I picked up a pair of these on ebay, just for fun, getting them for $145 including shipping. I had heard a pair sound good in a store many years ago. The pair I bought was supposed to be new in box, and they may have been, since the speakers seem to be improving as they 'break in.' Either that or the speakers are breaking me in.
When I first fired them up at lowish volume in my small bedroom, using a Rotel RX855 receiver, I thought they had some raspyness and roughness, slightly washed out vocals, some inaccurate timbres, no deep bass and some upper bass boom. I also noticed that when I cranked the volume a little they started to come alive. I don't know if they have been breaking in or what but I find myself really enjoying these speakers. Give them a little gas and they really surprise you with a wide and deep soundstage, excellent separation of instruments, a nice sense of shimmer on cymbals, quick, clean attack on bass. They really give you both the big picture and the micro picture. They're still a little lacking in refinement compared to my JR 149s, but so is almost everythng else. But they are very lively and sweet, a vivid, detailed sound with no irritating distortions save for a little boom in the upper bass and lack of extension in the low bass. I wish I could put them on heavy stands a few feet from the wall, which would eliminate the upper bass hump, but I don't have the space right now.
These speakers illustrate a couple important principles. First, cheap speakers can be pretty good when the manufacturer knows what they're doing and is going after major market share. Indeed, cheap speakers can even be better than the same manufacturer's more expensive models (shhhh...), if the designers put most of their effort into the cheap models. I used to own B&W CDM2s which are three times the price. On the whole the CDM2s are better, but these strike me as a more ingenious design and maybe even more fun to listen to.
Second point: B&W really knows what they're doing. When they put their mind to it they can do anything. These speakers are a good argument for sticking to the best brands. They're so good in some ways that I wonder if B&W's bigger and more expensive speakers are even as good in these respects. I only wish there was a deluxe version of these because I don't want to change their basic character, but I wouldn't mind a little more bass extension and a little more refinement here and there. But if you are looking for a good but inexpensive speaker on the used market, these are a safe buy. If you don't like them they should be easy to resell - another advantage of a positive brand name.
These are very accurate and very enjoyable speakers. I'm using them for nearfield monitoring. I can hear everything. That's not always a good thing. Here it is. Imaging is solid and midrange is very balanced. I can listen to these for hours without fatigue.
I've used these as a center channel speaker and was happy. I have not used them in a stereo setup in a larger space.
Bass response for small speakers is always an issue. First off, what bass these guys have is very musical and even. The bass response is very responsive to placement. Move them to where they sound good to you.
B&W DM302 are easy, clear and small.
91dB sensitivity / 8 Ohm makes it ideal for matching with almost any Amp - EASY.
No big power needed. Vivaldi's Autumn (from 'Four Season') rain drops are allways there - CLEAR. Low level and high level sounds allways fit in these speakers. Grieg's 'Peer Gynt - The King of the Mountain' allows you to listen it with maxim detail, no matter volume level.
These €150 speakers are enough to tell you that Gold Frapp's record is a very fine electronic music from XXIst century but with too much "hiss".
It allows you to listen the really Best and the really worst of a record (even a CD). No need more than 20W p/ channel for fullfill a room with plenty of volume (did I said NAD-320? No. Rotel-921 is cheaper) - SMALL.
If used with speaker stands gives you a nearby Nirvana state.
In terms on value for money, the 302s were very balanced, good soundstage (setup 4 metres apart) and fill a 6mx4m room well.
Orginally used as front speakers, now used as surround speakers (DM303 fronts).
This seems silly to some, but I own *3* sets of these speakers. My wife bought me a set of these for 2 channel back in 97 or 98, and I bought HER 2 pair (plus the matching CC3 center) the same year to start our home theatre. At the time we bought them, there was nothing in this price range that could come close to these speakers for the price.
Back in the day, I took the B&W's, PSBs, and NHT's home for a semi-lengthy home audition. I didn't have a ton of cash at the time, and really wanted to make a decision I could live with for years; so I really put them through their paces. The PSB's sounded muffled and veiled (although their bass response was better), and the NHT's just didn't have the midrange of the B&W..
I can't comprehend why people complain about the 302's midrange. The midrange is, by far, the strong point of the 302.. Vocals are absolutely excellent with this speaker, timbral accuracy is shocking for the price; and although it may be a bit artifically warm in parts, it really makes music where others in the price range failed.
The soundstaging is quite good; excellent when comapred to the others in it's price range. Imaging is fairly well focused, and coupled with the relatively spacious soundstage, can create great likeness of the original recording. You MUST place them well, though, or the soundstage disappears. Room placement, and your seating position in the room, pay HUGE dividends here.
One thing I noticed over the years is the 302's, like other B&W's, put a high demand on upstream components (especially amplification). No, you don't need a multi-kilobuck amp, etc., but most receivers won't be able to power these little guys. Their impedance may be 8ohm, but it dips well into the 3's, IIRC.. This makes them a very BAD pairing for most mass-market equipment. Perhaps this is why some have complained about the 302's. I used an NAD 712 (receiver) quite happily for a number of years, but a Creek 4330 really makes these babies sing. Also, cabling must be up to par for these beauties to perform as they should.
Bass is somewhat lacking, as you would expect for such a small driver. And no, the 302's are not rear-ported, so you can easily place them close to walls (1 foot seems perfect) and not get floppy bass. Good stands help quite a bit in the bass department.
The biggest weakness of the 302, IMO, is their ability to handle very dynamic music. Live music (that was loud originally), heavy orchestral music, electronica, or anything with extremely complex passages will not come out well on these speakers. It all becomes one 2-d flat painting instead of a nice live performance. Also, when the 302 begins to compress, the top end gets a bit edgy and will tire you out after awhile.
But on the flipside, with less complex music these are some wonderful speakers. In the absence of compression, vocals are beautiful, most instruments (violin, guitar, electric guitar, etc) come through quite convincingly, the top end smooths out considerably, and things of smaller scale come out incredible. If you're a fan of chamber music, bluegrass, solo or small ensembles, female vocalists, or even some types of jam bands/reggae/rock (Grateful Dead, Bob Marley, Dave Matthews come to mind) these speakers may well be all you ever need.
AND for Home Theatre they are a shocking buy. Pair them with a tight quality sub, and they will handle any 5.1/DTS you throw at them with great satisfaction and volume. The sub frees up the little 302's (make sure it's crossed over properly) and they won't compress on any movie I can think of. I am 100% happy with them for home theatre.
Incidentally, I tried a set of Polk RT25i's just to see what the competition hath wrought (and Stereophile hath recommended haha). The little Polk's put up a fight; they even had better bass extension when properly placed, and imaged incredibly well. But in the end, they compressed on complex passages even more than the 302s, and their midrange just didn't have any beauty. It was very clinical. It was all in good fun, really, but the 302's still remain king. (I have not auditioned the 303's). I decided to go upmarket for 2-channel, and what I ended up with is a story for another day..
Judged against others in their price range, these are a SOLID 5 stars.