B&W Signature 800 vs 802 D3

S

ssmith2020

Audiophyte
I'm going to replace my B&W CM10 mains with either a pair of used Signature 800 or used 802 D3. I love the look of the 800's with the Tiger's Eye Maple finish, but they were built in 2002-2004, and the 802 D3s are almost new. Based on my equipment and use below, which would you recommend, assuming they were roughly the same price.

Marantz AV8802
OPPO UDP-203
2 Emotiva XPA-5
2 Emotiva XPA-2 (bi-amping fronts)
Marantz CD-6005
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable
LG 60 inch 4K tv
SVS SB-4000
SVS SB-3000
2 B&W CM10 as mains
Various floor standing surrounds and center channel to complete 11.2 setup
75% home theater use, 25% music
Family room about 20'x20', that opens to kitchen
Room acoustics "decent" with carpet, drapes, and wall hangings
Area behind the rear surrounds is open to the kitchen
I should add that looks somehow enhance the music listening experience for me, although I hate to admit it.
 
Last edited:
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
I'm going to replace my B&W CM10 mains with either a pair of used Signature 800 or used 802 D3. I love the look of the 800's with the Tiger's Eye Maple finish, but they were built in 2002-2004, and the 802 D3s are almost new. Based on my equipment and use below, which would you recommend, assuming they were roughly the same price.

Marantz AV8802
OPPO UDP-203
2 Emotiva XPA-5
2 Emotiva XPA-2 (bi-amping fronts)
Marantz CD-6005
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon turntable
LG 60 inch 4K tv
SVS SB-4000
SVS SB-3000
2 B&W CM10 as mains
Various floor standing surrounds and center channel to complete 11.2 setup
75% home theater use, 25% music
Family room about 20'x20', that opens to kitchen
Room acoustics "decent" with carpet, drapes, and wall hangings
Area behind the rear surrounds is open to the kitchen
I should add that looks somehow enhance the music listening experience for me, although I hate to admit it.
I have only heard the 802 diamonds, sounded nice but I prefer the Focal 1028Be for more accurate FR and sounded equally transparent to me. The 1038 Be would be more of an equivalent to the 802D series. If you like how they sound and the great look go for it. I think the 800 non diamonds are too dated.
 
S

ssmith2020

Audiophyte
Thanks for the response. I'm hooked on the B&W brand. I am worried the 800 Signature is simply too dated for the money.
 
John Parks

John Parks

Audioholic General
I like that answer: "Which B&W model of the two I listed do you suggest?" "Focal." ;)

I got to listen to a pair of Signature 800s when they came out and they were completely awesome. Sure, the D tweeter (and other tech) has advanced in the intervening years, but I in no way consider that model of 800 obsolete. I am sure it would sound fantastic with your setup (Nautilus aficionados [i.e., snobs] may faint at the prospect of Emotiva amplification). If you are concerned about the technical prowess of the newer D series over the Signature, you may not be satisfied with the older model and constantly wonder what you may be missing - which is no fun...
 
S

ssmith2020

Audiophyte
Thanks for the response. I'm starting to lean to the 802 D3's. Hard to pass up on 17 years worth of B&W technology.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Ha! Me too. Of course, for B&W 800 series money, I'd say: Salk.
:cool:
To me, in a smaller room even the BMR will sound as good while being more neutral, but if you like the 800 diamond series style and build quality, you would be tempted to buy them regardless.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Spartan
To me, in a smaller room even the BMR will sound as good while being more neutral, but if you like the 800 diamond series style and build quality, you would be tempted to buy them regardless.
;)
Can't argue when it comes to preferences like that!
Admittedly the only things I know about the 800 series B&Ws is secondhand, but for the most part, all good.
(My prejudice stems from the less stellar siblings from the 600 and 700 series. Alas, I digress.)
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
;)
Can't argue when it comes to preferences like that!
Admittedly the only things I know about the 800 series B&Ws is secondhand, but for the most part, all good.
(My prejudice stems from the less stellar siblings from the 600 and 700 series. Alas, I digress.)
They were built like tanks, much heavier than the 700 series and the 803/4s even with the larger sizes factored in.

