Wilson Audio, Talon, Rockport and B&W

It's been fun after trying out some gears and cables in my system and see how each differ from one another.
Now come to the point that I might need to do my final upgrade... the big showcase of all... the mouth as some will say...
I have all those speakers on my next upgrade list.

Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy 7
Talon Firebird
Rockport Merak II/ Sheritan II
B&W Signature 800

I have heard great things about those speakers and wondering if anybody have any real life experience with above speakers?
Which of the speaker provide better bottom end, detail bass, big sound stage and still very balance in all area without colored? ( I mean, at their price, they shouldn't have any weak points in any area...right?...)

any thoguhts/experiences on the speakers will be greatly appreciated.

There are huge differences between the speakers you mention, even though some of them are in similar price ranges. If you are looking to make a final purchase, I suggest you consider the history of the respective companies with regards to introducing updates and new models as well as older models being upgradeable. The track record of some of these companies is they introduce a new model with the same name but called (sic) Series 8 and as it turns out Series 6 and Series 7 cannot be upgraded. Some people will shrug off this kind of thing, saying that's sales/business, but it does not show respect for the people who purchased your products in the first place. There are indeed times when an older model cannot be upgraded, but hopefully this sort of thing is not done very often. My point is, the design of such expensive products should be reasonably mature and well thought out such that upgrades are not frequent nor does one always have to purchase the new model in lieu of upgrading. Basically, the designer should get it right the first time! A radical concept, huh?

There are other considerations, such as your room, listening preferences, and associated equipment. Rarely does one start with a clean sheet of paper, so to speak.

I don't sell any of the speakers you mentioned but strongly suggest you try to audition the Rockports. The construction, fit and finish are at least as good as any of the others, and with the right associated equipment they can excel where the others fall short in performance. Contact me offline if you wish.

Like Brian I don't sell any of these speakers, and like Brian my recommendation would be the Rockports.

For the last two years I have been trying to put together a dream system to take me into my "Golden Years." All four speakers you list have an excellent reputation. Of those you list I had the opportunity to hear the B & W Signature 800 and the Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy 7. I also auditioned others such as the Vandersteen 5A and the Revel Studio. I stopped looking when I heard the B & W 800. I would have to say the major distinction between the B & W s and the rest was this: the B & W s seduced me into whatever music they were playing. I really expected to most impressed by the Wilsons, but I found them too much "in my face" and the lower octaves of the bass were somewhat weak. They did have one sigificant virtue that I found appealing: they brought out a lot of detail.

I ended up buying the more economical version of the B & W s, the Nautilus 800s. After buying them, I got a rather nasty surprise. The higher frequencies were too forward and somewhat harsh. Then I remembered that the B & W 800's were demonstrated with McIntosh amplification. I was very fortunate. I was allowed to return the original amplification and ended up with McIntosh C46 preamp and a 402 power amp. The magic was back.

This experience has me wondering if I might have liked the Wilsons better if they had been demonstrated with other electronics.

If you already have settled on your amplification equipment, then you need to find the speakers that best work with what you've got. If at all possible, try and hear the speakers you're interested in with your present peripherals.

I wish I could give you more precise information, but not hearing the Rockports and the Talons, it would be dishonest to tell you any more than I already have.
I do not sell any of the speakers you mention, but I have to say the Rockport does not do it for me. The drivers used are rubber and sound that way. They are lush and beuatiful, but slow and thick sounding without pop.

A speaker I do sell which you might want to add to your list is the Von Schweikert VR7SE.
Jtinn, tired of you badmouthng another product to promote a brand you sell.......Merak-Sheritan's are OK as used them in 2004 at the CES.......I prefer my Rockport Syzygys better, but like the Antares better as well........There are some pix of the set of Rockports we used in 2004 on the audiogon show website, AP1302......
Jtinn: your comments are inaccurate. For example, see Michael Fremer's review of the Rockport Antares and measurements taken. By the way, they sell for $41,500.
I've heard the Rockports and B & W's and I prefer the B & W's. I agree with Jtinn about the sound having a lushness but lacking something essential for my listening. By the way, I don't think it's "badmouthing" to say that something "doesn't do it for me." That's a private subjective reaction and as always subject to significant variation among a number of people.
I did extensive listening recently to the new B & W 800D's.A very nice speaker with a much more coherent sound than the old 800's. I thought that they had very tubby, loose bass. I also did a lot of listening to the VR 9 SE's at the recent CES. Those are breathtaking speakers, but at 60k a pop, they should be. I currently have Dynaudio Temptations which have a beautiful, clear coherent sound, but really like the REL Stentor which I recently added. If I had unlimited funds, and a big room, I would buy the VR9's in a heartbeat. Since I don't, I am very happy with the Dyn's (for now). I don't know anyhting about the VR7's but they are certainly worth a listen.

