Bower and Wilkins and its relationship with Classe and Rotel


Just learned recently that B&W own's Classe and Rotel. Being that their affiliated in some way do you think B&W sounds best when coupled with the two brands?
macandtosh
that’s right - Classe became part of B&W in 2001 while ROTEL became part of B&W back in 1981. Just FYI - ROTEL is a Taiwanese brand. It was founded in Taiwan in 1957 & the founder soon after that moved to Japan.
I’ve not heard B&W + ROTEL but I’ve heard B&W + Classe at the RMAF shows & I can say that the B&W sound horrible with Classe. The sound is etched, screechy, bright, brittle, metallic. B&W is a very hard speaker to like to begin with & pairing it with a Classe amp was a bad idea in my opinion.
I used to own a B&W pair & drove it with a Symphonic Line power amp & the sonics were pretty good. I also had a friend own a 802N & 802D pair & he also drove it with a Symphonic Line power amp to very good effect. The issue w/ B&W is that if you pair it w/ the wrong sort of amp, the sonics can degrade rapidly.
There is much written about B&W & its sonics - just troll the Audiogon archives & you will find many answers to your question. ;-)
No, I do not think so. The odds are 50/50  that any other particular component/set of components will sound superior in comparison, given that you are not working against your purposes in selecting an amp which is appropriate to the application. The odds are strongly in favor of some brands/components outperforming these others, and vice versa. That's the nature of the game; it's whether you can find the pairings which are superior to your ears that counts.

Having said that, I would presume one could theoretically build a fine rig with the Classe products and B&W. But anyone who wishes to convince you that these are beyond doubt the best pairing is either ignorant or selling you something - unless, perhaps, they have tried half a dozen to one dozen different amps and found these superior. Then they may have a basis for suggesting the combo is preferable.  It is not uncommon for products which are supposed to have high synergy to be outperformed by a different mix of gear. Look more for absolute sound quality in a component and less for brand affiliation. 

This is not to diminish either of those brands; you must assess whether their sonic character and price is appropriate to your needs. If those are the brand of speakers you like, try to hear as many of those speakers with as many different amps as you can. 
Bombaywalla
B&W is a very hard speaker to like to begin with & pairing it with a Classe amp was a bad idea in my opinion.

@ bombaywalla

They can be if not set up right. This is after all about setup and the sum of all the parts. Unfortunately the forums never seem to discuss the basics of how a certain brand of speaker is designed, and room interactions. For example some do not realize that B&W 800 series speakers are voiced in an anechoic chamber.

Click here

http://blog.bowers-wilkins.com/sound-lab/tools-of-the-trade-the-anechoic-chamber/

and their drivers are voiced to be aligned (come into focus together) after a specific distance.

For example again;

The 802d series speakers (very popular in homes and recording studios), you need to be sitting at least 9 feet 10 inches away for their drivers to be aligned. (coherent)

Bombaywalla your AudioGon moniker shows the maxwell tape guy listening to speakers a few feet away. This is not possible with B&W 800 series. :^) Well that’s not right. You can do it. But it is not what these speakers were designed for. So you can make something work, or you can make something work well.

How many dealers tell customers this ^^^ information. or are they even aware of it, as it is not clear in the owners manual. 

@ OP macandtosh

+1 to what DS said about different brand amplifiers.

thanks for your post ct0517.

@ bombaywalla

They can be if not set up right. This is after all about setup and the sum of all the parts.
i’m afraid that I don’t fully agree. if a piece of audio gear is correctly designed it’s sensitivity to the other components is much reduced to the point where that particular piece of audio gear sounds good in virtually every setup. No doubt, it sounds better & better as the quality of accompanying audio gear improves.
Both my setup & my friends was good/correct - my listening position is 3m & my friend’s was more. I did not measure but it looked like his chair was further back than mine.

