Speakers with similar sound characteristics to B&W 803s - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 08-06-2012, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
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I recently installed a system for a friend in his new home. The system in his main HT area consist of the following:

Carver Theater Grand Processor
Carver Theater Grand Amp
B&W 803s Fronts
B&W HTM1 Center
B&W FPM6 rears
(2) B&W PV1 subs

To be honest, the system sounds fantastic in my opinion. I absolutely LOVE the highs on this system. They are pronounced, but not harsh. Mid smooth and very clear as well. And the PV1 subs do a nice job rounding out the low end of the system. Even though the Carver Theater Grand doesn't have any room correction, manually setting it up with test discs and an SPL proved to be quite good.I liked the way this system sounds so much that I am looking to upgrade my current setup that I just put together this past Christmas. Unfortunately, I cannot afford a full blown B&W system of this caliber.

My current system:
Yamaha RX-A1000 receiver
Outlaw Audio Model 750
Emotiva ERM 6.2 Fronts
Emotiva ERM6.3 Center
Emotiva ERD-1 Rears
HSU Research VTF3 MK4
Marantz DV9600 Universal DVD Player
PS3 Slim for Blu Ray playback

I really like how loud and clean my system plays even at Reference level and above. Mids are pretty awesome on the Emotivas. VERY clean and clear with NO distortion even with 250+ Real watts going through them. It is just the B&W highs that I fell in love with on this install for my friend. Obviously, The B&W 803s are roughly $3000-3500 a pair when new. So my $400-800 Emotiva ERM6.2s can't fairly be judged against them. This is why I am looking to upgrade my front and center speakers. So anyone with experience on these B&W 803s and other speakers that may sound similar please give me some recommendations. I'm looking to keep my receiver and amp for now. My budget for the front three is $1500-2000 max.

BTW, in this same friend's living room, I installed his second setup: Marantz AV8003 processor, Marantz MM7055 amp, Sonus Faber Grand Piano Domus fronts and Center, Sonus Faber Domus Wall wedges at the rear. This system sounds very nice as well. More detailed mids and laid back highs than the B&W speakers. From what my friend told me, he paid $6000 for the front three Sonus Fabers. But I'd take the sound of the B&W 803s any day of the week.

Here's a pic of his B&W setup sitting below his new 80" Sharp LED.

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post #2 of 16 Old 08-06-2012, 11:09 PM
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Wow, that's one impressive looking flat screen your friend has.

My advice would be to save up for the 803's if that's what you know you really like. You don't want to be wondering what if! Now, maybe you've decided that there is just no way you would spend that much money on speakers regardless of if you have the money or not, it that's the case then that idea is out of course.

Also, I would ask him if you can borrow his speakers to make sure you like how they sound in your room since different rooms can have completely different effects on speakers. He may not like that idea, but I would at least ask.

Sorry I don't have speaker recommendations that sound like the 803's but I'm sure someone will chime in with ideas.

good luck man!
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post #3 of 16 Old 08-06-2012, 11:42 PM - Thread Starter
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yeah Carp, that TV is sweet. And I installed the 70" in his living room with the Sonus Faber/Marantz setup. Two kids in private high school and college dictates that I can't spend $5000 on a front RLC for the next 5 years or so. Priorities, priorities. LOL
I should have brought them to my house while I was doing the construction on his home theater. They were sitting in his garage for about 4 weeks. Problem is, it would have killed me to bring them back. I did ask him to give me first dibs if he decides to "upgrade" that set up. He has more money than he knows what to do with, so hopefully he will give me a deal on them in the future.

Until then, I am determined to find something in my price range that will give me the sound I'm looking for. To be honest, after writing my long original post, I thought that maybe changing my Yamaha RX-A1000 to an Onkyo or Marantz might yield better results with my current speaker set up. At least it will be easy to return a receiver as opposed to speakers if I don't find what I'm looking for.
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post #4 of 16 Old 08-07-2012, 12:15 AM
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Gotcha, hopefully he's one of those guys that gets bored quickly and will want to try some new speakers before too long!

