Focal -JM Lab Nova Utopia Be VS. B&W 801D

IMO both produce incredible full range sound in a proper system. Which do you like better and why regardless of the price difference?
I heard the Nova Utopias at Sound by Singer in Manhattan last fall. The speakers were being driven by Zanden SET tube amps. The sound was RELENTLESSLY bright. Otherwise, I thought the performance of the speakers was commendable, but it was difficult for me to get past the tipped up treble response. Does anyone have enough experience with the Novas to know whether the sound I heard was the result of impedance issues resulting from the pairing of the speakers with SET tube amps? Or is the Beryllium tweeter inherently bright?
The Be tweeter is not bright unless the electronics are or there is an impedance mismatch. Raquel is right on. Many of the Be's impedance plots will show you a huge hump in the highs. Personally, using a SET amp with Novas is totally missing the point anyway. These big speakers need some real power to shine in full glory. I haven't heard Singer's setup but for my tastes in bass, I can say it probably wouldn't work. If there isn't enough bass, all you have left is treble....

Getting back to the tweeter, after hearing Diva Bes several times now - in a couple setups - the Be tweeter can actually be surprisingly laid back. I was expecting a little more forwardness but have yet to hear it that way. I believe it was JA who also said that.

Racquel,you told me that story before.I know of your gender,but was kidding!Happily married with two kids,am I.Sorry,the Nova and almost all vents/ports,trans lines are not accurate,compared to a really good sealed box.The Dunlevy's "played out" long ago,and had driver integration problems,yet my Avalon Ascents are a "classic" example of "spot on" mid bass accuracy.That is why they will most likely be with me in the "nursing home".SO good are they!!BTW,I said mid bass,as I have employed(very successfully)a REL STENTOR for low bass impact/augmentation.A KILLER combo.Yet everyone likes their own stuff,so I remain questionable,except to my own little audio group.-:)Sorry for the conceit.
BTW,I too heard the Zanden combo on the NOVA's,and at the time I auditioned them,they were stunning.NO over the top treble,which I have always heard on them before.I heard them with music I was intimately familiar with,and was very impressed.All other times I heard them(numerous)they were Hi Fi-ish.This last time was a winner,but a huge room.
I had always loved the original Utopia's,and heard J Skull's home set-up on one occassion.Sorry,but although very good,compared to the Ascents,the midbass was overly damped.However he had a HUGE room,and I believe the Utopias were a better fit,then his previous Ascents(but he insisted the Ascents worked well,there).
I still like the NOVA's very much,and I once A/B'd the original Utopia to the Avalon Eidolons.It was NO contest,using the Exact componentry(all SOTA,btw).The Eidolons went bright far too quickly,and were smoked by the Utopias.Not to diss the Eidolons,but the Utopias sounded more like live music,that day.
It was at this time that I decided the industry had good enough technology in sub bass systems to move to a REL.Previously,I was interested in augmenting the Wilson sub,but held out.I simply LOVE the "AVA-REL" combo,but you must take the room into account.If I were in a very large room(mine is 13x22.5)I would consider the Nova or maybe the Strads,but the Ascents,as driven are rediculously good.230 lbs of sealed box,with external croosovers,and detail matching the "a bit overhyped" current crop of drivers(spouse factor had to impact the decision to discontinue,as four huge boxes won't make it in many living rooms).The "crossover of a speaker is far more critical to voicing,and almost any really good driver can suffice in a given design,but consumers are impressed by what they actually see".This is a quote by a WAY famous speaker builder.
I am sorry if I give the impression of absorbed with what I own,but I have heard it ALL,and there is too much hype surrounding the hobby today.A boatload of "classic" designs easily competes with todays priciest stuff,and there are ways to mod stuff to incredible degrees of performance.I have one pal who modded his Infinity RS-1b's to a level that many would never believe,but he knows what music should sound like,as he reviewed the Mercury collection,and I never question him.Best ear I know of.

BTW...I take back my proposal,but you are still a nice fellow hobbyist.Best to you. -:)
Audiooracle very much knows what he is talking about with this speaker -- I heed his word and wonder whether he has anything more to add about the characteristics of Focal's Be tweeters as used in the Utopia Be line. Are they, like Focal's tioxid tweeter used in the first Utopia line (and used, I believe, in modified form by Wilson), inherently hot? I was with Cincy_Bob when we heard the Novas at Singer. I did not find the treble remarkable one way or the other, but I have a bit of hearing damage in one ear that "rolls off" treble a bit for me. We were very much hoping to hear the speakers run with the Burmester amp in that big room, but something prevented it -- I can't recall what. So I would add that the spectacular bass definition I heard was yielded by, of all things, an 845-based single ended amp (albeit a very, very good one). I admit that my exposure to the speaker was limited to that two-hour session, but I heard them long enough to get a feel.

Sir Speedy: I agree with virtually everything you wrote. And you are to be commended on your spectacular speakers -- weren't the Ascents designed when Charlie Hanson was still part of Avalon?

The results you get have a lot to do with the particular setup of the system.

I worked for close to 16 years at SBS. I sold and set up the JM Labs many times. The results you could get out of them had a lot to do with what you were running them with.

I was the detail setup freak so when I demoed the speakers for my customers I made sure they heard the systems set up the best way possible, on many an occassion the setups were not optimal and the system didn't sound great.

The BE versions of the JM Labs do a lot of things well. The BE tweeter is way smoother than the earlier non be series, also the midrange was more integrated and coherent.

I will agree with Sir speedy that the JM Labs bass is loose.

JM tunes for a big presentation and a tighter more accurate bass is well less French. The problem with the JM Labs is that the baffles are too big and they present a big but not super well focused soundstage.

I will agree that a REL or any other really good subwoofer will dramatically improve a speaker system. Even the big Wilson's at SBS improved dramatically with a good sub.

I have on display in my showrooms the new JL Audio Fathoms and they improve all the speakers I play them with.

It all comes down to taste. There are ported speakers with great bass, speed and slam and sealed ones which trade bass depth with volume.