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Your B&W dealer keeps pointing you to the B&W because he has the lagest profit margin on them, obviously, thats how he makes his money, speakers are a matter of taste, there are no best for everyone, some people (like me) sometimes change just for the sake of change, I have owned B&W among many others (aerial,dyn,etc.)and B&W are way down on my list, just my opinion,if you shop around, you can get 20 to 30 % off other brands, B&W keeps a tight lid on their dealers, no mail order etc., thats why the dealers push them, again, simly higher margins, good luck
I had a pair of N 802's that I thought the world of. . . until I heard them against the 800 signature. I can see why people would part with the lesser nautilus lines to upgrade to higher priced B&W's. I also run Avantgarde Uno's, and know that the Uno's "jump factor" outdoes the B&W's, even with a fraction of the amplifier power required for the nautilus.-- As with most things audio, (and primarily speakers) its really a matter of personal taste.
Purist: when referring to "a fraction" of an amplifier, surely you mean in quantity --- not in quality :)! I remember the Uno being quite revealing on top & not easy to drive in the bottom!!
As to the B&W signature, I too was impressed by the sound -- and the price of the amplification required!
Upgrade to what? No dearth of choice: Kharma, Piega, Soundlab, Quads, Avalons... many others I never listened to. Back to your musical tastes & ears!
If I owned traditional box speakers as opposed to planars, I'd likely lean towards B&W as well. I haven't heard the full line of Totem speakrs, but what I have heard sound damned fine to these ears. Smooth, mellow signature to them and the fit and finish are beyond reproach. Yep, try to listen to some Totems, I think you may find these a step up from B&W.
I agree with Samski that this can be as much as personal taste as anything; B&W isn't a great seller because they are not good.
My first real taste of B&W's was back in 1997, they were the 801 series III, and I loved the sound.
I just purchased the 803's and I am very pleased and as was stated above, there is always the upgrade bug! If I had the dollars I would of loved to have went for the 802's.
I think it is a little foolish to cut down a good line of speakers, very good, because you have found another "sound" you prefer, this is not directed to the original poster.
System matching to your speakers can be critical as well. Someone could have a great pair of speakers and not like them but it could be an issue with a mis-match with the amp, etc.
i have listend to a lot of b&w's; big and small. they are not my cup of tea. then again i like coffee. let your ears be the judge. listen to all of the dealers speakers at your price point. then go to a few other dealers and listen to them too. then home demo the 2 you like best and buy the pair you like best.
there is a lot of other stuff to comment about on speakers and you might want to post your system and budget for recommendations too. in the end you will do most of the listening....buy something you like.
I own the 805's and LM1's, have heard the n804, 803,802,801 and the 800's.The 800's are one of the elite group of great speakers. That said, if I went shopping with a big budget, I'd pop for the Avalon Eidelon's. Both brands convey the emotion of the performers. The main difference to me is that B&W focuses on maintaining the most solid center image possible, while Avalon gives a much wider soundstage. The 800's might have the edge in the bass region, but then I haven't heard the Eidelon Diamonds yet, so that may not be a factor. Sometimes people just want a change, kind of like getting a Jaguar after 8 years of driving Mercedes. The Audio Physic Avanti III is impressive also.
I don't know the figure now, but, a few years ago 80% of all classical music was mastered on B&W speakers. Therefore, all else being somewhat equal, the B&W's will generally sound closer to what the engineer heard than with other speakers.
Of course, this is only important if you are REALLY trying to reproduce live music in your sound room. Many audiophiles are more interested in other aspects of stereo, whether they admit it or not.
Like many of us, I have been involved in the pursuit of perfection for many (~40) years. B&W is my choice. The only other system that I have heard that got it right was the big Cello system with the $25K equilizer. Since the Cello system cost about $200K, it was out of my price range.
I own 805's and I love them, but that said I might go Pro ac with my next upgrade. Or even Joseph Audio. I've heard good sound from all three. It really depends. The only thing that has ever bothered me about B&W is the power requirments of the speakers. My room is not that large and I've found a minium of 250 watts to wake them up.
