B&W Nautilus 801 vs 802 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 03:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello all,

I've got an opportunity to purchase a set of N801's (not the Diamonds) for ~$4000 plus shipping and I'm seriously considering it. However, I have previously been searching for a set of N802's (again, not the diamonds) as those are the speakers I fell in love with. Unfortunately, I've never demo'd the N801's so I'm wondering 3 things:

1) Which is the better speaker, the N801 or the N802 (primarily for home theater, but some 2-channel listening as well) in a 12'x20' dampened theater?
2) Is $4000 a reasonable price for the N801's? They are definitely older speakers, but are in great shape.
3) Are B&W N-series even a good choice for the theater, considering 90% of the usage will be movies?

Thanks so much for your valuable input.

Russell
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post #2 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 03:39 AM
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the N801s are phenomenal speakers. they were used as studio monitors at many of the best studios. keep in mind the 801 has 12" woofers so you would want atleast 300wpc and ideally 500wpc per channel.

the only reason to go to 802 or 800 over these would be that these are huge in terms of footprint.. they are also not as elegant looking as the other two. with the right amp you really don't need a sub thanks to the dual 12" woofers wink.gif

I don't think there are any sub 4k speakers you can buy today that would be able to match these in any way. i do think 4k is good price as used N804s go for about 2k and N803s go for about 2.5-3k and these are in a different league...

p.s. I had the N804 for 8 years and recently upgraded to the 802 Diamonds.
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post #3 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 04:33 AM - Thread Starter
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akhter,

Thanks for the information. Actually, the size of the speakers was a bit of a concern for me as I only have about 12' of width to work with, and my screen is about 30" off the ground. I would have to put them very close to the side wall which is sub-optimal, and even then would limit my screen size to 7' wide, which is a bit small. I'm also very curious about the bass response of the 801 vs. 802. The 802's are tight and controlled which I love, but also have a good bit of kick in them. I just wonder if the 801's will have as much control as the 802's or if the bass will be a bit more "muddy"?
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post #4 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 04:58 AM
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replace dual 8" woofers with a single 12" in a far larger enclosure--almost double the volume (or close to it).

so there will much more bass. for them to be tight, you will need lots of power. atleast 500 wpc maybe even more. what amp are you planning to use? look at something like these:
http://www.wyred4sound.com/webapps/p/74030/117839/332078
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post #5 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 05:20 AM - Thread Starter
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I don't currently have an amp. I have been looking at some of the used offerings from Rotel and Outlaw Audio, but that is an area where I have much more learning / testing to do. Thanks for the link, I've never heard of the company, but I've been out of the amp loop since just before ICE amps became popular smile.gif I currently have a simple Pioneer 816 receiver powering my home made Adire Audio Kit 281 and LCC center with a Sunfire Signature sub to handle the low end. I like the dynamics of the Kit 281's especially when matched with the sunfire, but the upper midrange and tweeter are a bit harsh. Plus, I know that I love the 802's when hooked up to good power and a clean source so I assume I would like the 801's as well and I saw what I thought was a pretty good deal which has put me on a bit of a short notice.

Thanks again for your insight.

Russell
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post #6 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 07:47 AM
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The Crown XLS 2000 DriveCore will do wonders. Clean sounding amp. Very neutral. Should make the B&W's sing.

An audiophile likes to talk about how much they spent and how good it sounds.

A DIY'er likes to talk about how little they spent and how good it sounds.

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post #7 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 08:28 AM
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You will get great bass from those speakers if you have the right power amplifier and preamp. Most Rotel amplifiers will not do it.

Some of the amplifier suggestions are absurd, especially the Crown public-address amplifier. Using that amplifier with top-end speakers would be like equipping a Ferrari with a set of cheap tires from Wal-Mart.

I would suggest that you get what I have; an Audio Research preamp (LS17 or LS-27)and a Bryston power amplifier (3BSST2).

If you don't have at lest $5000 to spend on the amplification, you might be wasting your money on those speakers.




