Bowers and Wilkerson B&W 802 D3: an impolite Brit?


I heard the new Bowers and Wilkerson 802 D3 today, only the second time they have been heard in public, at an L.A. Audio society event. They have a very large soundstage, and are exceptionally dynamic. The bass is not as good as Magico for example, because of the ported design, but is nonetheless quite good. Detail is excellent, perhaps to a fault. What I don't like about them is that they are quite forward, an anomaly among British speakers. I was experiencing listening fatigue after an hour.I don't know if that is the diamond tweeter, or simply how the speaker/crossover is voiced. Tone of the speakers is not quite real. Being this forward and somewhat more detailed than real life, sells well, but does not please as years and decades go by in my opinion.
FWIW, my mom still has a series 802 that I still find pleasing, and neither too forward or polite, with sealed woofer and bextrene midrange.
Not too sound like sour grapes, it is fabulous pop/rock and home theater speaker, and worth its price given the economy of scale B & W possesses and 8 year redesign effort by a talented team with huge technical resources...but the tone thing is critical for jazz/classical/acoustic instrument lovers. I don't think it's the right choice for them. I am a high quality 2 way stand mount plus subwoofer kind of guy.
(Harbeth Compact 7 ES3 with REL Strata III sub)
Your thoughts?

Tom
tompoodie
I have found that every B & W speaker I have auditioned over the past few years came across as bright, edgy and very fatiguing.
B&W speakers never had bass bellow 50hz. It's just another Bose or JBL where you can find one or two models that are actually OK.
Title of my post should be Bowers and Wilkins...so used to just calling them B & W. Oops.
"10-12-15: Tompoodie
Title of my post should be Bowers and Wilkins...so used to just calling them B & W. Oops."

They still suck either way.
Unfortunately, Tom, I think Bowers and Wilkins or B&W (whatever the name) has followwed the path of KEF, Rogers, and possibly a few other traditional British speakers, and are/have been playing to the America consumer ears of bright, possibly harsh sound. I owned a pair B&W Matrix3 MKII in 1988, and there were times I thought the top end sounded strident....and at the time I had a Conrad Johnson tube PV-8 pre-amp.

I loved those speaker, but after a while could not endure their sound. No, they were neither defective, nor underpowered; even though, I was a journey salesman in a high end audio store, and was able to buy a system for almost half off.

I think much of the quandary over excellent sound quality (call it euphonic, musical, engaging, easy to listen to) lies with the slow and anemic improvement in CD technology since 1985. Why, I have no idea!! If you spent $6000 to $10,000 beginning in early 1990's you probably got better sound. I had a Sonographe Beta 1 for years before buying a Rega Apollo. Both had their faults and limitations However, I worked to find a used mint Ayre CX 7E mp 2 (which sells new for $3700) I finally bought a used mint one on AG for $1750 and had it fully upgraded for $300. Good Deal!! I have to say it destroys every CD player I have heard in last 10 years under $7000.

So, crappy quality CD's together with the big software producers's "promise" of lower prices and better recorded CD and alternative formats sustained this venue. Whether this happened serendipitously or by corporate conspiracy to keep basically shit software in stores until along came the magic DAC, followed by computer audio, Music Servers, and the entire inventory of new equipment for a new "Golden Age Of Sound"...and of course sales of a variety of software sources, and related hardware to accommodate this new era.

My point is: when several venerable British companies saw that the warm smoky mellow sound and weak bass of their speakers was not cutting it any more, many changed their design and marketing strategies to produce a "JBL type" speaker sound to accommodate much of the lucrative North America market; these developments, unfortunately. collided, or intersected with the inertia of CD manufacturers to improve the sound of players without glare, edge, a shitload of digital artifacts. Rega and few other tried their best, but the truth lay in spotty amd inconsistent recording quality of CD's. Therefore, you and I and others are in a dilemma as what to do regarding speakers whether floor standing behemoths, or bookshelf to medium size monitors

I just sold my excellent floorstanders because I am tired of having broken balls and a broken back lugging them around, and trying to locate the ideal "sweet spot" in my 12 X15 room. Interestingly, I am looking for a high quality monitor to carrying most of the load of a classic rock, and jazz fusion CD collection. I am currently looking closely at the B&W CM-5S2 ($1800) or CM6 S2( more dough). I am almost literally shitting my pants that I am going to possibly buy an ear-bleeder (despite my price range of $2000-2500), and despite the so called changes in speaker technology.

