B&W Nautilus 802..... any opinions?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Geo, Feb 12, 2002.

  1. Geo

    Geo Stunt Coordinator

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    I had been leaning towards purchasing the Revel Studios but recently heard the B&W 802's and fell in love all over again. I'm still not sure which I prefer. I can't listen to the two side by side because they are in different stores but even if I could I might still have a quandary as they are both incredible speakers. I had been considering the Martin Logan Prodigy but eliminated that from consideration due to listen room/setup problems.

    I decided to give the B&W 802's a listen before I pulled the trigger and I'm back to deciding between two excellent speakers.

    Does anybody here own or heard the 802's.

    The "Red Cherry" finish is incredible looking.

    Thanks and Regards,

    geo
     
  2. John Mannix

    John Mannix Extra

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    Geo,
    I can understand your quandary. [​IMG] The B&W Nautilus series and the Revel Performa series are both very high quality, very nice sounding speaker systems. I've listened to them both, and luckily have the opportunity to listen to them on the same source/amp combo at a single dealer. Definitive Audio in the Seattle area carries both lines. [​IMG]
    Both speaker lines are fantastic IMHO. I believe I'd lean toward the B&W Nautilus in the final analysis though. There's just something ethereal about that top-mounted tube-shaped tweeter. It gives an added dimension to the sound-staging, and there's almost nothing else out there that has its combination of extension, clarity, and smoothness.
    The Revel tweeter can get a bit harsh at times... [​IMG] or, at least it does nothing to tame a poor recording. If there's sizzle on the disk, then sizzle is what you're going to get.
    The midrange is quite pleasing on either brand. [​IMG] They both have a smooth, pitch accurate midrange that just makes voices come alive. I'd say that the Revel's are just a bit more forward... but I'd also have to admit that my personal preference is for a bit more laid-back presentation in the mids. Others would certainly find the Revel's midrange the ticket to their personal nirvana.
    I think the Revels do have a slight edge in the bass. :b At least they seem to be just a touch more dynamic and punchy in the lower regions. That's not to say that the B&W's are lacking. I love their bass... its tight, controlled, and musically accurate. However, for some types of music or listening the Revels would tend to "kick it" just a tad better.
    In summation:
    Highs - B&W
    Mids - B&W (though if you like a more forward presentation then you'd vote for the Revels)
    Lows - Revel
    Soundstage - B&W
    Speed & Dynamics - Tie (other than the bass region)
    My preference is the B&W[​IMG]... yours, with your room, amp(s), source, musical tastes, etc., may or may not be the same.
    Good hunting!
    JM
     
  3. Geo

    Geo Stunt Coordinator

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    JM, Thanks for great comparsion.

    I spent another couple of hours listening to the 802's yesterday. I also listened to them in a home theater setup at the store. They had the 802's mated with the HTM-1 center, the N805's and the SCM-1 as surrounds. They were using dual Velodyne HGS-18s for subs! Electronics were the Pioneer Elite VSX-49TX with a Pioneer Elite DVD player, not sure the model number? Even without some exotic electronics, this was hands down the best home theater system I've ever heard.

    But first things first, the 802s. Very early in the listening session I decided this was the speaker for me. The 802's have a way of bring the music to your ears, not shoving it down your throat. I listened to only 3 CDs, Patrick Leonard-Rivers and Metallica-Black Album and Eagles-Hotel California on DVD Audio. The best way I can describe the 802's sound is that "it's all there". Nothing is missing, detail, soundstage, tight deep bass, mellow highs and they are very very fast, nothing gets by them and nothing gets in the way. The other speaker I was considering, the Revel Studios, can become a little harsh especially with less than stellar electronics. The 802s seemed a little more forgiving of the recording, their enviroment and the associated equipment while still revealing the music.

    Also the 802s are beautifully made. Fit and Finish are perfect and I love the look.

    Another factor is price. I can get a brand new pair of Red Ash 802s for $6,200 out the door. This is about 2K less than the Revels.