Quote:
Originally Posted by trpltongue View Post

akhter,
Thanks for the information. Actually, the size of the speakers was a bit of a concern for me as I only have about 12' of width to work with, and my screen is about 30" off the ground. I would have to put them very close to the side wall which is sub-optimal, and even then would limit my screen size to 7' wide, which is a bit small. I'm also very curious about the bass response of the 801 vs. 802. The 802's are tight and controlled which I love, but also have a good bit of kick in them. I just wonder if the 801's will have as much control as the 802's or if the bass will be a bit more "muddy"?
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post #8 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

You will get great bass from those speakers if you have the right power amplifier and preamp. Most Rotel amplifiers will not do it.
Some of the amplifier suggestions are absurd, especially the Crown public-address amplifier. Using that amplifier with top-end speakers would be like equipping a Ferrari with a set of cheap tires from Wal-Mart.
I would suggest that you get what I have; an Audio Research preamp (LS17 or LS-27)and a Bryston power amplifier (3BSST2).
If you don't have at lest $5000 to spend on the amplification, you might be wasting your money on those speakers.

rolleyes.gif

Care to support any of those statements with evidence?
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post #9 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 08:54 AM
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Nope.

It's my opinion, and that's all it is.

I'm not going to court, so I'll leave the "evidence" nonsense to the lawyers, and anyone else who thinks that kind of nonsense is relevant in this context.
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post #10 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

Nope.
It's my opinion, and that's all it is.
I'm not going to court, so I'll leave the "evidence" nonsense to the lawyers, and anyone else who thinks that kind of nonsense is relevant.

You mean you'll leave dispensing valid advice to others? Sad to see you believe "science" is "nonsense"

If you can't support your statements, start with stating them being your opinion rather than attempting to cast unsupported and unsupportable opinions as facts.

To the OP - there is no evidence that any properly designed solid state amp run within spec has audible differences to any other properly designed solid state amp run within spec. Buy what you decide you want, but it's good to be realistic about the differential (or not) between solid state amps.
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post #11 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 09:07 AM
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What is "scientific" about you asking me to provide "evidence"?

You apparently don't even know the difference, so quit making me laugh!

biggrin.gif
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post #12 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

What is "scientific" about you asking me to provide "evidence"?
You apparently don't even know the difference, so quit making me laugh!
biggrin.gif

Seriously? You don't understand what I'm asking for? Measurements, DBT results, anything that would support your claim that the amps you recommend audibly perform better than those you don't?

Which begs the question - how do you determine one amp is better than the other? Seems like price is your only data point.
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post #13 of 28 Old 08-31-2012, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

Most Rotel amplifiers will not do it.
Some of the amplifier suggestions are absurd, especially the Crown public-address amplifier.


This is what he bfreedma is asking about.

Whats wrong with Rotel and do you have anything to back up your claim that they can't power speakers to your preference?

Nothing wrong with the Crown amps, they work just as fine as other more expensive amps. Anything to back up your claim that they are absurd?

I guess since they aren't expensive looking they must not sound very good, I doubt you probably even heard them in a properly set up system. rolleyes.gif
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post #14 of 28 Old 09-01-2012, 04:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey all,

I want to thank everyone for the discussion so far, but I was hoping we could steer the discussion back towards the 802 vs. the 801 smile.gif I will do some different research regarding amps and will likely post a thread about it in the amps section smile.gif

Regarding the 801 vs. 802, my room is not large, but not small at 12x20x9.5ft. Will the 801's have enough room to really provide the sound they're capable of if they can only be placed 6" from the side walls? Conversely, what about the 802's in the same situation?

I wasn't planning on spending $5k on amplification. I was planning on spending about $2k used and picking up 2 monoblock 500w amps or a 500x2 unit. The 1kw amps are just way outside my price range.

So, with that said, and with my room and placement constraints, any additional feedback on the 801 vs 802?

Thanks!