However, I refuse to bite the bullet and buy one the newer Harbeth monitors which are lighting up the audio magazines nd blogs with many stellar reviews, or Devore speaker, with models ranging between a cool $4000 to $12,000,...or the Raidhho X-1 monitor for $14,000 plus Many members may rabidly disagree with me, but I have been around long enough to remember when the audio listening experience was fun, satisfying, and generally affordable. Good Luck!!!
B&W are British speakers made for American consumer that built similar to American cars: Big, hard to handle and drive and consume lots of fuel and oil.
What I've found with the diamonds is it depends on the amp you use. I've heard the D2 on a pair of Krell Mono-Blocks and quickly left the room with my ears bleeding but I've also heard them on an Anthem P2 and loved them! The best I've heard them on was tube gear using ARC and Cary.

That comment of the speaker being bright my be relevant in your opinions but I always ask, are they actually bright or are you hearing information you normally don't?
I'm not sure about the no bass below 50hz comment, I've been around a lot of 802's and can't say i've had a comment of no lower octave bass.
OK, guys, so after my analysis above of the British invasion of bright speakers and the American market what is the solution?? Let's try to muster some answers.

Is KEF the answer, they make a R-300 monitor in almost the same price range as the B&W CM5S2. So what should members do like Tom, who want to get away from this bright, fatiguing, unreal, edgy sound?? Is ATC SM19 the answer coming in at $4300. or ProAc's Anniversary Tabelette (only the 12th iteration of its original cans) which is at least $3500 for its monitor size speakers?? (Take two tablets and call me in the morning?!? LOL)

Bryston ( yes, the electronics manufacturer) last year introduced two models that are described as monitors. The Mini T is about $2600, without stands. Anyone audition those speakers which promise good sound quality?? Epos speakers??? Maybe, the answer is to beg Advent, AR, and KLH to do some serious updates to their classic models.
I knew this guy once, he was a co-worker of my 2nd cousin's girlfriend's roommate, and he had a pair of B&W speakers. I heard that when he played music through them, the food in his refrigerator spoiled faster. With other speakers, his milk would last at least 2 weeks, but with B&W it went bad within 3 days. That's how bad they sounded. The speakers, not the milk.

(Given some of the lunacy in previous posts, I figured...if we're going to be looney tunes, let's really do it up right)
"I just sold my excellent floorstanders because I am tired of having broken balls and a broken back lugging them around, and trying to locate the ideal "sweet spot" in my 12 X15 room."

You realize you don't have to put them back in the closet upstairs after each use?

"So what should members do like Tom, who want to get away from this bright, fatiguing, unreal, edgy sound??"

For British speakers look at these: ProAc Response (the older models are fine.), Spendor S series, Living Voice, Mission, Rega, Monitor Audio, Audio Note

None of those have that hard to listen to quality you mention above. If you're willing to buy used, you should be able to find something at a reasonable price from any of those brands.
Tompoodie,
like many before me have already written B&W sucks bug time. I dont think they know how to design a speaker. Right from my DM604S2 I didnt like them much at all. Personally I had some success with my DM604S2 but after about a yr & a half I sold them & never looked back. I've heard B&Ws several times at each RMAF I attended & at other showrooms (when I go back to India to visit my folks) & each time they've sucked. Bad sound. They got to pay me to use their speakers.....
I also have no idea where the "no bass below 50hz" thought comes from. Whether one considers the 800 series bright or not (I don't), I've never thought of them as light on the low end. The 805 Signature, just for one example, had great punch down low for the volume of the cabinet. The 800 floor standing models never sounded thin to me.

