B&W 803N's

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  • 01-20-2010, 10:57 AM
    manlystanley
    B&W 803N's
    I have a set of B&W 803N's that I'm demoing for a week--while I figure out how to sell my magnepan 1.6's. I had heard that the 803N tweeters are 'bright and harsh' and now I see what that means. I've told the guy that I'll be bringing them back Saturday, but in the mean time I'm trying to see if I can make the 803N's work. What I've found is that:

    -- Monoprice video cables make them very bright. But, if you can get through the sound of the screech there amazing.

    -- Monoprice audio cables make them sound very smooth, at the expense of loosing lots of high end detail.

    -- I'm currently listening to: one MonoP cable between CD player and pre-map; Then one monoP Video cable between pre-amp to my XPA -2. That sounds better, but it's still to bright for me.

    -- If I toe them in about 1/2 inch, that works the best.

    -- I've been meaning to upgrade to BJC cables, so I have a two sets of those on order. I'll need to see how they sound.

    I've read that B&W 803N's do not sound good with 'cheap amplifiers', so I'm wondering about my XPA-2, if that that making the problem worse?

    Anyways, I kind of wish I had my 684's back, good grief this is a pain in the neck and time sink. Knowing what I know now, I'd figure out a way to get my H/K 655 amp fixed.



    BTW, when I auditioned them at his house, the 803N's, sounded: dull with bass being a bit boomy. But, he has carpeting, and lots of sound absorbing panels on the walls. This is why I took them to demo them, since they sounded so subdued and my room is bright (e.g. I thought my bright room would make the 803N's sound more alive). We'll they sound good, if I could only tone down the treble.

    Worse come to worse, I'll drive back on Saturday and look for a plan 'C'.

    Best Regards,
    Stan
  • 01-20-2010, 11:12 AM
    RGA
    There are some mighty fine loudspeakers out there from names off the beaten track that may do it for you. The B&W's do have a bright quality to them - but IMO their weakness tends to be a lack of "cohesiveness" where you hear the individual drivers doing their own thing - which probably makes them suitable for studio use but less so as a home speaker to relax to. I believe the ear is good at detecting out of step sound. Dealers like them because owners tend to keep upgrading amplifiers, cd players, cables etc to try and get them to sound right - that doesn't happen and they end up after a lot of money buying a new loudspeaker - or wishing they kept their old ones.

    At the end of the month I will have a CES show report up for dagogo.com and I will list some of the best rooms at the show under $10k and over $10k based on the speaker's price. Largely because speakers account for the majority of the resulting sound and that typically speaking rooms mate less expensive front end gear with less expensive speakers and more expensive front end gear with very expensive speakers.

    I notice you have a pretty decent panel - I have a panel that was killer good - and with some actual balls - and not a stupid narrow listening head in the vice quality. An electrostatic speaker for $6k. I also have a killer good multi-way speaker on the list for $6k that has bass to 30hz and really really can pound. A wide listening window and unique looks. I don't want to give too much away until the site is updated.

    B&W is not bad or anything but sometimes we get trapped looking mostly at the gear that is in the mainstream and we miss some truly outstanding stuff that goes under the radar that costs less.
  • 01-20-2010, 11:52 AM
    audio amateur
    Did you try contacting Magnepan? What's the situation? Are you just not bothered enough to have them fixed or fix them yourself?
  • 01-20-2010, 12:28 PM
    manlystanley
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    Did you try contacting Magnepan? What's the situation? Are you just not bothered enough to have them fixed or fix them yourself?


    I did. They said it's very surprising that a 1.6 has the problem. She said to make sure, do the following: Cause the rattle, figure out where it's coming from. Put your finger on it. If it stops, then its the wire problem.

    She also said, that the speakers were made in April 1998. So, they are almost 12 years old. She said that to fix (at the factory) would be between: $264-470, depending on what was found wrong. Then shipping would be at least $50 each way. This then means that it would cost me $364 to $570 to fix. I'd then have a fixed 12 year old speakers.

    She said that they sell a kit to fix them, but cannot ship it in the winter time. This would be $50.

    The question is: should I just cut my losses and sell them as is. Maybe (with the custom stands): I could get $500-$750? Further, with all the problems I had getting them to sound good in my bright room, does it even make sense to continue looking at planer speakers.

