B&W Nautilus 804 Floorstanding Speakers

Nautilus 804

Vented Floorstanding - (2) 6.5" Woofers, 6" Mid and 1" Tweeter

User Reviews (138)

Showing 1-10 of 138  
no access for class D   AudioPhile [Aug 08, 2017]

Left me somewhat disappointed. Highs are superb, mids detailled but bass lacks cohesion with the rest. Compared the 804 Diamond with MA Gold 200 and 300. The 804 couldn't compete, just the highs being of equal quality.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Thomas Moore   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 24, 2008]
Strength:

Overall, possibly the finest speakers I have ever heard. Nicely balanced sound.

Weakness:

Somewhere between the tweeters and the digital recording, violins still lack some of the wonderful mellow tone of the real thing. Clearly a better room full of sound with the XTC center speaker added to the mix than standing alone.

Bought the 804s as the heart of a home theater system that also included three speakers from the XT series, an XTC and XT2s. Was a replacement for stereo with two Klipsch Cornwall speakers The net setup provides superb results with orchestral music and opera. Clear, responsive highs without being pushy or shrill (I thought the tall XT series were a little shrill) and effortless lows (although maybe a slight bit weak), rather than 'boomy' lows which I detest. Also, letting a Sony AV synthesize into 5.1 surround produces excellent stereo imaging with every orchestral instrument exactly in place. Run just the 2 804s in stereo and I think the sound feels a little more directional and narrow. Understand I am a CD, digital sound person and not a tube amplifier, LP traditionalist.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
James   Audio Enthusiast [May 20, 2007]
Strength:

Clean midrange detail, punchy bass (I've plugged mine), beautiful highs without beeing sibilant. And they look fantastic in rosenut veneer, especially with the grills off.

Weakness:

They seem to be misunderstood by some folks. You must drive them with high current and an amp that is fast enough to handle 8 ohm nominal impedence all the way dow to 3 ohms. If you don't, they will tire you out, and you will hate them.

I finally took the plunge into hi-fi after having a Denon 3802 and a pair of ProAc 100's along with my older speakers to fill in for sides and rears. In my move from NYC to Chicago, the security deposit came back, and I decided it was time for an upgrade, especially since the movers destoyrd one of my ProAcs due to poor packing.

I originally went to the audio store to buy a pair or two of Anthony Gallo Nucleus 3.1's after hearing them a few times before, but when I went in they had the Gallos and the 804Ss hooked up side by side. The difference between the two was night and day to my ears, and I went with the 804Ss. Midrange was just mesmerizing. I also rounded out with 805Ss on stands for the surrounds, and the HTM4S center to match.

I hooked the 804Ss to my Denon and was very pleased, but the speakers clearly were strtching the Denon beyond its capabilities. Fortunately, I had ordered the Outlaw Audio 990 prepro and the 7700 amp with balanced interconnects, and have been in a newfound state of symphonic bliss ever since.

If you have around $12,000 to spend on what seems to be an entry level hi-fi setup based on the prices I've seen for electronics, I can recommend this setup wholeheartedly. I'm new to this hobby, but I know what it is like to play baritone in a county band symphony, and this is as close as I've ever gotten to that experience without the actual instruments surrounding me. These B&Ws are simply superb, but you have to drive them with good electronics.

Customer Service

No need yet, but when I registered the speakers they give you a choice of specially mixed and mastered CD/DVDs from which to choose one.

Similar Products Used: ProAc 100's
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
marcus_helsinki   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 24, 2006]
Strength:

very few background noise, much detail in midrange. Nice to hear so much detail with almost silent background. Player's attack/strikes to instruments can be heard clearly. Vocal have a natural, deep sound. Clear vocals.

Weakness:

too few and odd lean bass, too bright, especially with home listening sound levels. Loses detail when played at moderate sound levels and too few bass makes home listening tirying. Pushing volume up to get makes higher frequencies hard for your ears. Vocals little laid back, with some "nnnn"-sounding-edge. Doesn't sound airy. Uninteresting overall balance, where's bass?

good for midrange detail revealing, but not for everyday nice listening

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
2
Allan   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 14, 2005]
Strength:

Aesthetics, Sound staging, Imaging, Air, Timbral accuracy, Very sharp bass, Very clear top end, Gorgeous mid range, Reproduces Piano/violin/Sax/female vocals better than most. Simply superb.

Weakness:

They're not cheap... I want some 801's ;) You put cr*p in you get cr*p out - sorry.