But if someone had it in their mind to shop B&W and wanted something absolutely un-bright, I'd tell them to listen to the PM1. Whether through SS or tube amps, I found them to be early Sonus Faber-warm. They were too warm for me, but others seem to love them.

The Proac Response series is another great British speaker, definitely not bright or edgy.
I listened to the 803 D3 earlier today. The sound quality was incredible. The room setup was a bit small, and whoever set them up put them close to the wall, which caused the mid-range (voices especially) to sound muffled and raspy, and caused the bass to be boomy. I quickly used the WASP setup method and found a much better placement. I'm sure with more time and tweaking I could have fine tuned them more, but oh well, the Best Buy employee was giving me an odd look already.

Once set up decently they sounded spectacular to me. The high frequency was incredible. The sounds of symbols and high hats were realistic. Their decay sounded authentic to me as a musician. What impressed me the most was that the notes across all ranges had a correct sound to their decay. Musicians used to playing instruments through crappy speakers, and who don't play acoustically, may not notice it, but the decay on instruments were as close to the real thing as I have ever heard without it being an acoustic instrument in the room with me. The room was not conducive to a large soundstage like I would have available in my apartment. I plan on going back and playing with the toe-in, as they were set up pointed directly at the listening position in Best Buy. I'm excited to bring some of my own CDs and experiment with the setup a bit to see how wide a soundstage these speakers can thrown without losing coherence in between the speakers.

BTW, I actually had a bottle of milk with me and it did not spoil.... LOL...
BTW, I would love to find a pair of these on sale or discounted once they've been out for a bit. I'm a ready buyer when they come along at the right price...
I totally agree with most that is said above.

I found all B&W speakers I have heard for the last 10 years unbalanced, unnatural, colored and not enjoyable to listen to.
I even heard them combining the downfall of laid back and forward at the same time. Sounding dull overall en too forward in a certain part of the sound spectrum at the same time.

I owned a 800 series B&W in a time I did not know any better.
And I had listening fatigue even a year after I sold them.
Must sound like a joke, but in a way it is true.
They always portrayed a certain edge or harsh strain that I battled to get away as long as I owned them.
Resulting in selling them and having some kind of listening trauma.
Had to listen for a year to ultra-smooth systems afterwards for my listening focus to be balanced again. (I am probably the only one who understands me right now)

I read B&W defenders stating a lot that the combining gear is the answer for the mentioned B&W "flaws", but I can't agree.
The combining gear will have an influence on how obvious the typical B&W flaws will be in the sound, but I never heard them without. At least not in loudspeakers produced in the last 15 or so years.
Sunnyjim, you tell it like it is !
A 1300$ of Rega RS-3 sounds better.
Overall, I hope these responses will help out our comrade, Tom. If learning to fly a jet plane was compared to learning the steps to audio nirvana, many of us would have crashed and burned long ago.

Unfortunately, no matter how many audio primers and product reviews there are, there are as many if not more obstacles to overcome to finding the sound quality you enjoy and more importantly, find just right.
Tompoodie, to respond directly to your criticism of the 803 D3, after spending another few hours with them. I would wonder if they were not set up well or were too close to the walls. My experience with them listening to a few recordings with excellent acoustic segments (Nora Jones first album, Grateful Dead reckoning, Allman Brothers Eat a Peach Album) is that they were exceedingly realistic. They sound like what a guitar sounds like when I'm in the room playing with other musicians, to the point where the positioning of fingers on the neck corresponded with placement in the soundstage. It doesn't get any better than that in my experience. The last speaker I had that was close to that level of realism was the Revel Salon2. My current setup unfortunately is not on par with the Salon2 or the 803 D3.

