B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?

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Baumli

B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?
« on: 13 Feb 2018, 04:29 am »
Dear audio bluebloods,
   It has been some time since I have posted on this site. I've been in the midst of a long odyssey, which I hope is over, so ... let there be no history here, only a query.
   From many people I have heard raves about the B&W 802 Diamond Series III, with the claim often made that it is the best speaker-by far-in the world for its price. I had heard the "I" and "II" versions of this speaker, and thought several things: the best tweeter in the world, the midrange okay (as usual for B&W) but nothing special, and if not the best bass or midbass I have heard then certainly the best coherence between these two regions I have heard. A comparison between the I and II revealing an identical-sounding tweeter and a miniscule improvement in the II over the I for the midrange and bass. But people raved that now the midrange in the III is wonderful, the bass better, and if the tweeter is the same, at least it doesn't stand out as better than the rest of the speaker.
   Well, on Saturday, Feb. 10, I finally found time and opportunity for going to The Sound Room. I was very, very disappointed-to say the least.
   The room was problematic: noise from the heating vent (but one has to tolerate that), and a high-pitched whine which both people helping present the speaker had trouble even hearing. It drove me crazy. They finally decided that the whine was coming from a security camera mounted up high and behind us there in the room, they couldn't shut it off, so ... I tried to ignore it. But it is interesting that after being in the room about 45 minutes, when Abbe, my wife, came in to fetch me the first words out of her mouth were, "What's that awful high-pitched whine?" Why wasn't that obtrusive noise obvious to the salesmen? A month ago?!
   But to the speakers: I think there was something wrong with them. They had so much bass resonance it sounded like they were baffled by a pair of washtubs. I have never heard that much cabinet resonance from any speaker in my life, even the cheapest of what you could buy at Wal-Mart. The midrange drivers were breaking up intermittently-a little more in the right channel than in the left. The tweeters were probably fine, but I was too distracted by the problems to pay them much attention.
   Neither of the salesmen could hear anything wrong. I am sure the problem wasn't my ears. I turned on my stereo a few hours later, and heard none of those artifacts. I wonder if it is possible that those speakers were dropped straight down, while on a pallet, and got broken inside. That interior honeycomb bracing B&W uses looks impressively strong, but surely it is possible they could get broken under the right (or very wrong) circumstances.
   I am just wondering if other people have listened to this particular set of speakers, and if so, what is their impression? I'm sure John Hollander could sit in front of them and know exactly what is wrong in ten seconds. It didn't sound like the amps. It didn't sound like an artifact in the room. It sounded like the cabinets of both speakers had been damaged. I was listening to a set of speakers that cost as much as a new car, and I wouldn't have given a nickel for them.
   Opinions? Commentary? My opinion is that the speakers have been damaged, and should either go back to the factory or in the trash. And given the high opinions I have heard from people who possess excellent ears, I am not going to paint that speaker with a tar brush. I am going to conclude that the ones I heard are not representative of what the B&W 802 Diamond Series III should sound like.
   It was a wasted listening session that day. I departed feeling glum and impatient.

Befuddled,

Francis Baumli
   
   

Scott F.

Re: B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?
« Reply #1 on: 13 Feb 2018, 04:23 pm »
Francis,

It has been since they had their grand opening since I listened to that system. Unfortunately, there were too many people in the room to get a real impression of them. That and we weren't able to get into the sweet spot either. Standing off-axis while something quite uncomplimentary was blaring, my impression was less than stellar. For all my systems faults, I thought my 800D's sounded significantly better than the new versions.

I'm with you on your old impressions of the 800D series. I love that diamond tweeter, midrange is good, bass is very good. I guess the thing I like most about them is they don't overpower you with flash and sizzle making them difficult to listen to. The thing I like least about them is you need an arc welder to drive them and they don't come alive until about 95dB....at least with my Mac MC452's. Above that, they transform themselves.

I'm headed out to see David in a week or so on a different matter. I may take a few minutes to give them a listen again when I can focus. I'll let you know if I hear the same issues you do.

Norman Tracy

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Re: B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?
« Reply #2 on: 13 Feb 2018, 05:48 pm »
Hello Francis,

So during the demo you noted the following:

“The room was problematic: noise from the heating vent (but one has to tolerate that), and a high-pitched whine which both people helping present the speaker had trouble even hearing. It drove me crazy.” "What's that awful high-pitched whine?" “Why wasn't that obtrusive noise obvious to the salesmen?” “They (the speakers) had so much bass resonance it sounded like they were baffled by a pair of washtubs.” “I have never heard that much cabinet resonance from any speaker in my life, even the cheapest of what you could buy at Wal-Mart.”  “Neither of the salesmen could hear anything wrong.” “Opinions? Commentary?” “My opinion is that the speakers have been damaged, and should either go back to the factory or in the trash.”