I owned a pair of N803's and recently sold them to go back to a speaker that I owned a few years ago and wound up missing more than I thought I would, the ProAc 3.8's. The B&W's were more detailed than the ProAc's, but the ProAc's are much more pleasant to listen to. The B&W's were more dynamic in that they had greater high frequency extension, but after a while that became more annoying than enjoyable to me.
Another point is that the Nautilus line has great resale value. The network of dealers are policed by B&W in regard to pricing and internet selling. This creates a strong secondary market because it not flooded with low prices due to great deals someone got from a gray dealer. I give B&W great credit for sticking by its dealers and not letting their products get into the wrong hands.
That is one reason why dealers will point you to their B&W speaker lines. They know that you will not get a much better price than what they offer because they are limited in what they can offer you. It is a safe recommendation in that regard. As far as sound quality is concerned, B&W makes an excellent product, but there are many speaker manufacturers that do the same. It all depends on your personal taste. I have found that ProAc more meets my needs.
I agree with DrrDiamond. I listen to a lot of live classical and perform quite a bit as well. The B&W's do come close to what I hear in the concert hall. I also agree that many audiophiles are looking for something other than accuracy, whether they realize it or not. I have a friend who is neutral towards B&W. He probably has not been to a live concert in 30 years. But since he is happy with his choice, so who am I to differ. I like his choice as well, though not as live sounding to me. There are lots of great speaker brands out there. B&W are a safe bet because of the great resell value.
I actually prefer the 1990-98 B&W's over the current generation. (Original CDM-1, Preference 4,5 &6; and all the last generation Matrix 800 series.) I like the first-order crossovers. The newer crossovers work good with home theater setups, but sound a little shut in to me with classical two-channel.
obviously, it depends on your other equipment as well as your music preferences, but I have B&W Nautilus 803 as well as totem mani 2, revel f 50 and aerial 8b. I like/love them all, but for different moods. The aerial is a little smoother than B&W, the Revel a little better at revealing the top end, and the totem is strong in the midrange. I kept the B&W, so you can judge for yourself, but I would audition the others based on situations. Good luck.
Thanks all for the input. That's interesting about the high markup on B&W. So overall it sounds like my 804's are a pretty good product.
I will try some of your suggestions -Karma and Audio Physics, Revels, and ProAc Futures maybe. I also found a dealer who carries Dunlavy so will try them out.
Will have to do some searching for the Piega, Totems, and Avalon as these aren't so common in New England.
My amp is a 120 wpc Musical Fidelity and I think the B&W could soak up 200 wpc when it comes to rim shots and thumping bass. Budget is around $5,000 max. The 802's sounded great but I can't justify the $5,000 premium over the 804's.
I would search for 804 in speaker forum first.
I own (and love) 805, and to me, and several other A'gon posters, if memory serves me correctly, many people have preferred the 805 to the 804, and if you have that kind of $$, 805 matched with a REL (I think the Strata III is the proper match) subwoofer will get you near pinpoint sourcing that the 804 can't match with the much more spread out drivers, and a MUCH better bass response than the 804. CHeck the stats on teh B&W homepage, teh 4 doesn't go much lower than the 5, and side by side, the 5 sounded more integrated and less artificial.
The N804's are a great speaker for the money. They need great amplification and proper set up. I spent 6 months placing my speakers after moving into my new house with a dedicated sound room(No basement). I would move the speakers a little one way or another and listen for days before changing positions. I started with the Golden Ratio found on the Cardas web site. I talked with audiophile friends and dealers from Michigan to New York. I have the money to buy any speaker under 25k. I have listened to Revel Studios and they are better to my ears than the 804's but not that much better to justify the cost difference. I have heard the Wisdom speakers and could not justify the added amps necessary to drive them. I added the Sound Anchor stand to the 804's and the improvement was incredible. The stands allow you the option of tilting the speakers back to tailor the highs and lows of the speaker while keeping the fabulous mids. What I found besides personal taste is patience and trust in what YOU hear and do. This is what this hobby is about. Not what gear is best.
You are BAD Kthomas, bad I say. :-).
I think I can resist the call of the 802 for now. At least while I keeping busy auditioning speakers.
psjulian got me thinking about sound anchors. I've got some massive 30-40# 1" thick steel blocks. Maybe I could bolt the speakers to them - sort of like the sand-fill idea.