How many dealers tell customers this ^^^ information. or are they even aware of it ?
true! I did a lot of reading, talking to industry manuf, visits to friends’ homes & of course a lot of positioning of the speaker & my chair in my room. At that time my friend used to own a TacT preamp unit & I had him measure my room so that I could treat it accordingly.

Bombaywalla your AudioGon moniker shows the maxwell tape guy listening to speakers a few feet away. This is not possible with B&W 800 series. :^)
nice one!! :-) LOL! you were not supposed to catch that (rookie) mistake, ct0517!! ;-)

The B&W speakers I had were inherently flawed by design. I wrote a lot about this on AudioAsylum back in the day. There was another B&W owner in New Zealand at that time who owned a B&W 801 (if my memory serves me correctly) who also discovered the same flaw as I did) & we exchanged quite a few posts on several related threads. You can troll the Speaker Asylum - the threads are still there the last time I checked.

 I had a much more favorable view of the older B&W Matrix speakers that I listened to in the mid-1990s. I liked that sound much more - it had some soul to it. I also believe that those Matrix series speakers were designed when John Bowers himself was still alive & perhaps the last rev of speaker before his passing.
I’ve heard them recently & always make it a point to hear them at shows (just because that’s the only place i can hear them; they’ll never be entering my house again! ;-) ) or a friend’s place, etc. The sonics I hear tells me that nothing has changed in their speaker design & I hear the same flaws I did back then.That’s OK with me - just because I don’t care for this brand doesn’t mean they are going to change OR that others will not like them. I just move along & find something else - that’s just the way it is in audio. There's enough derogatory material on this brand to fill a tome & that tells me that I'm not off-base in my comments. If you like them - great! I'm happy for you. Buy them & enjoy your music thru them....

........oh boy here we go again!  Another love/hate B&W thread.....

I've heard them sound quite good and at other times, they left me scratching my head.  I had B&W 805s with an Arcam integrated and Nina Simone was in the living room with me singing.  I'm no huge fan, but why are they always being trashed?  Yes, I'll take Thiel, Proac or Vandersteen any day for my listening preferences, but when I think of classical or big scale orchestral, I think of B&W.  Obviously, YMMV......

1+ douglas_schroeder

All high end components, speakers, cables requires careful pairing and fine tuning. That's how you achieve best possible 'synergy' between components. 

I achieved much better results by pairing my 800D2 with Modwright SS amps and tube preamp over all Classe processor / amp components. By no means Classe sounded bad with 800D2's but it didn't sound as magical as Mod's tube and SS combo.  

The demos at audio shows are hit or miss in a 20x20 room. I wouldn't bash any well regarded brand based on just one listening session :-)
@douglas_schroeder  

"Look more for absolute sound quality in a component and less for brand affiliation."

Nicely put...

Bombaywalla

hmmm....

B&W could be short for Bombay-walla......   8^)
could not resist...

Re: your comments on John Bowers and Matrix - I have owned all the matrix models at one time, and a pair of 801 matrix s3 since '94. They are now stored for my son. Matrix 800 replaced them. So I have a strong formed opinion on this topic, and it is reflected in my virtual system.

With that.

I have different speaker designs in the house. I was eventually able to make them all work for me. Meaning could live with each one.
Each come with Pros and Cons but with time, if one is not a frequent flyer audiophile, you can learn their general properties, some changes here and there and you are on your way. But this thread is about Rotel and Classe with B&W.

I have found that audiophiles, and especially audiophile engineers always like to discuss the gear aspect. And rightly so, as the gear can make or break the music coming from a speaker. But I can confidently say at this point, with speaker brands that have been voiced in an anechoic room. Regardless of the gear being used -  that this holds true.
   
https://community.klipsch.com/uploads/monthly_10_2013/post-10590-13819475350236.jpg

So lets not forget the room.

