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Griz1

Enthusiast
Ratings
4
#1
Hello,
I have a pair of B&W 802 speakers purchased in 1981. I think they had only one model of the 802s at that time (serial number 007638). I have two questions: First, I am using these as the front speakers in our home theater (well, living room really...),and we are about to upgrade the receiver to 4K... and would like a recommendation for an AV receiver to drive these...(Currently thinking about the Pioneer VSXLX504..which is reasonably priced, and says it has 230 watts/channel, but I know that's peak power, and I'm not sure what the RMS rating is). Second, these speakers are a tad old now, and an audiophile friend suggested it's time to replace the actual internal speakers (though that was without hearing them)....is it typical to replace the internal components simply because of age?
Thanks for the advice!
 

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carlthess40

Audioholic
Ratings
18 3
#2
I would go with a preamp and a amp. And no you don’t have to change any of the drivers unless they are not working. Maybe update the crossovers as the caps go out of specs over the years. Go to the B&W fourm and ask some of those guys. I know with Klipsch speakers unless they have been over driven the drivers last for 40 plus years. Just about every 20 years or so we refresh the crossovers some and the. You can spend 20 or up to a few hundred on them
Good luck you have some great speakers and they will last you a lifetime and can be passed down to your kids if you take care of them


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
5,044 11 6
#3
Welcome to Audioholics Griz1!
I have a pair of B&W 802 speakers purchased in 1981. I think they had only one model of the 802s at that time (serial number 007638). I have two questions:

First, I am using these as the front speakers in our home theater (well, living room really...),and we are about to upgrade the receiver to 4K... and would like a recommendation for an AV receiver to drive these...(Currently thinking about the Pioneer VSXLX504..which is reasonably priced, and says it has 230 watts/channel, but I know that's peak power, and I'm not sure what the RMS rating is).
All receivers and amps are required by to rate their power output according a method defined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Pioneer shows this on the website for the VSX-LX504 receiver:
120 W/ch (8 ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, THD 0.08 %, 2ch Driven, FTC)​
Pioneer also rates this receiver by a less stringent method:
230 W/ch (6 ohms, 1 kHz, THD 10 %, 1ch Driven)​
Note that the 230 W/ch rating was done with a 6 ohm load which should result in somewhat higher watts than an 8 ohm load; was done only at a single tone of 1 kHz, not the full audio range of 20-20,000 Hz; only one channel was driven not two; and the total harmonic distortion (THD) was 10%, more than 100 times higher than the 0.08% THD at 120 W. I'd ignore that 230 W/ch value. This Pioneer is a 120 W/ch receiver.

Those B&W 802s probably can work well with quite a lot more power than 120 watts. If they're like other large 800 series B&Ws, they probably require a lot more power to perform well. What do you drive them with now?

This Pioneer receiver can work as an AV pre-amp. It allows connecting up to 9 channels to external amplifiers. See page 67 of the owner's manual. There is no need to buy a dedicated pre-amp.

You also don't have to use external amps for all the channels you plan on using. You might find that an external 2-channel amp for the B&Ws works well, while using the Pioneer's internal amplifiers for all the other channels.
Second, these speakers are a tad old now, and an audiophile friend suggested it's time to replace the actual internal speakers (though that was without hearing them)....is it typical to replace the internal components simply because of age?
Thanks for the advice!
I think your friend might be wrong. These B&W speakers, top of the line when they were made, are probably built like a tank. If they sound alright to you, keep using them as they are.

I also wonder how difficult or expensive it would be to find replacement drivers for a speaker made in the early 1980s.

Replacing crossover capacitors is a more complex issue than simply replacing them every 20 years or so. It would be wiser to first determine if the original crossover caps still work as intended. Not all capacitors loose performance with age. This includes non-polar electrolytic caps, as some do not fail or dry out with age.
 
