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  1. #1
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    Hi Fi World magazine review of the B&W804 Diamond

    Has anyone read this review? The review claims the treble measures +6dB at 12kHz, whilst B&W claim the speaker is within +/-3dB from 38Hz - 28kHz. Whose right and why do these figures disagree?

    Incidentally I tried a Classe ca 2200 with my 803 Diamonds and whilst the bass and treble were better than powering these speakers with my humble Quad 909, the Classe made the 803s thin and stringy in the mid-range. String tone was thin and brass sounded anaemic. I'm wondering if this is a feature of the Classe (hard to believe) or if this amp shows the new Diamond for what it is.....

    I'll be keeping the Quad for a while because I prefer its sound (in the all important mid-range at least) to the Classe. I guess that makes me a lunatic.

    Any thoughts?

    The Wiz

  2. #2
    Wammer wolf larson's Avatar
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    I tend to trust the mag and Noel's tests more than manufacturers claims, but that's just me.

    Although, I also read his review of the Triangle Antals (p30.), and got confused as para 2 stated these ltd editons have 'uprated machined aluminium tweeters' over the original, go to the top of (p31) and 'is a titanium dome tweeter'. Petty I know, but this just makes me switch off as the mechanics are of more interest to me than their opinions of how Sade sounds and if this bit is wrong why carry on?

    I actually bought this months to read how the Woodpecker sounded with the Funk arm fitted (as per the pic on the front and in the mag), only to read this wasn't used in the review, instead they used an SME and Len Gregory....argh!!

  3. #3
    Super Dooper Wammer hifinutt's Avatar
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    ah ive been waiting for that review , what issue is it. ?
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by hifinutt View Post
    ah ive been waiting for that review , what issue is it. ?
    The February issue - just released. The reviewer, Noel Keywood, doesn't like the speaker. He doesn't say as such, but he describes it as 'the epitome of a modern floorstander', which I take to be his code for 'it sounds bright, dry and cuttingly sharp, which people tend to prefer...' In other issues of Hi Fi World he criticises the 'modern' sound of hifi as thin and lacking depth. etc.

    My experience of trying a Classe 2200 with the 803 Diamond makes me wonder if he's right. Despite tweaking the 803 I just can't get the mid-range to sound as warm and natural as my 805s, and having used the Classe I know this isn't a feature of amplifier current delivery. The bass is phenomenal (better than the 803D) and the treble is sharp (I've had to tame it in various ways). I'm seriously thinking of re-installing the 805s and flogging off the 803!

    Any offers!

    The Wiz

  5. #5
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    Hi Wiz,

    I hate to say it but I had high hopes for the new B&W diamond series and found both the 804diamond and even the 802diamond way too bright and very forward sounding for my tastes.

    I am sure you could tame that treble with some carefully selected partnering equipment - maybe some powerful valve amps and a really smooth source like AMR777 for digital. I guess it depends whether you are prepared to spend lots of time and financial investment to get the speakers sounding as you would like. My experience has taught me not to go down that line as it becomes restrictive and annoying - but different strokes for different folks.

    Anyway - my pence worth

  6. #6
    Price Discovery Bitch i_should_coco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolf larson View Post
    I tend to trust the mag and Noel's tests more than manufacturers claims, but that's just me.
    Yeah, the same Noel Keywood that advocates putting a resistor in place of your earth bond to break hum loops. Fucken retard.

    Edit: Make that a fucken dangerous retard.
    Last edited by i_should_coco; 05-01-2011 at 09:04 PM.
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  7. #7
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    My heart always sinks when a review I'm looking forward to turns out to be conducted by NK. Of all the reviewers out there, I find his views to be the least aligned with mine, even though I also hate harsh and bright systems.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_should_coco View Post
    Yeah, the same Noel Keywood that advocates putting a resistor in place of your earth bond to break hum loops. Fucken retard.

    Edit: Make that a fucken dangerous retard.
    Are you serious? When did he say this?

    On a serious note, what do the audiophile cognoscenti out there reckon are the chances of selling 6 week old 803 Diamonds? I've never sold hifi kit before and, believe it or not, haven't even used e bay! I suppose I could go back to the dealer on my hands and knees, but I think I know where I'd be told to go.... To my disappointment, what this experience has taught me is I'm fundamentally uncomfortable forking out silly money on hifi. Having just bought expensive speakers I resent having to spend equally silly money on amps to power them properly and I didn't think I'd react like this. When I bought the speakers I was keen to go the whole hog, but not now; this isn't a financially driven limitation, so much as an emotional one (if that makes sense). Having tried the Classe ca 2200 at home I also think the sheer bloody size of these gut busting amps is ludicrous, and designed for the USA market. All in all, a bit of a s***ty experience.

