A new model for the 800 Series, the 803D brings diamond dome technology to a less technical looking piece of furniture than the larger 'headed' models.
Here the FST™ midrange driver is housed in its own isolated section of the beautifully curved, Matrix™ braced main cabinet, which is kept as narrow as possible in order to optimise the dispersion of sound.
In order to have a similar bass output capability to the wider 802D, the 803D uses three Rohacell® cone bass drivers, this time supplemented by a front-firing Flowport™. Like all of our dedicated bass-only drivers, the basic rigidity of the radiating area is enhanced by our novel 'mushroom' construction, a girder-like component that supports the central area of the dustcap.
Although we talk about the three different drive unit types and how each is optimised for its particular frequency range, it is the way these speakers behave as a whole that impresses. It doesn't matter if the programme is music or film, the naturalness and realism portrayed by these speakers is uncanny.
Have had these speakers for less than a week, but have listened to them almost continuously since their arrival. It's very hard to leave my living room now! Since I sit back quite a long way from these speakers, I had to play around with placement for a while, but when placed farther apart the "normal" the sound stage was incredible and the back wall turned into a giant orchestra, or opera stage. I have listened to a great many LPs and CDs going back to the late 50s for some, and I've heard detail and depth which I never heard on my old B&W 801s. The highs are just fenomenal, sweet like the mid-range and not intrusive. These speakers are very responsive even at low levels, unlike my previous speakers that had to be turned up to receive the full benefit of the woofers.
With the grills off, the sound becomes even more focused and life-like. Since they are easily removed and put back, this is a real advantage.
Apart from the performance I would add the beautifull cabinet design and finish.
"Diamonds are forever/They are all I need to please me/They can stimulate and tease me...." (D. Black & J. Barry).
The Bowers and Wilkins, or B&W, 803Ds ("D" for diamond tweeters) are an easy load to drive, playing at any volume level with authority, sans fatigue, courtesy of my 150 watt per channel Bryston 3BSST Power Amplifier / BP26P Preamplifier, in conjunction with a Classe CDP-10 Compact Disc Player, Oracle Delphi Mark IV Turntable (with all Mark V non-machined upgrades) / Rega RB-700 Tonearm / Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood Cartridge, and Cardas Golden Reference cabling (including XLR) throughout system. Speakers off floor on supplied plastic points, and 45 inches apart, 11 inches away from back wall and 2-3 feet away from side walls, angled inwards at about 22 degrees, in a 100 square foot, furnished, with modest drapes and rug, acoustical area.
It is well known that, with their grilles off, these transducers will open up. Dispersion was no issue, with tweeters atop the enclosures. They take some time to break in, but my patience was duly rewarded, which will be noted as I now assess these speakers in four paramount parameters.
Transparency or detail: after getting each 803D carefully out of its exceptionally well packed box and connected, I put on the SACD Hybrid "Original Master Recording" of "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" by the Byrds (Sony/Columbia MFSL) and was immediately impressed by the music's enveloping crispness. Every nuance of colour in tone of each voice and instrument could be ascertained. For instance, David Crosby's vocalizing conveyed an even more heavenly and harmonious quality, and Roger McGuinn's Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar had no hint of metallic wiriness, as it descended upon my ears like symphonic church bells.
Speed or dynamics: the Diamonds possessed a titillating politeness, as nothing in the loudness or softness of their presentation was rushed, which could be likened to slowly savouring a rare wine, as exemplified in the vinyl LP, "The Mozart Collection," with John Rutter & the London Sinfonia (American Gramaphone). Here strings, winds, horns and piano emanated like velvet caresses, as the soft passages were commandingly delicate and the loud ones cogent, minus any forcing.
Focus or soundstage and imaging: was holographic, wherein I was able to spot instruments deep and extending beyond the left and right of the 803D speakers in perpetually floating soundscapes, encapsulating a tapestry of exotic sounds, as witnessed in the vinyl recording of "Ten Years" by Kitaro (Geffen).
Linearity or smoothness: the D's polished consistency flowed, from the bursts of bone crunching bass, through the warm character of diverse contrivances occupying the midrange, to the higher registers of a nightingale's crystal singing-- devoid of any sibilance, all on the LP offering of "Watermark" by Enya (WEA).
I would encourage any audiophile exploring sonic ecstasy in the $10,000 to $11,000 (CND) market to audition a pair of Bowers and Wilkins 803Ds.
The synergy of impeccable cabinet design and world-class engineering, effecting a delectable listening experience.
Can one quibble with the perfect clarity of diamonds, which, as we've heard, are forever?
Similar Products Used:
B&W CDM7NT, B&W Nautilus 803, and (I tried out) B&W 804S speakers, respectively.
I actually preferred the 803Ds after listening to the 802Ds since you don't have to to listen to them 'loud' to get the full range of the speakers' capability. The 802Ds are great and you have a huge listening area or use them mostly for HT, imo, but to get their full range of sound, you need to turn them up even with a powerful amp.
I opted for the 803Ds with the same diamond tweeter and 3 woofers that enable the 803Ds to reach the same bass range as the 802Ds. They may not look as 'high tech' but their sound is as good as I've heard. They are much smoother than the 804S with more bass. It is a very integrated speaker system that works seemlessly. The high are sweet, the midange clear with enourmous soundstage and presence and the bass is tight and accurate.
As with the 802Ds, the 803Ds like a good deal of clean low distorion power. I have mine bi-wired to a Rotel RB-1090 (380 watts/channel) and the comination is perfect for my listening tastes.
I am not an audiophile but these speakers are simply amazing. They are smoother than the 803S with the diamond tweeters and with the three woofers sound very similar to the 802Ds without having to turn the volume way up like on the 802Ds to apppreciate their full vocal range.
The diamond tweeter is incredible for producing sweet highs, the FST/Kevlar midrange is perfect for producing vocals and the 3 woofers almost preclude the need for a subwoofer.
I actually preferred the 803Ds to the 802Ds unless you have a huge listening area and often turn up your volume to when people can't hear one another.