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B&W 803D/McIntosh listening impression

441 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Alimentall
About a week ago....I went into my local stereo/video store and the opportunity to listen to their reference (at the time) stereo system. The system consisted of the Nautilus 803D speakers....and all McIntosh processing with their big mono amplifiers. The room was treated and I sat down about 7 feet back from the speakers...and they were seperated maybe 5-7 feet.

I listened to the Roger Waters "Ca Ira" SACD...and the older gentlemen at the store were impressed that I was listening to opera/musical theater at age 24. I listened to some Diana Krall, Mark Knopfler, Led Zeppelin, and some newer Pink Floyd material. The "Ca Ira" SACD sounded absolutely phenomenal...by far the best recording I have listened to.

For what the system cost...I was left relatively unimpressed. The sound was nice...but it really didn't pull me into it (Wilson accomplishes this feat)....I was somewhat impressed on how loud the B&W's can go. I think the amps together were around $8k....speakers around the same.....not sure about the pre-amplifier and cd/sacd player.

Don't get me wrong...the sound was great....it was a system....didn't sound like a tweeter, a midrange and a midwoofer....it was just there, which is great. However, it didn't really grab onto me and just really sink in.

Am I crazy? What do you all think?
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Honestly, I think our mood has a great influence on how any system 'grabs' us at any one time. Which is why perhaps, the time you heard the Wilsons you were so impressed.

Generally IMO, were are still a good ways from recreating the live experiance, some speakers do a fine job with specific music genres (Maggies for chamber music for example) but I haven't heard anything that fools me completely.

I also have not been impressed by the B&W price/performance ratio, but it could have been my mood at the time.
I've heard the 803Ds compared to a good reference and they are, to me (and measurably) overly warm with decent, but not deep or impactful bass. Soundstage is so-so as is detail. Treble is nice and smooth. I think they're a step above older B&Ws in refinement and execution, but I can also very well see why people would be bored to tears by them. HT mag shows a 6dB drop in FR between about 800 Hz and 2000Hz , then it pops back up a mere 2dB throughout the treble and that would make for an overly warm and dull presentation. The 802D is much better. But I could also see how some people who like that warm flavor would like the 803D.
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