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Old 07-28-2013, 12:52 AM
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Default 803 Diamond vs 804 Diamond - Wow!

I feel like a doofus.

I've been having a hard time choosing speakers for a new Mac system. I've been out of high end for a while and am kind of out of touch so I've driven all over Dallas-Ft Worth lately to audition Martin Logan, B&W, Vienna Acoustics, Sonus Faber, and others.

Up until today the B&W 804 Diamonds were leading the pack in my targeted price range but still had a big question mark because of another speaker I have never had a chance to audition - the Tannoy Kensington SE. Even though they were untested, the Tannoys' reviews make them sound like exactly what I wanted. And I had lingering doubts about the 804s even though they had beat out the others I had tried. I'm not sure what words to use but they just sounded brassy at times, or thin or tinny in the upper mid-range with certain music. "Bright" is the word I've often heard but that's not at all what I mean.

I had never listened to the upper end of the B&W Diamond series because I was already at the upper end of my budget. (Who am I kidding? I've already blown my original budget out of the water by over 200%.) Besides, my local shop keeps the top-end stuff in another room and I had never ventured in there. Why taunt temptation?

Today I took my new bride on a listening tour for the first time. She's never experienced true high end sound before and my current mid-fi system is likely the best she's ever spent any time with. We listened to the 804s and a few others and then for whatever reason we went into the high-dollar room and slipped in a couple of my favorite quality recordings. She liked the big Martin Logans till she heard the price. Then we switched on the B&W 803s and cranked it up a bit. I literally got goose bumps during Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and from the look on her face I could tell she had discovered true music magic. It's one of those moments that rarely come along.

We went back in and listened to the 804s again and it was like night and day. How could I ever consider that puny sound compared to what we'd just heard?

I couldn't believe the stark difference. I thought I had read enough reviews, etc to be familiar with the various models in that line but I was sorely mistaken. I knew the 803 had an extra driver in the tower but neither the B&W website nor my dealer shows them side-by-side and I never realized the huge size difference (50% more weight in the 803) and who knows what else I had missed. For an extra $2,500, there isn't a doubt in my mind which one to pick. And to think I nearly missed the boat out of sheer ignorance.

And I'll say that if Tannoy wants to sell me some speakers they'd better get a high-end dealer in Texas mui pronto. No way I'm buying an unheard speaker over what I listened to today.

Last edited by OldTex; 07-28-2013 at 01:22 AM.
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Old 07-28-2013, 01:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldTex View Post
I feel like a doofus.

I've been having a hard time choosing speakers for a new Mac system. I've been out of high end for a while and am kind of out of touch so I've driven all over Dallas-Ft Worth lately to audition Martin Logan, B&W, Vienna Acoustics, Sonus Faber, and others.

Up until today the B&W 804 Diamonds were leading the pack in my targeted price range but still had a big question mark because of another speaker I have never had a chance to audition - the Tannoy Kensington SE. Even though they were untested, the Tannoys' reviews make them sound like exactly what I wanted. And I had lingering doubts about the 804s even though they had beat out the others I had tried. I'm not sure what words to use but they just sounded brassy at times, or thin or tinny in the upper mid-range with certain music. "Bright" is the word I've often heard but that's not at all what I mean.

I had never listened to the upper end of the B&W Diamond series because I was already at the upper end of my budget. (Who am I kidding? I've already blown my original budget out of the water by over 200%.) Besides, my local shop keeps the top-end stuff in another room and I had never ventured in there. Why taunt temptation?

Today I took my new bride on a listening tour for the first time. She's never experienced true high end sound before and my current mid-fi system is likely the best she's ever spent any time with. We listened to the 803s and a few others and then for whatever reason we went into the high-dollar room and slipped in a couple of my favorite quality recordings. She liked the big Martin Logans till she heard the price. Then we switched on the B&W 803s and cranked it up a bit. I literally got goose bumps during Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and from the look on her face I could tell she had discovered true music magic. It's one of those moments that rarely come along.

We went back in and listened to the 803s again and it was like night and day. How could I ever consider that puny sound compared to what we'd just heard?

I couldn't believe the stark difference. I thought I had read enough reviews, etc to be familiar with the various models in that line but I was sorely mistaken. I knew the 803 had an extra driver in the tower but neither the B&W website nor my dealer shows them side-by-side and I never realized the huge size difference (50% more weight in the 803) and who knows what else I had missed. For an extra $2,500, there isn't a doubt in my mind which one to pick. And to think I nearly missed the boat out of sheer ignorance.

And I'll say that if Tannoy wants to sell me some speakers they'd better get a high-end dealer in Texas mui pronto. No way I'm buying an unheard speaker over what I listened to today.
803s or 803D you liked?
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Old 07-28-2013, 01:06 AM
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Good stuff! I hope to be in your shoes one day and I hope you enjoy your new fantastic speakers

I got a little confused reading you going from the 803's to the 803's and then back to the 803's
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Old 07-28-2013, 01:25 AM
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Yeah, I get confused myself with the terminology for their various lines. Sorry to make it worse with typos (which I'm correcting). These were the 803 Diamond speakers and 804 Diamonds, and the 803 Diamonds won.

Last edited by OldTex; 07-28-2013 at 02:45 AM.
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Old 07-28-2013, 03:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldTex View Post
Yeah, I get confused myself with the terminology for their various lines. Sorry to make it worse with typos (which I'm correcting). These were the 803 Diamond speakers and 804 Diamonds, and the 803 Diamonds won.
If you can, try aerial 7t. I haven't heard them, but they are in your price range and have a great reputation.