Russell
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post #15 of 28 Old 09-01-2012, 04:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trpltongue View Post

I wasn't planning on spending $5k on amplification. I was planning on spending about $2k used and picking up 2 monoblock 500w amps or a 500x2 unit. The 1kw amps are just way outside my price range.
So, with that said, and with my room and placement constraints, any additional feedback on the 801 vs 802?
Thanks!
Russell

1kW stereo amps for 2k and 1kW dual mono for 2.2K. You can try them at home and return if you don't like because they have a trial program. Another good amp for 2k is Parasound Halo A21..

http://www.wyred4sound.com/webapps/category/74030/117839/18046


If you can get over its looks and the huge footprint the 801 are better speakers in every possible way.
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post #16 of 28 Old 09-02-2012, 07:39 PM
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Don't the N801's have a 15" bass driver, not a 12"? I know the 801D was 15" which is why the cabinet was so large.

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post #17 of 28 Old 09-02-2012, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
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Don't the N801's have a 15" bass driver, not a 12"? I know the 801D was 15" which is why the cabinet was so large.

You are right. 15"

http://www.stereophile.com/content/bw-nautilus-801-loudspeaker-specifications

With the right amp (enough power) this will make most subwoofers redundant i.e. you would need a very high end and powerful subwoofer to match the 15" woofers that are already in the speakers smile.gif
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post #18 of 28 Old 09-02-2012, 11:12 PM
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I would choose the 801's over the 802. The 801's were the top of the line back in their day (save the actual flagship Nautilus; an interesting design...)

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #19 of 28 Old 09-02-2012, 11:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Don,

I'm definitely leaning very hard towards the 801's. Honestly the only thing holding me back is that I've read they need a big room and lots of space to truly sing. Both things that I don't really have. The room is a decent size at 12'x19'x9', but it's heavily dampened and the speakers would be jammed right up against the side and front walls. Also, I'm wondering if it's just overkill for home theater? I use the theater probably 90% for movies (maybe even more). Just wondering if the 801's are overkill and if I'd be better off spending the money on a set of 802's and htm1 across the front with 805's as surrounds? Or heck, even a set of 803's up front with the htm1 and 805's as surrounds.
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post #20 of 28 Old 09-03-2012, 02:11 AM
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Probably overkill for movies.

Amazing for Stereo/hifi...
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post #21 of 28 Old 09-03-2012, 02:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trpltongue View Post

Don,
I'm definitely leaning very hard towards the 801's. Honestly the only thing holding me back is that I've read they need a big room and lots of space to truly sing. Both things that I don't really have. The room is a decent size at 12'x19'x9', but it's heavily dampened and the speakers would be jammed right up against the side and front walls. Also, I'm wondering if it's just overkill for home theater? I use the theater probably 90% for movies (maybe even more). Just wondering if the 801's are overkill and if I'd be better off spending the money on a set of 802's and htm1 across the front with 805's as surrounds? Or heck, even a set of 803's up front with the htm1 and 805's as surrounds.

With that type of listening ratio (90%+ movies) why not just have 805's all away around and spend the extra money saved on two or three quaility subs? You dial in a system like that and you'll soon forget about the 801's.
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post #22 of 28 Old 09-03-2012, 02:30 AM - Thread Starter
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akhter / Matt34, that is what I'm concerned about. However, if I build an LCR around the 801's, an HTM1, and the MC3 (2x500, 1x250) I'll be sitting at around $9k, and I'm really wondering if there's another setup out there that can be better for the price? Or vice versa, is there a setup that can match that combo for less price?

I did do some listening in a nice HT demo room which I was able to A/B the 802's with the current B&W subwoofer at the time (don't recall model), and the 805's each mated with a B&W sub. The related electronics were all Krell. This setup used the htm1 as the center. I definitely preferred the 802 setup. The 805's just didn't have the same presence and sound as full. Obviously I don't know how they had the system tuned but that's the impression I came away with.
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post #23 of 28 Old 09-03-2012, 08:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trpltongue View Post

akhter / Matt34, that is what I'm concerned about. However, if I build an LCR around the 801's, an HTM1, and the MC3 (2x500, 1x250) I'll be sitting at around $9k, and I'm really wondering if there's another setup out there that can be better for the price? Or vice versa, is there a setup that can match that combo for less price?
I did do some listening in a nice HT demo room which I was able to A/B the 802's with the current B&W subwoofer at the time (don't recall model), and the 805's each mated with a B&W sub. The related electronics were all Krell. This setup used the htm1 as the center. I definitely preferred the 802 setup. The 805's just didn't have the same presence and sound as full. Obviously I don't know how they had the system tuned but that's the impression I came away with.