    The Wiz
    Last edited by wizons; 05-01-2011 at 09:19 PM.

  9. #9
    Price Discovery Bitch i_should_coco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wizons View Post
    Are you serious? When did he say this?
    Yes. Last year sometime, I posted a thread at the time because I was so appalled.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by wizons View Post
    I suppose I could go back to the dealer on my hands and knees, but I think I know where I'd be told to go....

    The Wiz
    I would go back to the dealer and ask for his help. Explain your predicament e.g. "They don't seem to match my room and system as well as the 805s, I really need your help because I'm feeling very dissapointed.... what can you suggest to help me?" Appealing to his sense of fair play and compassion usually works better than making demands. Then listen to his suggestions, empathise with how much help he is giving you and draw him out with more suggestions if possible. Don't commit to spend any more money, but go away and consider your options as rationally as possible.

    Who knows, something good might result. It's got to be worth a try.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by S-Man View Post
    I would go back to the dealer and ask for his help. Explain your predicament e.g. "They don't seem to match my room and system as well as the 805s, I really need your help because I'm feeling very dissapointed.... what can you suggest to help me?" Appealing to his sense of fair play and compassion usually works better than making demands. Then listen to his suggestions, empathise with how much help he is giving you and draw him out with more suggestions if possible. Don't commit to spend any more money, but go away and consider your options as rationally as possible.

    Who knows, something good might result. It's got to be worth a try.
    Good advice. There is some history to this predicament, which I waffled on about at some length here a few weeks ago under a thread titled 'New v old 802D'. Basically, I bought a pair of unused sealed box 802Ds (not the Diamonds) from a dealer and the speakers were quite badly damaged. B&W could have made them good, but there was always the possibility of hidden damage to the cabinet structure/glues etc. Eventually the dealer arranged to swap the 802s for the 803Diamonds, which was a good deal financially. I agonised over this for some time and the dealer was remarkably patient. At first I didn't get on with the 803s but persevered and tweaks did help. Anyway, my head kept on saying 'these are superb neutral sounding speakers and you must re-educate your ear to appreciate a neutral/natural tone', whilst my heart was saying 'I'm not so sure..'. Eventually my head won and after reflection over the Xmas period I realize that was a mistake. The dealer gave me the option of a refund for some time and actually lost a little bit on the transaction. It goes to show that you should trust your first instincts (and my instinct of the Classe ca 2200 was fabulous bass and high end, but stretched middle - at least with these speakers).

    So, I think you're right - I can't go back to them asking for a refund, but will contact them to ask for their advice. You're certainly right about not spending any more money.

    The Wiz
    Last edited by wizons; 05-01-2011 at 11:23 PM.

  12. #12
    Moderator Cambs12's Avatar
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    Try Townshend Isolda speaker cable,this may tame the harsh mid you mention further up the thread.Having heard the new 802 diamond,it is slightly brighter,and i prefer,luckily,my 802ds.
    Alternatively,change the speakers to something completely different,tho i worry you will lose a fortune doing this.Having said that,no point in being unhappy with the sound you get.One more idea is your cd player.I have no experience of the Sony,but i am pretty sure you could influence the sound more with a change here.Yes,it is throwing more money at the issue,but the 803 diamond is a pretty expensive speaker,and will,i am sure,sound very impressive with a carefully thought out system to drive it,which may take a bit of trial and error.
    I am having a similar issue with the Trivista integrated with my 802d.I love the amp,but i am not convinced it is a perfect match for the 802d.My speaker cable is definitely being changed soon,either to MIT or Townshend probably.I hope to change the amp in the not to distant future also.trouble with the bigger B&Ws is they need a reasonable amount of power,so this can reduce the choice available within a reasonable budget.

  13. #13
    Too many turntables Beobloke's Avatar
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    To be fair, I would submit that you can trust Noel's loudspeaker measurements. He is very precise about them and has spent a great deal of time in optimising both the test methodology and the environment in which they are carried out. I can think of more than one loudspeaker manufacturer that was not only surprised by some of his findings, but even went as far as making use of them in further product development.

