing down to below 20hz flat. Sophias roll off around 35hz and need to be room loaded to get the same extension. Soundstage, Ill take the 801's again. Sophias are a good match for tube amps. The 2 times I heard em with tubes I liked them, but then again Ive always like tube amps to some degree with any speaker setup.
I've listened to the Sophias and B&W 802 in the past week. I'm buying the Sophias. I was very disappointed in the 802s. My wife hated the 802s, and fell in love with the Sophias.


Jimmysny, good choice!
Wow! I always find it fascinating how differently people can respond to the same product. Bigpowerballs (win the lottery or something else?) found the Sophia's "The most analytical, COLDEST, uninvolving speakers ever made". I've listened to them extensively and I cannot comprehend this assessment. While they may not be his cup of tea, this pan is way over the top. First, to my ears they are absolutely the reverse. Second, how can a $12,000 speaker EVER qualify as "The most analytical......" Third, given what I heard I can't even imagine this assessment with the Sophia's hooked up to a table radio. I know some people get really emotional about this audio thing but unless we keep some perspective the outside world will only be affirmed in their belief that we are all a bunch of nuts!

Of course he does--i responded to him in another thread. He prefers Sonus Fabers---totally opposite sides of the spectrum. I think the Cremonas are mush, so to each his own.

However, i don't rail SFs in other threads, but to each his own.
I listen to & judge by classical, so I'll chip in & further confuse the issue:)
Keeping in mind the need to reproduce large orchestral passages (including choirs) at realistic levels, the Nautilus is undoubtedly (IMO) the choice. It can give the illusion of a full-scale orchestra. The Wilson gives the impression of a "smaller" speaker more prone to "confusion" when the going gets very tough (think of Mahler: 8/2 for example).

OTOH, the Wilson is MUCH easier to drive coherently and, while the lower end starts rolling off @~60Hz, the sonic result is pleasing overall and in-room response didn't seem to be lacking (you won't be craving for bass I don't think).

The problem with the Nautilus seems to be that the lower register sucks up an extraordinary amount of amp power. So you need a lot of amp power. Otherwise, you end up driving the mid-bass without power left for the bass, hence the upper bass "hump" reported above (and of course, the resulting impression of lack in mid/upper mid detail). To give an example, the Nautilus driven by two 125W "deep" class Α amps, was indeed far better than the Sophia.

So, overall, given your present amplification, I suggest you compromise & go for the Sophia; don't expect a large-scale orchestra & a full-range speaker -- Wilson wouldn't be selling the Alexandrias & Maxx's if that were the case.

Finally, as to personal bias, I actually like the Sophia (no, I don't own Sophia's). It's a good speaker, if a bit expensive. Cheers
That us ine thing I did notice when auditioning the B&W's is that Mid Bass Hump which they would need to get rid of before I was to buy a set of their speakers.

Seems with the advancement of tech it would be easy to fix .

While other manfs are able to provide better quality in sonics the bigger cos. keep on going through old ground which is not making their models any better to sell.

For those looking for speakers it falls to the educated buyers to be able to choose the speakers or components that give the best illusion to the real performance.

Happy hunting!
I've sold both Wilson's and B&W's. Personally, I might consider owning 804's in the right application if need be. But I prefer the transparent, dynamic, and higher sensitivity Sophia. Also allow more amp options if applicable.
everyone own's and likes their own stuff. EQUIPMENT MATCHING is way critical on analytical high end speakers. The more transparent, the more critical.
That other gentleman could easily have heard the Sophia's with some bright/cold gear in the system. You can't hear something in A SYSTEM, and make an ALL ENCOUMPASING ASSUMPTION! There's too many variables (unknown to the novice) that affect sound.
I've dealt with Wilson for years. They walk the line of total transparancy, if not total dynamic transparancy;...it's easy to push em over the edge, like many like them.
The B&W 801 (as with all the B&W's with that head unit design) have a horrible mid to upper midrange suckout. This is exactly where the majority of music plays. This is a function of internal standing waves and presures that works against the driver. This adds coloration and a muddy sound to the recording.
I have heard the Sophia and the 800 right next to each other with a quick a/b compare, the Sophia was more musical (to say the least).
On the subject of "midrange suckout" try aiming Wilsons at a point behind the listener for a prime example. This speaker really needs to be aimed at the listener.

B&W's arent as picky on setup as the Wilsons with regards to midband performance. My room has ranged from slightly down to peaky in the midrange depending on the setup of my N803's. Using the Rives Audio test disc really helped me fine tune my speaker position for the best response.

With proper power the bass response of the N801 is in another league compared to the sophia. This makes setup for bass response potentially more difficult with the N801 but the rewards of course are much greater.

Both are fine speakers
I agree with Yoga as the suckout problem is one which is not tolerated for myself. I used modified NEAR's which use to have these same problems until I was lucky enough to have them revamped by Bill K of NEAR. A whole other speaker after that.

New Drivers and XO's make a world of difference. I do not see how B&W has not addressed the problem> with the davent of new meterials for drivers and XO components it does not seem that it would be a hard thing to overcome. They have had enough time to do it and yet the problem persist. If it were me I would look to another manufacture for speakers rather than have to live with problems which should not be there when paying such a heavy amount for quality components.

I use to live with a euphoric presentaion ,for lack of a better description, until I found that I prefered a presentation which I felt was truer to the actual event.This was the problem or signature which NEAR drivers had .Now that I have better drivers and XO components my enjoyment of the reproduced musical event is much more enjoyable. I compare it to Electrostatics or panels to Boxed speakers. While speakers such as Maggies are euphoric and very involveing I do not feel they represent what the actual event is suppose to sound like. I went from Boxes to Panels and now back to boxes which I will happily live with boxes till I go to the big gig in the sky.

Hey ,but that is just my opinion and if you can live with the tradeoffs and inherent problems such as Suckout then you'll be a happy listener.

Good luck!
The 'suckout', or problems mentioned in this site relative to the 801's, and 'all B&W's' is, to many people's way of thinking, the famous, "Mylar Honk" as quantified, then coined by John Atkinson of Stereophile. Mylar has an uneven response, which causes a loud peak at an unfortunately obvious frequency, in the upper midrange, I believe, giving the speaker an unpleasant 'honking' sound.
It seems odd to me that a company with B&W's resources can't build a better loudspeaker than these.
Not that they cannot build a better speaker,but they do not want to correct the problem which baffles me.

A speaker I use that had older drivers had this type of signature also. I mentioned it to the designer and he had updated drivers which he gave me to try. Not only did the malefic go away ,but the new design was tighter and went deeper in the Bass with no hump. So it can be overcome if B&W would simply redesigned the driver.

I think it is also a matter of buyers wanting or getting tricked into a Euphoric presentation instead of being aware that a speaker should come closer to the natural or actual event instead of some colored illusion. It is the wow factor which get people hooked or fooled instead the realism factor I guess.

That is what I think anyway.