B&W Nautilus 803 & 804 Vs The World

How different does the 803 and 804 sound? And how do these compare to other comparablely priced dynamic speakers, such as a Revel F30, Dunlavy Aletha or even the more expensive Avalon Arcus?
Although I own 804s, but the 803s are much better. More midrange, better imaging and of course, more bass considering the larger woofers. I AB comparisoned them last year. Many knowledgeable B&W people consider the 803s better than the prior 801 matrix. I used to own the 801 Matrix and my 804s in some respects are better, definitely more musical. Hope this helps. Randy
Lots of comments from actual owners/consumers at Audioreview.com
The 803's really do it right. I have the 805's and am very happy with them (and my REL Strata III sub). When I was auditioning speakers it was the 803's that gave me a sense of real balance. I also tried the Aeriel model 6, and the Audio Pysic Tempo. I did prefer them to the 805's but I had space cosiderations and happily settled on the 805's. How they compare to the 803's ?,I would have to check them all out again.
I have owned a pair of 804s for about 6 months. There is no question 804s are a great value and have a great sound..But how does it compare to the 803s, that is totally different things then.. the 803s are better. Definitely better.. But, they are $2000 more.. Now I own a pair of the N 802s, these are the best. But again, they are $2500 more than the 803s... How do the 803 & 804 compare to other speakers? You really have to listen for yourself, remember audio is probably one of the most subjective hobby out there, especially when it comes to speakers..
Calvin the BW 802 is one of the most aesthetically beautiful speakers ever made, absolutely stunning. The 803 & 4 are also very nice but the 802 is the full culmination of this design. The midrange and tweeter enclosures are works of art, and the rounded back is sooo nice......I can't afford this model but I would buy it for appearance alone!
I breifly owned the N804, and compared it to the Revel F30. I would have to say that I prefered the N804 to the F30, the F30 seemed to tranmit the sound seperatly from its 3 drivers, and the bass seemed disconected from the rest of the range. I have to say that I was ulimatly dis-satisfied with the N804 and returned to Vandersteen 3A Sig. which I find to be a much more musicaly satisfiying speaker.
I have the 803's and the Matrix 802 SIII. In comparison to the 804's, the 803's have a richer more open sound and more apparent bass, not just deeper. Both are brighter than the Matrix series. The 803's definitely need a high current amp for best performance.
I was suprised at sound of 804s. Something had to be wrong. They sounded like a blanket covered them in an a/b with 805s. I bought the 805s and would skip the 804 and go 803 or 802 with bigger room.
there's a lot of better speakers for the money. value is low when its B&W. cheaper & better are maggies & vandys. much better for similar money are merlins. from 50hz to 20k, nothing sounds better than merlins IMHO. (look at some of the frequency response charts. you'll be hard pressed to find flatter response than merlins.) rhyno
Can one judge a speaker's performance by its frequency response alone ? Does a flat response from 50 Hz to 20 KHz imply that it is a good speaker ?
I listened to the N803's and thought they sounded good. Then right after to the N802's and the difference was tremendously better in favor of the N802. The N802's are more revealing and have better bass extension plus the styling makes quite a visual statement.
yes, if it can stay flat throughout the freq range, you've likely (but not necessarily) got a fine speaker on your hand. speakers shoudl not distort. anything other than a linear response is distortion.
I thought that the Joseph Audio rm25si's had a nicer sound than the 804's, and were less expensive too!
I believe part of your decision can be based on room size.
The Nautilus 804's sound awesome in small to medium sized rooms. I think the N803's really come alive in a larger room. They present a much larger soundstage plus you have the added benefit of the better bass extension.
I just finished a yearlong speaker search and ended up with Aerial 7Bs and a CC3 center. B&W 803s had been my first choice and a friend suggested trying the Aerial line. At first listen I still liked B&W better but I would recommend an extended audition. After almost an hour I found the 803s a little fatiguing but the Aerials were still singing. Power is the biggest caveat with both of these speakers. The B&Ws are hungry but the Aerials are starving! I just ordered a Theta Dreadnaught, which seems like a good match. Don’t misunderstand me, the B&Ws are fantastic speakers (especially the 802s if only I could afford them) and you will be happy with them for years.

i have listened to both extensively and on the advise of the sales rep. who has sense become a good friend went with the 804's. they are the most living room friendly speakers i have accountered. very high on the wife appreciation list. when placed accordingly , i used the cardas method and only varied slightly , they sound incredible. the 803's have more bass , yes , but not better sound. the voicing seams more balanced in the 804,s and the slight adjustment in placement was to place the speakers only a couple of inches closer to the rear wall and the bass was as strong as you could ask for without booming and remaining balanced. yes 802's rule if you have the space and amps to let them sing!! i hope this helps. peace and good listening
Psjulian wrote: >802's rule if you have the space and amps to let them sing!!<