I am very familiar with 804's...I had them before my 802's and finally Sasha's. I think the 802 would really blow your mind but if budget is a huge consideration the 803 gets you most of the way there. Find a dealer with a trade in program. That's how I've been able to do what I thought was impossible.
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Old 07-28-2013, 03:58 AM
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Thanks, Marc. I'm afraid my wife would choke if she saw the totals so far the way it is. I was serious about already tripling the original budget.

Dallas seems to have the chain stores and then the small shops that design systems for rich folks but have no real inventories. Not much else that I've found so far. Seems like every store has pretty much the same offerings. I've been surprised to see so much McIntosh which had almost disappeared around here 10-15 years ago.

ETA: The Aerial site shows 3 dealers in Texas but their websites say they are system designers and builders, not retailers with inventories. None in any bordering states either. Same thing I ran into with Tannoy. I live within a 250 mile circle with about 15 million folks but I feel like I'm in the boondocks.

Last edited by OldTex; 07-28-2013 at 04:15 AM.
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Old 07-28-2013, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldTex View Post
I feel like a doofus.

I've been having a hard time choosing speakers for a new Mac system. I've been out of high end for a while and am kind of out of touch so I've driven all over Dallas-Ft Worth lately to audition Martin Logan, B&W, Vienna Acoustics, Sonus Faber, and others.

Up until today the B&W 804 Diamonds were leading the pack in my targeted price range but still had a big question mark because of another speaker I have never had a chance to audition - the Tannoy Kensington SE. Even though they were untested, the Tannoys' reviews make them sound like exactly what I wanted. And I had lingering doubts about the 804s even though they had beat out the others I had tried. I'm not sure what words to use but they just sounded brassy at times, or thin or tinny in the upper mid-range with certain music. "Bright" is the word I've often heard but that's not at all what I mean.

I had never listened to the upper end of the B&W Diamond series because I was already at the upper end of my budget. (Who am I kidding? I've already blown my original budget out of the water by over 200%.) Besides, my local shop keeps the top-end stuff in another room and I had never ventured in there. Why taunt temptation?

Today I took my new bride on a listening tour for the first time. She's never experienced true high end sound before and my current mid-fi system is likely the best she's ever spent any time with. We listened to the 804s and a few others and then for whatever reason we went into the high-dollar room and slipped in a couple of my favorite quality recordings. She liked the big Martin Logans till she heard the price. Then we switched on the B&W 803s and cranked it up a bit. I literally got goose bumps during Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and from the look on her face I could tell she had discovered true music magic. It's one of those moments that rarely come along.

We went back in and listened to the 804s again and it was like night and day. How could I ever consider that puny sound compared to what we'd just heard?

I couldn't believe the stark difference. I thought I had read enough reviews, etc to be familiar with the various models in that line but I was sorely mistaken. I knew the 803 had an extra driver in the tower but neither the B&W website nor my dealer shows them side-by-side and I never realized the huge size difference (50% more weight in the 803) and who knows what else I had missed. For an extra $2,500, there isn't a doubt in my mind which one to pick. And to think I nearly missed the boat out of sheer ignorance.

And I'll say that if Tannoy wants to sell me some speakers they'd better get a high-end dealer in Texas mui pronto. No way I'm buying an unheard speaker over what I listened to today.
It's good when the other half likes what she hears, I hear (no pun intended) it makes the sales job an easier sell with her when the time comes

The 803 is the only diamond I haven't heard. I really like the 804, so much sound and accuracy for such a small tower package. Like 2fastdriving eluded to the 802's might be an interesting experience for you I love mine, they were my first goose bump moment speaker. The 800's which I also have take the 802 sound and step it up yet again being better in almost every respect with the exception of the highs which I find to be identical to the 802.
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Old 07-28-2013, 10:59 AM
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I think 803D vs 804D is really a function of room size. Their components and design are pretty identical, but with enough power 803D can fill a big space. For a small room id recommend the 804D as you can sit just 8-9 feet away and the sound is fully integrated by there which would not be the case for 803D or 802D. I also think you can place 804D closer to a rear wall than the bigger guys without getting over powering bass reverb. My 804Ds in my small room, 18x10 feet with the 804's along the long wall are stunning with Audio Research tube gear and Transparent audio cables and having attended quite a few audio shows and dealer visits, I have not heard anything under 5 figures which match their combination of detail and warmth. But I heard them in a big room, probably 25x25 feet, once with the same components as mine and it was not the same. How big is your room?
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Old 07-28-2013, 02:19 PM
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The room they'll be in for a few months is 18 x 36 - a strange layout that might better be described as two rooms that don't have a wall in between, just a wood-burning stove on one wall and a small wet bar on the opposite wall that together act as a divider. We're building a new home but that's still in the early planning stages. I hope to have a dedicated room there but I can't guarantee I won't end up squeezing into a typical guest room size. Maybe I can talk the wife into Formica instead of granite.....(dream mode)....

Now that you mention it, the 804 was in a larger room at the dealer, maybe 20x30 with the speakers along the long wall instead of the short one. But they weren't spread apart more than 8-10 feet with us in what a typical listening position would be.

I did notice that the 'weakness' we heard in the 804 was in quiet symphonic passages. Once it got cranked up it sounded much better.

Last edited by OldTex; 07-28-2013 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 07-28-2013, 03:38 PM
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ariess was dead on - room size is a big deciding factor in this. If you have a small room, the 804 might be perfect. But your room at 18x36 is big enough that you need something more substantial in my opinion. However then you run into budget issues

What about used 802's? I guess the downside there is you can't get interest free financing or some such deal. But it seems like that's the size you want, in order to fill a pretty large room. Maybe the 803 can do that, I don't have any personal experience with them, just a lot of experience with the 804 and 802, as I've owned both.
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