B&W 'New' 800 Series

I've reviewed the TAS Factory Tour and the 802 D3 details and am impressed with all improvements; and the common sense used.
I also find the new styling very intelligent related to dispersion. Comments?
I think the changes look great and I want to hear them. I wish they would have gotten away from the FTS midrange. I know they changed the material but a more traditional driver would interest me more. I found the 802 Di to be a little fatiguing and blamed the upper mids.
I tend to agree James, although I don't know anything about the new unit/material. I find all other changes to be intelligently conceived; not genius, but the genius outcome from consistent application of basics. Hopefully this driver is similar. That said, I don't think one can argue with beryllium; but that might have meant rethinking the diamond tweeter. I think the cabinet design is definitely as good as if not better than any other I've seen. I find YG and Magico crude-and of course they don't really address the issue of the large speakers on reflections. It surprises me that they both basically use boxes; so old fashioned. B&W's Nautilus is an epitome of good design in a number of ways I find.
The midrange only sounds aggressive with poor equipment or cable matching. I have heard the B&W 's sound really bad and out of this world beautiful! So much can go wrong before the speakers get their shot!
The speaker is not fatiguing, it is monitor revealing...

Wire, wire, wire...PERIOD

Use inferior wire in Wilson WATTS and your ears will bleed.
I love the looks as well. The implementation of the bass drivers clear of the cabinet plus the taper at the cabinet front edge is certainly different. The aluminum spine follows some other manufacturers like Sonus Faber but makes sense for structure and rigidity.
I'd love an audition but there are no dealers in AZ. The price is beyond what I'd like to spend, but then again!
I use the original N802 for my summer speakers and don't find them bright with a matching amp and cable install. I use both solid state and tube amps with this speaker. Right now it's the VAC tube amp using the 4 ohm tap.
I remember when I owned Wilson 6's and reviewers said they were bright sounding....not with TRANSPARENT cables!
I agree Dave and Aintitgr8. The entire system is before the speakers get their chance. I have never found B&W speakers harsh,bright or fatiguing; but I have heard them reveal the weakness in the system that was driving them; in that case it was harshness from a noisy ac line. And of course it was at a relatively high end dealer. I felt like informing them about their noisy power supply but didn't want to insult.
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Bo1972, if I thought it was a simple typo, I wouldn't post a correction but since you did it multiple times I'm thinking the help is needed...

The proper term is "toe-in", not "tow-in". "Tow-in" is what you get when your car breaks down on the freeway, and you call someone with a tow-truck. They give you a tow-in to the service station. Speakers get toed-in. Small difference, I know, but big difference in meaning.

As for the OP, my local Magnolia finally got the D3 series in, so I'm going to try and get over there for a listen, just out of curiosity and to see what all the chatter is about. From pictures, I don't dislike the new design.

The magnitude of the price increase, however, gives me pause. It's either ballsy, or crazy, and in a year or so we'll know with hindsight which one.
I did not like the new look either.  Like the last post, the Marlan head is not proportionate with the main cabinet.  And that's was the case with 802D2.  The head was over the top with its tail sticking out of the cabinet.  Atleast with new series, they managed to blend the Marland head with the rear metal plate, which is quite sexy IMHO. 

I personally liked the fuller sound and looks of 800D2 so I am holding my breath to see what they do with 800D3 next year.  

For now, I am very content to live with my 800D2's.  

I cannot tell you how often dealers are doing demonstrations with speakers that are not even close to being broken in, but it is too often. The 800S in my experience needs around 800 hours to start sounding their best.

Pat McGinty of Meadowlark Audio told me how to cut break in time in about half or less. If I am remembering correctly you point the speakers at each other and wire the polarity of one backwards so there is a push pull effect between the two.

Perhaps someone here knows of the trick and can correctly say how it's supposed to be done?

Point being the B&W's sound really edgy and tight before they are well broken in. I used to deal with quite a few guys who wanted to trade these in on Meadowlark Blue Herons and heron 2's, I talked most of them into trying a wire upgrade that they were very happy with, but I did get two sets of 800S's and loved them. I liked the Blue Herons as well or better and they were priced at $6000 less.

These speakers come onto the used market being hundreds of hours under the hours needed to sound good. I've always considered the price someone who is not happy with the 800S is willing to sell speakers they are not happy with to be one of the great deals on an excellent set of speakers. I've seen them as low as $6000/$8000 here on Audiogon.
I'm not sure what Bo1972 is talking about. The 803 D3s don't fit his descriptions of the 802 D3 sound at all. I doubt they are that different with only 1" difference in driver size on the bass and mid-range drivers. These are the best sounding speakers I've heard in these price ranges (period!). The attack and decay of notes are accurate. The separation between instruments and notes is pristine. The soundstage is very large and immersive. Human voice is incredibly lifelike. When listening to acoustic material it feels like the musicians are in the room with me!

The 803 D3 could use a little more oomph at the sub hearing threshold frequencies, but otherwise the most accurate speaker I've ever heard.