I don't think getting a different receiver is what you are looking for. I've owned quite a few receivers over the years and I just don't believe that there is any differences in sound - as long as they aren't pushed to distortion of course, or if you use MCACC, or YPAO, or some eq. If that's not the case they all sound the same IMO and even if there are slight differences it would pale in comparison to how much speakers can sound different.

I don't want to start that argument in your thread, just stating my opinion!! smile.gif
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post #5 of 16 Old 08-07-2012, 05:23 AM
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I've found that KEF sounds similar to B&W. They excel at the higher frequencies. Not as much in the lows. The lows should be handled by a good sub. They put the tweeter inside the midrange and the result is very clear sound. I have an XQ system that sounds great. I don't think they make XQ's any more. They have a new R series that has great reviews. I don't think you can buy them online yet.

My advice is to sit tight with your emotiva's. They're good speakers and you have other priorities.
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post #6 of 16 Old 08-07-2012, 08:58 AM
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I would suggest a pair of PSB Image T6 speakers with a Image C4 center speaker. That will run about $1600 and be a huge improvement over the Emotiva speakers.

I had the T6 speakers for two years and never heard anything out of them that didn't sound very good. They will come pretty close to your A-system speakers.

I have since moved up to something a bit more revealing, but for under $2000 I do not think you can get anything better-sounding. they are very good.
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post #7 of 16 Old 08-07-2012, 02:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I would suggest a pair of PSB Image T6 speakers with a Image C4 center speaker. That will run about $1600 and be a huge improvement over the Emotiva speakers.
I had the T6 speakers for two years and never heard anything out of them that didn't sound very good. They will come pretty close to your A-system speakers.
I have since moved up to something a bit more revealing, but for under $2000 I do not think you can get anything better-sounding. they are very good.

I have been reading up on the PSB T6 lately. I love the cherry finish and the good things I hear abut them. So they were on the short list. I was also intrigued by the Emptek speakers looks and reviews as well. RBH is another brand I am considering.
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post #8 of 16 Old 08-07-2012, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KidHorn View Post

I've found that KEF sounds similar to B&W.

sorry but I would say the B&W is a whole other class than the KEF XQ. While the B&W are tending to be warmly in the highs, the KEF are a bit more "aggressive" (especially when its getting loud) and the resolution from the KEF tweeter is not really good either.

Ok I wonder how the B&W can sound impressive under such bad conditions (acoustics) as shown in the picture above, a speaker like the KEF XQ would perform under such conditions much better.
But I recommend listening to a british speaker, the ATC SCM 19. This is not a floor standing speaker but a bookshelf one. Combinend with two or four good subs that could even better integrate into a room.

The ATC is not as price intense as the B&W but has a really great resolution in mids/highs that overcomes the 803s for a really fair price.
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post #9 of 16 Old 08-07-2012, 05:41 PM
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I have PSB Imagine B and it is completely different from my B&W N805.

If you love B&W, save your $ and get B&W. I've tried Sonus Faber Auditor Cremona M as well as other upper end speakers. Imo, if you like B&W as I do, it is hard to find another.

Except Harbeth perhaps!

Sent from my ADR6400L using Tapatalk 2
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post #10 of 16 Old 08-07-2012, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poison Nuke View Post

sorry but I would say the B&W is a whole other class than the KEF XQ. While the B&W are tending to be warmly in the highs, the KEF are a bit more "aggressive" (especially when its getting loud) and the resolution from the KEF tweeter is not really good either.
Ok I wonder how the B&W can sound impressive under such bad conditions (acoustics) as shown in the picture above, a speaker like the KEF XQ would perform under such conditions much better.
But I recommend listening to a british speaker, the ATC SCM 19. This is not a floor standing speaker but a bookshelf one. Combinend with two or four good subs that could even better integrate into a room.
The ATC is not as price intense as the B&W but has a really great resolution in mids/highs that overcomes the 803s for a really fair price.

