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B&W Matrix 801 Series 3
41 Reviews
rating  4.34 of 5
MSRP  5500.00
Description: Vented 12" Woofer, 5" Kevlar Mid and 1" Tweeter - 600W


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Reviews 1 - 5 (41 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Quiras a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: April 24, 2013

Bottom Line:   
The BW 801 Series 3 is "the speaker". I think is better than the series 2 (five years in my home).I think the APOC is the worst invention in the history of B&W.¿ Why I need the APOC for domestic applications?. The absence of the APOC in the series 3 has brought a simplification of the filter and a better performance in transparency.

Its low frequency are complicated?.Yes,of course,but without the proper electronics,but with a good amplifier,the low frequency is spectacular,especially in tone quality.

I think it´s an incredibly speaker,and very difficult to replace.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1995



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Peter Mavro a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: February 7, 2012

Bottom Line:   
I'm a recording engineer and producer. I master quite a bit lately. Like most people who work with audio, I find the audiophile world a bit fanatical. The 801 is a tool for people like me. We don't need the sound to "blossom", or fill some other void our gardens are not. We simply want to hear what's there. I can review material and hear where someone went wrong, or when a recording and subsequent master was a success. I can hear the phase shift imparted by various equalizers. I can make precise judgements, and I'm not rewarded until I've gotten it right.

The S3 and S2 share a lot in common. The S2's definitely have a good deal more circuitry, and from my listening experience I believe that the S2's circuitry tames the transients. I'd rather hear the transients and experience any havoc they may be putting the drivers through. The s2's and s3's share all drivers but the bass unit. I'm not clear what the differences in the bass units are, but the s3's crossover seems to be presenting the bass extension one would expect from the the s2's with the optional bass alignment filter.

For pleasure, I like new Vienna's or an old pair of Dahlquist DQ20's. These guys are solid gold when it comes to learning what's really there. That's why the Matrix 801 S3 was the mastering monitor of choice for Abbey Road. It's probable that material that was mastered on these guys is being utilized as a gold standard by audiophiles auditioning all sorts of fanatical product.

In summation, these are not fun for someone who listens to music for therapy after a grueling work day. They also require lots of space and a great high current amp or two to become the tools they're designed to be. The S3 is the S2 with less "stuff" in the audio path (electrolytic caps in the signal path kill transients). I recommend them to musicians and recordists, or to anyone who wants to peer into the nitty gritty.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1998



Overall Rating:3
Value Rating:3
Submitted by Dan Sledge a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: November 15, 2007

Bottom Line:   
In my opinion the Series 3 of B&W Matrix 801 loudspeaker was mainly a cost cutting exercise done by B&W on the back of the Matrix 801 Series 2 model that was then marketed to us all as a set of improvements.

That’s a pretty bold statement and I can already hear lots of people out there screaming at me for saying this so let me try to back it up.

Recently I was in the very unusual position of being able to compare a pair of Series 2 and a pair of Series 3 Matrix 801’s side by side. Both pairs were in excellent condition for their respective ages and I was more that a bit curious to switch back and forth between them (using my power amp’s A/B switch) and to hear the differences trying specifically to hear the improvements that I fully expected to find in the newer Series 3 version.

I did this for quite some time and I soon noticed that something was terribly amiss. The Series 3 version seemed to lack the detail and the precision of the Series 2. The bass of the Series 3 seemed quite tubby and more significantly it was often quite distractingly boomy. It seemed more uncontrolled by comparison and I would even go so far as to say that it was a bit slack. Worse still the mid-ranges seemed to be much less precisely defined and far less accurate overall in the newer Series 3 version.

At this point my curiosity became aroused since none of these observations seemed to make any sense based on everything that I had read and heard about these famous loudspeakers. Initially I just started to poke around and examine the cabinets for any obvious differences and looking for potential causes or damage.

The head of the Series 3 was no longer removable and the LED was missing from the front. The foam under the new fabric top had changed. Apart from that both cabinets seemed pretty much identical although the tweater on the Series 3 version did appear to be a newer design. Finally I decided to compare the crossovers which were billed in the manual as being the primary improvement made in the Series 3 version.