    Anyway if anybody else has some thoughts on these or other speakers please let me know.

    The trigger is cocked, and the amazing sounding and looking 802s are in my sights..................

    geo
     
  4. KeithR

    KeithR Second Unit

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    I think they are overrated, but besides that---please, please audition other speakers if you are going to drop $8k. This is a large purchase, and you don't want to feel buyers remorse if you hear another line down the road that floats your boat. BTW, if the 802s were run on a receiver and you intend to do the same, than you have no idea what they are capable of, and are really wasting some dough. Sorry to be direct, but at this league of speaker, separates are essential imho.

    Ideas:

    Audio Physic- Virgo III, or Avanti III

    Wilson- Sophia

    Dynaudio- Contour 3.3

    Pro Ac- 2.5, Future .5, etc.

    Revel- Ultima Studio

    Aerial- 10t

    BTW, as far as pure looks go, any of the above have better finishes....
     
  5. John Doran

    John Doran Screenwriter

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    don't forget:

    soliloquy 6.5

    legacy focus

    thiel cs6

    dunlavy sc-iv/a
     
  6. Stephen_Dar

    Stephen_Dar Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I'm an 803 owner who hasn't listened to the 802. However, I've owned the 805s and I've listened extensively to the 801s and 804s, and a variety of other B & W speakers including the Nautilus signature line. My general feeling is the Nautilus line is consistently the best in head to head against everything else I've listened to. Don't of course take my word for it, do head to heads, as many as you can possibly find. But, that's my 2 cents on quality.

    As to speciifcs on the 802s, I can only add this: that price of $6200 out the door including taxes is far better than what I have seen here in L.A. and if I could get a pair for that price I would have run, not walked, to my dealer to pick some up. I think down here I'd be more likely to pay in the neighborhood of $7000 plus tax. As it was my 803s ran about $4200 plus tax, so your 802s are a real bargain next to what I paid.
     
  7. John Mannix

    John Mannix Extra

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    Keith,

    Not trying to pick a fight here... everyone's entitled to their own opinion. However, I can't let a comment like "overrated" go by unanswered.

    If the B&W Nautilus 802's were overrated, then why would industry magazine Hi-Fi News give them an Editor's Choice award and state that they were "recommended without hesitation"?

    Why would the European Imaging and Sound Association make them their 1999-2000 High End Audio Product of the Year?

    Why would professional reviewer Andrew Harrison state that they had "first-class stereo imaging, bass, midrange clarity, and a smooth extended treble," and that such attributes "make this a truly great loudspeaker"?

    Why would Audio Magazine write "How do these speakers sound? In a word, marvelous. On all types of bass material, the Nautilus 802s excelled, delivering prodigious quantities of smooth, clean, extended output. They worked equally well on loud rock or pipe organ pedal notes. On a wide range of different types of program material, the B&W Nautilus 802's rose to the occasion and performed almost flawlessly. The Nautilus 802s are truly spectacular speaker systems, with world-class performance and appearance to match. If their $8,000 price is within your reach... go for it!"

    Why would Hi-Fi Magazine state that they "provide seemingly limitless drive and [we can] confirm that the 802's will go extremely loud without stress. More to the point, they did so without the slightest hint of distortion or hardening up, and maintained their dignity without compromise... All the things that a really good miniature can do well were there - image placement was good, and the definition and articulation in the mid-band was excellent. Yet when the full orchestra came in, the bass was there to remind me of just how very low these speakers can go without clouding the issue and disturbing the equilibrium... they offer unprecedented levels of low distortion, transparency and, coupled with the dynamic headroom available, offer a unique insight into what is going on." ??

