Originally Posted by Wrager 801 is used as a studio monitor by Abbey Road
...not because that's what the engineers chose, but because they were part of an endorsement deal.
This ^ ^ ^
Their offerings have been quite nice, but it seems you don't see B&W stuff much in studios of mastering houses anymore. They were an aspect of my personal holy grail, years ago. 801s, and their construction were fantastic. But man, I wanted a pair of 808s, ... dynamically, I knew of very little hifi wise, that were likely as stout, dynamically, as the 808's,...I wanted them,..but damn were they expensive, like $8k each in the mid 80s (way too much). And I'm talking back 25-30 years ago. The studio offerings of JBL and Westlake were even more stout, they still are,...and damn, ... the home versions like that SM-1 (1000lbs., TAD equpped, 5-way, dual-18) was and still is, an absolute beast.
Throughout, the 70's, 80's and 90's, I was involved in live, to two-track recordings, and I still dabble today. Aside from live music, my favorite on location sources, were big, enormous, steam locomotives. My Dad and I traveled the country making high end recordings of trains, a la Brad miller of MoFi fame. Well, few things are as demanding dynamically as live steam locomotives,...the big ones. There's only a few left in the US, maybe three good ones. I always thought something like the B&W 808's had my name all over them,...never happened. They were available in both a studio/soffited version, and a more typical floorstander here
. There were crazy, multi driver monsters out there, but I wanted total fidelity too. At the time, I wanted no horns, super high quality and capability, ... the 808s were it ... I thought.
Keele's (and Eargle) work on the JBL two ways, and constant directivity (JBL 4430, etc.), was just hitting the studio market. They could hit the levels I wanted, but the front loaded hifi design appealed to me more. I shoulda payed more attention to Keele's work,...genius. His AES papers, damn I love reading all that stuff. Way ahead of his time. Even today, he's still churing out great work.
With regard to the big steam trains, maintenance expense and insurance regulations have dramatically reduced the frequency and all but eliminated these big locomotive excursions. There's but a few left, and my personal fave; the Challenger, UP #3985, here
, is the most incredible piece of machinery I've ever seen in my life. When it approaches off in the distance, with the wonderfully rich tonality of it's steam whitsle echoing off the surrounding lanscape, ... I watch my meter level accordingly. The ambient insect noise slowly makes way for the buildup of energy as the locomotive gets closer. The engineer begins whistling for the crossing where I'm set up. The tactile element via the ground is equalled by the visceral element against my skin, the entire body becomes involved in the sound excitation. Nothing like it.
The uncompressed dynamics of experiencing it live, words cannot convey. The peak energy involved in a trackside passing, can't adequately be described, ... and is obviously demanding. And just like the approach, the sound as it trails into the distance is equally as dramatic,... the loudness wanes as the insects become more prominent, the gorgeous tone of the locomotive is heard whistling for the next few crossings. As one can imagine, the incredible dynamics are killer, no doubt. But it's also the thick, lush reverberrant rich sound, both approaching and departing, that's so sweet to capture and reproduce. The direct energy, accompanied by the trailing reverberrant echos that illuminate the surroundings, .... talk about imaging, it's all there.
I digress, .. My point is I struggled mightily to play back some of these tracks with dynamic faithfullness. This led me to products from VMPS, and pro studio monitors. Additionally, it also introduced me to Speaker Builder magazine, Vance Dickason's "Cookbook", and all the wonderful DIY efforts going on in the 80's, and on into the 90's. Pre internet, sources like this were priceless, and industry giants like D'Appololito, et al, submitting lengthy tutorials in every issue were wonderful sources of info. High end drivers from TAD, Eton, Focal, Dynaudio, and JBL, made for some superbly capable efforts.
I've been thru DIY, Cerwin Vega, Speakerlab, Polk, Klipsch, JBL, QSC, and now the Cat12C. I'm happy, and for now, I've moved on to fully optimizing the speaker/room, acoustic interface. Holy grail? .... not yet. I've heard it though, a handful of times, ... that's a different post.
Damn, what a meandering, rambling rant. All from the B&W mention ...
All the best