Some fun with my coffee this morning.
Happy listening

yeah, yeah, yeah!
i've not forgotten the room. I didn't form an opinion after 1 listen at a show, etc, etc....

ct0517 - looked at your system. extensive notes by yourself & others. tried to look for your very formed opinion on the B&W Matrix speakers but there was too much to wade thru. Can you post a link? I'd like to read what your very formed opinion is. Thanks. 
@lalitk you made mention of modwright products.Do you have any knowledge of their mods on the Oppo Blue ray player?

His gear seemed kinda pricey was just wondering if product is really that great
@macandtosh, I don't have any experience with Oppo mods. There are lots of thread and good reviews out there on Oppo mods from Modwright and Examplar. 

@bombaywalla, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I have owned wide variety of Delta series amps in last 10 years and anyone out there will concur with me that their sound is no where near etched, screechy, bright, brittle or metallic. 

Classe amps are one of the most neutral sounding amps and mate quite well with B&W speakers.  

Ask the folks at famed Abbey Road studios :-)

Bombaywalla

.....there was too much to wade thru. Can you post a link?


BW

The Readers Digest version is available. On virtual system click on toggle details beside Components. Read the summaries for;

  • Matrix 800
  • 801 Active Monitors-Currently Stored
  • 800 Series Bass Alignment Filter / Equalizer

Spend some time on the picture that shows the graph results of the Bass Alignment Filter on the 801 matrix. This was obtained from B&W UK. Some truths are revealed. Would be happy to discuss this more here as this directly affects amplification; or come say Hi on my system thread.

If the info found in the above entries is of interest, there is much more detailed information, on which the opinions were formed. But you will need to read through the posts :^) Unfortunately the AudioGon virtual system posts themselves can not be linked yet with the new system.

I am kind of intimidated to go there myself - read through my past posts. Audiophilia Nervosa can be a scary thing. I do know, if my wife discovers my moniker and reads through. I think I am in big doo doo. She will gain too much leverage.

Leave you with a thought. Everyone here knows B&W is one of the most well known, discussed brands in the Audio business. And this is why there is such a love/hate thing going on - like other brands in this position. Now whenever a regular person, not an audiophile, comes over and sees the funny looking tall speakers, and I tell them they are made by B&W.

10 out of 10 non-audiophiles; the response back is always the same.

"Oh, I didn’t know BMW made speakers"


Cheers
@ct0517 

Oh, I didn’t know BMW made speakers" 

lmao!

"Oh, I didn’t know BMW made speakers"
funny! my dad said that when I showed him DM604S2 back then (I was driving a BMW also back then so i'm sure he had that auto brand in his mind).... ;-)



ct0517,
interesting read re. the B&W BAF.
I read the Ken Rockwell dissertation on the BAF & I believe there’s a typo in Fig 6 - 11 (that seems to be verified as one scrolls lower to the Rohde & Schwarz plots). The freq range (along x-axis) for Fig 6-11 have a "kHz" - i think that’s wrong. The "k" in the "kHz" needs to be removed i.e. the frequency range should be just "Hz". You look at the freq numbers as 50KHz, 100KHz & this is a bass alignment filter - it makes no sense at all. Human beings don’t hear beyond 20KHz + what kind of bass operates in the kilo Hertz range??
Anyway, once you get past this I see the BAF as a subsonic filter (which is also clearly mentioned in the B&W BAF manual) & by providing 6dB peaking in the BAF module B&W is able to extend the bass response of the speaker down to the deep bass region (20-40Hz). Yeah, I can relate to woofers flapping due to TT rumble - I’ve seen that before.
Many Japanese integrated & receiver amps from the 1970s, 1980s also had a subsonic filter switch (like my Yamaha CA-2010) which is a high-pass filter with a -3dB at 15Hz if I remember the contents of its manual correctly.
Yeah, I can see why the B&W Matrix speakers became "efficient" (altho I would not have used that term specifically) by addition of the BAF - the impedance in the deep bass region was increased to 6 Ohms (like the rest of the freq response) meaning that the power amp now can dump current into a large impedance to produce bass thereby taxing it less & like you said opening up the choices of power amps to drive such a large speaker. People who did not use this BAF had to find power amps that were capable of high current into lower impedances implying very expensive & heavier power amps.
The BAF is a gimmick for a speaker whose designer could not design it correctly in the 1st place & had to add a bass extension/alignment filter to fix a flawed initial design.
Ken Rockwell writes that the newer Nautilus speakers do not use this BAF (as it seems to have confused the public since many speakers were bought w/o the BAF + we all have seen several BAFs take a life of their own on eBay when they really have been tied to a particular B&W Matrix speaker model) & have bloated bass. He is very accurate in that statement - I 2nd it from all my listening experiences & my ownership. 