    Why would TNT Audio gush over them and say that if "you take a Nautilus match it with a big class A transistor amp you get a technically excellent sound. And if you take a Nautilus and match it with a weensy tube amp you get musically excellent sound. Let's try this for an analogy. You can take a picture of a landscape with the most perfect camera, using color-true film and processing, so that the end result is almost photo-metrically 'correct'. And you can make a picture of the same landscape through a red-filter, perhaps using IR-film, and having a lot of creative post-processing. Will viewing the former give you the idea of 'being there'? Does the latter? Which one appeals more to your art-loving soul? The same dilemma has been haunting audiophiles ever since the inception of reproduced sound. But the B&W Nautilus speakers refrain from making any preferential choices. They perform like Zeiss lenses, leaving the picture quality pretty much to what you put in front and behind them. So for once it isn't the speaker that determines the sound of the system, and you can use the system itself to paint in the colors you like." ???

    Nuff said...
     
  8. Mark C.

    Mark C. Supporting Actor

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    $6,200 out the door???[​IMG]
    Wow, I would also jump on that deal. But don't think a receiver is going to do those speakers justice. When I bought by Natuilus 804s, I knew I would also have to spring for quality power and purchased a Classe integrated amp.
    The 802s need lots of power, and quality power at that.
    And watch it, Keith, them's fightin' words![​IMG]
     
  9. Geo

    Geo Stunt Coordinator

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    Well thanks to all for replying to my quandry......
    John,Mark,Stephan and even Keith[​IMG]
    I've taken the plunge and ordered the 802s in Red Ash. Dealer said it would take about a week.
    I AM MAJOR STOKED!!!!!!!!!
    This decision has taken me about a year to make. I've seriously auditioned probably 10-12 different speakers and casually dozens more during this time. Ranging in price from around 4K to over 10K. I wanted to find what I considered the best sounding and best looking speaker that would fit into my listening room and keep my ears and eyes happy for a long time. Something I could build a system around. The Revel Studios were my first choice until I listened to the B&W Nautilus 802's. I'm sure I would of been completely happy with the Studios but I ended up preferring the B&W 802 sound over the Studios and even over the Salons and the B&W 801s neither of which would of fit into my listening room anyway. I have listened to a few of the Keith and Doran recommended. Legacy Focus (too bass heavy for me or my room), Audio Physic Virgo (excellent speaker, disappers, but not enough slam in the midrange for me), Revel Studios (love them), Aerial 10t (great speaker, mellow almost too mellow, odd size for my room), Dynaudio Contour 3.3 (love them too, but not so much at softer listening levels), also checked out the Martin Logan Prodigy (love them, but tiny sweet spot, not for my room), NHT 3.3 (again great speaker but not for my room, gets harsh, almost too revealing when pushed very hard)............... among others.......
    I completely agree that the 802's will need to be powered with a good amp. I intend to power them with either my Citation 7.1 or the McCormack DNA-2 Deluxe or perhaps I will try my Odyssey Stratos amp. I also intend to purchase the HTM-1 for center and then either the SCM-1 or the 805s or a combination of both for surrounds and back speakers..........eventually.
    Anyway thanks for all the help,
    geo
     
  10. Justin Doring

    Justin Doring Screenwriter

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    Congratulations on your purchase! $6200 out the door is a great price! The B&W N802s are fine speakers, but they do like power and a big room. I've heard them with Krell and Classe', and while the Krell nailed the bass, I prefered the Classe's somewhat laid-back and warm presentation to the Krell's foward and bright one, especially since the N802s are a bit on the bright side compared to the airy, smooth, extended Revels. I haven't heard the Citation, Odyssey, or McCormack amps, but you might keep in mind the Classe' gear if you decide to upgrade. The HTM-1 is a great center too, if not quite in the same league as the Voice. Still, a full Revel package would have been substantially more money than the B&Ws. Enjoy!
     