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AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Ratings
8,031 23 6
#4
If it's not broken, don't fix it. :D

As for AVRs, I did a little comparison with S&V power measurements:

AVR Power Comparison S&V 2Ch 1% THD 8-ohm/4-ohm:
$2K Yamaha RX-A3060: 186.4 watts/ 294.3 watts
$2K Marantz SR7011: 169.1 watts/ 232.2 watts

$3K Anthem MRX 1120: 167.8 watts/ 243.2 watts
$6K Arcam AVR850: 142.8 watts/ 248.8 watts
$2K Cambridge CXR120: 109.3 watts/143.8 watts

In general, most of us would stick to Yamaha and Denon/Marantz.
 
2

2channel lover

Audioholic General
Ratings
669
#5
Hello,
I have a pair of B&W 802 speakers purchased in 1981. I think they had only one model of the 802s at that time (serial number 007638). I have two questions: First, I am using these as the front speakers in our home theater (well, living room really...),and we are about to upgrade the receiver to 4K... and would like a recommendation for an AV receiver to drive these...(Currently thinking about the Pioneer VSXLX504..which is reasonably priced, and says it has 230 watts/channel, but I know that's peak power, and I'm not sure what the RMS rating is). Second, these speakers are a tad old now, and an audiophile friend suggested it's time to replace the actual internal speakers (though that was without hearing them)....is it typical to replace the internal components simply because of age?
Thanks for the advice!
Post #3 pretty much covered the bases here. I have a pair of baby brother 804m but most likely share the same matrix cabinet bracing, and maybe even the midrange driver or something similar.

My post is regarding the drivers...if your speakers have been in a climate controlled environment for most of the time that you've owned them, the drivers are probably fine....if you had them in an outdoor storage for a long time, I can see the potential for some dry rot to occur
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
2,162 9 17
#6
Yeah, swerd nailed it. It's not often we advise a separate amp, but those aren't your typical speakers. I also second just listening to those speakers before doing anything to them. When stored properly and not abused speakers can last for decades. Like 2ch alludes to check the surrounds for signs of dry rot and just give 'em a critical listen. If they sound good, just leave 'em be. Nice speakers you got there!
 
G

Griz1

Enthusiast
Ratings
4
#7
Thanks for all of the advice..and a special Thanks to Swerd for the very comprehensive and detailed reply! I'm thinking maybe the Yamaha RX-A3060 or the Arcam AVR390 would work well with my 802s... BUT....if I were do separates, to finally get the most out of these speakers... I'd be interested in hearing which Power Amp / Preamp the folks here would recommend, so that the speakers could work both in a 5.1 configuration for A/V and for audio only..... Let's say the total budget for Amp/PreAmp is about $3,000-$,3500.... would that get much better (i.e.; easily heard as better) sound that either the Arcam or Yamaha receivers? or would I really need an $8,000+ Krell amp etc...
Again, Thanks very much for the sage advice!
 
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Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
5,044 11 6
#8
I'm thinking maybe the Yamaha RX-A3060 or the Arcam AVR390 would work well with my 802s... not ready to get into separates
Whatever receiver you think of getting, be sure to look at an enlarged picture of the rear panel or owner's manual to see if it has pre-amp output jacks. You may not want to get into external amps now, but if your receiver has those output jacks, you can always do it sometime down the road.

The Yamaha RX-A3060 has pre-amp output jacks, and its rated at 150 W (8 ohms, 20-20,000 Hz, 0.06% THD). https://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio_visual/av_receivers_amps/rx-a3060_u/index.html

That Yamaha model is now discontinued, but is available through Accessories 4 Less at a big discount, 60% off MSRP. A4L is a reputable seller – they often offer factory rebuilds with manufacturer warranties. https://www.accessories4less.com/ma...-a3050-9.2-ch-x-150-watts-a/v-receiver/1.html

The Arcam AVR390 also has pre-amp output jacks, but it will probably not have enough power for your speakers, at 80 W/ch. https://www.arcam.co.uk/products,FMJ,AV-Receiver,avr390.htm
 
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Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
5,044 11 6
#9
BUT....if I were do separates, to finally get the most out of these speakers... I'd be interested in hearing which Power Amp / Preamp the folks here would recommend, so that the speakers could work both in a 5.1 configuration for A/V and for audio only..... Let's say the total budget for Amp/PreAmp is about $3,000-$,3500.... would that get much better (i.e.; easily heard as better) sound that either the Arcam or Yamaha receivers? or would I really need an $8,000+ Krell amp etc...
Forget looking for a separate preamp. You won't need one.

