Replacement for 802 D3s


Hey all,

After living with them for a few months, I'm looking to replace my B&W 802 D3s. While they offer great detail and soundstage, the sound is too bright and thin for our space. My room is fairly large (roughly 20'x30') and the speakers are on the long wall. The rest of the system includes...

Mac c2700 & MA 462
Aurender ACS100
VPI Prime Signature

The speakers I'm considering (and about to start auditioning) include...

KEF Blades
Paradigm Persona 9H
Wilson Audio Sasha DAW

I'm also considering Revel & Harbeth from a local dealer and am trying to find a dealer to demo Sonus Faber Amati Traditions and Il Cremonese.

I would be interested in any perspective from people who have owned any of these speakers and lived with them in their system for some time. Whatever we end up with has to not only sound great, but also look fantastic in a contemporary aesthetic.

Many thanks for any feedback...


beach2mtn
I’d cross the Paradigms and Revels off your list if the 802s are too bright, and it’s hard to fathom the Harbeth looking at home in a modern decor.  I think Sonus Faber is a good one to pursue as well as the Sasha, and the Rockport Avior ll should also be very high on your list IMHO (read Soundstage Ultra review).  Best of luck. 
Have you heard Vandersteens?
Many thanks @soix ...definitely agree on the aesthetics of Sonus Faber. I just lined up a demo for next week. I'll give the Rockport a look.
@stringreen I have not heard Vandersteens...I like the aesthetics and will do some research. Many thanks!
If you’re not that crazy about the 802 d3’s sound I think you will be less happy with the Personas. Fine speakers but probably not what you’re looking for. Of the speakers you mention the Harbeth’s will move you in a different direction than the b&w’s. Harbeth 40.2’s are fantastic but I’ve only heard them in show conditions. No experience with the SF. Good luck! Great problem to have!
Not to get off course but I think your Mac gear is holding you back. If you want to keep the Mac (and it's certainly quality gear) you will want speakers that are lively. That will perk up your whole system. Maybe one of the Triangle Magellan series would work. A little harder to find but worth the effort. 
Thanks @arch2 ...I'm going to give the Persona's a demo next week at the same dealer that has the Blades...appreciate your perspective.

I lumped Harbeth in as I've read so much positive feedback on them. The only ones that have hit the mark for me aesthetically are with the color matching grey exterior (not sure if it was the "X" series)...certainly not sculptural, but again, I love what I read of the sound and want to give them a listen.
@russ69 appreciate the thoughts on the Mac gear and you could very well be correct. I know the speakers aren't right and want to change them first and if I need to upgrade the Mac stuff, I have no sentimental brand loyalty...really like what I've seen from Luxman, Gryphon, Pass Labs, etc..
beach2mtn,

The  B&W 802 D3s are fine loudspeakers. I'm kind of surprised that they didn't work out for you. But on the otherhand my Mac402 just didn't have any bounce to it, it was just a tad dull and flat. My brother had six of them on his gigantic Infinity RS-1B system and they worked well there so it's a synergy thing. With the gear you have you might really like the Triangles.  
Cheers and thanks again @russ69 . I'll do some research and see if I can find a place to demo the Triangles. 
Agree it’s more likely the Mac gear. My local B&W dealer carries both McIntosh and Audio Research. Don’t want to get into a bash on McIntosh but ARC will walk all over Mac gear all day long. I’d hold off on the speakers and drag home other components to see if things change. Your 802’s are very revealing speakers and the others noted on your shortlist are as well, excluding maybe the Harbeth, then the Fabers’. With your 802’s on the long wall they should fill your room just fine from your listening chair. Might need to spend more time on speaker placement and room treatment.
I have heard the 803d3 on mc601s and it was bright to me. Great demo but not a purchase for me (I have owned B&Ws in the past). 
I would look at the Sonus Faber the Largest Olympica Nova (5?) would actually be a little cheaper and a better speaker based on my demo of the Nova 3 and 803d3 demo (same shop different rooms gear....) The Serafino would be right in the price range and might be better. I have never heard it. 
The new Sonus Faber sound is neutral to me. Not rolled off at all with a little bloom in the upper bass. 
I don’t think you need the Sasha DAW unless you want the adjustable head. The Yvette would do the trick and save a lot of money. 
Video below comparing the Serafino to the wilsons. 