To be honest, they are exceedingly difficult to set up. They are not very forgiving at all from my experience today. I am going back again tomorrow to try to fine tune the positioning some more. I may purchase them if I can get rid of a slight boominess in some of the lower voice frequencies. Instruments were insanely lifelike, as well as the human voice in most keys, except where there was some boominess in lower keys. Attack, decay, and separation of instruments was all spot on. The soundstage was large and impressive. I found the experience of listening to the music was engaging and immersive. Several tracks that I love were so life like that it gave me the chills. It reminds me that it's extremely important for people to know how to set up speakers in a room themselves on the fly, or to at least be able to realize when a setup is suboptimal.

I'm back with my regular speakers right now and the 803 D3 experience is leaving my regular system sounding quite unidimensional in comparison. The attack and decay are not as precise and the separation between instruments and notes is not as coherent. :/
Right now the only criticism I can aim at them is a slight sibilance in the higher ranges of the human voice along with the boominess in certain low frequencies of the human voice. Tomorrow I hope to see if the sibilance can be eliminated with less toe-in, while also trying to decrease the lower voice frequency boominess by moving further off one of the walls. Hopefully this is possible without the center of the soundstage becoming too diffuse...

In any case, it's still worlds better than my current setup.
Jkalman,

I have followed your threads over the years and I am curious what you are running now.

I have a love hate relationship with B&W. fatigue has always been my issue and why I have not bought a pair over the years. Do the upper mids seem smother on the D3?
"Tomorrow I hope to see if the sibilance can be eliminated with less toe-in, while also trying to decrease the lower voice frequency boominess by moving further off one of the walls."

Its not likely that toe in will get rid of sibilance. That's an equipment matching issue.
It is disappointing to see sweeping comments about B&W speakers as "bright", "edgy", "fatiguing", "never had bass" etc without identification of the speaker model and system components.

I have owned the CDM1, CDM2SE, CDM1NT, CM1, 804S, 803D, 803Diamond, 800Diamond.

The only speaker out of that list that I found a bit "edgy" and "bright" was the CDM1NT. With the same system components at that time (Sony CD player and Plinius amplifier) the CDM1 and CDM2SE were warm and easy to listen.

The 80xDiamond series as compared to the 80xD series do have tweeters that are measurably more sensitive. So the 80xDiamond they can sound bright if auditioned with bright components. However with suitable matched components, I found the speakers compelling, easy to listen, transparent, and have superb bass for size of speaker.

I lived with the 803D and then 803Diamond for about 5 years. I listened almost every day for on average a few hours without any fatigue and or sense of significant tonal imbalance.

Perhaps my careful consideration of component matching, speaker positioning and mains quality paid dividends!
Perhaps my careful consideration of component matching, speaker positioning and mains quality paid dividends!
Mark_nz
this is precisely the issue - anytime you have to 'carefully' match components so that the system sounds just right, you have a problem with one or more components in that chain. In this thread, it's all about speakers so let's concentrate on speakers. If a speaker is time-coherent (which B&W are not even by a long shot) then component matching becomes a non-issue. Time-coherent speakers sound good with almost any electronics & on any genre of music. Of course, the better the electronics & the better the recording, the better the output sonics.
I wager that if you would have changed one item in your then-system that had the B&Ws your system would have collapsed performance-wise. That would not have been good.

Jkalman, the sibilance is a phase distortion issue & it won't go away with toe-in (like Zd542 wrote). I bet that whatever you try you will not be able to get rid of it. It's inherent in the speaker design & the 4th order x-over. The boomy bass is due to the poor port design. B&W cannot get this right & didn't get it right even in my DM604S2 nor in my friend's 803D. Port design is hard to start with - you have to start & stop a slug of air at a moment's notice given the fact that the bass from the port is 180 degrees out-of-phase with the bass cone driver. If you don't design this correctly, you get bass overhang or what you call boomy bass - the previous bass notes hung around too long & interfere with the next bass notes (from the next bit of music) & smear it.
Play some tracks from Diana Krall's Love Scenes - sibilance city if you will. Let us know at point in time you walked out of the room!

