I owned the B&W 801 Matrix II's for years, then upgraded to the Matrix III's which are far better in the midrange. The II's had a differenct tweeter and had some type of tweeter protector unit that clouded the midrange. The Matrix III's had a new fluid cooled tweeter and new cross over that eliminated that protection circuitry. The 801's have a 12inch woofer and are very in efficient at 88dbs, so I wouldn't advise them with tubes unless you can run the big VTL's or Audio Research 600's. If you could run a solid state for the woofers and run a tube preamp, then I'd might say go for them. I had a Krell and it was a match made in heaven. My 25 cents.
I haven't heard either. But if you had the 802's, what was it about them that you didn't like? Unless is was "just missing some bass", it is likely that the 801's will have the similar issues.
At one time many of the studios recording classical music used 801's as reference monitors. I heard them at a friends and thought they were one of the best speakers I ever heard.
My guess is if you didn't like the 802s you may not like the 801s. I loved them ( 801 ser2 ) but they are very similar and definately have a type of sound and are really not all that far apart in performance.To me they tend to be a touch warm and forward.And I feel they did best with High quality Solid State amp/s..I owned a pair of 801 series 2 with Threshold s300 and Audio Research sp11. This was a great balance of s/state and tubes. Hope that helps???
I'm thinking the problem that I had with the 802's was not enough power and would probably be the same with the 801's. I should be looking for something that is a little more efficient....with only 100 watts of tube power...
Let me add a few words here and see if I can also be of help. My curent system is similar to yours.LS25,ARC PH3 SE, VPI Aries, Wadia/Electrocompaniet Dac. except I run a Plinius SA250/2. I have owned the 801 ser2 and now have the Ser.3(Anniversary LE editions)
of the 801. The ser 2 are very good and the ser3 are indeed better, smoother with tighter bass, very much as stated by Hifimaniac. That said, the 2's are a great speaker, and the 801's are one of the few loudspeakers I have had that are a pleasure to listen to at length inspite of some of their shortcommings(mostly loose bass in room)
I think also, ideally, that they would indeed be better served by a powerful SS amp as described above rather than even your VT100, yet they would sound good on the tubes.As the case with the 802's, better served with SS, you may want to rethink the amp for the 801's.or perhaps indeed seek another speaker to match up with the VT-100. I can only offer that as an 801's owner, they are well worth the price, and trouble in finding the right amp to drive them. It's well documented that although they are not effecient at 87db and present the amp with a nominal 8 ohm load, yet they do like power to drive them..current specifically..is when they sound their absolute best. So the choice becomes probably to switch amps..or keep your VT100 and go with another speaker that match better with your good sounding 100. hope this helps some. :)
Kehut: Thanks for your detailed input , I would like your idea's on other speakers...I leave in a area where it is very hard to listen to speakers and I need to narrow it down a little...........thanks
I have sent you a lenghty email off thread with some thoughts! Hope this helps.
still very, very, very good by todays standards.... that cannot be said of the majority of speakers that are 8-10 years old...
they are very revealing and need clean, muscular amp to drive them...
one of my favorite speakers of all time....
They have very notable colorations for those who notice such things.
The drivers, all sound very different than each other, dynamically, texturally, and I find that disconcerting.
Before doing some research, I thought the crossover was at fault--but after listening more I realize that the omnipresent "Kevlar Honk" as coined by John Atkinson (I think) who is of Stereophile fame, is right in addressing the B&W signature sound.
I now listen to the Sound Lab A-1, which, while not colorless, is less obvious in it's character. I patterned my own speaker, which I designed, after that single driver sound, and now find it hard to listen to 'off the rack' speakers.
Music is the most wonderful experience in the world, and as such it takes much preparation to get all the pieces right, so one can enjoy it adequately.
Here are a few comments regarding the B&W 801 Matrix Series 2 speakers taken from reviewers quotes in Audio publications over the years:
..."If you are searching for emotional involvment only live performance can provide,and are willing to live with absolute sonic honesty, then the B&W 801 Series 2 Matrix Monitor is musically the end of the road"..Lewis Lipnick, Dec. 1987 Stereophile.
"Iv'e never heard my drums sound so real...I had to have them"..Billy Cobham, Noted Jazz Drummer.
" Despite it's vintage, the 801 is a grain free, smooth sounding, basically neutrally balanced transducer, that remains competetive 15 years after it's introduction. It is no wonder that, even at it's $5000. price per pair equivilent to around $13K in todays money,the B&W 801 sold extremely well throughout the late 1980's and early 90's ".......John Atkinson- Stereophile
The 801 is not a perfect speaker of course. It is however a great speaker with excellent drivers which are still today regarded well( see www.NorthcreekMusic.com web site and read what George Short, reknown speaker builder and crossover designer, and President of NorthcreekMusic has to say of the 801's drivers. The 801 has excellent drivers and a very intellegently designed cabinet only to be let down ultimately by the stock crossovers who's components were not up to equalling the rest of the superb speaker. Having owned many different speakers over the years and some really excellent designs from Apogee's, Vandersteens,Thiel, Martin Logan, Sound Labs (DynaStats and Pristines)and a host of others, I have found that the Matrix 801's are a truly very good sounding speaker that is well balanced and so easy to listen to. It combines very good dynamic punch( with the right amp) with the smoothness and non fatiguing mids and highs that are very revealing, yet not harsh nor forward in it's presentation. I first heard them in a dealers demo room around 1990 and thought they were just Okay at the time..probably not set up or driven properly... and I didn't have $5900 to spend. I purchased Apogee Stages that day instead for less than 1/2 the cost of the 801's. I never thought I'd come around and actually own the 801's( I would have laughed actually...afterall, time and technology march on and these were old hat by now)..But, Ill tell ya, Set them up and feed them good stuff and they will reward tremendously. Ive ordered George's Northcreek 801 External Crossovers for my pair of Rosewood Anniversary 801's. If Northcreek is correct as stated in their site literature, then the new crossovers will make the 801's a truly world class speaker competitive with some of the best out there.
Good Listening! :)
Mod, Mod, Mod. Get the Northcreek X-overs, remove the clips between the bass and midrange enclosures, aquire the Sound Anchor stands(srap the Tone Cone feet for large Polycrystal's), change internal wiring to Furukawa 12g.