What speakers to get? Focal or B&W

What speakers should I go with all things considered. Price, Sound, Value, Quality, ect.... I am considering the Focal Profiles 928 $2,999 for the pair and the B&W 804s $4,500 for the pair.
They are quite different styles. I have owned both (Electra 926 and B&W N804) and kept the Focals. The B&Ws in my opinion have a slightly dry treble and lean midrange that the Focals don't have. If you like strict detail, then it is very hard to beat the B&Ws but if you prefer coherence and body, the Focals are the ones for you. The Focals are also a bit easier to drive and sound sublime with tube amps. The 804S is an improvement over the N804 (my neighbor has a pair of 804S so I know them well) but it still has that signature upper mid peak that I just don't really care for. And finally, even the Focal 918s have bigger and fuller bass than the 804S so the 928s will load a room much better than the 804S ever will. The 804S require a fairly small room to be tonally balanced - something on the order of 225 sqft. So if you like bass and big soundstaging, the 928 is definitely the better option.

ITs a taste/judgement call.

I've found the B&Ws are very British....more laid back and refined with what I've found to be a very "warm" sound.

I've heard the smaller Focal Profiles, 908 and 918s, I believe and they came across as more dynamic, transparent, detailed, and forward than any B&W's I've ever heard.

The B&W sound has never floated my boat. I'd go for the Focals, but again that is just my particular taste. Many would prefer B&W as well, I am sure.
Also depends on your power amp. Do you have solid state or tubes?
I have a Pioneer Elite a/v reciver 130W /channel
Which ever of the speakers you choose, change you amplification fairly soon. You can't appreciate that quality of speaker to its best with a big box receiver.
Jamesw20 is probably right that you most likely would not get the most musically from either pair of speakers with an A/V receiver.

I've heard the Focal profile 918 with a $2500 Krell integrated at a local Tweeter store + the sound was fantastic, very open, lifelike, detailed, transparent and dynamic with a huge sound stage. For a while, I was seriously considering picking up a pair.

I'm almost always underwhelmed by B&Ws when I hear them. They tend to sound lifeless and stiff in the low end to me. I suspect they require very high end amplification in order to sound equally good.
I've owned several pair of b&w's and find the treble to be thin. Again, I think proper amp matching would help.
05-20-08: Mapman
I've found the B&Ws are very British....more laid back and refined with what I've found to be a very "warm" sound.

05-20-08: Jamesw20
I've owned several pair of b&w's and find the treble to be thin.

That just shows how subjective this matter will be(in everything audio) when it comes to giving thoughts on how a particular component would sound. I fall into Mapman's category although I am pretty sure a lot of folks would also agree with Jamesw20 on the thin treble of the B&W's, which generally implies "brightness" as opposed to a warm sound.
With that amplification you shouldn't get anything more revealing than a B&W 804S
If you're looking at Focals, take a look at the Twin 6 BE's. I have a pair in my recording studio and brought them in to my living room to try them with my stereo. They sound incredible and are active to boot so you would save $$$ on amplification.
I used to own B&W Nautilus 804, and currently own Focal Electra 1037BE. B&W's are pretty revealing. B&W's sounded thin when the front end sounds thin. With decent front end and amplification the midrange is lush and full. If you are using a receiver to power B&W's, I can tell you right off the bat that you will probably find the treble rather thin and harsh. I don't know about the Profile's, but Electra's have all the good virtues of B&W's, but they are more balanced, and have fantastic treble that is airy and free of glare or harshness.
My experience is otherwise (ignoring your curious attempt to compare last gen B&W to current gen Focal in completely different price ranges); in my experience the Electra 1037Be is completely unbalanced - bass is obviously outclassed by the superb midrange and tweeter. In essence, the Electra outperforms the B&W 803D from the midrange on up but as a whole the B&W 803D is the better speaker. Now, when you talk about Alto Utopia on up it's a whole different ballgame (which probably explains why I own the Altos :) ).

In any case, he wasn't discussing the 1037Be or anything else in that price range.
Bar81. I love Alto Utopias, and they are one of the best sounding speakers that I've ever auditioned. But perhaps you should heed your own advise and not throw in random speakers that OP has not requested.

I don't have any negative to say about Nautilus 804 that I used to own, and if you re read my post you'll agree to it.

I'm not sure why you were compelled to bash 1037BE. I merely mentioned it because that's my current speakers. However you are the first one to say that 1037BE is not balanced. What they are not is an easy load. The impedance drops significantly at 1KHz and down. They will require amps that can supply a lot of currents at low impedance, otherwise they will sound lean. Perhaps your previous impression was hampered by inadequate amps. I'll just leave it at that. If you want further discussion perhaps you can start another thread.
Everyone's entitled to their opinion; I don't view my comments as "bashing" (rather they are a compliment to how good the midrange and tweeter are); and that wasn't my intent. I can see how someone would be happy with the 1037Be; it just wouldn't be me.

btw, the Halcro top of the line monoblocks that were being used, are, frankly, on a whole other level than the 1037Be and a best case scenario so I have no concerns that I heard all the 1037Be was capable of (although I'm sure it didn't help my opinion of the 1037Be that I was comparing them in the same system to the new Revel Studios and then the Altos).
Bar81 - A room that is suited to Studios and Altos will not be successful with 1037Bes. Your dealer may have mated great gear to them but then he failed on the most obvious and important of matters: mating the speaker to an appropriately-sized room. The Altos and 1037s may have similar bass specs on paper but in practice, they are quite different, and that shouldn't be overlooked.

Also, the 804S are current models, priced at $4500 as stated. The N804 was the previous generation and last retailed for $4000.


That's a very good point and may explain the issues with the bass I heard (and frankly probably makes sense as I've always been confused as to why the bass "issue" hasn't been mentioned in reviews). In light of that, I'll withhold further comment on the 1037Be.