By the way, how's the Phil 3's mid and high range compared to the BMR? My turn to digress...
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Spartan
They were built like tanks, much heavier than the 700 series and the 803/4s even with the larger sizes factored in.

By the way, how's the Phil 3's mid and high range compared to the BMR? My turn to digress...
Both are stunning, and great matches. It would be a lie if I said they were indistinguishable, but...

A local donut shop (in San Francisco) had an Apple donut, and a Quince donut. Their preparation of the Quince made it taste more Apple-y than the actual Apple.

That BG Planar is like the Quince to the Tectonic BMR driver. Dennis cooked that apple as good as any baker could, and it is delicious. But the BG in its open back cabinet is just more apple-y! ;)

Between the Raal 64-10 and the 70-10, in Dennis' hands... I can't tell much difference. And that was his message when I asked about voicing between the two speakers... that with the Raals, you won't notice a difference in voicing.

End of the day, my humble opinion is that unless you need to Rock Out extra hard, the BMR is still the best value over anything around it's price class. Unless you are going to stretch to ~$4- or 5K for a pair, they can't be beat.

If the story is correct, the Phil tower line, of which the Phil 3 was the last iteration of, was his way of creating an affordable version of the Salk SS 8: a $9000/pr speaker. ;) Several here have said that at the time, the SS 8 was the best speaker they had ever heard.

To say I am still stoked on these... would be a gross understatement.
:cool:
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
I'm not a big fan of B&W in general, but I've heard the 802 D3s and they're probably the best sounding speaker I've heard. They did a lot right with that model. I don't think I would even miss a subwoofer with them for music.
20171013_141946-2124x1195.jpg
 
John Parks

John Parks

Audioholic General
I'm not a big fan of B&W in general, but I've heard the 802 D3s and they're probably the best sounding speaker I've heard. They did a lot right with that model. I don't think I would even miss a subwoofer with them for music.
View attachment 33081
I had the chance to listen to the 803 D3s recently and they were very, very good. I like that they have incorporated the head unit (mid/tweet) on the smaller size of the 803. I know there are a lot of B&W detractors here (and elsewhere) but something special happens when they put the tweeter on top. Something really special happens when they put the midrange and tweeter on top.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
I'm not a big fan of B&W in general, but I've heard the 802 D3s and they're probably the best sounding speaker I've heard. They did a lot right with that model. I don't think I would even miss a subwoofer with them for music.
View attachment 33081
Whether you would "miss" a good subwoofer or not would naturally depend on your room acoustic conditions and placement options. Their low end response is definitely great.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
Whether you would "miss" a good subwoofer or not would naturally depend on your room acoustic conditions and placement options. Their low end response is definitely great.
Good point. The demo room they had them set up in was treated and optimized to make them sound glorious and they did a very good job with it. It was a large area and there might have been 1 more set of speakers in the whole room. I could tell they took care to separate that system from the rest of the pack and pulled out some stops to really make it shine.

Bjorn's, in San Antonio if there are any Texans in the thread. I highly recommend stopping in to say hi. Very friendly and accommodating folks there, even knowing I wasn't there to spend. The salesperson seemed like he was having fun and enjoyed showing off their babies.
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Warlord
Good point. The demo room they had them set up in was treated and optimized to make them sound glorious and they did a very good job with it. It was a large area and there might have been 1 more set of speakers in the whole room. I could tell they took care to separate that system from the rest of the pack and pulled out some stops to really make it shine.

Bjorn's, in San Antonio if there are any Texans in the thread. I highly recommend stopping in to say hi. Very friendly and accommodating folks there, even knowing I wasn't there to spend. The salesperson seemed like he was having fun and enjoyed showing off their babies.
Hmmmmm seems our friend @danzilla knows about Bjorn’s. Se or no?
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
I would definitely go for the 802 D3s. Those old Kevlar cones were crossed over just a little too high and it was audible. The new weave makes it to the 4 K crossover, just.

I know this series especially the 800 D3 as a good friend has a pair.