Also, like I did with my DM604S2, play some Diana Krall & careful note where the soundstage is & where DK is in the soundstage. Then, immediately next play some Frank Sinatra. Once again note where the soundstage is & where FS is in that soundstage. Any difference between the 2 soundstages?
It seem I got a pair of Wharfedale Jade 3, that sound problem exactly what you all have discussed here. Bright, sibilant, difficult gear matching, room and placement adjustment, and very unforgiving in presenting music. Hmm, is this what the high end sound to begin with? That's a whole lot of time and money need to spend on these B&W speakers I believe, nevertheless the craftsmanship is amazing. High end speakers is designed for rich people with lots of gold and time to furthermore investment in fine tuning sound, and expand their imaginations, how sad! I need to get rid of my Jade 3, though it's not so easy...
"10-14-15: Wim1983
It seem I got a pair of Wharfedale Jade 3, that sound problem exactly what you all have discussed here. Bright, sibilant, difficult gear matching, room and placement adjustment, and very unforgiving in presenting music. Hmm, is this what the high end sound to begin with? That's a whole lot of time and money need to spend on these B&W speakers I believe, nevertheless the craftsmanship is amazing. High end speakers is designed for rich people with lots of gold and time to furthermore investment in fine tuning sound, and expand their imaginations, how sad! I need to get rid of my Jade 3, though it's not so easy..."

Please don't take this the wrong way because I'm not trying to be mean or negative in any way. But if you want to get into this hobby and be successful, you need to take responsibility for your own actions. No one put a gun to your head and forced you to buy the speakers you don't like. There's a good reason why some of us sound like a broken record and insist you need to demo everything before you buy it. Audio is a very hands on activity. If you want good sound, it takes some work. And don't think I know better and am trying to lecture you. I know from experience. I've made more costly, jackass mistakes than any audiophile I know.

"Bright, sibilant, difficult gear matching, room and placement adjustment, and very unforgiving in presenting music. Hmm, is this what the high end sound to begin with?"

Not every speaker sounds like a B&W or the Jade 3's you just bought.
"Jkalman, the sibilance is a phase distortion issue & it won't go away with toe-in (like Zd542 wrote). I bet that whatever you try you will not be able to get rid of it. It's inherent in the speaker design & the 4th order x-over. The boomy bass is due to the poor port design. B&W cannot get this right & didn't get it right even in my DM604S2 nor in my friend's 803D. Port design is hard to start with - you have to start & stop a slug of air at a moment's notice given the fact that the bass from the port is 180 degrees out-of-phase with the bass cone driver. If you don't design this correctly, you get bass overhang or what you call boomy bass - the previous bass notes hung around too long & interfere with the next bass notes (from the next bit of music) & smear it.
Play some tracks from Diana Krall's Love Scenes - sibilance city if you will. Let us know at point in time you walked out of the room!"

Hello Bombaywalla,

My understanding is that they don't use a 4th order crossover in the 803 D3s (and haven't in their high end diamond speakers for some time). They use a first order crossover.

In any case, playing around with the room placement and toe-in some more eliminated the issues I was having with the sound. I never said there was problems in the bass frequencies. It was a bit of booming in the mid-range, mostly in the lower register of voices, which don't come close to the bass ranges. The excessive sibilance was from having the tweeters pointed in too much. Sibilance is natural in the human voice, especially in the female voice. Finding the point at which it sounds natural is the goal, not eliminating it completely.

Actually, acoustically speaking, the smearing of notes will happen more because you haver the speaker to close to a wall than anything else. When there is not enough time delay between the direct sound from the speakers and the sound from the first point reflections, then the sounds become smeared, otherwise it becomes ambience. Though, too much ambience can color the sound with the character of the room, and that isn't good either (thus, the need to properly treat first reflection points). The port on the back shouldn't be an issue unless you are already making the mistake of bad speaker placement.

The other issue is placing the speaker too far into the room, at which point locality of sound becomes too diffuse. That is problematic as well.

