Steve71,Thanks for the heads up! Look forward to hearing them, (if I can find a dealer that has them set up).
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I have to wonder how much of the improvement is mainly due to the use of that new surroundless Kevlar midrange driver that's used in the new Nautilus models and in the CDM 9NT. I heard a pair of the much less expensive ($2600/pr) CDM 9NTs the other day and was very taken with their smoothness and authenticity throughout the midrange and high frequencies. I heard them directly compared to the Paradigm Studio 100 V2 speakers and there's no question in my mind that the B&Ws better served the music. In fact, I was so impressed at the bang for the buck the CDM 9NTs provided that I ordered a pair and expect them to arrive any day now. Surely the new 800 is even better and more refined, but I really think B&W is on to something with that new midrange unit, and I suspect that all the models that use it will perform demonstrably better than models that use the older midrange drivers.
I've also been listening to the new 800s at my local dealer over the last three weeks. I had the same reaction. HUGE IMPROVEMENT!!! I'm a 802N owner as well and as much as I love them, they now sound somewhat dry and uninvolving comparitively.
The mids and upper mids on the 800 are truly exceptional. Detail retrieval is actually the best I've heard. Base extension was improved, although not as much as I would like. The base is tighter, faster, and more acurate, however. I did think the highs were nearly unbearable during the first several days due....too shill and bright, however, they have settled down tremedously over the last two weeks. I suspect these things will continue to simply get better over the next several weeks and beyond.
Dynamics are improved, and both low level and high level listening is greatly improved over the 802N. Getting picky, I always thought the 802Ns could sound rather uninvolving at low levels and a bit compressed at hig volume levels. This charateristic is gone in the 800s.
As for aesthetics, these were the signatures ($20K) and they are truly a work of art (particularly if you find the Nautilus line attractive to begin with). The piano finish over the tiger wood is indescribable and the black leather adds additional class.
Anyone liking the B&W sound owes themselves a listen to these speakers. They are remarkably close to the flagship Nautilus in sonics (excepting base extension) and absolutely beautiful to look at.
I'm still debating on which high end speaker to go with, however, I can't imagine being dissapointed with these. In fact, I am hoping to hear them with different electronics, as I am not really a huge ML fan (no offense to the ML crowd) and believe there is even greater potential with alternative equipment.
Anyone out there with fresh experience with the 800s on other gear, please sound in. Additional insight would be appreciated.
Dealer System for 800s:
Goldmund Ref Table
Transparent RefXL Cables