That's most likely 5 fold.

1 - The marlan head of the 802 giving exceptional midrange detail
2 - The FST midrange speaker of the 802
3 - The fact that the 802 has separate mid and bass drivers whereas the 805 has a single driver doing both mid and bass duties
4 - The much better bass performance of the 802
5 - Better crossovers used in the 802's

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post #24 of 28 Old 09-03-2012, 04:22 PM
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I tend to agree the 801's are probably overkill for that room. As for HT vs. music, well, accuracy matters to both, I would think, and the greater bass of the 801's could help. That said, despite my past fondness for B&W, I would have to look hard at some of the other choices today like Salk and Philharmonic that probably offer much better value. Then spend tyhe money on room treatments and music/movies.

A friend has 803D's with the big center (the top one, don't recall the model number) and 805 surrounds. Fronts are driven by three Emotiva XPA-1's, rears by an XPA-2 (I think). Sounds pretty durn nice to me! When I listened, I am honestly not sure I would step from the 803's to the 802's; would have gone for the 801's for a significant difference. Fortunately, I have Magnepans and am sticking to them!

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post #25 of 28 Old 09-03-2012, 11:15 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess I'm just wondering if I'm giving up anything going with the 801's for home theater. I've been reading a lot about the JTR's, Klipsch heritage, Seaton, and other high efficiency designs and they all say that the high effeciency is better because you can hit the peaks and dynamics in movies without suffering any compression or distortion. Well, with the 801's and 1kw of amplification at 4ohm, I don't think I'd have any problems hitting the dynamics or worrying about compression listening at 90db from 12' away. Plus I'd have the whole range from 20-20khz+ covered and not have to worry about integrating my arguably subpar Sunfire sub.

Perhaps I should start a different thread for this topic though, it seems the thread has meandered away from the intent of comparing the 801's and 802's. To summarize those differences, it really just comes down to the lower bass region right? Deeper stronger bass in the 801's that isn't bloated or "slower" than the 802's, just more of a good thing. Otherwise the mid and high are the same. Oh, and of course the footprint smile.gif
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post #26 of 28 Old 09-03-2012, 11:40 PM
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I think the 801 will produce more bass better bass with lesser amplification.

the 802 has dual 8" woofers, i.e. 50 sq inch of area per woofer for 100 sq inch total.

The 801 has a single 15" i.e. 176 sq inch area from a single driver. So the 801 should be able to move a lot more air with less energy.

Since the 801 has a single woofer, the crossover is probably a lot simpler as well so more power will get get to the woofer.

Add to that the bass cabinet of the 801 is huge and probably 2x the volume of the 802 so that would double the bass even with same drivers.

There should be no difference in midrange/highs if identical tweeters are used. I know the midrange/tweeter between the 802D2 and 800D2 are not the same but not sure about N802 vs N801. If you look at b&w parts catalog, you can confirm this--the 802D2 mid/high is a simple crossover costing about $400 per piece but the 800D2 uses separate crossovers for mid and high and each mid+tweeter crossover pair costs about $1000.

Some expert here will probably correct me biggrin.gif
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post #27 of 28 Old 09-04-2012, 12:24 PM
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Hmmm... Not sure I buy all in the post above, but per the specs the 801 offers lower bass. My personal experience was it was harder to drive, but it sounds like you have that covered. I see no downside sonically to getting 801's for HT. The main trade is cost; I don't think the footprint is all that different (though been a while since I heard/saw either).

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post #28 of 28 Old 09-04-2012, 09:10 PM
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I assume as this is for HT that you'll be using a sub ? If so the 801 is IMHO overkill.
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