The biggest problem is the load B & W speakers present to amps. This is something they really need to do something about. There is no need for it.

This is the 802 D3 impedance curve.



Phase angles go from +45 to minus 70! Impedance is 3 ohm in the major power band. So these are 3 ohm speakers essentially.

So there is no guarantee that an amp will perform into those speakers like it will on the test bench. By the way passive biamping is a waste of time and resources.

I did get measurements from my friends set up.

Again the load presented is similar.



This is the FR and waterfall.





So those are pretty good measurements. Slightly different from stereophile. I show a bit of a dip at the 4KHz crossover, and less tweeter rise at 10 KHz. Also I show that rise is on axis so the overall room response is about right. The speakers do not sound bright to me, but if anything slightly retiring. So I think that dip at 4 K crossover is real.

I do think those diamond tweeters are slight beamers. I think those speakers are best listened too slightly off axis. I personally don't think that diamond diaphragm construction is worth the trouble.

In summary that speaker is a very good one. That not withstanding I prefer mine, but not by a lot, largely because of the better defined bass, but also because mine sound more relaxed in the mid band when the going gets tough. But then I have thrown more resources at that band.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Good point. The demo room they had them set up in was treated and optimized to make them sound glorious and they did a very good job with it. It was a large area and there might have been 1 more set of speakers in the whole room. I could tell they took care to separate that system from the rest of the pack and pulled out some stops to really make it shine.

Bjorn's, in San Antonio if there are any Texans in the thread. I highly recommend stopping in to say hi. Very friendly and accommodating folks there, even knowing I wasn't there to spend. The salesperson seemed like he was having fun and enjoyed showing off their babies.
I am quite sure most sensible dealers would make the sure their demo room for expensive speakers are highly acoustically optimized if not near perfect. When people bring them home, it could be a different story.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
I would definitely go for the 802 D3s. Those old Kevlar cones were crossed over just a little too high and it was audible. The new weave makes it to the 4 K crossover, just.

I know this series especially the 800 D3 as a good friend has a pair.

The biggest problem is the load B & W speakers present to amps. This is something they really need to do something about. There is no need for it.

This is the 802 D3 impedance curve.



Phase angles go from +45 to minus 70! Impedance is 3 ohm in the major power band. So these are 3 ohm speakers essentially.

So there is no guarantee that an amp will perform into those speakers like it will on the test bench. By the way passive biamping is a waste of time and resources.

I did get measurements from my friends set up.

Again the load presented is similar.



This is the FR and waterfall.





So those are pretty good measurements. Slightly different from stereophile. I show a bit of a dip at the 4KHz crossover, and less tweeter rise at 10 KHz. Also I show that rise is on axis so the overall room response is about right. The speakers do not sound bright to me, but if anything slightly retiring. So I think that dip at 4 K crossover is real.

I do think those diamond tweeters are slight beamers. I think those speakers are best listened too slightly off axis. I personally don't think that diamond diaphragm construction is worth the trouble.

In summary that speaker is a very good one. That not withstanding I prefer mine, but not by a lot, largely because of the better defined bass, but also because mine sound more relaxed in the mid band when the going gets tough. But then I have thrown more resources at that band.
The op has some not too bad power amps so in a medium sized room without pushing spl too high he may be okay. Imo those speakers deserve much better electronics though based on their sensitivity, impedance and phase angle vs frequency.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
Hmmmmm seems our friend @danzilla knows about Bjorn’s. Se or no?
Yeah, I think so. I know @panteragstk said he's been there before too. One of the few places like it still. Those guys must be doing okay. Hope so, I wish there were more like it. There just aren't many B&M stores left that know and sell quality gear anymore.
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Warlord
Yeah, I think so. I know @panteragstk said he's been there before too. One of the few places like it still. Those guys must be doing okay. Hope so, I wish there were more like it. There just aren't many B&M stores left that know and sell quality gear anymore.
Oh yeah, now that you mention it or friendly great southern trend killer has mentioned them...

Yeah it would be nice if there were more places like that. The problem is too many people only care about whatever’s cheaper.
 

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