Review: B&W Nautilus800 Speaker

Category: Speakers

My previous speaker was the Nautilus 802. I purchased the 800s thinking that it would be a nice upgrade to the 802s. To my surpise it turned out to be a completely different speaker. They look similar but they are nothing alike. My listening room is very samll, about 11' X 16'. Even though the 800s are significantly larger, they were not near as room dependant as the 802s. I would always struggle to find the right balance between soound stage depth and low frequecy response. I never did get it right, and I chalked it up to the samll room they were in. Once the 800s broke in (about 40hrs) I had them set up in in about two hours, and they remain in the same position today. Anyone would expect good bottom-end out of these speakers. With two 10" drivers and B&W's matrix enclosure, good bass was a given. Again the 800s far exceeded my expectations. The low frequency response was outstanding! It is very very low and accurate with great definition in lower midbass range. Many speakers I have listened to over the years have low exstention but give up a little in the midbass range (Martin Logan Prodogy). The 800s have updated crossovers, tweeters and midrange drivers. These upgrades have made a huge difference in the overall sound. The sound is much richer and warmer with a more intimate sound stage. By that I mean even though the 800s are larger they image more like a good pair of bookshelf speakers on stands, w/ tremendous bottom end. This would probably change if they were in a larger room. My only complaint is like almost all B&W speakers they require some care when matching components and they will make a bad recording sound really bad. I use an AR tube pre amp to soffen the highs with a very neutral and much improved Bryston 4Bsst. I have tried several different amplifiers but I found the Brystons sound for the money to be unbeatable. Stereophile said the 800s were the best speakers they have ever heard at home, and I would definitely agree!

Associated gear
Audio Research LS-15, Bryston 4B-SST, Denon DVD-5000

Similar products
MArtin Logan Prodogy, B&W NAutilus 802

Fascinating review. I'm astonished that you listen to the 800s, or even the 802s, in an 11 x 16 room.

I have a brand new pair of 803s, still breaking in, in a 13 x 17 room. They energize so much air that I can't imagine trying their bigger brothers, even if I could afford to. (Perhaps our suspended wood floors limit how much energy the house can handle.)

We demo'd the 804 vs. 803 vs. 802 at our dealer in a room similar to ours, and decided the 803 soundstaged just right for us. I felt like Goldilocks, "Too small; too large; ahh... just right!" Of course a bit more low bass would be nice, we roll off just above the lowest note in Bach's C minor Passacalglia. For that I would love your 800s! Totally agree that the Nautilus show up shoddy recordings and equipment of course. They're the ultimate GIGO speakers.

As always in audio, YMMV. Enjoy the music.
I was using B&W Matrix 800's with the Krell KBX crossover. I bought it all used for about half of a Nautilus 800 pair. I just purchased a pair of Nautilus 800's. The reason I changed had a lot to do with the wife and daughter. Anyway, after about 40 hours of break in, the Nautilus's are approaching what I had with the Matrix 800's. If they sound as good, I will be happy. In light of this, if you can find a pair of Matrix 800's,a KBX, and a broad minded companion that will put up with their unique look, the Matrix is an inexpensive (relativly) way to get an excellent sound. They sound fantastic.