What speakers do you recommend? I'm considering B&W 804 D3 or Sonus Faber Olympica II

My current system consists of mostly older Primare components (SP31 processor, A30.2 amplifier, T23 tuner, and I’m using a Denon DP as a transport), Audioquest cables (Mont Blanc bi-wire (two run) speaker cables, Eagle Eye digital cables, NRG 5’s and NRG 3 power cables, and Jaguar XLR interconnects), and Polk Audio LSi-15 speakers. I am looking to finally upgrade my speakers.

The B&W 804 D3 sounded good in the show room, so did Sonus Faber Olympica III. (I feel the Olympica III is warmer and more extended in the highs, and the 804 D3 is cleaner and more involving in the showroom setup.) The Olympica III’s bass is a little big (in the showroom), so I am deciding between Olympica II and 804 D3; but the dealer here does not have an Olympica II, so I cannot audition it. What are your experiences / recommendations between these two speakers? (Of course, you can suggest other speakers in the similar quality/price range, and please feel free to suggest other improvements as well, though my primary interest now is between these two speakers.) Please let me know your reasons for your recommendations if possible.

Thank you all so much!
Oh, I am also interested to know how much difference there is between B&W 804 D3 and the earlier versions of 804's, especially D1 and D2.
I would think those speakers would sound very different. The 804D3 should have more depth in the bass as you would expect, though from what i’ve heard B&W haven’t been able to fully tame that bright sounding diamond tweeter, so if you were considering that speaker i’d look for a ’forgiving’ amp which will tame them such as a 2nd hand Vitus RI-100, or on more of a budget, the Unison Unico 150 is a very good tube hybrid integrated..

On the speaker front, there are some other options you might not have considered. Wilson Benesh has a warm, smooth, pure, resolving & overall musical sound and has exceptional build quality. They match up well with warm sounding amps like Modwright & Aesthetix. WB are good value & worth an audition if you have a Dealer nearby.

You could also buy 2nd hand Revel Ultima Salon 2’s or Magico S3’s in your budget. Having owned S5’s, the best amps & front end to match with the S3’s is the Vitus Reference or Signature series for my money. Pass Labs XA.8 series & XS series also pair very well. The same should apply with the Salon 2’s.

As far as advice with your system, i’m not a fan of pre-pros to be honest. There are some very good integrated amps you could look at which would provide a good upgrade from what you have now such as the Vitus RI-100 which I mentioned earlier, Dartzeel CTH-8550 & Pass Labs INT-250.

By Denon DP, do you mean the DP-S1 transport? I believe that was a Stereophile Class A transport way back when that rating meant something. However if you’re looking for 2nd hand options in the future, the Reimyo CDP-777 is still an excellent cdp & used the XL-Z900 transport mechanism which is one of the best transports ever made. The Accuphase DP-90/DC91 transport/dac are also still highly sought after & still compete with the latest Accuphase gear. Or if you’re looking at a new player, the Vitus RCD-101 sacd player is very nice & has a plug & play USB board with DSD support.
Izuo, I was thinking another great integrated amp which would pair well with all the above speakers is the Gryphon Diablo 300. I suspect the Gryphon would pip the RI-100 in fact, though it often comes down to what gear you have access to. Cheers.


if you plan on keeping/using the Primare gear, then, Vienna Acoustics is a sonic match. Get an audition if you can prior to buying the B&W or SF.

Keep me posted & Happy New Year!

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Hi, Melbguy1:

Thank you very much for your detailed recommendations!

I will definitely check out Wilson Benesh, Revel Ultima Salon 2’s, and Magico S3’s speakers and perhaps other components later when I am ready to upgrade them.

I am noticing all the amps in the showroom are integrated, which is different from years ago when they were all separates. There appears to be a new understanding that the integrated is better than separates, I guess?

Happy New Year!

Hi, Jafant:

Thank you very much for your suggestion!

Funny that Vienna Acoustics was coming into my mind on its own lately for no reason at all. Now you suggest it, I got to look into them and let you know what I find after I got a chance to audition them. Yea, I won't be able to move away from Primare soon because of time concerns in changing them and in part for their looks (I like the Primare simple and elegant look).

Happy New Year!

In case this is interesting or helpful to anyone, I bought a pair of B&W 803 D2’s (Diamond) from the local Magnolia. I didn’t get the 804 D3’s because I needed more bass than they could give even though they are sonically superior to the D2’s. Out of the box, the 803 D2’s didn’t sound as good as my LSi-15’s. After 10 days of constant break-in / burn-in, they improved considerably. I must say the Diamond tweeters are quite good, but the mid is a bit muddy (the mid for D3 is much better as I compared them in the store and a friend’s home who owned both). Plugged my LSi-15’s back in, I couldn’t believe it, they are far clearer and more extended on both the highs and the lows! Though the 803 D2’s have their strengths, but overall, my old LSi-15’s are definitely clearer and more pleasing! I knew the LSi-15’s are as good as speakers cost two or three times as much, so I went for the 803, which cost more than five times as much as the LSi-15’s MSRP! (Of course, the 803 went back, thus began a new hunt for speakers to upgrade.)
I like both, bought both.

802D3 incoming.  

SF Olympica III enroute.  

Both good speakers, but I prefer the 802D3 for overall presentation.  It gets me to the event better.  

Surprising to me that you liked both the B&W and the Olympica III's.  We listened to both and for us, it was not contest--went with the Olympica III.  We found the B&W very bright and the tweeter harsh (my wife has sensitive ears to high frequencies).  We also own an older set of Vienna Acoustics Beeethovens.  Silk dome tweeters are much friendlier to the wife's ears than metal dome.  We also love our Magnepan 20.1's. We use the Olympicas in our TV room with the Olympica center, McIntosh amp and pre/pro (MX-160, which is great if pricey) a pair of 12" velodyne DD subs, some in ceiling rears, and it sounds great.  Really like the SF Olympica III speakers.  For serious stereo listening (classical and jazz) we still prefer the sound of the Maggie setup (20.1s, Rel Britannia B1, Audio Research reference 3 preamp, Cary 308 pro SACD, and Cary 500MB monoblocks), but the Olympicas do very well.  Their sound is fairly neutral, detailed, and not fatiguing at all.  It does not throw the soundstage of the Maggie's (what does at a reasonable price?) but the differences are not that dramatic.  
Revel F208. Amazing and not just bc of reasonable price. Salon 2's will blow you away IMO
Thanks, Joey and Luvwine, for sharing your experiences!

Luvewine, which model of B&W did you listen to? I know some feel B&W's are bright, and they perhaps are on some systems. A friend of mine has the 804 D3's with McIntosh amp, preamp, Oppo DP, Nearly all Cardas Golden Reference cables except one pair of Audioquest King Cobra's (which opened up his system a lot, I know as I sold them to him after we listened together), and his 804 D3's sounds amazing from mid to high, natural, beautiful, and no brightness at all. I didn't get them mostly because I need more bass than the 804 D3's can do.

Joey, the 802 D3's have to be amazing, much higher level, and  much more expensive than the 804's. Let us know how that goes.

(I bought speakers, mono blocks, preamp and more cables since my last post, but that's the story for another day.)