Saw the Stereophile review of the B&W 800 Diamond


... an based on John Atkinson's comments on the measurements, it looks like they are a pretty similar speaker to the 802D.

Anyone done an A/B/A comparison?
goatwuss
Other than me, of course. ;-)

Kal
I've followed B&W for quite a few years ( about 15 ), since I had a pair of the Silver Signature's.

While I never gave the 802D's a serious listen, I did give the 803D's a number of auditions while I was looking to replace the Silver Signature's. It wasn't a contest to me and I didn't buy the 803D's to replace the Silver Signature's.

A few months ago I walked in to that same dealer's showroom hoping to hear the Magico line he just began carrying. I didn't get to hear the Magico's because he was breaking in a pair of 800 Diamond's in preparation for an upcoming B&W seminar he was having at the end of that week.

Those 800 Diamond's were easily the best sounding B&W speakers I've ever heard.

Chuck
"Those 800 Diamond's were easily the best sounding B&W speakers I've ever heard."

Krell man, while you thought they were the best B&W speakers yet how do they stack up to other speakers you have heard?

Goatwuss,

I did not hear the 800D but I have demoed the 802D at length a number of times (also owned 803s) and I demoed the 802diamond for a few hours.

I heard the 802D and 802Diamond in different rooms with different pre-amps (audio research, classe') but both demos used Classe' amps (and I used the same music). I felt the 802diamond had better impact on bass drums and a little less overhang. The initial hit of the bass drum seemed more dynamic. The mids had a little more detail (again different preamp...) but stayed true to the older 802D in the mids. The highs were better. They had more detail and better decay. This all added up to the 802Diamond being a little more transparent and dynamic than the older model.

I have read a number of places the midrange on the 800 diamond is clearer than the 802diamond. I read in a forum somewhere that the 800diamond uses higher quality crossover parts but I don't know if it is true or not. Keep in mind that the 802diamond has a very clear midrange already.
When I bought my 800d's, the older version, I was told the crossover was better than the 802d's. I really liked the 802d's and naturally no stores had the 800d's on the floor. My impression of the difference seem inline with the reviewers comparison. The 800s are cleaner, have a more even bandwidth, and more air between notes/performers. I realize this is the older version vs. older but have heard the newer 802 diamonds and think its more of the same, maybe they are better, but won't be selling mine for a newer version. As far as the improvements, I'm no expert by far, but my gut tells me its more about compatibility with lesser power.
James63,

I think that the 800 Diamond's were right up there with the Quad 2905's in naturalness. The 800 Diamond's also disappeared like the 2905's, and then played as loudly as you wanted with slam and realism as good as I've ever heard. I was sitting in the large dealer's showroom and they had them cranked.

Chuck
Many years ago I heard the diamonds - I believe 801D. (but could be wrong) The tweeter was oh so nice, airy and resolving, but nothing else in the spectrum gelled with it. Has that improved? Anyone else notice that artifact from the early diamond addition?

Off topic but has anyone ever heard a speaker with the Accuton or other diamond midrange? I was supposed to hear a speaker that claimed to use it, but the DesignKner never allowed me to. But even that didn't use a diamond tweeter. Any system use both? That I'd like to hear.
I don't feel that the new 802diamond's tweeter is any better integrated than the older 802D. It was a little less forward. It is the best tweeter I have heard but it stands out to me too.
I had the B&W 802D and traded up to the latest 800 Diamond. If I were to rate them on a scale of 1-10 I would say the 802D would score a 6 and the 800 Diamonds a 9 .
The 800 Diamonds do a lot of things very very well. I can't say the same for the older 802D .
I think Gshepardbuster is right. I listened to the older 802D and the new Diamond version at length, same room, same electronics, same music same levels, and the differences at best were minimal. Even the salesperson thought they sounded almost identical. As far as the comparison between the 802D and the 800 Diamond, I would tend to think a 24k speaker system should be an improvement over a 14k loudspeaker. IMO.
Mr_m

Thanks for the information. It is sad to hear there was not much difference. I heard a difference in the two systems I demoed them in. But they were just that, different systems in different rooms.
The New BOSE 901 series 6 version 2's are also right up there with these B&W 800's for naturalness too ! The BEST bang for your buck speakers on the market today!
Link to the review

http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Downloads/Product/Review/800D-Stereophile-May2011.pdf
Interesting that Atkinson speculates the 800D was voiced by ear, and KR mentions sparkly highs compared with the Salon 2s (a classic trick for getting attention at dealer auditions). Since I have a dealer a couple of miles from my home that displays 800Ds I always listen to them first, and my impressions mirror JA's, and KR's complaints. How KR came to the conclusion about how wonderful the 800D is I can't understand. There are few things in high-end audio more annoying in the long run than "ruthless" high frequencies, as KR calls them.