Any AVR can operate operate as an audio only 2-channel system. As far as I know, all AVRs can do that. It's simply a matter of selecting that mode of playback.

If you decide to add a more powerful external amplifier, AV receivers equipped with preamp output jacks can act as a preamp when wired to an external amplifier. Salesmen will try to tell you they cannot perform as well as dedicated preamps, but that's nonsense. Too many gullible buyers listen to advice like that, mistakenly believing that spending more money will always produce better sound quality. In my experience that simply isn't the case. Over the years, I've used two different AVRs as preamps, one was a low priced Denon, and the other is a much higher priced B&K AVR that I bought used. Both of them worked well in that role.

And Krell amps for 8 kilobucks? I think you can predict my answer. In one word, fuggedaboutit :D.
 
G

Griz1

Enthusiast
Ratings
4
#10
OK... so AVR and a power amp... So, which power amp to drive the 802s? I will plan on using the power amp just for the two 802s, and the internal amplifier of the AVR for the smaller rear speakers and subwoofer. And is there a specific combination of AVR/PowerAmp that folks here like. I have gotten deeply into the PowerAmp world yet... Class A... other classes? A bit confusing to figure out which are mainly for audio only and which designed for AVR... Thanks!
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
2,162 9 17
#11
I'm using an avr for my preamp right now and it does an awesome job. Sq is great in 2ch or my current 5.1.

Another thing to consider would be a 2 channel amp just for the 802's using an avr as the preamp and let it power your surround speakers and center. I'm doing something similar right now, letting my big amp handle the front 3 speakers and letting my avr power the surround channels.

*Edit: I see you're already on that page now, lol.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
2,162 9 17
#11
OK... so AVR and a power amp... So, which power amp to drive the 802s? I will plan on using the power amp just for the two 802s, and the internal amplifier of the AVR for the smaller rear speakers and subwoofer. And is there a specific combination of AVR/PowerAmp that folks here like. I have gotten deeply into the PowerAmp world yet... Class A... other classes? A bit confusing to figure out which are mainly for audio only and which designed for AVR... Thanks!
You replied as I was typing above, lol. I do think this is the way to go for you. I'm not as knowledgeable as some here, don't fret, the guys here have a way deep diving to find what might work for you.
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
5,044 11 6
#12
OK... so AVR and a power amp... So, which power amp to drive the 802s? I will plan on using the power amp just for the two 802s, and the internal amplifier of the AVR for the smaller rear speakers and subwoofer.
It would help to know how much power B&W suggested for those speakers. Typically, manufacturers give numbers telling the sensitivity of a speaker (how loud does it get when driven by 1 watt) and what their minimum or nominal impedance is. Those two values can help. A frequency vs. impedance curve would be better because impedance varies with the frequency. Sometimes manufacturers give a range of power, from a minimum to a maximum. The maximum can be the power level which causes thermal failure.

You've had those speakers for some time. What amplifiers or receivers have you used? How powerful were they? What did you think of the sound the 802s produced when driven by them?

Remember that amp power and speaker loudness is not a linear relationship. Twice the power does not mean twice as loud. In reality, twice the power means a 3 decibel (dB) increase, which is just barely noticeable. To get more noticeable loudness increases, look to multiply power levels by 10 fold, or if that's just not possible, the square root of 10 fold (3 fold). When I added a 200 W/ch external amp to a 70 W/ch AVR, going from 70 to 200 was roughly a 3-fold increase. That produced a real difference.

Once you get into the power range of an honest 200 W/ch or higher, you are in "big iron" territory. As a guess (and only a guess),your 802s might do well with that much power
And is there a specific combination of AVR/PowerAmp that folks here like.
Don't fall in love with brand names. Look for manufacturers that offer good values such as ATI (made in the USA),Outlaw, and Monoprice. Also look for used 2-channel amps. Amps, if not abused, can last a very long time.
I have gotten deeply into the PowerAmp world yet... Class A... other classes? A bit confusing to figure out which are mainly for audio only and which designed for AVR... Thanks!
Forget class A. And there is no difference between audio only or home theater amps.