https://youtu.be/R5-BGiLmEHs

for what it is worth I have heard the 802D2 803d3 (bright, needed played loud to come alive), Kef blade (meh), Reference 3 (boring no dynamics), Revel Salons ultima 2 (lean for your room and buttoned down) and most of the wilson line. I personally would choose the yvettes as the best of the group and the sweet spot for the money in Wilson’s line. 

Joseph Audio Pearl 20/20 could be another great option to consider.

https://www.josephaudio.com/pearl3

(disclaimer....I'm a Joseph dealer).


Not in the least surprised by your reaction to B&W.  Trust us, even if you like the Paradigm at the store, they'll be exiting your house faster than the B&W.

Good alternatives: Harbeth and Vienna Acoustics.  Seek out the Liszt or the Music if you can swing it.

Otherwise as stated, Sonus Faber, Joseph, Vandersteen.
I bought the persona 7f 5 months ago and drive them with a hegel h360. I think what impressed me most is that the bass is as transparent and fast as the rest of the system. Your list looks like a win, win, win. The Wilson being the biggest pita to dial in, but always sound amazing at shows. Have fun.
I’d highly suggest only looking at speakers with a cloth dome tweeter. Having auditioned a ton of speakers over the years, I’ve generally found myself much more drawn to them and tend to find metal dome tweeters too bright and harsh for my tastes. That includes every pair of B&W’s I’ve heard over the years, which I find to be particularly bombastic.

I ended up with Egglestonworks speakers which, to my ear, are incredibly well-balanced, image wonderfully, and are designed to be non-fatiguing for use by mastering engineers.

I’ve heard a few Revel and Harbeth speakers from your list; I don’t think the Revels will be what you’re looking for but you might like the Harbeths. I’d describe them as a bit of a magic trick - the ones I heard (can’t remember which, maybe the HL5s?) sounded absolutely huge compared to their tiny size and completely disappeared. I didn’t find them as musically engaging as the Egglestonworks that I directly compared them to though.
I've had B&W and Revel and there is no way Revel is bright unless it's set up wrong. For your price I would try try to find some of the discontinued Salon 2. 
Thank you all for your thoughts...

A couple additional notes...

  • My speaker replacement budget is up to $50k
  • My listening tastes are pretty varied... rock/folk/reggae/bluegrass/funk
  • Lastly, placement might not be ideal as I can't come off the back wall more than 12-18"
I'm located in UT so my options to easily demo some of these are a bit limited (w/the exception of Wilson). That said, I'll be in SoCal next week on vacation and plan to work in some listening sessions. I'm glad to hear the descriptions of the Sonus Faber house sound as they seem to line up in terms of SQ and with my aesthetic preferences. 

Thanks again for your feedback!
There is nothing wrong with your Mac gear, it is the cornerstone of a good system. The B&W speakers are bright, period, as are the Paradigm speakers with the be tweeter. It’s like an ice pick hitting your eardrum. The Rockport Avior II would be your best bet. They are a neutral sounding speaker and would compliment your Mac gear.  I have heard the Rockport twice and if I had the dough, I would own them. 
While they may not be beautiful in a modern sense, Tannoys are very beautiful, regardless. They sound absolutely beautiful as well. I use my custom built 12" Tannoy HPD speakers in a room that is 16' X 34" w/cathedral ceilings, and I couldn't be happier.

I do think, however, speakers would work better in your room on the short wall. My home was set up that way when I first moved here, but I moved the wood stove to a side wall, and my speakers have been on the short wall ever since. 

Anyway, just my 2 cents, it's what's worked for me for many years now.