I am thinking of getting 802's to replace my 804's. What is your opinion of wattage needed for 802? I'm very happy with 804/Lev. No. 334 right now, but love the 802's. Just a little concerned about power requirements.
This is the real question. Having owned N804's and then N805's and a Rel subwoofer, I can honestly say now that better is out there at a much cheaper price. I now own a VTF-2 HSU Subwoofer and a pair of Soliloquy 5.0s bookshelf speakers. They sound a little more refined and are built at a level the N series cannot compete with. Also note they are 1/4 the price of N805's. Don't get me wrong I liked the Nautilus speakers but in the long run do not consider them a value. Also one of their biggest downfalls (At least for me at home) was that they required serious amplification $$$ wise. Not worth the effort.
Tburk, I've had my N802's for just over a year and they are wonderful. They require a powerful and high quality amp for sure. I initially used them with a Bryston 4B ST which did not have enough power, the Bryston constantly clipped. I then upgraded to a Levinson 334 and that made all the difference in the world - a tremendous match. Thinking more is better, I then went to a 335. There was no benefit - the 334 and 335 sound the same. Your 334 is more than enough for the N802. It just goes to show that you can't go by the rated wattage - the 125 watt 334 kills the 250 watt Bryston. If you do go with the N802, give them plenty of time as they require a very long breakin period to sound their best.
Thanks JP - The 804's are so good in my room with the m/l 334, it's hard to imagine anything better. The bass in my room is plenty, even though it sounded a little weak when i auditioned them at the store. Also there is a good break-in time for the 804 as well, and now after 9 mo. they are the best things I have heard. I am very encouraged to upgrade now - thanks for the ideas. I had the impression that the 334 has what it takes, but was even considering upgrading the amp. I have a couple of months on the trade-in deal.
tburk,if you love the 804's stay with them. in audio as in life bigger is not better. balance rules. if your room is large go bigger, if not use your money on cables. i have a simple style. if you can achieve the sound you love with as few components as possible then do it! i found heaven with the mark levinson #383 intergrated giving the n804's and my ears all they can handle. my next venture is to find a one box cd player without a preamp or volume control. any opinions would be greatly appreciated. i am thinking electrocompaniet emc-1. peace and good listening.
Interesting concept. I have only a No. 39 directly into the 334. It's wonderful, and your idea of simplicity is a good one. Thanks for the ideas. I do have pretty good cables too - Synergy Research - though I have only compared them with one other set. I am considering adding a pre-amp to give me the flexibility of having a tuner and tape.

Synergy is very good. I wouldn't go further. Sounds like you have it together. Unless you want a turn table, there are plenty of great line level pre-amps out there. Trust your ears. I don't know what your budget is, but as your cables state, Synergy is important. Find a good Levinson on audiogon. Peace and good listening. psjulian
I have decided against a turntable, as I have very little vinyl, and with the no. 39, I believe, at least to my ears, the "digital problem" has been largely solved. For the first time, when I first heard the No. 39/No. 334/N804 together, I did not hear "digital" on my cd's. I completely agree with reviewers who say they hear all their old cd's in a new way. I hear the same things on my favorites especially. For now, the decision is between a pre-amp or upgrading speakers to 802. As far a budget goes, I blew that away when I heard Levinson/B&W combination for the first time! The sound was that good (to my ears).
I would also like to add that when I first auditioned Nautilus speakers, I could not detect the difference between the 803 and 804.
tburk, i don't understand your need for a pre-amp. i wish i knew more about the #39 before i purchased my gear. because of some events in my life at the time my only choice was to go with changing my amp. i had the 804's with a c-j intergrated and the sound was lacking. i found a dealer that sells both c-j and levinson. i received a fair trade in for my c-j and i bought the levinson on the advice of my dealer. as i stated, i like to keep things simple. i do not wish to pay for more than i need. so the #39 is more than i need. i don't have much use for added gear such as dac's, etc. the added cable's make for areas of sound loss even with the best of them. so my advice to you is to enjoy the music. you have some of the best sound money can buy. me, i have a good cd player with a great amp and great speakers, silver interconnects and silver and copper speaker wire. i wish levinson made just a cd player. no built in pre-amp, no volume control, and no external dac. so my search for a great one box cd player goes on. not sure about sacd. peace and good listening.
I've owned the N802s for about a year now; driven by B&K 250wpc monoblocks (about $1,500 per). They sound Great! The B&Ks have high peak current to handle the Home Theater demands of strong bass peak requirements. In either normal or somewhat over-the-top listening 250wpc, bi-wired, is all that is necessary to deliver clear, authoritative music. At some point, I'll go for more wattage (probably a Bryston 4B-ST, with each channel bi-amping the N802s), but I don't need it in my current listening environs.

I do recommend getting a sub for HT (I have the B&W ASW4000, and it will chill you).

For those trying to assess N802s vs. N803s vs. N804s, it is a matter of bank account: you get progressively more than what you pay. When I go full 7.1, the 7 will be N802s: simply, a magnificent speaker.