BTW, I bought them, and it looks like I will be the first person in the USA, or possibly the world to own a pair of the 803 D3s! :D
@Zd542: I agree with you, but that's the situation happen, especially come to so called high end sound, there is no high end sound that can satisfy every customers so to speak, rich for the rich, poor for the poor and most probably you will just need mid for the mid. Mastering of music in future and art of the ancient voice could be more well worth than high end gears.
Distortion? No. Sibilance? No. Boomy? No. What kind of crap setups did you audition a speaker like B&W's 800 series in? I've owned Maggie's to Wilson's and have had terrific results with all of them...even though I could always find some moron here who had no clue and would blame the speaker for their scrap cables or gear! Up through the D2's there is exquisite musicality. As for the D3's? I have to audition them, although I am skeptical myself based on the drastically increased bass response...smacks of home theatre!!
remember the Louis Lipnik review of the B&W 801 in Stereophile many years back?
He described them as the audio end of the road. The disclaimer was that if you fed them less-than-pristine sound, then you got poor results due to their accuracy- since they were originally used as studio monitors.
I had a pair of 801's, and the treble was a bit "hashy" and forward. So were Watt-Puppies at the time. along with Thiels, and several other high-end designs. Guess
what? when CD's started sounding better, so did my speakers. the last time i heard them, my friend who i sold them to had Pass Aleph amplifiers (1.2 mono blocks). the speakers now sounded smooth and relaxed, especially listening to Blue Note jazz recordings. I had NEVER heard them sound like that before. Could it be that what Louis L. stated in his review was the key to understanding the sound they were making?
B&W makes GREAT speakers and they try to meet a lot of budget levels.
If the newest versions are set up with the proper electronics in a decent room
they should sound darn good. How many dealers are up to the task of controlling these important variables? If you can get an in-home audition, that's the place to start, especially if you're interested in buying their premier line of speakers.
And, if you don't like them, fine! But I don't think that you're going to love something else better if they are also extremely transparent and revealing. It take an OPEN mind and a lot of comparative listening experience to determine if it's the speakers (even though they are the most important component overall), or something else that's screwing up the sound.
Well said fries!
Well, I have not yet heard the 802D3 but did hear the 803D3 recently and came away from the demo so impressed that I am strongly considering trading in my current 803D2 for its big brother the new 802D3.

I would be very curious to hear what gear was used during the demo of the new 802D3 and as a point of reference what speakers are being used today by those who are flaming the sound they hear coming out of the B&W 800 lineup in their tests?

Knowing what gear the flame throwers are using as their reference will help put some perspective around what they think is "proper sound" as compared to what B&W 800 fans think is proper sound.

Personaly I can't say I have experienced any of the issues being mentioned here in this thread when listening to my 803D2's.

My gear used to drive the B&W's I own consists of Classe CP-800 Pre, Meitner MA1 DAC and lots of Hypex NCore amplification per channel.
I think the dealer that had the demo was David Weinhart. He has carried more speakers than carter has pills. I'm really surprised he carries B&W. I have always looked at Bowers and Wilkins to be more of a commercial brand. (Best buy, Magnolia) I know he used to carry Ariel Acoustics, Mbl, Dali and Magico. For some reason he doesn't seem to carry the lines for to long.
I'm not so sure it's such a bad thing to be a "Comercial Brand" as you say. I don't know about you but I would like nothing more then to be able to go to my local big name store and listen to a high end speaker if for nothing else but convenience alone.

I can't imagine being the only person who thnks this would be a plus in anyone's book. The fact of the matter is that it's unlikely that the sound you hear while demoing a pair of speakers at the typical high end dealer will be anything like how it will sound in your own home so one needs to take what they hear with a grain of salt in either demo room.

The beauty of the B&W brand is that they are big enough and well known enough to have there gear placed in any dealer they wish. I can't knock them for a minute for wanting to take advantage of putting their gear in the face of the average Joe who shops at Best Buy who probably doesn't even know what a high end speaker is supposed to sound like. The sad thing is that most people don't even know this stuff even exists.