Good luck, regards,
Dan
Audiovector R6 Arreté . Beautyfull African Rosewood Piano.
Fantastic reviews. Your Mac gear should tame the AMT tweeter
Need some room to breath.



Based on your comments, if I were you, I'd strongly look at Audio Solutions, either Figaro L, Figaro XL, or Virtuoso S, M, or L.  I heard the Virtuoso M at RMAF, and they are what I would call neutral, certainly not bright speakers.  They don't call attention to any part of the frequency range, and they also have great dynamic capabilities. 

https://www.audiosolutions.lt/products/virtuoso/virtuoso-m


My speaker replacement budget is up to $50k
You don't need $50k to fix a bright speaker. Get an EQ for 50 bucks.

@islandmandan I love the history of Tannoy and the design is stunning. I would love to rock out with one of the bigger (Canterbury / Westminster)...guessing neither of them would have difficulty "loading" my room. Unfortunately, they don't fit the aesthetic at all. I'm also locked in to the long wall orientation.
@maxwave love the aesthetics and reviews of the S6, but would need the S8 to properly fill my space...bit out of my price range.
Honestly with the room limitation (placement restrictions) subs might take you farther.  Subs with a high pass crossover (JL CR-1 for example) can work miracles. 
I have a large dedicated room (650sq/ft) and subs did the trick for me. I have always found the long wall placement makes the bass hard to work with. Great for sound stage but not so much for bass but each room is very different. 
Thanks @stereo5 and @mtrot will do some research!
@james633 that is exactly the issue I'm having with bass. I've stuck my old REL 528SE into the system and it helped a little. I asked the dealer that sold me the 802s if adding subs would just add more bass to a sound profile that I am not liking and he thought that was probably the case. Definitely makes sense if I can't find a floor stander that will fill the space!
Fyne F1-12
Similarity to Tannoy
Aesthetictly  better.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT-1vwsmEYY

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/fyne-speakers-now-in-the-usa

I own Audiovector R6 Arreté.No issue to fill my space 14 X 26
( on the short wall ) opened to the dinning room.
But I have never heard Fyne speakers
I went from 802 D3s to Wilson Alexia 2s. Will never look back. So much better in every way. You can find them used for a great price. 
Nice one @maxwave I've looked into the F1s before...I really need to see/hear them in person. 

Thanks for the feedback on the R6.
It's not the speakers it's your front end. I auditioned Macs and Blades with the 802d3 and 800d3. Far too weak, I would not recommend Macs and the blades were far inferior too. I use Bryston (7b3 and 28bsst2) and they provide very strong results
i.e. The 800d3 is an ideal uplift to the 802d3. It seems to be a standard upgrade - followed by many
Magico A3. I will have a longer listening session next week!
Have you looked at Wison Benesch?  There are not a ton of dealers out there to help you with auditions but they are brilliant speakers and will be a bit more natural sounding than B&W.  I would look at the A.C.T. One.  

Vivid Audio is not necessarily going to be significantly less bright, (Laurence Dickey is ex B&W and designed the Matrix and Nautilus lines) but these are incredible sounding.  Aesthetically, you either love them or hate them but few critique the sound.  A Giya G3 should deliver very room filling sound.  

Both of these are some of the best engineered speakers in the world and would be first choices for me.  I am in the process of becoming a dealer for both brands and could blather on for pages for why both.  Cabinet materials, driver design, etc... all make them fabulous.

Regarding other options:

Rockport makes insanely good speakers and again, are a bit more natural sounding.  Wonderful engineering and you can't go wrong with the.

Vimberg or Tidal - they take a while to get but are awesome speakers.  

YG and Magico - Aluminum cabinet and both are worth a listen.  YG has an awesome upgrade path.  




The 802s are sooo young.  Give them a few more months to breakin and mellow out.    Add some absorption panels to room and a carpet. Set crossovers to 40.  Get a sub for less than 40. 