I, as others were, was a little cautious in purchasing the N804's from some of the appalling reviews posted here. I picked up an ex dem pair a few months ago for a very good price after auditioning all the usual suspects. Straight out of the box these speakers were MAGICAL (admittedly they were run in by the dealer). Norah Jones on import HDCD was simply stunning as was pretty much everything else i've run through them since. This includes opera, classical, pop, rap, female vocals, violins, the list goes on. I was initially a little worried that I had lost some lower octave from swapping from my big Jamo's. Now I there shouldn't be because the lower frequency roll off was very similar. However after listening to Rimsky Korsakov's Easter Overture repeatedly (Lots of bass drum and Tympani) it was not so. What I found is the lower bass decays in a more controlled manner and is less 'wuffy' if you know what i mean..? I hate to use the old cliche but the bass is tight...there I did it... Even when i thought i had lost a little bottom end the mid and top more than made up for it. I also ran some sine wave samples through them and the bass roll off is about the same as my big Jamos - somewhere between 30 and 35hz reinforcing the change is with presentation rather than simple frequency roll off. Saying that you do need a fairly good front end to keep them reigned in and get the best out of them. They officially present a minimum 3 ohms load however it wouldn't surprise me if it was a bit lower than that. My little AVI will put out nearly half a kilowatt per channel at 2 ohms with enough current (according to AVI) to arc weld with..! A lot of the adverse comments seem to be from people running them off home cinema amps which really are not up to the job. I wouldn't partner them with my DSPAX1 as although it was/is a fairly big amp in the HT world it is NOT up to the job of controlling 804's IMO. They can be a bit tempramental with positioning too. My music room is about 14 x 16 feet and they are positioned about 2 feet from the back wall, and about 3 feet from the sides, with about 15 degrees of toe in - however i'm still experimenting. As you do... For me anyway they are an absolutely first rate 'mid price' (in the grand scheme of things!) speaker. There may be better or cheaper out there but if you want a transparent monitor then these will work very well as long as you have suitable kit wired up to them.

Similar Products Used: B&W Concept 90 1&2's B&W 600's KEF Reference JM Lab
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Infoguy   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 24, 2004]
Strength:

Everything

Weakness:

Nothing

I was getting tired of buying pairs of lesser speakers in my quest for the sound quality that I knew was out there, but had iluded me. I discovered the 804's at a high-end home theater outfitter, and after auditioning these speakers for quite a while - using my own source material (brought from home), I just couldn't find fault with the 804's. They converted my home theater set-up from pretty good, to world-class. My Yahama DSP A1 came to life and I was hearing things in my music and soundtracks that I never heard with the lesser speakers I had previously used. Right out of the box, the 804's were a bit harsh and bright. Even still, a far sight better than the Bose and Polks I had use before. After about 4 months of frequent use, I could actually hear the speakers finding themselves. After they broke in, it was a totally different and much more pleasing experience. Smooth, clean, airy, silky and mature audio is the best way to describe the N804's. I also pair each 804 with a B&W AS2400 sub and the CDM2 Center Channel and a pair of B&W Surrounds. All I can tell you is the resulting product is superb and I am looking forward to moving up to separates -- probably Rotel gear.

Similar Products Used: Nothing close
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
bestsmurfs   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 30, 2004]
Strength:

The 804’s have great stereo imaging, are very clean and accurate and beautiful to look at.

Weakness:

Long,long break in time, pricey.

For the first couple of months I struggled with the shrillness and complete lack of bass and wondered what kind of idiot I was for buying them. I also had a hard time getting the sub dialed in with them. I was experimenting with a way to get the woofers to loosen up and came up with the “death metal” channel on music choice. I would leave the stereo on when I left the house for a few hours at a time. After about 6 months they sound magnificent. I don’t even need to turn on the sub. To me they are the definition of accuracy and transparency. I got the sub dialed in by running lamp cord from the amp rather than coax from the pre-amp. I’m not sure why it works but try it. If I had it to do again, I might skip the sub because I find some recordings get a little sloppy with the sub-sonic audio the engineer isn’t aware of like foot stomps that sound like an earth quake.