I purchased a pair of older B&W DM640i's with an eye to upgrade in the near future. I'm somewhat of an audiophile neophyte, but have been trying to invest in good yet moderately priced equipment. I jumped on good deals on an Aragon Soundstage (w/Audio Research balanced cables), Audio Research 100.2 SS Amp., Rotel RCD971 CD Player. I was all set to upgrade to the something in the Nautilus line until I heard the JM Lab Electra 926 (at my B&W dealer's store) on a pair of Rogue 100 watt tube (non-magnum) mono blocks and was blown away! My dealer, a loyal B&W retailer for years, doesn't sell JM Lab YET, he had just received 2 models to test the waters, the 926 that retails for about $4,000 and another (model #?) that sells for around $1,500. He's seriously thinking about making a switch and is convinced that B&W can't touch the JM Lab in the $4K-$5K price range. Is he right? I haven't heard the Nautilus 803 ($5K), but I have heard the N802 ($8K) and while it sounded a little more detailed and slightly fuller than the JM Lab, for my buck, it didn't sound $4,000 better! I'd simply like to get you guys' thoughts and opinions as to how the N803 would stack up against the JM Lab 926 or any serious challenger @ $4-$5 grand. I listen mostly to acoustic jazz like Diana Krall (80%) and HT (20%). Is my AR 100.2 able to drive more upscale models? My room is 20'x30' w/10' ceilings and due to a fireplace, my speaker sit about 18' apart. I also use a Paradigm PS-1200 powered sub. Any recommendations on upgrading would be appreciated.
Herb4, that is a bit of a loaded question, as a lot speaker questions can be. IMO speakers make the most dramatic difference in your system and we all have our personal tastes, EX. the thunder boomers driving down the road, they love it, others hate it.
If you prefered the JM Lab, by all means go that route, that may not mean it is "better" than the B&W's, just different.
I do believe that it can be a no brainer at times that one speaker is better than another. But as we move up the price chain, you start getting into personal preferences.
And don't let me forget synergy, it may be that one speaker works better with tubes than another...again, doesn't mean it is a better speaker per se.
On one of the Sterophile's test CD's, a guy reads the column by J. Gordon Holt, "Why Audiophiles Disagree", this sums it up much better than I am.
Like some of the others in this thread I have a pair of 805's with a REL strata III driven by an MF A 3CR -120wpc.
I am interested in the post about using over 200wpc for them. In stereophiles's review of the MF they also mentioned biamping.
Has anyone here tried biamping the 805's?? how much power is enough?
I have the upgrade itch - but I really like the nautilus sound and I have a fairly small room. beating the focus and detail of the 805 is not a small task.
Hi, I heard the Revel F20 and Aerius 6's.
I agree, the Aerials are smoother, "warmer" than B&W. They lacked detail and dynamics for my tastes.
The Revels were much clearer than B&W. Their lit. says their drivers reduce 2nd and 3rd order harmonics. This made sense to me because they had a similar clarity I heard in ATC active 100's. REF 3A DeCappos were also clearer than B&W - this again left me with a long face :(.
Not to get overly bowled over by Revels, their bass was very unmusical compared to N804. Drums sounded like the driver was bottoming out but that can't be at 85-90 dB. Sometimes violins sounded separated from the rest of the orchestra. So there was a coherence issue.
Finally they must not have the wide dispersion of N804 because the image would noticeably switch to speakers moving my head from left to right.
I think the new Thiel 1.6 was similar in style to the Revel. But Thiel bass was better quality and no image flipping between speakers. It seemed better to trade some bass extension than throw it away like the Revels - my opinion from what I heard.
I was told both B&W and Revel have a rising response curve in the mids and in the highs. This "flat" curve is good for studio monitoring and rock music but not for classical. I don't agree but I guess that's the design technology.
If you've got upwards of $5k to spend I'd highly recommend finding a Silverline dealer(not always easy) and trying the Sonatina II or Sonata II. Incredible speakers that will work well with a variety of electronics. I also thought the Thiel CS1.6 was outstanding, but, like B&W, will require some careful system matching to make them really shine. Definitely go hear the Silverlines though. Best of luck.