@bombaywalla, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I have owned wide variety of Delta series amps in last 10 years and anyone out there will concur with me that their sound is no where near etched, screechy, bright, brittle or metallic.

Classe amps are one of the most neutral sounding amps and mate quite well with B&W speakers.

Ask the folks at famed Abbey Road studios :-)
it is true that we have very different experiences w/ Classe-B&W. Classe amps from the Dave Reich era (the ones that have DR in their model number) were some of the best & are still prized today. Once Dave Reich left (if I remember correctly he went to Theta Digital?), I believe that Classe amps become quite ho-hum for 2-channel. 
They seem to be going gangbusters for HT tho'....

The good folks at Abbey Road Studios - for monitoring the requirements are quite different vs. home audio. And, for studio monitoring the big B&W speakers makes a lot more sense.  
"Oh, I didn’t know BMW made speakers"

@ct0517, I know at least dozen folks who had the same response. Heck, I have guys come to my home and tried to grab the tubular tweeter thinking it's a microphone for karaoke :-)

I am hoping for mass awareness now that BestBuy start stocking 800 series speakers.

Happy Listening! 


Lalitk

no kidding. My dumb a-- brother in law showed up last month and tried to yank the tweeter housing off my new 803s!



To the OP, I was not impressed with Classe and B&W. Just because they are owned by the same company does not guarantee perfection.  I have found Luxman to be extremely compatible with B&W and there is a very large contingent of McIntosh owners who swear by B&W.   

As with everything in this hobby, there are so many variables.  Try different brands of amplificaton out if you like the B&W sound. 

ct0517, 
i was in a bit of a hurry this morning when I posted my comments on the B&W BAF (had to get to the gym for some stress relief! ;-) ). Anyway, a couple of more comments on the B&W BAF

* Ken Rockwell's dissertation says that w/ the B&W BAF the overall response is 6th order (I'm hoping in the bass region because he did not clarify)....
The Bessel alignment also has the advantage that adding a very simple second-order electrical filter (this equalizer) allows one to create a completely different kind of alignment, a sixth-order Butterworth alignment, whose frequency response is also flat, and extends and extra half-octave deeper in the bass.
i looked at the freq plot that B&W Europe sent you & it does not look 6th order by any stretch of the imagination. If it's 6th order then i'm expecting to see a 36dB/octave roll-off in the deep bass region. I don't see such a steep roll-of. Take a look yourself - the roll off is in the 10dB region at best. 
Another observation - there is a dotted line that says "with filter" & a 2nd dotted line that says "without filter". what is the solid line in the bass region that seems to stop around 50Hz? The dotted line "without filter" is not on top of the solid line which i believe is the speaker freq response. How did B&W Europe get that "without filter" dotted line that is completely mismatched to the speaker's frequency response solid line? It's not making any sense to me.....

* Ken Rockwell's dissertation says & you have cut & pasted the same text verbatim on your system page ....

