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I am in the market for a pair of used B&W 802 speakers with the diamond tweeters, i.e. the post Nautilus 802 products that precede the current D3 model. I am a bit confused about the various model designations in this group. As I understand the nomenclature, the first diamond tweeter version released around 2005 is the 802D, followed later around 2010 by the 802D2. But I am confused about speakers listed on Audiogon and elsewhere as "802 Diamond". Is the "802 Diamond" synonymous with the 802D2 or is it a third version of the post Nautilus 802 series?
Do think carefully before buying these B&W speakers. I was seriously considering the 802D speakers and found an excellent pair at a dealer. I listened to them, playing music I was familiar with. They sounded awful! The bass was over the top which is great if you like head-banging music, but anything with subtlety is likely to disappoint.
If you're only into rock music, you'll love these big B&Ws. Almost anything else, you'll hate them - sooner or later.
Thanks for the warning. Over several years, I have listened to the 802D at three different dealers and liked them at two and was very disappointed at a third. Judging speakers is something I approach with some trepidation - particularly when evaluating what I hear at the dealership versus what I hear from my home setup. It is very difficult to make comparisons this way, because (as you know) perhaps 40-60% of what you hear from a decent audio system is the room acoustic and another 20-30% is the setup of the speaker. The one poor audition of the 802D that I experienced was at a dealer who did not put any effort into his room acoustic and speaker setup. The room was small, with very lively surfaces, and the speakers were far too close to the listening position and they were haphazardly placed with respect to back and side walls. The 802D did not give a good account of itself with the music that I brought along. An ideal test would involve a home trial run with my electronics in my listening room to see if side by side I really would enjoy them more than my current speakers. But no dealer then or private seller now would allow it, given their size, weight, cost, and transportation requirements. At this point, I am still sitting on the fence regarding an actual purchase of a used pair. The price would have to be very attractive, the conditon excellant, the transport logistics workable, and I would have to convince myself that I would enjoy the the 801Ds a great deal more than my current speakers.
Am I dissatisfied with my current speakers? Not at all. And I may be kidding myself to think that I would be happier with the 802D. I recently attended a "high end" audio trade show in Chicago (Axpona) where I listened to a number of very expensive, well reviewed speakers - and I came away thinking that while most of them sounded different from my home setup, almost none of them were dramatically better. At home, I listen to one of the last pairs of Matrix 801 Series 3 speakers made by B&W in 1998. They are optimally set up, on spiked Sound Anchor stands, placed well out into the room away from back and side walls, and fed plenty of current by Bryston monoblocks through Northcreek crossovers. The front end electronics are all top quality. I think the sonics are outstanding and that the old but venerable 801 deserves more respect that it usually receives. In my highly inexpert opinion, the Matrix 801S3, when optimized, remains competitive with some of the best current "high-end" offerings. So, truth to tell, my flirtation with the 802D might be motivated merely by the desire for something new and different for its own sake - I have never claimed to be a "rational" inmate of the Audio Asylum .
Thanks for the "ramble". Your approach and experience is rather similar to mine.
A few months ago I went to visit 2 dealers offering costly but well-priced used or ex-demo speakers.
At the first dealer (in a big farmhouse, so a domestic setup), I first listened to Magico S3 speakers, then Martin Logan Summits. Both impressed but I hadn't gone to listen to the Magico but the MLs, which in any event I preferred.
At the next showroom, a big dealer in Oxford with a good-sized listening room, I heard the 802Ds and another pair of Martin Logan Summits. The B&W had astonishing and rather in-yer-face bass which I didn't like. It would be great on some music but would become wearing on most music I listen too - and wouldn't be appreciated by neighbours if played as loud as I normally play music. This reminded my of a HiFi Show where I first heard big B&W 8 series speakers playing Sandstorm by Darude at huge volume. It was hugely impressive and just the type of music these speakers excel with. But I don't often listen to Sandstorm! Again the MLs were detailed and somewhat akin to my existing Avantgarde horn speakers.
I had gone to visit the dealers fully expecting to buy the 802Ds on the basis that I wouldn't have lost much if I didn't like them at home and re-sold them, but in all honestly they just didn't suit the type of music I listen to - and the dealer agreed they are best with rock and pop music.
I decided to buy none of these. If an ML Summit X were to come up, or it's current replacement, perhaps I would have gone for it, but I've decided to stick with the AGs for a while longer.
I was in the Netherlands last month and happened upon a good dealer in Venlo. It was a Saturday but he had no rush of customers so the dealer and I spent 3 hours just listening to music. I hadn't taken any discs so we used some of his stored music and looked up tracks familiar to me on Tidal.
We were listening through Swiss-made Piega Coax 711 speakers. These are costly with cabinets built from aluminium (as are Magico for much more money) but I was bowled over by the excellence of these speakers with prolonged listening, even when fed by a quite modest amplifier. The bass was exceptional but not overwhelming, with things in the room rattling when the track included daft levels of bass and the volume was turned up. Most "mormal" music was delivered with realistic and non-tiring bass levels and with wonderfully detailed middle and top - through it's coaxial ribbon drivers. If I find a used pair of these speakers, I'll very seriously consider them.
I hope you find what you want. Mistakes can be costly and, although I don't know what music you listen to, I think you may get tired of 802Ds quite quickly.
My recollection is that the 802D was the first and succeeded by the 802Diamond. 802D2 was the unofficial name that everyone, but B&W, used to distinguish it from the original. Then, of course, came the 802D3 where B&W acknowledged that using the numbers made for clarity.
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