Again I ask the question, what are the flame throwers using as their gauge of what the "proper" sound is of a given recording? How do they know that what they are using is presenting them with the sound the artist intended?

It seems logical to me to think that if ones chooses a B&W 800 as their speaker of choice and listens to a track created by some of the big name studios who use the same 800 series as their reference then at least they can rest easy knowing that what they are hearing was close enough for the recording engineer who made it.
I had the last 804D2 model and enjoyed them very much. Same for the 802 Matrix I had in the 90s. I have not heard the new series. That said, it always piques my interest when people criticize b&w. They have always commanded high resale (used) prices compared to other brands, and are relatively ubiquitous among audiophiles. Why does that matter? Because over time the 'truth' would emerge - people would not pay for something that is not good. Highly regarded brands like Wilson, Avalon,Revel, etc. sell for 40-60% of original price but b&w sell for 50-70%. The only other brands that meet or exceed this are Harbeth and Proac (both British, interestingly...somehow Spendor gets left out). My experience with b&w is they need lots of good power. I don't know why, but when provided with good amplification I think they are a fantastic brand.
I forgot to add that I am talking about b&w for the last 20 years or so - they have not always been "mass market" (available at Magnolia/Best Buy). Before that you had to seek them out at the brick and mortar stores. Also, the brands I compared them to were all American. So I should comment that other American brands that hold excellent value and compete with the Brits is Joseph and Devore, and to an extent Martin Logan.
"And, if you don't like them, fine! But I don't think that you're going to love something else better if they are also extremely transparent and revealing."

You most certainly can. There's plenty of speakers that have a lot of detail like the B&W but sound completely different.

Also, things like sibilance and harshness, are not indicators that a speaker is transparent. Its just the opposite. The more transparent a system is, the closer to the actual event it gets you. Harsh highs move you in the opposite direction because in most situations, these qualities are not natural.
+1Jimmy and Eniac. Well said - why indeed if you have a history like B&W would you not put your speakers in a "commercial" environment to allow potentials coming into a shrinking industry the experience of high end. There is always the danger someone might buy them! Yikes!

I live in a metro area and have several brick and mortars near me and I never feel comfortable going in unless I plan on a purchase and I have made many from them all and still feel like I am getting a TSA evaluation when I walk in.....not intending to open a new can of worms or high jack the thread. But at Magnolia as a consumer I feel the ball is in my court for a change.

Back to B&W I have always admired from afar and liked what I have heard demo wise. I am a 20 year Thiel user so I can appreciate the robust discussion and different opinions.
"The fact of the matter is that it's unlikely that the sound you hear while demoing a pair of speakers at the typical high end dealer will be anything like how it will sound in your own home so one needs to take what they hear with a grain of salt in either demo room."

I wouldn't say that is a fact. There's a lot you tell about a speaker by listening to it, even if its not in your system. Also, I don't follow your logic because you go on to say this.

"I can't knock them for a minute for wanting to take advantage of putting their gear in the face of the average Joe who shops at Best Buy who probably doesn't even know what a high end speaker is supposed to sound like."

If your first statement is true, then I don't see how this one can be either. If there is not going to be any consistency, then there is no reason to expect a B&W speaker to be any better than a less expensive alternative.

"It seems logical to me to think that if ones chooses a B&W 800 as their speaker of choice and listens to a track created by some of the big name studios who use the same 800 series as their reference then at least they can rest easy knowing that what they are hearing was close enough for the recording engineer who made it."

Again, I can't follow the logic. If you can't expect the B&W 800 to sound in your home anything like it does at the dealer, then why would it sound the same as the ones in the recording studio? All 3 setup's should sound completely different.
Forgive me being non-technical, but isn't it just a matter of taste? I had some 801 s3, I didn't like them because to me they sounded good on just a few CDs. I told the buyer I didn't like them and played several average CDs for him and he loved them. Then I played a cd that sounded great. He is still listening to them after 7-8 years.

I agree with the audition them yourself camp, the saddest situation I can think of is buying something for any reason other than YOU liking and enjoying them. However, I do appreciate opinions, but in the end I do what I want.