Without this equalizer, the naked B&W Matrix speakers are a vented fourth-order design, specifically in a Bessel alignment. "Fourth-order" is an engineering term that refers to all vented and passive-radiator speakers; sealed boxes are "second order."

this is not a true statement. When I owned a pair of Green Mountain Audio C1.5i floor-stander 3-way speakers the bass box was sealed & was 1st order both electrically & acoustically. There's nothing that says that a sealed box must be 2nd order. You can make it any order you like if the speaker designer knows what he/she is doing.

The B&W BAF is really a very simple concept & elementary filter design - put a 6dB peak at the speaker's bass resonant freq such that the bass driver's droop in freq response is compensated by a boost by the 6dB peak such that the combination's freq response is flat. They chose a 2nd order Bessel - good choice since Bessel filters have maximally flat group delay & you need this to ensure good quality bass, no boomy bass.
  
But the fundamental question still arises - why was a BAF required? The answer to that is - the bass drivers used in the Matrix series speakers were simply not up to the task of reproducing deep bass (20-40Hz). For a speaker manuf that makes all of its own drivers or has them contract manuf by giving the 3rd party tightly controlled driver specs, this is an inherent flaw in the design & the BAF is a band-aid for the speaker. The correct thing to have done back then was to invent a bass driver that was linear into the sub-sonic region so that it natively could reproduce deep bass. Instead B&W used whatever bass driver they had in stock & made users buy the BAF. 
Ken Rockwell's dissertation clearly says that in later years B&W dropped the BAF & the new N, S, D series speakers all have bloated/boomy bass. B&W has still not been able to design the correct bass driver for their speakers!!! wow! what in the world does that say for this manuf?? 

  

I have had 3 amps on my BW 802D2.  

Cary 211FE
Classe M600
Boulder 2060

and while it sounds great with the Classe m600, it sounds best with the Boulder.
B&W, Classe' / Rotel and Transparent cabling are all sonic matches for one another. Happy Listening!
Bombaywalla - The BAF is a gimmick for a speaker whose designer could not design it correctly in the 1st place & had to add a bass extension/alignment filter to fix a flawed initial design.


BW
You can call it a Gimmick - gizmo - device - equalizer - booster - filter .... we can call it whatever we want. Do we know how many gimmicks are used to bring that CD, Download, or LP to us to buy ? Dan D’Agostino is a highly respected amplifier designer/builder. He cared enough about it (B&W BAF) that he had KRELL build a B&W BAF version that he used with his reference at the time Matrix 800’s in his own living room.

http://hansvt.home.xs4all.nl/pdf/brochures/baf.pdf

Now I value those opinions that come from direct ownership with details about the setup. This way one can determine if the opinion applies to them or not. Do you have this BAF experience with an 800 series speaker in your room ? I have been through 3 different BAF’s within a 22 ? year period.

This is a topic for another thread but let’s understand something. For a speaker to have full bass extension at least two things are required. 1) The design itself needs to be capable and 2) the room it is placed in needs to be able to support the bass waves. You wonder why an Audiophile spends $$$$$ on an "advertised" flagship full range speaker; and then complains about bass, and needs to be bring in subwoofers?

The Matrix 800 model itself does not need the BAF. They are full range without it. But what the BAF does is ensure a fuller range for the entire 800 Matrix Series line, especially if the room doesn’t support it. Like your average living room. This was also in an era when 2 channel was the focus and subwoofers not so prevalent as today. On the 801m without BAF, things start dropping off quickly around 40-50 hz. So I don’t see this as a Gimmick. I see it as Genius. I think most agree as they became the No. 1 monitor.

The new D3’s are showing full range specs again. But even though they may "hit" the low notes, I can’t see them pressurizing the room due to their small size, again depending on the size of the room. I am assuming subwoofers will be needed for full range. Maybe an owner can chime in; or since Douglas Schroeder is on this thread maybe he can snatch a pair for review and let us know. :^)


lalitk
Heck, I have guys come to my home and tried to grab the tubular tweeter thinking it’s a microphone for karaoke :-)


Funny !

As long as they don’t try to sing Adele’s - Hello.