Maybe the demo Bo1972 heard was set up piss poorly, or he is just trolling B&W. Both scenarios are pretty common around here apparently.
Aintitgr8 - The break-in process you describe is commonly used, but it does not cut down on the time required. The speakers are aimed towards each other in close proximity and one of them is wired in reverse polarity (+ and - connections reversed). The benefit is that much of their sound output is cancelled (actually the mono portion of the signal only), so you can run them at higher volumes without their output being so loud due to the cancellation effect.
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Heard the 800series in the recently Thailand TAV show, sounded to be bright and harsh, however the vocal was lifelike resemblance, speakers were paired with the Classe electronics...
and room beside the B&W, the Amphion Argon1 was paired with the Accuphase integrate, sounded natural and smooth sounding and that was the comment almost from eveyone coming for B&W room, however agree with above all on the synergy with rest of the system is important before we start making the conclusions...
I have the 802D2's...I will go to my local dealer and see what's up with the new voicing.
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Sure....if emotion or tone take a back seat to detail however, then I will be dissapointed.
I swear some of the people who post here are heavily dosed on some combination of heavy drugs, possibly hallucinogenics....
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@Jkalman, if the number of pharmaceutical ads on TV these days is any indication, I'd say you're right!

All kidding aside, according to the CDC more than 20% of all Americans is on 3 different prescriptions, and more than 10% is on at least 5. That's scary.

Ok...back to enjoyable speaker talk...
Hello Bo1972,

I was on the very same presentation of the B&W 802 D3 last weekend and I was also wondering why it sounds so bad, very disappointing.
Room was indeed not the best.
Will listen to 803D3 next week, so hopefully that will be more satisfying as this event.
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If there was a roughness to the sound at your sessions it came from equipment, or set up, or the power supply ahead of the speakers. I once heard B&W's sound edgy--but it was the fault of the ac power, which I am sensitive too. The interesting thing is it's only possible to identify a poor ac power source when the balance of the equipment is good and the speakers are very revealing. These new B&W speakers are, like other excellent speakers, very refined. I feel lucky to have the chance to appreciate what modern technology is doing for us.
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I love the new looks - the gray mid, the smaller head, the woofers stand off.
Way more appealing than past gen.
Hi Bo1972,

Yes, your description of the sound matched my thoughts largely and this presentation indeed was not the best promotion for B&W.

Factors involved as room influence, setup, breakin, elctronics used and others could not be ignored however, and apparently (some of) these factors had a negative impact on the sound.

So new chances next week when I am going to listen to 803D3 in a totally other setup and place...

Did not found them that ugly though.
I compared the 802D2 vs 803D3 head to head on full mcintosh system. Neither had the upper hand in terms of physical positioning in the room.

I thought the new D3 series was better overall, possibly 25% better per my Dad who was in the room with me and is not an audiophile.

1. Denser vocals, denser and more palpable images.
2. Disappears readily... it was really spooky how the speaker does not seem to speak for itself.
3. Less hash and less grain. I own the 802D2 and I am very familiar with the sound... the new 803D3 sounds less colored and more natural.
4. There is less etch to the sound.... more round and more natural IMO.

WIhtout a doubt, the D3 is better.

I think enough to justify the change in price and I am sure to buy one shortly.
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In case any of you are local and want to hear the new series and the Nautilus Electronic Concepts in North NJ is having an event this month.

Here is the link to sign up.

The already have the new 803DS and 804D3 for demo.

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Hi Bo1972,

On the same show last weekend I did not like Kef and Monitor Audio either, so a shootout with B&W should be interesting.
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Didn't get to do a proper audition of the 802D3's but I did notice how much skinnier they are and how thin the support base is. Also, the woodwork looked horrible...like plastic!! If I were going by aesthetics alone I would say not very enticing.
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Not with my music or rig that I'm familiar with...will return, perhaps tomorrow! My spidy senses tell me that B&W has made an attempt to improve spec's while reducing costs in non-critical areas. It is not what I would consider an all out assault on music reproduction, which is kinda what I would expect for $22k.
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Hey, Bo: I have been following many of your different posts for a long time, and I think I know where you are coming from regarding realistic imaging and soundstage. I wanted to ask your thoughts on what I will call 'placement of stage'- in other words: forward, middle, rear. It varies by recording and system, but what do you consider best/most realistic reproduction? And what are the limiting factors?

Specifically, my system does a great job reproducing stage width and depth, with music swirling around the speakers, just behind them, as well as going back to a perceived 20 feet (percussion in orchestra). My system does not have much of a forward stage at all. As it happens, I like that, but I am always placed in row 12 and almost never in row 1.

Can you offer your opinions and experiences about how your top quality systems create the 'placement of stage'.- Thanks
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Thanks Bo. My question has nothing to do with B&W or any manufacturer of equipment. I was really trying to focus on front to back soundstage, within the realm of your experience with the 'best' results. Just wondering if I may be missing out on some phenomenon you have mastered. But your reply has helped in other areas too. Obtaining 1M imaging beyond the sides of speakers is normal for me, even 1.3M. But that is the limit of my system, but I only use vinyl and Redbook CD. Your 2M is exceptional with your new recording methods.

Let's put aside the other details for a moment. I accept your accomplishments and give you ample credit for all. It sounds like you have similar imaging to my system around and behind your speakers. I share your demand for realistic intimacy and proper scale of instruments/voices. In your best systems, how much soundstage do you achieve in front of your speakers? I am getting only about 0.5M.

One day I will list photos of my room and rig. My room is 10M x 9M x 3.5M. Seating position is 5.5M from face of speakers. Having true intimacy in that seating position is difficult, although my system does a nice job. My limiting factor is likely that my speakers are only 2.0M apart to the centers. I would love to widen them, but it will not work with my room setup (and WAF).

So, how much image do you generally achieve (or expect) in front of your speakers? Do you achieve a strong forward image in addition to your mid and rear image? What advice can you give for a rather large room and seating position as far back as mine?

Thanks from Florida
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Bo, I find it hard to follow your discourse. Is English a second language for you?
That last of 'sharpness' must be hard on you Boo. We all know instruments are so 'sharp'.
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