Going to see Jackson Browne tonight. I'll let you know how the crowd surfing goes. Hope I don't tear my sweater vest..,
No....
Either not fully broken in or wire in the system that is not a neutral wire.

Years ago as a dealer for Meadowlark I got a lot of inquiries about the Herons and Blue Herons from guys with the 802, 801, and 800S, their main complaint being that they made their ears bleed.

My first question was did they have at least 700 hours on them, if not that is a problem. Second question was what interconnects and speaker wires were they using? It was an easy sale to get them to try 800 interconnects and $1100 bi-wire speaker cables, problem fixed and very happy campers.

B&W has the same reputation for being ruthless as any monitor caliber accurate speaker like Wilson Audio, because the Watts are 25,000+ those buyers tend to be willing to spend more on cables, in fact they are told upfront by most dealers that they are going to have to.

Mid range cables by the big mainstream culprits have made more people's ears bleed on these speakers than they would like to acknowledge. Many dealers attribute it to needing better cables or higher end electronics, they want to sell components
I had just posted and made the point that the ruthlessly accurate speakers like Wilson Audio are system and wire dependent. If you can't figure out the neutral wire needed you aren't going to like this kind of studio monitor quality, you want politely altered presentations.
"10-22-15: Aintitgr8
No....
Either not fully broken in or wire in the system that is not a neutral wire."

"10-22-15: Aintitgr8
I had just posted and made the point that the ruthlessly accurate speakers like Wilson Audio are system and wire dependent. If you can't figure out the neutral wire needed you aren't going to like this kind of studio monitor quality, you want politely altered presentations."

You don't know your ass from your elbow. I can sit you down in front of my Wilson's and prove you wrong in about 10 seconds.
I've had WATTS and Grand Slamms, there are a lot of ways to tame the ruthless nature of reference monitor caliber speakers. Tubes are one, a smooth quality source is another. One thing I will say is that six or seven years ago I had personally extensively tried all the major cable lines from their entry to statement products. I am totally out of touch with the products that have come onto the market in the last seven years or so, so I can't comment on an array of specific newer products. I had Grand Slamms next to a set of Meadowlark Nightingales, they were very similar in sound but $60,000 different in price. Wilson Watts were similar to the Meadowlark Audio Blue Heron 2's and I used the Wilson's to prove it using the same exact reference system.
10-22-15: Aintitgr8
I had just posted and made the point that the ruthlessly accurate speakers like Wilson Audio are system and wire dependent. If you can't figure out the neutral wire needed you aren't going to like this kind of studio monitor quality, you want politely altered presentations.
what a load of rubbish!! strongly disagree.
you are trying to fix the speaker's distortion issue by spending a disproportionate amount to time & money on cables. Two wrongs do not make one right (but apparently in your books it does!). It's a bad way to build a system....
"I had Grand Slamms next to a set of Meadowlark Nightingales, they were very similar in sound but $60,000 different in price. Wilson Watts were similar to the Meadowlark Audio Blue Heron 2's and I used the Wilson's to prove it using the same exact reference system."

Wilson sounds very similar to Meadowlark? You may want to get your hearing checked.
Similiar as in they were both speakers..right? Yeah, that's what I thought you meantšŸ˜œ
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This might have been a meaningful thread if the author had asked for input from thoseĀ who have actually heard the new product. Instead, he only succeeds in rallying those who share his negative bias.
Anybody have first hand knowledge of what I may find if I "upgrade" from the top line 800 D2 to the "one down" 802 D3.
I am concerned about losing impact moving from the 800 that had dual 10" woofers to the newer/smaller dual 8" woofers. As an FYI in my medium sized room, the 800D2 outperformed the 802D2 in every way, and had LESS/NO boom issue, whereas oddly the older 802D2 had some midbass hump (or something) that caused me problems. Thoughts on what to expect in the D3 line, and yes I realize the 800D3 isn't quite out yet....any advice appreciated.