    Best Regards,
    Stan
  • 01-20-2010, 01:29 PM
    koven
    For what it's worth, Emotiva amps sound relatively bright, look into tubes or a McIntosh w/ autoformers.
  • 01-20-2010, 01:59 PM
    audio amateur
    Yeah, it's a bit problematic.... it's a hard decision. You seemed pretty happy about them at first, that's why I am surprised
  • 01-20-2010, 02:06 PM
    manlystanley
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    Yeah, it's a bit problematic.... it's a hard decision. You seemed pretty happy about them at first, that's why I am surprised

    I did, but that was quick listen. I telework on Wednesday and Friday's and listen to my stereo the entire day. I just started to like the 1.6's less and less. I need time to figure out if I like something or not.

    I just want to cut my losses. BTW, the 803N's are growing on me. Very bright, but very clear and detailed. I'm hearing thinks I never heard on the 684's or 1.6's. I'll need to see how this develops.

    Best Regards,
    Stan
  • 01-20-2010, 02:07 PM
    manlystanley
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by koven
    For what it's worth, Emotiva amps sound relatively bright, look into tubes or a McIntosh w/ autoformers.

    Ekkk..... I was afraid of that... What would that cost me??

    Best Regards,
    Stan
  • 01-20-2010, 02:52 PM
    koven
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by manlystanley
    Ekkk..... I was afraid of that... What would that cost me??

    Best Regards,
    Stan

    i would check audiogon.com frequently, there are plenty of great deals.. IMO you need to spend at LEAST $2k on a quality amp for the n803's to reach full potential

    brands like jeff rowland, mcintosh, classe would be ideal
  • 01-20-2010, 03:12 PM
    audio amateur
    The 803 should be a good speaker, which generation is it from? i thought you were on a tight budget, now you're splashing on B&W's flagship range :p
  • 01-21-2010, 12:43 AM
    blackraven
    Fix that Maggies and then sell them or try and find a used tube preamp or warmer sounding amp like a B&K. Also check the Van Alstine web site for his used gear. Check frequently. he gives a 30 day money back guarantee, warranty and most of his used gear and new for that matter are fully upgradeable.
    http://www.avahifi.com/root/equipment/used/used.htm

    Also consider a used PS audio digilink III DAC or a used Marantz SA8001/8003 CD. These CD players are very warm sounding. They were too warm for my liking. You might see if you can do an in home audition. You might like what you hear even if you go with the B&W's.
  • 01-21-2010, 02:40 AM
    manlystanley
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    The 803 should be a good speaker, which generation is it from? i thought you were on a tight budget, now you're splashing on B&W's flagship range :p

    It's the Nautlius seriers. (803N's).

    Tight budget? Well, I've properly learned from this forum that: "Suzzy does not need to go to college, and Bobby, really does not need new shoes, just use card board". BTW: Since these cost more, my wife is saying things like: The big speakers (e.g. Maggies) were really not that big....

    Best Regards,
    Stan
  • 01-21-2010, 05:23 AM
    manlystanley
    So, one of the options that I'm toying with is going back to mid-fi and be happy there. If I return these 803N's, I'd look into other less revealing speakers. Maybe B&W 683's? The lowest price I've seen them go for is around $800. But, then my big-mama amp would not be fully used.

    Lots of choices.

    Best Regards,
    Stan
  • 01-21-2010, 06:47 AM
    audio amateur
    By generation i meant are they the current model or an older model?
    And by 'tight' budget, I meant that you're looking at a speaker that is a lot more expensive than your used maggies. Are the 803 used or brand new from the shop?

    As for the 600 series, I've heard people say they prefer the 684/685 to the 683. As you probably already know, the 683 has a dedicated midrange driver, which uses their FST technology (I believe it has to do with the fact that it doesn't really have a surround). And also dedicated bass drivers. Which means they may sound a little different to the rest of the range. If you liked your 684, then I'd say it's safe to go back to the 600 series. But why not try something new? There are so many offerings in the US it's a shame not to.
  • 01-21-2010, 07:15 AM
    Ajani
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    By generation i meant are they the current model or an older model?

    The Nautilus Line was before the current S Line (soon to be replaced by the Diamond Line)...
  • 01-21-2010, 07:22 AM
    Ajani
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by manlystanley
    So, one of the options that I'm toying with is going back to mid-fi and be happy there. If I return these 803N's, I'd look into other less revealing speakers. Maybe B&W 683's? The lowest price I've seen them go for is around $800. But, then my big-mama amp would not be fully used.

    Lots of choices.

    Best Regards,
    Stan

    Honestly, I think you should consider other brands... Your options are not limited to B&W and Magnepan... I've always found B&W speakers impressive (CM1 and 805S in particular) but I found them very fatiguing after about half an hour of listening... So I looked around and found other brands I prefer (Revel and Monitor Audio)... I would not suggest just going back to the 600 Series, since you must have had some dissatisfaction with them that drove you to upgrade...
  • 01-21-2010, 07:27 AM
    manlystanley
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    By generation i meant are they the current model or an older model?
    And by 'tight' budget, I meant that you're looking at a speaker that is a lot more expensive than your used maggies. Are the 803 used or brand new from the shop?