Unfortunate, because I think B&W has the technologies to build a really work-class product, and yet they seem to focus more on marketing and tuning for auditioning than accuracy. That's strike three for me.
Well, we all hear differently and of course personal taste comes into play. I haven't heard that many speakers but I find the 800 Diamond to sound very natural and has the best tweeter I ever heard in any speaker regardless of price. I don't find it "sparkly" but very natural. The only real downfall the speaker has in my opinion is in dynamics but I find all passive designs compressed compared to true fully active designs( where there is an active electronic crossover and the amp is hooked directly to the driver).
Thanks for reading but:

I have never reviewed or auditioned the Salon, only the Studio.

The sparkle was appropriate and, as I said, the ruthlessness only an issue with poor source materials.

Kal
Kal
I just read your review of the B&W 800 Diamond. I have been living with these speakers for about 6 months now and I think you nailed it perfectly. We all use different adjectives to describe things but in the context used I agree 100% with your assessment. I would also like to mention they are very sensitive to what's upstream and they definitely become more liquid as the crossovers break in.

KR4 writes: "Thanks for reading but:

I have never reviewed or auditioned the Salon, only the Studio."

Thanks for the correction. My fault. Apparently a mental slip caused by my ownership of the Salon 2s. Also, on a re-read of your review I noticed I have never heard either the 802D or 800D image as well as you describe. Of course, that could be just the quality of the set up process (which dealers often don't take seriously). As I've mentioned in previous posts, I thought I made a mistake with the Revels until I spent hours inching them into the just-right positions in my own room.
Budt says:

"I would say the 802D would score a 6 and the 800 Diamonds a 9"

My question for Bud, is why would you buy a ~$15k speaker that only is a '6'? :-)

Most of the rest of the comments seem to be saying that they are all in all pretty similar speakers, albeit with a couple of minor improvements.

For me, the type of feedback that I was looking for was best captured by Mr_m:

"I listened to the older 802D and the new Diamond version at length, same room, same electronics, same music same levels"

... Anything less than this and it's a "system comparison" and not a "speaker comparison." Audio, as Kal mentions, it's tricky to compare what one is hearing now, to what one heard a long time ago under different circumstances. Audio memory is pretty fickly and easy to be influenced in my experience. Anyway, Mr_m goes on:

"...and the differences at best were minimal. Even the salesperson thought they sounded almost identical. As far as the comparison between the 802D and the 800 Diamond, I would tend to think a 24k speaker system should be an improvement over a 14k loudspeaker."

This is interesting to me, and basically what I am trying to figure out. Based on John Atkinson's notes, I don't think these results would surprise him.

Of course, there are two big possible failings in Mr_m's findings:

1. The system and/or room where he did the A/B test was not of high enough resolution, or otherwise not transparent or capable enough to show the differences between these two similar speakers

2. Mr_m and his dealer don't have enough experience or capability to hear the differences

What I'm looking to uncover are the major, WOW, differences when swapping the 800 Diamond in over the older, smaller 802D.

JA implied the differences are subtle based on his detailed measurements.

Kal - if you don't mind my asking, taking money out of the picture, what more would have the 800 Diamond needed to have brought to the table to make you want to trade in your trusty 802Ds?
My rating of 1-10 is compared to live music. The cost of the speaker is irrelevant and of course it is just "my opinion". I rate the 802D at 6 and 800 Diamond at 9 compared to live music.The 802D sounds veiled and has excessive bass bloat in my opinion( which is why it only scores a 6 for me ).
I did hear the 805 Diamond and thought it was better than the older 802D( imo).
Look at this thread. Might give you something.

http://www.htguide.com/forum/showthread.php4?p=535611#post535611