I own a pair of N801's (in storage in the USA) and N805's (in use in Paris). I have enjoyed the N805's ever since I purchased them nearly two years ago, when I moved to France for a 3 year assignment. Because of their size they are not perfect for all types of music. Forget high level rock, dynamic brass, deep bass etc. For general listening, especially female vocal they are superb. Very detailed and revealing. If you want to find out just how good they can sound, try a demonstration using the Norah Jones CD. I went to the Frankfurt High End show last week. I can honestly say there were no speakers demonstrated at this show (including one $100k rig) that sounded better than the N805's on this CD. I have experimented with 3 power amplifiers over the last two years; QUAD 606 MKII, Pioneer Elite M91 and a Krell KSA-250. The Krell was nothing short of a revelation, my wife and children were able to notice an immediate improvement in resolution with the Krell/N805 combination.
In conclusion, if your tastes lean towards female vocal and late night listening at moderate volume, you will not be disappointed. Forgot to mention; IMHO the red stained cherry wood finish on black B&W stands look superb and elicit many positive comments about esthetics and sound quality.
The B&W Nautilus 805's got a good review in HiFi+ magazine (a British high end audio mag), which said it is a very good speaker for most kinds of music (although not the best for rock). If you particularly need a monitor-style speaker of modest size, then the B&W 805 is certainly worth considering.
However, since you ask if there are other speakers in the $1600-1800 range that are better choices, I have to respond that for this budget I would strongly suggest the Vandersteen 2CE Signature (which was recently chosen by TAS as a "Best Buy" among speakers costing less than $2500). And if you are willing to buy used speakers, you can get the Vandersteen 3A's for around $1800, which is a full-range speaker that offers substantially better performance than the B&W 805. The Vandersteen speakers also work very well with McCormack amps.
They will have to pry my N805's from my cold, dead hands. Enough said.
I stuck with them for almost 3 years. Damn fine speakers.
I had them, at one point, in a system using a CJ PV 11, and a McCOrmack DNA.5 amp. Great imaging, Great all around, really.A truly refined speaker.
I would absolutely recommend this speaker, even though I found somethign that lights my fire a bit more. That particular speaker, the JM Reynaud Trente, is a very similar (looking, at least) design. ALso highly recommended- a more emotional speaker, with spooky presence, and a HUGE sound, compared to the slightly smaller stage of the 805.
I haven't heard the above mentioned JM Reynaud Trente, but from what I've read, I would look into those as well; plus Hatbeth Compact 7's.
Yep, Them's Be Good For Music!
I recently saw someone on audiogon selling their N803 which where used for rear surrounds??? Hopefully most N805's are being used in a 5.1 Audio set-up, waste of a good speaker for HT.
If you go for the N805's your going to need a sub, may I recommend Rel. The two Britt's compliment each other very well.
The CDM-9NT is a Great sounding speaker also, which you could p/u for the same price as a pair of used 805's.
With the 9NT's you wouldn't need stands, nor a sub (initally). The 9's have the FST midrange of the N804-800 line-up, something the 805's lack.
As all in all, the N805's are Cdm-1nt's in Nautilus clothing. I would run them head to head w/ the cdm-1nt's if you need a stand-mounter, do to room constrictions???
Both are Stereophile B rated.
Honestly, not to talk in circles here? The 805's are grand for music, however till you hit the N803 level there's better deals in B&W CDM line.
I agree with Sdcampbell.
I own (4) N805s and love them. Mate them with a REL Strata III and for $3500.00 USD list, you'll be happy no matter what type of music you throw at them. There have been lots of posts on the N805s...the following is my post to the "Speakers to hang on for life" thread:
This response takes this topic in a slightly different direction. Most of the responses are in the vein of "I really, really like speaker X and can't see myself upgrading." I see this topic really asking the question "What speaker would you never get rid of?" There is a difference.
Is the Nautilus 805 the *best* sounding speaker out there? Of course not. However, I will *never* get rid of my (4) Nautilus 805s because I will *always* have a use for them.
What audio enthusiast doesn't have a use for a great sounding, great looking monitor / bookshelf sized speaker? Even if they are not part of my primary system, they would be great in a den, a living room, bedroom, or even an office. They will work in a one-bedroom apartment as well as they would integrate into a room of a 12,000 sq ft mansion.
It's tough to deny the beauty and craftsmanship of the Nautilus 805s (especially in natural cherry). If you can help the wife get past the "microphone" on the top, you can probably integrate these speakers into the decor of most any room.
Some may not care for the signature B&W sound, but these speakers are undeniablly respectable. The measure well (as long as you are not a dog) and are nearly time aligned. They aren't too picky about placement, but given sufficient breathing room, can "disappear" into the music.
They are easy to drive, and work with high-powered solid state amps as well as tube setups (probably not SET, but I've never tried it). The 805s rolloff nicely such that integration with a sub (especially a REL Strata III) is a breeze.
My next speaker will probably be the Vandersteen 3A sigs + (2) 2Wq subs. However, I won't feel the same loyalty to that setup as I do for my 805 / Strata III combo. Why? One word - flexibility.
I look forward to my next upgrade, but I will not be selling my 805s to do so. For they are speakers I will hold onto for life.
That being said, for a little less money, you owe it to yourself to check out the Vandersteen 2Ce Sigs. They do not have the same WAF, but they are magical.
I own, and revel in, the Revel M20s. I think they are one of the best, in the monitor category. I liked them much better than the 805s. Problem with monitors is the stands. Revel's stands are poor, as are just about all the other ones out there. The stand is a significant extension of your speaker, hence, an extension that, more times, than not, has deleterious effects on the speaker's sound. A major consideration, and major oversight, by most, (judging by what I've read in the 'gon) when considering stand quality. I use the Sistrum Monitor platform system. Pricey, but well worth it. Check out my reviews. Just something to keep in mind when going for monitors. That price of $1600-$1800 is impossible to do with quality stands. Quality speakers, yes, but whattaya place those babies on? peace, warren
I started building my system with two 805's for my fronts and loved the Nautilus series so much I upgraded to two 802's for the front, HTM1 for my center channel and use four 805's for my rears. I mated this with an REL Stentor III and the results were mind blowing (literally). The Nautilus line is incredible, not only is the sound amazing but the look of the Nautilus is unsurpassed in the industry (IMHO). I agree with mgattmch regarding the female vocalists - Norah Jones is great as is Dianna Krall, Basia, etc.
The signative 805s are significantly better than the N805s. I currently still own both versions. If u are considering the n805, give the signats a listen. The treble is cleaner and more detailed with better transients. The bass response is only marginally improved.
Take it for what its worth; what hifi, hifi choice, hifi+ echo the same opinion.
I second the comments about the 805 sig. The non-sig are fine but the sig are a huge step up. Clearer and more 3D imaging. It does not make sense that speakers that "look" basically the same can sound so different. I'm trying to decide between the 805 sig and the dynaudio 1.4...