Actually, there is carpeting on the floor and ALL sheetrock is Quietrock. Quietrock is an expensive (about $60 per 4'x8' sheet) sheetrock type material, but it is VERY pliable and has fibers woven into it. So it not very reflective at all. In this room there are no echos at all. And since the pictures were taken, I listened and tweaked further with plush seating and some wall treatments in place. To my ears, I did not hear any difference from when the above picture was taken. If I did some room measurements would I see some changes before and after the furniture and wall treatments, probably. But either way, both he and I are very happy with the sound.
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post #11 of 16 Old 08-07-2012, 07:57 PM
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quietrock is nice, yes. People outside the room will be grateful for it. But it didnt change anything inside the room, maybe a little impact in the low frequencies but nothing really diffrent compared to normal sheetrock. The surface of the wall remains solid for the sound waves. Thats the important point. Or are the walls coated with something soft?
And a carpet in such room is the worst thing possible you can do als long there are no other major dampening of the reflections (and I cant see anything, or it is hidden very good).

This room and the 803s is like driving a formula one car on a paving ... a really uneven paving.

I bet there is much reverb in this room. Maybe you did not hear a flapping echo but the reverberation could remain very high either.



But when you have more space at home, why not driving the speakers in nearfield, then you doesnt need to worry about the walls.
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post #12 of 16 Old 08-08-2012, 10:31 AM
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I'd say the only speakers that sound like the 803s are other B&W speakers. biggrin.gif

What about the CM series?

If your friend has more money than he knows what to do with, tell him about the B&W 800 Diamond series. Then he'll have no choice but to upgrade and you can have his current B&W speakers. biggrin.gif
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post #13 of 16 Old 08-08-2012, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

I'd say the only speakers that sound like the 803s are other B&W speakers. biggrin.gif
What about the CM series?
I wanted to suggest the 804 and a sub last night, but that is still out of budget. CM series is OK, but not worth the extra dough over the 600 series, in my opinion.

I do second commsysman's PSB recommendation for the OP's given budget..
Quote:
If your friend has more money than he knows what to do with, tell him about the B&W 800 Diamond series. Then he'll have no choice but to upgrade and you can have his current B&W speakers. biggrin.gif

That's using your noggin. biggrin.gif

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post #14 of 16 Old 08-08-2012, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

I'd say the only speakers that sound like the 803s are other B&W speakers. biggrin.gif
What about the CM series?
If your friend has more money than he knows what to do with, tell him about the B&W 800 Diamond series. Then he'll have no choice but to upgrade and you can have his current B&W speakers. biggrin.gif

To me if the OP is looking at B&W speakers I would stay in the 800 series. Or on the rare chance you can find a used pair of 700's. Those are the only series of B&W speakers that I think are worth their price tag. The 600 series is OK, but the CM series is quite a bit overpriced IMO when you compare them to other speakers in that price range. The CM series was basically B&W's way of getting a high end brand to the masses, but they mark them up a good bit. I am not saying that the CM series is bad, they sound fine, but you can probably find that same level of performance for at least $500 or $700 less. Unfortunately with some of B&W lower lines they are selling good speakers, but charging a lot for the name recognition. Funny thing is that the 700 series was actually a very good series. In fact they were a little too good and they started cutting into the sales of the 800 series. So of course B&W nixed that whole line pretty damn fast. Funny thing is that the 700 series was actually the best measuring speakers B&W ever produced, except for the 805 Nautilus, which was almost ruler flat across the frequency chart. Sadly B&W has gotten away from some of their original design goals in favor of a more rich, sometimes overly rich sound. It's not necessarily bad, but not as not as tonally neutral as in the old days.
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post #15 of 16 Old 08-08-2012, 11:58 PM
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Go to Ebay, Audiogon or your local craigslist and see if there are used pairs of 803s. Maybe even look for the bookshelf version 805s as well. What about the older Matrix series. There is an 802 Matrix series listed on ebay right now.
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post #16 of 16 Old 08-09-2012, 08:03 AM
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Yeah, you guys are right. Stick to the 803s & 804s. biggrin.gif

Craigslist, Audiogon, eBay or find the rich friend some 800 Diamonds. biggrin.gif
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