B&W's objective opinions lean or accurate


I have a few posts and my system is evolving with the addition of a McCormack DNA225 for the fronts (which will be upgraded by Smc), McCormack HT5 for the center and surrounds, B&W N804 - scm's - and center, McCormack UDP1 Deluxe disc, Denon 3800 Blue Ray, etc. The system is evolving and can be changed as time progresses.

I have also read many threads on amps and B&W's. I understand there are very basic philosophical differences between tube system and ss system orientations and desires. But what I am struggling with is the B&W's and their signature sound. I am thinking of upgrading and do not want to regret making a narrow decision as my system evolves.

Assuming that the components powering them are acceptable, are the B&W's simply too lean and bright or are they accurate? As some have said, in a concert the sound is bright which is true. Also there is the fact that we personally listen to a wide variety of types of music so I think that we need a versitile speaker. I like the N804's but want more depth. I do like detail, soundstage, seperation of the instruments and vocals, and do not tend towards a dark sound or smooth if it means the loss of the individual instruments and seperation.

The limitations include this is a hobby with a budget and I can not hear all the brands. Even in S Cal there are limited comparison possibilities at showrooms who only want to push their favotites. I was already taken by that process and won't even mention the older stuff I bought. Here the stores push B&W, Sonus, Focal, etc. If you own anything over 3 years old, they want you to trade in. So I now buy used quality instead.

So, if you were in my position and in the cost range up to the pricepoint of a used B&W 802D, what would you reccomend as speakers in your opinion and why? In that price range there would seem to be many options.

I appreciate any feedback and understand this is very subjective and likely B&W's are overdiscussed in the threads. I really am still learning and enjoy getting the suggestions of different viewpoints and the knowledge of serious enthusiasts who have already gone through this.

Thanks again, sorry for being so wordy.

still_learning
still_learning
If you consider 802D why not give them a home audition? I have chosen my 802D in a direct home comparison to Thiel 3.7 and Focal Diva Be. It is all up to personal tastes, but I find 802D neither lean nor bright. Actually, to make them a bit leaner and tighter on bass I switched all cables to Shunyata.
I am not going to directly address your question, thinking it better to comment about other issues raised by your thread.

If possible (and if I were you, I would try very hard to expand the meaning of "possible"), you should get your speakers farther off the wall than 12" to 18". Assuming that they will be closer to the wall than ideal, you should avoid any speaker that is rear ported.

You definitely do not want to use 804's in a room that large - they are for medium to small rooms unless the only thing you listen to is chamber music.

You did your homework (which is refreshing- most people don't) and know that much has been written about B&W speakers. My personal opinion of them is that they are of average sound quality, but can be made to sound good by experienced set-up people. Among high volume-production speakers, I believe that the build, parts and sound quality of, say, Focal, Dynaudio and Revel are better (but sound quality is of course somewhat subjective). That said, I could see myself putting together a rock 'n roll system around the 801N, which, assuming you have the big room it needs and can afford to bi-amp, impresses it its own way. My own strong preference is for specialty (i.e., not mass-market) manufacturers like Rockport, Verity, Evolution Acoustics, Magico, etc., but that doesn't help you because they don't offer much in your price range.

Worldwide, there are an enormous number of speaker manufacturers - many hundreds - and a huge selection of choices in what appears to be your price range. You will receive dozens of recommendations in response to your question, and good advice and bad. If I were you, I would call Steve McCormack to try to draw him out on what brands of speakers he likes with your amp, given the types of music you tend to listen to, your other equipment and your room (some manufacturers refuse to endorse brands due to commercial considerations, but most will).
With the McCormack electronics and your interest in a more honest and musical sound, I would look at a system built around the Vandersteen 3A.
I live in California too and know that B&Ws are a very popular and easy to locate brand here. Even three audio stores near me cary the brand and many in the SF Bay Area. I have never owned B&W, but have heard them allot over the years and was never impressed. I have listened in systems of all price levels from monster amps from Krell and Levenson to mid-fi Adcom. I have never heard one good audition. My exp. is that they were very bassy and had a weak thick untamed midrange. Not very musical. (I own SoundLab speakers for reference). Sorry I can't give a good review, but I am honest and feel that almost any other brand will be more enjoyable.