    As for the 600 series, I've heard people say they prefer the 684/685 to the 683. As you probably already know, the 683 has a dedicated midrange driver, which uses their FST technology (I believe it has to do with the fact that it doesn't really have a surround). And also dedicated bass drivers. Which means they may sound a little different to the rest of the range. I've you liked your 684, then I'd say it's safe to go back to the 600 series. But why not try something new? There are so many offerings in the US it's a shame not too.




    Hello AA,
    They are used original Nautilus 803's. They look very similar to the current 803S and 803D's. I've heard that the big difference in sound is with the 803D's. I've read all kinds of reviews. Some people love the 803N's and don't like the newer models as much. Then others say there's a huge difference between the 803S's and 803D's. Other's say all three models sound nearly the same.

    I've noticed that the bass is MUCH more defined on the 803N's. My reference piece is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the overture to 1812. With my 684's it came across muddy and many words I could not understand. With these speakers, much clearer.

    This model (803N's) was first sold in 2000. he said that he bought them in 2004, but the serial number are 1041 and 1042. So, I'm a little concerned that they might be older then 2004. He's selling because he bought 803D's. Also, he is a classical music lover and lives in a small town house, so he has not driven them hard.

    I have them on a weeks trial basis for $2,300. Worse come to worse, I'll try out really high end stuff for a week for free. If these new cables really help, I'll bring them back and say that I'll take them if he helps me purchase room conditioners. But, as they are now, they are just too bright. Also, the lowest they have ever sold on audiogon is $2,200.

    They look almost new. A few dents, but nothing really to speak off. The only real problem is that on one speaker two spikes does fit well. Which means that you need to use the hard wood pad instead. Not sure what that would do to there resell value? Since I have hard wood floors, it's find with me.

    I listened to them all day yesterday: 6:00 AM till 5:00 PM. There OK, but too bright. With the monoprice audio cables, they changed to being too dull. But, I need to listen some more, I'm starting to wonder if I'm also hearing a lack of cohesion between the mid range and tweeter. On some male voices, the tweeter really stands out and sounds harsh. This is really exemplified by Wille Nelson. But, I've heard it on other male Voices as well.

    So what have I learned? Well, I've got real problem with my system / room acoustics. Really revealing speakers go super bright. The magnepan's were much. much more bright then the 803N's, but both are bright.

    Best Regards,
    Stan
  • 01-21-2010, 11:42 AM
    blackraven
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    By generation i meant are they the current model or an older model?
    And by 'tight' budget, I meant that you're looking at a speaker that is a lot more expensive than your used maggies. Are the 803 used or brand new from the shop?

    As for the 600 series, I've heard people say they prefer the 684/685 to the 683. As you probably already know, the 683 has a dedicated midrange driver, which uses their FST technology (I believe it has to do with the fact that it doesn't really have a surround). And also dedicated bass drivers. Which means they may sound a little different to the rest of the range. If you liked your 684, then I'd say it's safe to go back to the 600 series. But why not try something new? There are so many offerings in the US it's a shame not to.

    I auditioned the 683's and 684's and the 683's are much better speakers. Bass is better, deeper. The sound stage is larger and they sound fuller. I was not impressed with the 684 because the smaller bookshelf 685's sounded almost the same. I would have no problems with the 683's as part of a higher end system as long as the room is not too big.
  • 01-21-2010, 01:28 PM
    audio amateur
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blackraven
    I auditioned the 683's and 684's and the 683's are much better speakers. Bass is better, deeper. The sound stage is larger and they sound fuller. I was not impressed with the 684 because the smaller bookshelf 685's sounded almost the same. I would have no problems with the 683's as part of a higher end system as long as the room is not too big.

    I've no doubt that the 683 may sound better, simply that's what I remember reading in another forum.
    I don't really see the point of purchasing the 684 over the 685, only perhaps if one doesn't want a sub and wishes deeper bass extention. The 684 uses the same woofer as the 685, only it uses two.
  • 01-21-2010, 01:53 PM
    blackraven
    Stan you should try to find a pair of older Thiels. There are plenty on audiogon for good prices. You may also want to look at warmer speakers given your room situation and your power amp. I would certainly consider a pair of the new PSB Imagine series or some Monitor Audio RS8's.