  11. KeithR

    KeithR Second Unit

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    John,

    I can quote reviews all day that I don't agree with (not to mention that UK reviews tend to be pro-B&W), but it is up to the individual and his ears, not a reviewers ears in a foreign system...my ears say that Nautilus tweeter has sizzle, and in the long term is fatiguing (to me). However, that is just me, and I admit that. Honestly, the 802 is the only B&W except for the new signature that I could live with. The 803 is really out of whack at 5k, and is handedly beaten by a number of alternatives. The 802 is definitely more refined, and has better integration. However, 8k is still quite a chunk of change, and I feel (being a tube person--and the TNT review i have questions about) that there are better buys, where amplification isn't such an issue. 802s tend to like lots of power (with an impedance curve all over the map), so that needs to be taken into consideration. Also, B&W themselves say biwiring is essential, adding more cost, when I personally feel they can design a crossover where it isn't required. JM Labs, Dynaudio, Audio Physic, etc agree.

    My bigger point was that the poster never talked about other speakers he heard, and since this board is so pro-B&W, I thought he may be buying based on the board, not his ears. Obviously that isn't the case as he clarified, and I agree with the others that $6200 is an excellent price for the speakers. Enjoy!

    Gosh it can be fun stirring up you B&W guys though....
     
  12. Greg Smith

    Greg Smith Extra

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    Congratulation, Geo!! I'm a B&W owner and think you'll love your new speakers.

    Quick question: did you audition the 801's? I'm curious as to why they didn't warrant more consideration? At $11,000 they not have been in your budget (8-10K, right?), but I'd like to know how they compared to the 802.
     
  13. Stephen_Dar

    Stephen_Dar Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, Keith, I really do hate to feel that I might end up being a booster for my particular brand, so I try hard to avoid it. I'm always interested in listening to other brands of speaker and I do so regularly. My philosophy, actually, is the same for speakers as it is for cars - I don't hold absolute loyalties, rather my goal is to own as many of the world's great performance models as I can during my life. That's more fun that just buying Porsche, say, or Covettes, and then dumping on and refusing to buy anything else.

    That said, I'm always puzzled by and suspicious of people who bash things that are fairly obviously very excellent. I guess it indicates a hidden agenda on the part of the poster. For example, I have my quibbles with Porsches (which I've never owned) - they have lots of electrical problems and their interior ergonomics suck. But, I'd be a fool not to recognize that they are outstandingly engineered performance cars that are a blast to drive. Similarly, with B & W speakers, I started out unbiased and found in every case that their offerings sounded better than most or all of the competition. I then took a variety of friends around, keeping my opinions to myself and actually pushing them towarsd other brands I was curious about. In every case, these folks came to the same conclusion, that B & W was the best in most or all categories we listened to.

    So, as all my messages always warn, never take the word of someone else as gospel, go out and do your own listening. But, when something has been established to be among the best in its field, be very suspicious of people who rant against them, particularly on that one most common complaint that leaves the most wiggle room - price for performance. It's legit to question cost, but it's also true that great performance is worth no fixed price but only what each customer is willing to pay. I have found it always better to invest in the excellent whenever possible, even when the cost doesn't seem to fit onto a price curve you might use to judge lesser stuff, because quality is so hard to find in this mass production economy the world has created. There's mass produced crap, and there's everything else, the small amount of stuff made with care, and if you believe in quality over quantity, I think you're wise to put out for the good stuff whenever possible. In the long run, it saves you heartache and adds the most to quality of life.
     
  14. PomingF

    PomingF Second Unit

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    That's okay guys since Keith already said he enjoy stirring up 'B&W' guys so it's obvious to me his intend is just to 'stir up'. I do like to see him try this on Paradigm folks though. [​IMG]
    PF
     
  15. KeithR

    KeithR Second Unit

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    PF,
    No, i was just joking at the end...i was dead serious in my first response, and message boards tend to steer towards certain brands, ignoring many others (for instance, Sonus Faber is the "in thing" at aa). I have joined the Paradigm "spoilers" club as well, but that is a totally different issue [​IMG]
    BTW, to clear up my position, I use Wilson Cubs, but have recently sold them and bought a pair of Dynaudio 1.3SEs (for personal reasons, financial and geographical) today. The 1.3SEs are simply a phenomenal speaker for the price. Wilsons take a beating everywhere (unfair imho), so I am used to the heat!
    KeithR
     
