The B&W 805 speakers are my studio-mix speakers of choice. Using a Studiomaster P7 24ch. board, Crest V1100 amp and MIT cables the B&W's provide the perfect tonal characteristics for virtually every sound system my mixes are played on. (This is no compliment to me but to the speakers' trustworthiness.) The presence of the instruments sounds like your just a few feet away, unlike most speakers where the presence of the instruments sounds like they're forty feet away. —And some times they even sound like they're back stage : ^ ) But the best compliment I can give to the B&W 805's is that every style of music: from classical (piano and symphonic alike) and jazz (standard and fusion alike) to rock and motown: all sound balanced, musical, even caressing with very minimal listening fatigue. Even the famed Dynaudio speakers don't caress the acoustic nerve the way the 805's do. I've been in million dollar studios where the most expensive speakers were used for the mix. And while it sounds great in the studio, once you hear the performance on consumer grade equipment it becomes a crap shoot whether the EQ will balance out. More often than not it doesn't. Again, the B&W 805's virtually fit anywhere on any system. I could compliment these speakers all day, but I appreciate the proverb, "Shut up before you think you're half way done."
This speaker has been a love/hate relationship for me. I can only conclude that what people say about feeding this thing with the right frontend, seems to be very very true. I have found that every change in my system has had a profound effect on the result produced.
I used to have to b&w 601 and provoking a different result by changing a component in the front end was clearly possible, but it was nowhere near what the situation as with the n805's. So after going through 4 different power amps, 2 preamps and changing out signal cables I have landed upon a result that is vastly(!) different from what I started with (Yes every cables, power and pre amp swich all brought substantial change). I'm not so sure you need an expensive frontend, actually I'm quite sure that the wrong expensive frontend could be quite horrible. I heard it sounding quite nice with a German Grundig integrated :-) However hifi amps from Copland and Quad were not the ticket for me.
I will advice you to be able to try this speaker in the configuration it's going to play in before committing, If you can't do that you should be prepared that you might need to do a lot of experimentation and changing out of equipment till you get great results. Mine have gone from being over analytical, lean, cold, tinny, harsh, uneven bass and fatiguing (I almost wanted to cry when I got home and my non audiphile dog and girlfreind both ran and hid when the system played) to being balanced, slightly warm, much more, even, tight and full bass and without any harsh/iterating treble. But it's been a long road. Actually it now has the ability to certainly dissect the music, but is very musical and quite forgiving of lesser records. Amy Winehouse "Back to Black" still sounds awful - so there are limits :-) But old dodgy jazz recordings, some of the lesser Ella and Sinatra, 70’s soul records, Elvis Golden records and something like Radioheads "In Rainbows" all sound great. And of course audiophile recordings shine.
My system is like follows (I'm sure that it could use some more love in the source, cable and preamp departments at a later point):
Source: Cambridge Dacmagic / Pro-Ject Debut III
Preamp: Parasound p/hp 850
Poweramp: Sugden Signature 41p
Speakers: B&W Nautilus 805 on original sand filled stands
Interconnects: Mogami 2549 seudo-balanced homemade
Speaker Cable: Tara Labs Helix 8 bi-wire cable (This might need a change soon)
By the way I was a professional performing and recording musician and music composer/producer in my former life and thus have tons of reference from playing and recording music ranging from acoustic jazz, rock, pop, folk and electonic music.
I am so impressed by these bookshelf speakers that i feel I should write to share good things with others,
I grabbed a pair used 6 months ago and I realised that I have belittle bookshelf speakers too much,
I owned full range huge speakers previously and never knew that I can be blown away by bookshelf speakers.
To cut a long story short, this is the exact experience I had:
1. Big soundstage, though small speakers
2. Exceptionally transparent that many a time at night when I listen to it, it disppeared in the dark
3. Never boxy sounding like other bookshelf speakers I audition
4. Sweet vocals and best of all it is clear and not vague sounding
5. Superb airyness and I can hear air and ambience in the singer and instruments creatin a palpably real and deep soundstage.