    You might also consider taking home a tube preamp or warmer Cd player for and in home trial and see if you like the Maggies any better.
  • 01-21-2010, 02:17 PM
    frenchmon
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by manlystanley
    Hello AA,
    They are used original Nautilus 803's. They look very similar to the current 803S and 803D's. I've heard that the big difference in sound is with the 803D's. I've read all kinds of reviews. Some people love the 803N's and don't like the newer models as much. Then others say there's a huge difference between the 803S's and 803D's. Other's say all three models sound nearly the same.

    I've noticed that the bass is MUCH more defined on the 803N's. My reference piece is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the overture to 1812. With my 684's it came across muddy and many words I could not understand. With these speakers, much clearer.

    This model (803N's) was first sold in 2000. he said that he bought them in 2004, but the serial number are 1041 and 1042. So, I'm a little concerned that they might be older then 2004. He's selling because he bought 803D's. Also, he is a classical music lover and lives in a small town house, so he has not driven them hard.

    I have them on a weeks trial basis for $2,300. Worse come to worse, I'll try out really high end stuff for a week for free. If these new cables really help, I'll bring them back and say that I'll take them if he helps me purchase room conditioners. But, as they are now, they are just too bright. Also, the lowest they have ever sold on audiogon is $2,200.

    They look almost new. A few dents, but nothing really to speak off. The only real problem is that on one speaker two spikes does fit well. Which means that you need to use the hard wood pad instead. Not sure what that would do to there resell value? Since I have hard wood floors, it's find with me.

    I listened to them all day yesterday: 6:00 AM till 5:00 PM. There OK, but too bright. With the monoprice audio cables, they changed to being too dull. But, I need to listen some more, I'm starting to wonder if I'm also hearing a lack of cohesion between the mid range and tweeter. On some male voices, the tweeter really stands out and sounds harsh. This is really exemplified by Wille Nelson. But, I've heard it on other male Voices as well.

    So what have I learned? Well, I've got real problem with my system / room acoustics. Really revealing speakers go super bright. The magnepan's were much. much more bright then the 803N's, but both are bright.

    Best Regards,
    Stan


    IF I where you, I'd get some good audio cable and get rid of the monopriced cable. I had a pair and my system was very harsh and bright...I mean really made the speaker brighter than what it really was. Its the monoprice cable. For the level of speaker you are auditioning you need a cable that can handle that speaker to get a good handle on what it really sounds like in your own home. Do yourself a favor and borrow some cable before you return them...maybe a warm cable if the character of the speaker is bright.


    frenchmon
  • 01-21-2010, 02:30 PM
    manlystanley
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by frenchmon
    IF I where you, I'd get some good audio cable and get rid of the monopriced cable. I had a pair and my system was very harsh and bright...I mean really made the speaker brighter than what it really was. Its the monoprice cable. For the level of speaker you are auditioning you need a cable that can handle that speaker to get a good handle on what it really sounds like in your own home. Do yourself a favor and borrow some cable before you return them...maybe a warm cable if the character of the speaker is bright.


    frenchmon


    Good point Frenchy,
    I got a pair of BJC's on order. Should be here tonight or tomorrow.

    Best Regards,
    Stan
  • 01-21-2010, 03:54 PM
    manlystanley
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audio amateur
    I've no doubt that the 683 may sound better, simply that's what I remember reading in another forum.
    I don't really see the point of purchasing the 684 over the 685, only perhaps if one doesn't want a sub and wishes deeper bass extention. The 684 uses the same woofer as the 685, only it uses two.

    The 684's fill a really good niche, in my opinion. This is because:

    -- More bass, so for cheapskates don't need a sub-woofer.
    -- Don't need stands.
    -- Are very easy to drive. At the time I had a low end Denon receiver and it drove the 684's without a problem. With the 683's and above, it becomes more difficult to drive. I fact I've read lots of people who say there receivers cannot drive the 683's.
    -- Finally, the 684's are really very un-transparent. This is great for lower end equipment. For instance, I heard a difference between the various mono-price cables with the 684's, but the difference was not huge. While with the magnepan and 803N's, wow what difference!! I know, this is both a plus and minus.

    I've out-grown the 684's, but while I had them, they were great speakers.

    Best Regards,
    Stan
  • 01-21-2010, 03:58 PM
    blackraven
    I wasnt dissing the 684's, they sound great but the 683's are much better but harder to drive as you stated.
  • 01-21-2010, 04:31 PM
    manlystanley
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blackraven
    I wasnt dissing the 684's, they sound great but the 683's are much better but harder to drive as you stated.


    We are in absolute agreement!

    Best Regards,
    Stan