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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Title says it all really. I've got a full Classe Delta setup ready to go and it's driving a pair of B&W 685s (long, sad, story) and I'm trying to figure out what pair of speakers I should be drooling on to make my own.

I'm torn between the old standards - B&W 803 or 802D. But I've seen (and heard) the Focal 1038be at an audio show and was impressed by them.

The Classe is a neutral amp and the 1038s are ultra detailed and also quite neutral (and others say they need help on the bottom end) but I was wondering what the experiences of others are with these amplifiers and, specifically, the 1038bes/

Or, if you've paired them in the past and opted for something else, I'd be interested to hear what you went with, and why.

Thanks in advance!
 

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Dfidler, please buy whatever speakers you enjoy the sound of most. :)

Ideally, see if you can set up in-home auditions. If you like the Focal Utopia 1038 Be's more than the B&W's, those are the ones to purchase. If you reckon the Focals need some help to deliver the bottom octave(s) to your satisfaction, you should investigate adding a sub (or two) to your system. An amplifier simply will not do it.

Please don't fret about trying to dovetail nebulous subjective descriptors of what amplifiers supposedly "are" and the qualities of various speaker's sound. This just unnecessarily complicates things.

Measurements of the Classé Audio Delta CA-2200 Stereo Amplifier show it to be a very quiet, linear and powerful amplifier. It is capable of cleanly driving just about any pair of speakers you care choose to very loud levels. In addition, at everyday listening levels it - like the vast majority of modern solid state amps - will be operating at levels of distortion that are hundreds (if not thousands) of times smaller in magnitude than even most well executed speakers will be producing.

Someone may have used a Classé with those particular Focals, but their subjective opinion on how they "go together" is totally irrelevant (albeit interesting). This is because the effect of their room and speaker placement on the overall sound is so profound. By contrast, the actual effect of different (well engineered) solid state amplifiers on the sound verges immeasurable and is orders of magnitude below audibility.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Giegar,

It's the subjective opinion that I'm look for.

You'll google thousands of testimonies about people pairing classe and b&w kit, but I've never seen a single one where these two were paired - though I've seen lots of reviews of just the speakers themselves.

It's weird because they are a great speaker. You're likely to say "marketing" - fair enough. But i want to hear from people who've actually paired these two - though I'd rather hear from the folks who have a three entire Delta "set" (CDP/SSP/Amp).

And yes, the classe kit is near the top of the popularity scale and reviewers wax lyrical about it.

But for the sake of clarity, to say that all amps are created "equally" is a bit irresponsible as it's too broad a statement and can be easily misconstrued by the integrated kit owners, where there can be remarkable audible/measurable differences (because they call those "amps" too). I agree with you, though that dedicated amps suffer from this much less (but i believe that differences are there)

Anyways, it's the subjective stuff in looking for.

Cheers,
Dave.
 

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Classe and Focal 1038 are a nice pairing. While the sensitivity of the Focals is pretty high, I find they really benifit from a stronger amplifier. The image, treble, soundstage, voicing, type of bass are completely different from the B&W N. I think you will be happy with the Focals with Classe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wow

So, after auditioning a fairly large array of speakers (including the likes of B&W 803D, 802D) I finally ended up taking the 1038be home and I have to say that I could not be more happy with them.

The auditioning process has been a real eye opener for me in terms of speaker characteristics matching electronics and - most importantly - subjective selling.

One thing that stood out in my mind was how when I went to a dealer who had both Focal and B&W (but "preferred" the B&W gear) said, before my audition, "The 802D is a stunning speaker. The Focals tend to be lot more forward and I think that you'll find that you'll like the brightness of them at first but you'll fatigue quickly and be tired of them in 6 months". Both were auditioned on a Krell kit.

I found out, later, that he makes more margin on the B&W and had more in stock and it makes me wonder if he wasn't leading me toward a sale of the 802Ds.

But for my listening experience, I think he'd influenced my listening session with them because I remember thinking, "these are bright, but not harsh, but what if I grow tired of them?" So I decided against them.

I did some more auditioning but had basically given up on the Focals until I found them at another dealer's and listened to them with different electronics and with no pre-selling bias and I still enjoyed them. The bass still seemed "thin" at the extreme lows but the highs were smoother than I'd remembered - more enjoyable. This was on a Chord stack with two mono amps.

They sounded good and I thought, "I'm not a bass head so I'll buy a sub to fill out the low end for HT or during bass'y tracks".

