B&W 801

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  • 09-12-2004, 12:22 AM
    mwdaug
    B&W 801
    I have read about B&W 801's for years and always wanted to hear a pair with my Mesa Baron. Some audio gurus might call that a poor match, but I love my Baron in spite of the design flaws. I think it will be with me for a long time. It has been extensively upgraded by Mill Hill Creations and it really has a new voice now with some quality tubes in addition to the upgrades.. Because of the high input sensitivity, I use and old Mod Squad (McCormack) passive preamp. In some old literature, Mesa warns against speakers with a wide impedance curve saying this will tend to modulate the amp. Martin-Logans and Thiels are mentioned as an example. The Nautilus series is beyond what I can justify, but I have eyed several pair of Matrix series III's. Still, I cannot imagine buying a pair of speakers without a careful audtion, much less a pair of 10 year old speakers. Futhermore, my obsession with the 801's is sort of baseless and there probably are about 50 pair of speakers that I should also be looking at. Suggestions and comments are welcome, please! Thanks. Mike
  • 09-12-2004, 05:41 AM
    Geoffcin
    I''ve heard the Matrix III's
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mwdaug
    I have read about B&W 801's for years and always wanted to hear a pair with my Mesa Baron. Some audio gurus might call that a poor match, but I love my Baron in spite of the design flaws. I think it will be with me for a long time. It has been extensively upgraded by Mill Hill Creations and it really has a new voice now with some quality tubes in addition to the upgrades.. Because of the high input sensitivity, I use and old Mod Squad (McCormack) passive preamp. In some old literature, Mesa warns against speakers with a wide impedance curve saying this will tend to modulate the amp. Martin-Logans and Thiels are mentioned as an example. The Nautilus series is beyond what I can justify, but I have eyed several pair of Matrix series III's. Still, I cannot imagine buying a pair of speakers without a careful audtion, much less a pair of 10 year old speakers. Futhermore, my obsession with the 801's is sort of baseless and there probably are about 50 pair of speakers that I should also be looking at. Suggestions and comments are welcome, please! Thanks. Mike

    And they are very good. A friend has them in his HT setup, and they also works quite well for audio. They do present a 4ohm load, so if your amp has difficulty driving a low impedance load then I wouldn't reccomend it. Theils are an even harder load to drive, as they often reach 3ohm, and unless you have a rock-solid amp capable of driving 2ohm loads then I would be very wary of buying electrostats, which besides having low impedance, can be very capacitive.
  • 09-12-2004, 11:03 AM
    mwdaug
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    And they are very good. A friend has them in his HT setup, and they also works quite well for audio. They do present a 4ohm load, so if your amp has difficulty driving a low impedance load then I wouldn't reccomend it. Theils are an even harder load to drive, as they often reach 3ohm, and unless you have a rock-solid amp capable of driving 2ohm loads then I would be very wary of buying electrostats, which besides having low impedance, can be very capacitive.

    The Mesa Baron will drive a 3 ohm load no problem, but it is reported that it does not match well with speakers with a wide impedance curve, say 3 to 32 ohms. Nominal impedance is 8ohm, 3ohm minimum, so I think the amp will drive the speakers no problem. The Jan 99 review by Wes Phillips at Stereophile is amazingly informative, and would be more helpful if I understood more of it.

    Mesa at one time had some literature that recommended Aerial 10T, Alon I&II, Gallo Nucleus, Sonus Faber Conerto, Vandersteen Ic, and Gershmann Avant Garde. The journey continues...
  • 09-12-2004, 11:10 AM
    RGA
    All the 801 versions are very good speakers - IMO you can do just as good for a lot less money if you are willing to sacrifice the cool looks. B&W is a mixture of looks and quality sound.

    The 801 is also quite picky on what drives it properly and the room size and positioning. My dealer replaced the Big B&W 802 and 801 with Audio Note E speakers. May be worth it to you to compare the two yourself like me - it may save you a lot of money and get you a better speaker(which has much deeper bass, is easy to drive to keep your tube amp options open should you go that route) - though you don't get a show stopper in the looks department. You may also be able to find info on higher efficiency designs on the AudioAsylum forum as easy to drive is a benefit most of the time in the dynamics department.

    Some of the new ML's are a bit easier than they were - but get nasty sometimes in the upper frequencies. If they blow you'll be out some huge change as well. But they look cool and sound nice - Quite expensive for what you get IMO.
  • 09-12-2004, 11:13 AM
    RGA
    Gershman's are nice - and Sonus Faber too - I wouldn't say these were overly easy to drive interestingly. You really just have to try out the combos and see which ones you like the most. Taste varies greatly.
  • 09-12-2004, 06:12 PM
    Pat D
    Beware of generalizations!
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    And they are very good. A friend has them in his HT setup, and they also works quite well for audio. They do present a 4ohm load, so if your amp has difficulty driving a low impedance load then I wouldn't reccomend it. Theils are an even harder load to drive, as they often reach 3ohm, and unless you have a rock-solid amp capable of driving 2ohm loads then I would be very wary of buying electrostats, which besides having low impedance, can be very capacitive.

    Some electrostatic loudspeakers are hard to drive, some aren't. The Quad ESL-63 is not that difficult a load, though it is relatively low in sensitivity. The thing with the Quad is that at higher levels, the impedance in the bass rises so the load on the amp is not so great as it might appear. They do require a stable amp but lots of good amps can drive them.