Similar Products Used: McIntosh C40 very very good pre …or McIntosh C712 alternate pre with remote CJ MF2250A power amp Rotel RCD 1072 Velodyne HGS-15 Music Choice “Jazz station”
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Keith-e   AudioPhile [Apr 27, 2004]
Strength:

Transparency, Soundstage, Mid-range, treble, Bass

Weakness:

None

It is hilarious that I hear a lot of complaints about the 804s not producing great bass whereas in my system it is solid, full and tight. Maybe it does not reach down to the very lowest octaves of bass, but what I get is so full and clean that who cares. As far as design of the Nautilus line, they were not designed to be musical but accurate. With the right components this is a beautiful thing, but not for the faint of heart that are just looking to throw together a system and hopes it works. The second complaint that I have heard is that the B&Ws does not work well with Bryston amplifiers, which is in actuality just the type of AMP that they need to sound their best. What makes the Bryston work so well with the 804s is that they have high current and considerable power reserves and are fast. It is a known fact that B&W Nautilus speakers require lots of clean power, and associated components that feed the speakers appropriately. Don’t think about driving these with a low power amplifier because it just won’t work, and the more power the better. As a recommendation, a 120 Watts in a small room, and 150 watts or more for anything bigger is what is needed to properly drive the speakers. I know B&W says that 50W will do the job, but don't believe them unless you are using tubes. If you are using tubes, you don’t need as much power, but it is better to drive these with a well made neutral sounding solid-state amplifier. With a low wattage tube AMP, you will get a nice warm sound, but the speakers will be a little bass shy. The 804s are not a speaker for the faint of heart, but is for the person that demands excellence from their system, and is willing to invest time, energy and resources to make them sound their best. For me, I had to go through about 10 different sets of speaker wires and interconnects before finding what worked with the Bryston and 804s perfectly. The approach taken to reach musical nirvana with the 804s for me was both long and time consuming. The key is component matching with the appropriate wires to make it work. The best wires that I have found that work in my setup are JPS Superconductors or TMC. I choose the TMC line because they are a fraction of the cost of JPS, but sound just as good. Until I purchased the TMC wires I had many of the same problems that I hear from others complaining about the 804s and Bryston which was compression and sort of a muddy sound. It was never very clear, and bass shy. The sound was also anemic, and made me at times wonder what I was doing. Hooking the 804s up to 99% of receivers just won’t cut it because they are trying to do too much in one box when what you actually need are components that compliment each other and do one thing very well. Warm sounding components and power cables are also important because if you have edgy thin sounding components then the 804s will just relay that sound. Room size and properties are also another issue that most audio enthusiast overlook, but you cannot place the 804s in a cavern and expect them to perform, nor can you place them in a room full of mirrors and expect them to sound good. Most modest sized rooms will support the 804s beautifully, and a large room will work, but you will probably have bass problems because of the size of the room. The only issue that I have found with the 804s is that they do not tolerate bad recordings, and can sound awful with some of the junk the studios put out. Yet with good recordings, they sound absolutely gorgeous. At the same time a great many studios use B&W and Bryston amplifiers because they are accurate and let the producer hear exactly what is going on during mixing. If studios use these components then they are looking for accuracy, so that when you play their music at home you have a pleasant experience. At the same time, if you hook these speakers up with cheap wires, and questionable components then you will think they are the worst speakers in the world. After reading many of the reviews on the 804s, you can see a pattern. Good components, good sound. Cheap components bad sound, so if you buy these speakers make sure that you want to hear what the studio produced because that is exactly what you will get. Componets Bryston 9B ST Thx Tag Mclaren AV32R BP192 Cary CD-308 (CD) Sony DVP-S7700 (DVD) Speakers B&W Nautilus 804 B&W Nautilus HTM1 B&W 602 Cables TMC Gold Label Reference (Speaker) TMC Yellow Label Interconnects (AMP) TMC White Label Interconnects (Digital connection CD) Power Shunyata Viper V2 (2) (AMP/CD) Shunyata Black Mamba (Processor) PS Audio Lab Cable (PowerPlant) PS Audio PowerPlant P300 WattGate 381 Receptables (wall) PS Audio Power Ports (PowerPlant) Tweaks Black Diamond Racing Cones (Processor/CD) Vibraprods (DVD/AMP) Auric Illuminator (CD Treatment) Caigs Pro Gold (Contact enhancer)

Similar Products Used: Many differenct speakers
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Paul   AudioPhile [Apr 09, 2004]
Strength:

Truely, one of the most beautiful speakers made. Very accurate tweeter and mid.

Weakness:

Need more bass even for Baroque and Classical era chamber music.