My opinion and comment is the horrid room with its myriad problems unheard by the near deaf staff completely overwhelmed what the speakers are capable of. No room is perfect; we all must listen around a couple of issues at shops, shows, and our personal listening rooms. But as the old saying goes eventually “enough is enough!” You were subjected to:

1.   HVAC noise and a staff who does not know how to find the OFF switch on the thermostat.
2.   Awful high-pitched whine. The subconscious effect of that alone ruined any chance for subtle evaluation upon which the high-end is built. While being driven actively “crazy” can you split your brain in half wall off the crazy while using the other half to make fine subjective judgements?
3.   Bass resonances like you have never heard from any speaker in your life.  Because they were not speaker resonances. Again I suspect the room as the prime suspect. B&W solved the box sounds like a box problem in the 1980s with the Matrix enclosures. Of course shipping damage is always a danger, when I was working HiFi retail B&W used very stout shipping boxes for the 800 series. So I tend to discount that possibility. A hard enough drop to break free the matrix inside has to crack the exterior.

You have not heard the latest generation 800, despite spending time in a room where they were playing. Reset and try again is my advice.

Happy Listening
NT

Tyson

Re: B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?
« Reply #3 on: 13 Feb 2018, 06:24 pm »
What you heard was a large speaker capable of prodigous bass overloading the room.  This is common for big speakers that go deep, with power.  That's just the nature of deep bass in listening rooms.  There's 2 ways to address it - get an Open Baffle speaker with great bass or (if you want to stick with box speakers), get 2 or 3 additional subwoofers and place them around the room in a Swarm configuration. 

eric1

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Re: B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?
« Reply #4 on: 14 Feb 2018, 01:41 am »
When I was at the Soundroom, the only thing I could hear were those JL subs, drowning everything else out. The room was REALLY set up poorly.

vintage9594

Re: B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?
« Reply #5 on: 14 Feb 2018, 02:02 am »
Nothing to say about the Sound Room but glad to see your feeling better Francis!

JohnH12

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Re: B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?
« Reply #6 on: 14 Feb 2018, 02:08 am »
Francis thank you for the kind words.  Like others I suspect the room, but you never know.  When testing speakers I like to bring my own demo music and listen to one channel alone before listening in stereo.  If something sounds off I try to isolate the speaker and then the drivers. 

It's unfortunate you had a bad experience.  Did they offer to demo in your home?

Baumli

Re: B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?
« Reply #7 on: 14 Feb 2018, 06:57 am »
Dear folks,

Thank you for your several replies. The room was bad, yes; but I still think there was something wrong with the speakers themselves. The resonances both in the bass and midrange were coming right at where the speakers were placed.

I listened with the subs on, then off. I agree they were ruining everything, including each other. (Firing directly at each other from a distance of about 12 feet? Who is kidding whom?)

No; they didn't offer to bring them to my home for an audition. In truth, had they offered, I would have turned them down. I agree that the room was awful. But I still think something is wrong with that set of speakers.

If anyone gets out there, and has a studied impression, I would like to know!

All the best,

Francis Baumli

Tyson

Re: B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?
« Reply #8 on: 14 Feb 2018, 07:19 am »
Only real way to tell - have them get a new pair out of storage and set them up & listen to them. 

OzarkTom

Re: B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?
« Reply #9 on: 19 Feb 2018, 01:33 am »
I am only familiar with the 801's. Way too power hungry, too bass heavy, the crossover in each speaker weighed 28 pounds. It was a fourth order crossover with huge transformers and way too many parts. 801's was cool looking though.

Has anyone here tried out Audio Nirvana in Chesterfield, Mo? My buddy Rex left behind a large set of their speakers behind when he moved to Hawaii. They sound great. No crossovers, 2 watts of power is all you need, great imaging, and very good bass.

Price is way lower than B&W's with much better sound. Here is a lot of great reviews.

http://www.commonsenseaudio.com/reviews.html

eric1

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Re: B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?
« Reply #10 on: 19 Feb 2018, 02:21 am »
I am only familiar with the 801's. Way too power hungry, too bass heavy, the crossover in each speaker weighed 28 pounds. It was a fourth order crossover with huge transformers and way too many parts. 801's was cool looking though.

Has anyone here tried out Audio Nirvana in Chesterfield, Mo? My buddy Rex left behind a large set of their speakers behind when he moved to Hawaii. They sound great. No crossovers, 2 watts of power is all you need, great imaging, and very good bass.

Price is way lower than B&W's with much better sound. Here is a lot of great reviews.

http://www.commonsenseaudio.com/reviews.html

I did go by for a listen. They sound good, but kinda lean on the base end. Typically the cabinet makes most of the base. How big were the ones you listened to? Any Pics?

eric

OzarkTom

Re: B&W 802 Diamond Series III: Were these broken?
« Reply #11 on: 19 Feb 2018, 04:35 pm »
I did go by for a listen. They sound good, but kinda lean on the base end. Typically the cabinet makes most of the base. How big were the ones you listened to? Any Pics?

eric

About 4 feet tall, 12 in. wide, and 14 in deep. They use an 8 in. driver. I drive them with DAC cherry mono amps.