  16. rodneyH

    rodneyH Supporting Actor

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    Geo, I don't have a side by side comparo, But I can tell you that a relative of mine has the most expensive Revels (are they the saloons??) in a second home and some OLD b&ws in his regular home. He really really likes his revels, but when he came over to my house and listened to a pair of B&W cdm9nts (a far far cheaper speaker), he couldn't believe how great they sounded (may the price was a consideration here), He could have just said that to make us feel good, but he is going to order some for his daily living house very soon (doesn't make sense to me, have $16,000 speakers at a home you only go to a dozen times a year, yet $2600 speakers at your daily house, but who am I to question) I certainly am NOT saying that the CDM9 is nearly as good as the revels, but they certainly don't get EMBARASSED by them. So I would guess the 802s sound very very good.

    On a similar note, I have a freind who owns a dealer that carries B&W, he tells me that outside the new 800 and sig, he says that the 802 is THE best B&W (yes, better than teh 801) he says that he feels the 802s bass (2 smaller drivers) is more musical and integrates better than the 801 (1 large bass driver). i know that people will disagree, but he has no reason to lie to me (since he doesn't make $ off me anyway).

    That being said, RUN to get the 802s. GOOD LUCK
     
  17. rajiv

    rajiv Stunt Coordinator

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    Geo,

    Congrats on your purchase. Its a fine speaker and the sources you have are also very good. Whats important with any purchase at that price point is that you drive the speaker with equally good amps and processors.

    The Revel line seems to work best with Proceed and Mark Levinson gear and the B&Ws with Krell gear.

    I'm about year and a half away from making a decision on the Studios or N802s (once issues with a new home are settled). At this time I have all Proceed amps & a Proceed AVP processor, so I'm leaning toward the Studios. The one thing about the Studios is that they are excellent for off-axis listening and are extremely accurate, thus the reason some people find them a bit harsh. The Studios also have a better defined bass and are the ideal combo music + home theater speaker at almost any price. The N802, has a more musical mid-range and sounds better with all kinds of music. It is not the least bit fatiguing and you can listen to them all day.

    My dealer carries both Revel and B&W. When I asked him which should I purchase, he said both are very good, but different speakers. He knows that I have Proceed gear that I bought from him and he suggested it would mate best with the Studios. The N802s are about $1500 less, on MSRP, than the Studios, but at $6200 in the cherry finish new is a deal I wouldn't turn down. Studios in the matte finish sell for $9600 a pair. In a gloss finish of your choice, they are about $10,500. Even used less than 100 hours, Studios in gloss finish sell for $7500.

    Good luck and congrats on your new speakers.
     
  18. Geo

    Geo Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all the support.

    Here is an interesting post I came across on

    another forum.

     
  19. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Geo, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you. I love those speakers, but can't afford them and my room is too small. I heard them in the store and was in awe.

    Congrats, and enjoy!
     
  20. JerryW

    JerryW Supporting Actor

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    Geo, I'm glad to hear you went with the N802's, they really are one of the best values in HiFi. In fact, they made it all the way to my top 2 (along with the Prelude MTS). I eventually went with the MTS system simply out of personal preference in relation to the type of music I like to listen to (rock, classical, R&B, and Jazz). In rock and R&B the Preludes were better, in Jazz the B&W's were better, while in classical each had their strong points and ended in a tie... also the Preludes had more extension, but the B&Ws are just drop-dead beautiful. You can see why I pulled my hair out for weeks trying to decide. But, it finally came down to my preference in sound and the MTS had a slight advantage. Another factor was the discovery that the Preludes match very well with my existing Interludes (used only for HT) meaning I could keep my IL36C and all my IL10's (all 4 of them).

    I wish I had more $, I would have bought them both (the Preludes and N802's) and set up another 2ch system somewhere else in my house. Oh well, life's full of compromises.
     

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