I opened up both cabinets and I was pretty surprised at what I found there. I am an engineer myself and although I do not work in the speaker business it was at this particular point that the penny suddenly dropped for me. I had seen this kind of thing before in my own line of business. The B&W management discussion was probably along the lines of “how can we cut manufacturing costs and speed up production?”. The answer was along the lines of: “cut out a bunch of these tedious and labor intensive little processing steps and then market the whole lot as improvements”.

The newer crossovers were clearly a much cheaper affair overall (which no doubt had the additional advantage of selling more optional add-on bass filters). Suddenly it all made sense to me. Non-removable heads might make the sound better (well maybe) but more importantly several tedious little manufacturing steps are also eliminated by removing this and its associated plugs and connectors. Likewise the front LED assemblies and those expensive Series 2 crossovers with their heavy duty protection circuits could all be eliminated to make the darn things cheaper, easier and faster to build – B&W had got bad press for doing those anyway and only a few professional studios really cared about them.

Best of all these changes could all then be marketed to us minimalist audiophiles as sonic improvements. I believe that this is perhaps one of B&W’s dirty little secrets exposed and it is no surprise to me that they did not encourage any professional side by side comparisons of these two 801 versions as far as I am aware. After all they must have thought, the matrix 801 already has had some great reviews and we are dealing here with a ton of customers who will spend hundreds of dollars on a thicker than usual chunk of copper wire.

So by this time I am sure that many readers are probably quite upset by all this – particularly Matrix Series 3 owners. For the record, both pairs of speakers were compared on almost identical metal stands in the same room using identical heavy duty cables and both were set up to be overlapping so that no one pair had a better position. Neither pair had ever been modified. The equipment used was of course identical and all were top quality audiophile components. Don’t get me wrong, both speakers sounded terrific it is just that the Series 2 seemed to be quite a bit noticeably better in several important areas. An audiophile friend of mine confirmed these same observations with me. We even tried swapping the power amp outlets by way of a double check.

I am sure there will be many doubters out there but my advice to any 801 owners is that if you have Series 2’s then hang on to them and don’t plan on doing any upgrades to the Series 3 version. The Series 2’s are truly awesome speakers and they really are the best sounding Matrix 801’s in my opinion despite one or two very minor flaws.

If you currently have Series 3’s then I do think that these are also terrific speakers but at least for my money the Series 2’s sound noticeably better.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1998

Purchased At:   Used



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Budi Gumulya a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: May 5, 2002

Bottom Line:   
Speaker ini luar biasa, dari bass, mid, hingga high menunjukkan kualitas di atas speaker lain yang cukup terkenal seperti Dunlavy, Thiel, dll.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1996

Price Paid:    $2400.00

Purchased At:   Penjual



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Benlinn a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: March 15, 2002

Bottom Line:   
Those who enjoy classical & chamber music enjoy M801S3 as well.

Current stuff:
WADIA 8 + VIMAK DS1800
Gryphon Bel Canto
Classe' CA200, runs the woofer
Krell KSA50S, runs the mid + tweeter
B&W Matrix 801S3

Before purchasing the 801s3, i've heard that it is not easy to drive the loudspeaker. Trying bi-amp is the way out; and it works.

Have compared with other amp like Classe' 70, Classe' 401, Gryphon S100, Hafler XL280(monox mono) and Krell KSA100S, and found the Classe' CA200 runs the most balanced and vivid the woofer of 801S3 with excellent control.The bass is tight and with the sense of high speed. It is possible because of my room dimension makes the CA200 the right amp.

By the way, KSA50S runs wonderfully the mid+tweeter with the music of warm and clarity, and is the best match with CA200 when bi-amp for the M801S3. may try the combination if you do not content the 801S3 performance.

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Used product for:   3 Months to 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1997

Price Paid:    $2200.00

Purchased At:   from a friend who up




Reviews 1 - 5 (41 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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