I listened to all of these speakers, and more and chose the WP7s. But what on earth does that have to do with what YOU like?
I really would skip the 7s and look to Maxx2s. I prefer them to the Firebirds a few friends have fwiw, and also with my limited experience with the Rockports at CES this year.


In there respective systems.

The Watt Puppy 7 I was not impressed with at all it was dull, lifeless and muddy.

The new B&W 800D driven by the MF KW500 was a dream to listen to. My only complaint was the bass was a little over powering.

The SonusFaber Stradivarius were also a dream to listen to. Again my only complaint was the bass was a little muddy.

Ok now for the important stuff. As I stated in their respective systems and rooms. At this price point thouroughly audition each speaker even if means packing up your gear and taking it to the dealer. You will then eliminate everything but your room.

I've auditioned the Firebirds and WP7s at length, and the B&Ws for a briefer period. All are excellent speakers and your preference will definitely come down to taste. All three are solid companies, with Wilson and B&W having even longer histories, important points to consider with any purchase. I ended up purchasing the JM Lab Nova Utopias which I found created a more lifelike listening experience for me. That said, all of the speakers you list will require careful matching of components and that choice can easily make or break the magic or lack of it you hear. I recall first hearing the Nova Utopias with BAT gear (very fine stuff, no doubt) but to my ears this combo created signifcant discontinuity of the berryllium tweeter and the rest of the drivers. I quickly dismissed the speakers only to hear them several months later with Burmester gear and being floored by the seamless convincing picture. As stated by the others here, listen to each as optimally set up as possible. I would recommend adding to your list, however, JM Labs Nova Utopias, Verity Audio Sarastros, the Von Schweikert VR7se, and potentially the Dali Megalines.

Good luck and enjoy. Half the fun is the search.

Thanks to all the responses~

The reasons I ask for opinion from some of you great guys are because for speakers at these price range, it makes matching hard and brings very different results with different gears used... I would like to know how people think and feel if experienced with the different speakers before I could go audition one. That way I know what I am hearing is what "others" are talking about. ( or sometimes not, as matching differently) It will help greatly as a guidline before acturally experience one. So what you "think" really do matter to me. :)

So far, I have audtion the Rockport and B&W briefly in different occations and with different gears. ( Rockport with tube and B&W with SS amp) They tend to go different way but truely very enjoyable. Rockport sound very smooth, detailed and in the warm side. ( might be the tube) B&W sounds more realy/accurate in tone color. Great bass, fast, with less colored in my opinion.
I will try to audtion more and spend more time to know what they "really" am capiable to do. In the mean time, wellcome all the thoughts on what "you" think freely and don't worry about what others might experienced different. After all, this habbit is all about personal preferance.

No one mentioned Eggleston Works Andra II's or Savoy's: they surely worth an audition. I would say that I never heard a better speaker than the Andra II in my house. Egglestons are surely less commercial and known than Wilsons and others mentioned but they sound awesome: dynamics, transparency without edginess, a beautiful midrange, tight but extended bass, a great sense of liveliness... Try to listen them, you will not be disappointed.
It will depend on the type of music you listen to, how you listen (loud or low, sitting in the sweet spot etc) and on the remainder of your equipment. I had very good sound w. N801s but changed to WP7s. I changed my entire system to creat a new synergy which I prerfer for low volume listening. There are plus & minuses to both systems but like the WP7s significantly better. I never heard the Talon but I am usre they sound great. I heard the 800s & didn't feel they were broken in @ the dealer & was disappointed. There are so many variables it will be difficult to tell what to do without varied & extensive listening. WP7s are magic, the Rockports definitely have thier own sound as do the Talon. It will be a difficult choice. All are great speakers. I would also listen with your prefered music to make the choice.
Actually the Mira, Merak, Antares, and Hyperion all use custom Audiotechnology drivers with polypropylene cones, and the Sheritan woofer modules use a 12" Eton driver with a kevlar/nomex composite cone.

While it's true that these are all fitted with rubber surrounds, I'm afraid JTinn's remark about the drivers being made of rubber was written in the same spirit that ultimately made Dan Rather so special in his chosen field.

Andrew Payor
President, Rockport Technologies
Lol, I got a good laugh out of that last comment Mr. Payor. I've never heard your speakers, but know that Bobby palkovic gives them his highest recommendation and frequently suggests them to potential customers. His recommendation is enough for me; from listening to his speakers, it is obvious he has a ear for music.

