Later in the day while my wife was having her nails done I took the opportunity to step into another hi fi shop. I listened to the B&W 800d (see speaker forum) driven by a Classe 200 wpc power amp and Audio Research preamp and cdp. I listened to the AR integrated driving some B&W 802s but they were using the Rotel 5 disc changer. This was in a very open area so I reserve forming an opinion. Next the same speakers driven by the Rotel 200 wpc power amp, the entry level AR tube preamp and the Rotel 1072 cdp, in a room this time. Something in this system made me feel far away from the sound stage. I don't like that type of presentation. I didn't hear any tube magic from the preamp and I thought the system lacked bass. Not being totally familiar with each piece i'm not sure where to lay blame. I've heard the Rotel power amp before and thought then for the power it lacked bass so it's my prime suspect. The system was very listenable but wasn't my cup of tea. I then capped off my expedition with a listen to an entire Classe system; pre, power & cdp, driving a smaller pair of the B&W D series. This system surprised me. I've always had respect for Classe and the system had good frequency response and detail yet it sounded dead. The sales rep used the term "lossy" and said the system tended to sweeten everything. That's not what I'd say. I used the same CD's on every system this day and on this Classe system the notes didn't ring or reverb. You got no sense of the venue. You would hear the note of the piano and then it just went dead. Nothing out of the ordinary about the room, the system just sounded like it was playing in a small room with thick carpet on every surface. I found this characteristic extremely annoying and wonder why anyone would make audio gear sound this way.

Once at home and in front of my own system, I think I made some good choices for my ears.