Most amps are class AB, sometimes called A/AB. More recently, there have been class D amps that are said to be as good as the classic AB amps. Class D amps, switching amps, are cheaper to make, are smaller, and lighter weight. There was a recent review here of a new class D amp, but I forget the name. Maybe someone will remember it.
 
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G

Griz1

Enthusiast
Ratings
4
#14
Wow! Tons of information to process... Very grateful! I'm ashamed to say that the 802s have never been close to adequately powered. Back in 1981 when we got them I used a small Panasonic stereo receiver which we already owned (I think maybe 50 watts/channel)--always with the intention of upgrading when the budget allowed...(the speakers were a real splurge, and only "affordable" because we bought them in London and had them shipped home). When "home theater" became the "thing" we got a Pioneer AVR... again, maybe 80RMS/channel... and that's what we have now. How do they sound? Well, they've always sounded good to us...but every now and then, one of my old friends who still spins direct to disc vinyl will visit, and tell me I've never really heard these speakers perform near their design limits--and so now, since we are upgrading the whole system again, I'm interested in finally letting these old dogs run wild....Hope that helps! I need to do some research...I am just getting into this topic, and it's fun to be thinking about audio again...
Thanks again for all of the detailed information!
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
5,044 11 6
#15
A quick Google search for "B&W 802 series 80" produced this:
Owner's Manual
bwgroupsupport.com/downloads/manuals/bw/Matrix%20802%20S3-OM.pdf

Spec Sheet
bwgroupsupport.com/downloads/specsheets/bw/802%20Brochure.pdf

I'm not sure which model is yours, so I included both.

The owner's manual says, on page 6:
Sensitivity is 90 dB at 2.83 volts (1 watt) measured at 1 meter's distance. 90 dB is a high value for sensitivity. (Because there is no standard method for measuring sensitivity, methods vary among different makers. Some makers have been known to exaggerate their speaker's sensitivities.)

Impedance is 4 ohms. Amps that are stable at 4 ohms tend to be more robust and expensive than amps that cannot go below 6 to 8 ohms. (Some of the larger B&W 800 series speakers have been known to have impedance values that dip well below 4 ohms, even below 3 ohms. Hence their reputation for being power hungry.)

Power handling is 50 to 600 watts.

In other words, get a big iron amp.

The spec sheet says:
Sensitivity is 85 dB (significantly less sensitive than 90 – and more believable)

Impedance is 8 ohms (B&W speakers in general have tended to all run below 8 ohms impedance, despite what the maker claims here.)

Power handling is 80 watts minimum with no upper limit because the speaker has overload protection.

I'd still suggest an amp much bigger than 80 watts per channel.
 
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G

Griz1

Enthusiast
Ratings
4
#18
Again, I'm floored...you found that owner's manual online that I now remember, and I'd long, long since lost it (and didn't think to Google it....). Those are indeed my speakers! I also recognize the photos of the 801s at the EMI studio as well...amazing stuff! So, the ATI522NC in the 2-channel configuration (200 watts/channel) would be all I would need, along with an AVR preamp? That's actually really affordable, and would be a much more robust solution that I was originally looking at... and just a Pioneer AVR for the "preamp"???
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Ratings
8,031 23 6
#20
OK... so AVR and a power amp... So, which power amp to drive the 802s? I will plan on using the power amp just for the two 802s, and the internal amplifier of the AVR for the smaller rear speakers and subwoofer. And is there a specific combination of AVR/PowerAmp that folks here like. I have gotten deeply into the PowerAmp world yet... Class A... other classes? A bit confusing to figure out which are mainly for audio only and which designed for AVR... Thanks!
IMO, if they sound good, then it’s good. I wouldn’t worry too much about playing them to their “limits” and risk blowing the speakers.

I also think if you want to go separates, then get a pre-pro + amp, not AVR + Amp.

You can get a nice Yamaha CX-A5100 Pre-Pro Like-New from Amazon Prime for $1500. This is the same pre-pro that Gene and I use.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B012UJZWF6

For amp, the Monolith 200w 5Ch or 7 Ch amp (made by ATI) is good. That should put your budget around $3000.
 

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