Thanks for the laugh,
It always amazes me to read threads such as this one. Many people simply state their opinions based upon what they've heard, which of course is a reasonable thing to do. When comparisons are made, however, what amazes me is how little knowledge is revealed with regard to the MANY other variables involved in discussing the kind of component in question, in this case speakers. "Beeper 99" gets at this a little bit when he discusses what happened in his case with regard to speakers and amplification.
I've not heard all the speakers in question under the exact same conditions, or at considerable length with many different components (including rooms). So I may not be of much help to the original poster either. What I did want to add, though, is that I have owned Rockport Antares for several years, and have heard them in my home with many different combinations of equipment, including different amplifiers, wire, room treatments, etc. I have also heard the speakers (and, incidentally, Merak/Sheritans) outside my home on more than one occasion. I have heard them sound slow and thick sounding. I have heard them sound extremely fast, transparent, and lean. And I have heard them sound pretty much everywhere in between. I hope this of some small help to the original poster, the moral being to listen for yourself and be aware that other factors are in play. Unfortunately this may not make your search for some expensive speakers any easier, or less anxiety provoking.
To Washline: I agree with you completely with regard to "badmouthing" and "private subjective reaction". What appeared to be the essence of Rcrump's post to me, however, was "...to promote a brand you sell." When dealers or manufacturers post here on Audiogon, in discussions among audiophile consumers, I think the line between honest, impartial contribution and self-serving behavior is very thin indeed.

Zellers: The truth is the truth. If you want to make this about me being a dealer and less believable, go ahead. There is nothing for me to gain in this post. None of the speakers mentioned are lines I carry.

I have a great deal of experience with the Hyperion's, Antares and some limited experience with the Merak/Sherritan's. I hold to my statement. The characteristics of the drivers Andy Payor uses are that of being slow, thick, lacking dynamics and transparency. It shows through in his speaker, which happen to be very nice looking and fairly well built. The speakers are always very musical and nice to listen to, but in the long run, I and prior Rockport ownerss have heard other speakers that are much more lifelike and overall more enjoyable.

Andy: Yes, I know they are polypropylene, but they do sound rubbery.
FWIW: I was trying to let the original poster know of my own personal experience. In doing so, I was trying (maybe ineptly) to suggest that he take what (all) other people say with a grain of salt ("the moral being to listen for yourself"). In doing so maybe I made a mistake in trying to clarify for "Washline" what I thought was a misunderstanding on his part, with regard to the post he responded to. I referenced "Beeper99's" post, in an effort to minimize my words as well. In any case, my concern about manufacturers and dealers (as well as designers, etc) posting in response to a question such as the original poster's continues. I'm sorry you felt I was attacking you personally.
>>There is nothing for me to gain in this post. None of the speakers mentioned are lines I carry.<<

Not true. By the simple dismissals of Rockport speakers (prior Rockport owners, more lifelike, overall more enjoyable, sound rubbery) you have offered a "professional" opinion that will benefit some other retailer/maufacturer and is out of place here. I agree with JFZ, "I think the line between honest, impartial contribution and self-serving behavior is very thin indeed". You either intentionally or unknowingly (call me a skeptic based on your posting history) have crossed that line.
Jfz: I understand and I expressed truly how I feel for no reason other than that is what I hear. We all have our listening biases. I also acknowledge that synergy plays a role in all of this.

My suggestion to all would be to listen and come to your own conclusions. Mine are posted above.

John, thank you for the explaination.
Jtinn wrote:
The drivers used are rubber and sound that way.

A speaker I do sell which you might want to add to your list is the Von Schweikert VR7SE.
rockporttech@juno.com wrote:
Actually the Mira, Merak, Antares, and Hyperion all use custom Audiotechnology drivers with polypropylene cones, and the Sheritan woofer modules use a 12" Eton driver with a kevlar/nomex composite cone.
Jtinn wrote:
Andy: Yes, I know they are polypropylene, but they do sound rubbery.

Zellers: The truth is the truth. If you want to make this about me being a dealer and less believable, go ahead. There is nothing for me to gain in this post. None of the speakers mentioned are lines I carry.
Perhaps the truth is easily discernable by rereading the above.

I don't think Jfz singled out anyone in particular, as witness his comment about people crossing the line. In any event no apology was necessary - he merely expressed an opinion as an audiophile and consumer. Just my opinion :)

Brian Walsh
Brian: Who cares about your opinion.
Jtinn: Thanks.

Mbadscl: Best of luck with the B&W speakers you purchased!

Brian Walsh
I have listened and owned many speakers (Thiel, Avalon, Dynaudio, etc.). I currently own the latest edition of the Talon Firebird Diamonds. I purchased them because they sound like music. I have listened to the Wilson 5, 6 and 7, they have never in any system sounded like music to me. I will never understand the cult following. The bass seems to bounce around the cabinet and the treble is only tolerable in short burst. I don't know... Rockport speakers have always sounded musical to me. Maybe it was the system that made them sound rubbery. I guess each person has there own personal set of biases. I have the Talon's for now at some point in the future I am going back to look at the Rockports again. Andy Payor and Michael Farnsworth are first class guys, for me that is also very important.