B&W's Nautilus 804's are amongst the most aesthetically pleasing speakers made. I tested them under the following conditions: For test music, I use: Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for the Piano Forte & Cello - Jos van Immerseel and Anner Bylsma - Sony Label "Time Out" The Dave Brubeck Quartet The "electronics" set ups I tested the Nautilus 804's with are: 1) Linn Karik iii/Numerik ii CD player Arcam Delta 110 preamp Harman/Kardon PA2400 power amp The Linn iii/Karik ii is a very detailed yet musical CD player but a bit bass light. The PA2400 is a very fast power amp - the slew rate is (240v/us) but it has poor channel separation. It has tons of output current and can drive difficult loads. It would take a Conrad Johnson 2300 or Moon W5 to top this amp. 2) Linn Karik iii/Numerik ii Citation 25 pre / Citation 24 power The Citation 25 is a "cold" preamp but its designed to be put with the "warm" Citation 24 power amp. The Citation 25 is the only preamp, that I know of, that is fast enough to truely reproduce the transient responce of a piano. The Citation 24 has a "warm" sound, but the hum of the E core transformer is quite irritating. 3) Harman/Kardon 7725 CD player Harman/Kardon 2300 pre Harman/Kardon PA2400 power Of the electronics listed, my favourite, combination is the first one. We all have a threshold of acceptable Warmth vs Accuracy Also, it must take quite a while to break the drivers of these speakers in. After saying all of this, what was B&W thinking ? The sound of these speakers was obviously designed by Engineers with CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) software and oscilloscopes. B&W should hire some musicians. The bass, on speakers this size, is almost non existant. I listen to Baroque and classical era chamber music and even I find there is not enough bass. The tweeter and mid driver is the same on the 804 and the bigger 800 series. The mid housing differnent, but the mid is basically the same. So from a marketing perspective, B&W could not release the 804's with same amount of bass as its bigger brothers. The bass section of these speakers is completely PACKED with foam and possibly over dampened. As such, I removed 4 blocks of foam from the bass section of each speaker. That allowed sound pressure to travel through the port. Over 2 litres of foam was removed. There was plenty left but I replaced the removed foam with 1/2" foam at the back of the cabinet. The foam I used looked like an anaholic chamber. Also, the top connection terminals, of the speaker, connect the tweeter and mid drivers. So on the outside of the speaker, I connected a 4.7 ohm 20 watt wire wound resistor. This reduced the tweeter/mid gain about 6 dB's. Since power resistors, of this power rating, are wire wound they have inductive properties. A better way to tone down the tweeter and mid would be to bi-amp the speakers - one amp for the tweeter/mid and another for the bass. The bass amp would need about 6dB's more gain and obviously the phasing of the two amps would have to be the same. After doning these mod's, on a $3,500 pair of speakers, and after they have broken in, they are actually enjoyable to listen to. I should put a word in for B&W's 601 series 3 speakers. I enjoy these on my little system. If you can live without the bass, the transient responce of these speakers is quite good - a snare drum or piano are well repoduced. I hope B&W hires a musician.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
anthem   AudioPhile [Jan 24, 2004]
Strength:

Fit and finish. Appearance. Pretty good for home theater.

Weakness:

Not musical. Fatiguing. Forward to the point of being painful.

I owned these speakers for 2 years. Upgraded from the 602 S2, to the 603 S2, to the 7NT, before settling in on the 804s. At first they seemed very detailed and exciting. After awhile (about 6 months)I found myself listening to the speakers instead of the music. As hard as I tried I could never focus on anything but the speakers. Then the highs began to hurt my ears - sharp and piercing. I switched my amp and preamp to the Conrad Johnson MF2250 and Anthem AVM20 and this helped somewhat, but never tamed the sharpness completely. After suffering for another year and a half, I finally bit the bullet and traded them in for a pair of Spendor SP 1/2e. The money I lost on the trade-in was worth every penny. I now know what people mean when they say a speaker is "musical." It is impossible to listen to the Spendors themselves. All you hear is the music. They are so involving you cannot focus on the speaker itself. Instead of having the orchestra in your living room, you are transported to the symphony hall. They sound exactly like what I hear at the symphony. During loud passages they blossom instead of blowing you out of the room. They are balanced across the freqency range and nothing is left out or over emphasized. To my ears, the 804s are simply NOT musical. They are very detailed and revealing, but hearing the brush on cymbals or a snare drum sizzle throughout a song gets very fatiguing after a while. The midrange and highs are way out of proportion which destroys all musical coherency. I even tried Ah! Noise Killers and while they removed the worst of the sizzle, they did not fix the overall relentless character of these speakers. After a year of owning the 804s I noticed that I had all but stopped listening to classical music and had severely shortened the length of my listening sessions. As another reviewer said, you can change every other component, but nothing will fix the flaws inherent in the B&W sound - very forward and in your face. To sum up, I realize that many enjoy the sound of the Nautilus series and I am happy for them. Because of the large investment I tried to like them, but they finally wore me out. They are what they are, and in my experience, you either like them or hate them. Without meaning to be harsh, I ended up hating them.

Similar Products Used: numerous other B&W speakers; Boston Acoustics; Paradigm; Spendor
OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
Showing 1-10 of 138  

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