And then I got them home and they sound NOTHING like what I remember hearing in either of those demo rooms. Highs and mids are tremedously detailed and smooth but the bass - good god, it's lovely!!! It's taught, yes, but it's not lacking at all and I have absolutely no need for a sub what so ever! I can't believe my ears.

I honestly believe that the Electra series are grossly undersold here in the UK. And they're hard to find - it seems as though sales haven't been great in the UK because B&W seems to be the name here and many dealers have stopped carrying regular stock of them.

After buying them, I found out that WhatHifi has done a review of them in the June issue and I disagree with some of their assessment. They say give them a minimum of 300W - not necessary.

I've even tried hooking them up to my Denon AVR 2809, just for a giggle, and they sound pretty good (though they do sound a bit thin, to be fair).

And the best part? They are beautiful so they were SWMBO-approved before we'd even started auditioning (though the 802Ds gained said approval after an audition). :)

Thanks for the opinions guys - I just thought I would add mine.
 

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And then I got them home and they sound NOTHING like what I remember hearing in either of those demo rooms. Highs and mids are tremedously detailed and smooth but the bass - good god, it's lovely!!! It's taught, yes, but it's not lacking at all and I have absolutely no need for a sub what so ever! I can't believe my ears.
Honestly, rather than electronics matching, I think what you are hearing (or the difference between your 2 demo sessions and in home listening) is room acoustics..

Not to say electronics matching is not important, but it has less to do with how an amp sound with a particular speakers and more to do with amp/speaker impedance matching and sensitivity/watts matching..
 
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Its a shame that it is hard to find a dealer that you can trust without wondering if they are pushing something that might not be the best for you but they make a little more on.
I have the 1038be and agree with you on their sound. They are not bright speakers at all and are a great value. If they sound bright it is usually the recording the room or something with the other equipment used.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Its a shame that it is hard to find a dealer that you can trust without wondering if they are pushing something that might not be the best for you but they make a little more on.
I have the 1038be and agree with you on their sound. They are not bright speakers at all and are a great value. If they sound bright it is usually the recording the room or something with the other equipment used.
I couldn't agree more. I hear absolutely no harshness or untoward brightness - just lots of detail and a nice full/rich sound.

One other thing I noted was that every time I auditioned a pair of speakers, it would take me 45min to settle into their sound (be it room acoustics or the speakers themselves) and stop "disliking it".

I experienced the same phenomenon with all of the speakers that I auditioned - including the 802Ds. They sounded good but I didn't like them either at first either. In fact I was downright disappointed with them until I got used to them.

As for the 1038bes, there's no lack for bass (and, if you do the calculations, you'll see that the 1038be's woofers can push 15% more air than the 802Ds) though measurements do show that they tail off quickly below 40Hz. But what I do find funny is that the 802Ds actually amp up the bass between 40-110Hz, which I think is what a lot of people perceive as being a more "full" sound, where as the 1038be's have a more linear response curve in that range (ie - more true to the original recording).

It just makes me wonder if this perception of "brightness" isn't simply because most B&W owners are used to that hump at the bottom end and the fact that it's not there with the Focals makes it "feel" thin to them. And never mind what the likes of Bose are doing to people's perceptions of sound.

Granted, the 802D does go lower than the Focals so for Home Theatre, I'd definitely recommend a sub with the Focals. But then I'd probably want a sub for HT with the B&Ws also.

In all honesty, I am pleased with the purchase. I got sound that I'd easily class as good as the 802D but with a significant discount. I'll end up buying the Focal Sub (even though it's not a house shaker) to give me my HT low end and when I do, I'll have something that cost less than a pair of 802Ds, has a more linear response curve and goes down to 25Hz. Win-win-win in my books.

Btw, the reason that I keep comparing these to the 802Ds is because they were the two that I liked the most. It just seems natural, to me, to compare them. Sorry if it sounds like I'm picking on them - I'm not. They're a great speaker and I'd be happy with them too as they do sound good (though I do think they've become a status symbol because there's so much hype around them - I know I *desperately* wanted a pair before ever hearing them - it was the hype, the reviews and their unusual looks that had pre-sold me on them).
 

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In store auditioning is really hard. Room and other electronics make it hard to compare. I like the B&W diamond series also but for me the Focal have the perfect balance.
I agree on needing a sub for HT. I use the Paradigm Sub 1 which matches up very well. You need a excellent sub to keep up with the Focals bass and the Paradigm is perfect for music and movies as it goes down to 15hz flat in my room. Im sure the Focal sub is great also but depending on room size and how loud you listen to movies it may not go deep enough.
 
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