With your ACS100 I assume you use Roon and would be able to tweak annoying frequency area in DSP. Not trying to change your mind about buying new speakers, just troubleshooting what the issue is. You did not mention any room treatments, nor if you have used Room EQ Wizard to find out what is really happening at your listening position.  Personally, I would do the work of finding out what my room is doing acoustically and from there choose speakers that match the environment or EQ in the digital domain to work in your room.
Another one that can sound incredible in a large room is Legacy Audio Aeris, IF you can get their proprietary internet based room correction run just right.  I have heard it sound incredible and I have heard it sound like the setup was not quite right.  You won't find many speakers that can compete in reproducing deep male vocals with the Aeris if they are set up right.  Try Leonard Cohen's You Want it Darker for a test track. 
I demo'd KEF and Paradigm Persona, Legacy Aeris and Wilson Daw before settling on Sonus Faber Amati Tradition Homage speakers.  The SF's easily filled my room which was 20 x 40.  For me the KEF and Persona's were to bright.  I am definitely not a fan of B&W.  

With that budget you should look at YG Acoustic.  It is the best non horn speaker that I have heard.  I have since sold the SF's and moved onto to Viking Acoustic Grande Voix.duea horn speakers.  They easily are better than my previous SF Amati's and cost way less.  They even passed the wife test from an architectural looking speaker.  If you would consider a horn, you should take a look at the Viking Acoustic website or even call David Counsell at Viking.  
I think.you would like Sonus Faber.  They sounded good with Mac.
I had a pair of Usher be20dmd speakers that had all the resolution of the best speakers I've heard yet managed to stay warm and musical. the downside would be size. they're canted back so are 3' deep themselves, pretty wide and with the necessary plinths weigh 285 lbs. There was some negative press about their be tweeter marketing and they've since changed it, regardless, they sound exceptional if you have the real estate. I love the persona line, but they do need to be paired with choice components as they'll change their presentation with each different component. The Kef Blades are still on my wish list also. 
Yeah, there’s a pair of Usher BE20 DMDs on US AudioMart now for $8250, which is an absurd deal IMHO.  Somebody gonna score big there.  
I just got the Dynaudio Confidence 30s about a week ago.  They sound fantastic to me.  Wonderful sound stage.  
Maybe its the room and not the gear. I have 3 REL subs: 803d3 MC462 &  C1100 + d1100 combo and no brightness. I previously had Sonus Faber Guarneri Homage hooked up to the same system and the 803's are superior in every way except for vocals and strings. I still enjoy SF's in another room. My room is 15x25: Its a short wall install 3' from the back wall & 31/2' from the side walls: The room is fully carpeted with paneled walls and a angled wood ceiling like a church: So the take away is that this is a dead room so if there is brightness it is offset by the rooms deadness.

So maybe some room treatments would be better than chasing the unknown and a lot cheaper than taking a financial bath selling your new equipment: You can consult your dealer about auditioning the Mac room correction  MEN220. My friend has 601 monos 802d3 and c500t preamp and his room is a very bright and he told me that it made a night and day improvement and tamed all the brightness. He even offered to let me try it but in my room I felt it was unnecessary. Keep in mind that All the recommendations on this forum are people just guessing or making assumptions on a preconceived bias. There is no way to find out unless you make the expensive decision to change the gear only to find out that your new replacement has issues to. Good Luck: Keep the gear a little longer and treat the room or try to audition a MEN220.
I too would look at the Vandersteen Kento's. It's the newest design for Vandersteen.  Some special bass set up, plus using ta powered internal sub frees up the main amp to sound better as it only has auto power 200hz on up (100 hz up in his other powered speakers).  
According to @verdantaudio : ´´Another example is Audiovectors R series with rear firing tweeters and/or midrange drivers depending on the model. These sound much bigger than they are. ´´

So , no issue for Audiovector R6 Arreté to fill your room.
Used Magico MPro or M3

other than that, rockport Cygnus