6. The highs are the clearest I hard to date with not funny roll off
7. I can sense the singer and instruments in front of me
8. Best of all I can play soft and still get good sound
9. You can hear both marco and microdetails .....every breath taken by the singer can be heard so clearly...wow
I use a home made tube pre power and I was stunned what this speaker offered me.
The sweetness and clarity and soundstage makes me think back of bookshelf though I am a floorstander lover.
Buy it used, mine is 805 nautilus and I am still loving it,
I can't say enough about these wonderful bookshelf speakers. For the money, and I know they are not super cheap, one would be hard pressed to find better. On many occaisions I have AB'd the entire line of B&W Nautilus, N802s and higher were clearly better but only if used with high wattage amps. As much as I wanted it to be true (so I could upgrade), the 804s, 803s, and even the new diamond line left me unimpressed when compared to the 805s. Clearly you are not going to get great base extension with bookshelf speakers and I feel this is their only limitation. The bass they do produce is tight and convincing. Detail is excellent as is imaging.
For those who gave poor reviews, read the following mini-rant
The overall quality of the front end and amp are critically important. The weakest link in your system theory is sadly very true. I don't want to sound like an audio snob here, but if someone trashes a high end component and lists any box store receiver as their source of amplification take it with a grain of salt. Really any electronic component that you can buy at Circuit City or Best Buy is not going to do these speakers any justice. If you really want to try some good entry level higher end gear at a nice price look into Rotel or Adcom. Want to go better, try Arcam. Thinking about that 2,000 dollar Onkyo or Dennon reciever, consider an amp/pre-amp from Rotel for the same price. Better yet, go on EBAY and get some used stuff. These higher end component almost never break. Don't go cheap on cables!!! no you don't need to buy 1,000 dollar Kimber's. I use Tributaries and Straight wire... sounds fine. Even the high end monster cables are good.
I had used Polk Audio RT200i's for a couple years when I had a chance to switch to a full B&W surround setup: CDM-7NT mains, CNT center, 601S rears with an Aperion Sub. I was immediately hooked on B&W's. So much so that I immediately commenced a quest to upgrade to B&W Nautilus series mains. After focusing on Nautilus 803s and 804s, I jumped at an eBay auction for N805's, HTM2 center and an ASW-2500 700W sub. Got the whole set for $2500.00.
I'm absolutely in love with this setup...especially the 805s. I drive them with a SONY "ES" DA777ES Receiver (120W/ch) and find that this receiver's power is much, much more than adequate. How do the 805s sound? I'm not going to comment on soundstage, openness, brightness, muddiness, imaging and all the other cute words some reviewers here insist on using. All these factors are determined as much by the media you are playing, your amplification equipment and the characteristics of your personal listeming environment. In my family room these 805's sound just awesome...but in your room they will sound different...surely still awesome, but different.
I've used the following brands of speakers through the years: Sansui, Klipsh, Bose, Yamaha, Wharfedale and Polk Audio. To my ears, on my equipment and in my listening room, these 805s sound better than any speakers I've owned. Am I an "audiophile"? No. I don't want to spend enough money on audio equipment.to rate that title. However, I like good stuff and the 805's, to me, certainly qualify as good stuff.
I use the 805s on Sanus stands. I would never pay $600.00 for B&W stands...surely good equipment but not a good value at all.
How do the 805s look? Well....I have yet to have a neighbor or friend come into my family room without immediately noticing them and demanding to hear them while they wipe the drool off their chins...yes, they are visually unique and gorgeous!!
My only possibly negative comment is that I find that these speakers need a powered sub. But, I believe that B&W intended the 805's to be complimented with a sub. And, without question, a sub is required for Home Theater use.
hey guys, i currently run a peachtree decco -> n805's as a 2.0.. using my computer a source
the decco works suprisingly well in powering the n805... but im looking for that extra bass/clarity while keeping the mids honey smooth
i know these speakers are power hungry, but i dont need anything crazy ... Read More »
Hello to our fellow audiophiles,
Paradigm Signature S2 vs. Dynaudio Focus 110 vs. B & W Nautilus 805
Here are three bookshelf speakers from renowed world-class makers. We need expert input and insight as to virtues and strengths of these three different designs. We need to determi ... Read More »