    Sound-wise I'm not too surprised at his comments. A couple of years back we ran a demo at a hi-fi show using both a pair of Tannoy Westminster Royals and a pair of B&W 801s. He was all but ready to marry the Tannoys whereas to me they sounded like a giant transistor radio that wasn't tuned in properly. On the other hand he was unconvinced by the performance of the B&Ws whereas I was doing all I could to fit them into my suitcase. Horses for courses!
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beobloke View Post
    Sound-wise I'm not too surprised at his comments. A couple of years back we ran a demo at a hi-fi show using both a pair of Tannoy Westminster Royals and a pair of B&W 801s. He was all but ready to marry the Tannoys whereas to me they sounded like a giant transistor radio that wasn't tuned in properly. On the other hand he was unconvinced by the performance of the B&Ws whereas I was doing all I could to fit them into my suitcase. Horses for courses!
    Totally agree!
    + The Nait5i sounded slightly better than the WAD88VA (with the 801s) IMHO

    ----------------------

    Wiz - just had a thought - are the 803s tri-wired? If so you could try a 1 - 2.2 Ohm in series with the tweeter to reduce the treble (hopefully it will not screw up the phase matching with the mid too much). Use the cheapo sand cast ones to experiment then buy a decent Mills 12W pair once you have the right value.

  15. #15
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    Wiz, that could be just a poor match. Have you talked to other B&W803 Diamonds owners about partnering? Before you take the step of losing tons of money on a brand new set of speakers, I would suggest you look at all other sources of advice - talk to the dealer, B&W, different forums and check about partnering. I am sure, you will find at least a few pepople with similar musikal preferences, who have successfully matched their B&W speakers to amps and CD players. Without necessarily taking a second mortgage.

    P.S. I am afraid your comparison of the 805v803 could be a bit misleadingt. Most of the times a good stand mount will have a more pronounced mids, than a huge floorstander (I am talking about same manufacturer, same range). Ususally the big one gives you bigger sound stage, more depth and 3D, etc. Of course, this is a generalization, but to my ears very often true.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cambs12 View Post
    Try Townshend Isolda speaker cable,this may tame the harsh mid you mention further up the thread.Having heard the new 802 diamond,it is slightly brighter,and i prefer,luckily,my 802ds.
    Alternatively,change the speakers to something completely different,tho i worry you will lose a fortune doing this.Having said that,no point in being unhappy with the sound you get.One more idea is your cd player.I have no experience of the Sony,but i am pretty sure you could influence the sound more with a change here.Yes,it is throwing more money at the issue,but the 803 diamond is a pretty expensive speaker,and will,i am sure,sound very impressive with a carefully thought out system to drive it,which may take a bit of trial and error.
    I am having a similar issue with the Trivista integrated with my 802d.I love the amp,but i am not convinced it is a perfect match for the 802d.My speaker cable is definitely being changed soon,either to MIT or Townshend probably.I hope to change the amp in the not to distant future also.trouble with the bigger B&Ws is they need a reasonable amount of power,so this can reduce the choice available within a reasonable budget.
    You're right about the Townshend cable, which is why I'm using it! It gives a more natural treble than Kimber 8TC, for example. Believe me, I've tweaked so much over the past few months that I'm probably on some central government register for abusing loudspeakers. I single-wire the speakers as I've tried bi-wiring and the Quad just can't hack bi-wiring with the 803 (the Classe did very well here, despite the 'stretched' mid-range). Eventually the best arrangement I found was connecting the speaker cable to the mid-range/tweeter binding posts, which seems counter-intuitive given my concerns about a bright sound, and running the connecting wire to the woofer terminals as supplied by B&W. However, removing the enormous conductive locking nuts from the speakers' woofer binding posts helps balance the sound as well as I can manage. But the thought remains - I shouldn't have to struggle to get the right upper-lower frequency range balance on a speaker of this cost.

    I've also tried tilting the speakers back a little so the tweeter isn't pointing directly at ear level. My next move is to place the speakers on a pair of cheapo paving slabs so as to change the height of the midrange/bass drivers relative to my ears - just changing head height whilst listening helps! The idea here is to eventually have decent granite slabs on spikes and secure the speakers to the slabs with great blobs of blu-tak.

    With regards to the Sony, don't laugh but it is known for its particularly smooth and natural sounding treble. It is also rich across the frequency range and sounds much fuller than a DAC such as the Benchmark or a CD player such as the Musical Fidelity A5.

    Carry on Tweaking.


    The Wiz
    Last edited by wizons; 06-01-2011 at 08:38 PM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by S-Man View Post

    Wiz - just had a thought - are the 803s tri-wired? If so you could try a 1 - 2.2 Ohm in series with the tweeter to reduce the treble (hopefully it will not screw up the phase matching with the mid too much). Use the cheapo sand cast ones to experiment then buy a decent Mills 12W pair once you have the right value.
    Interesting. I don't think this is possible as the B&Ws have only two sets of binding posts - for combined midrange/tweeter and one for woofers. Adding a resistor to the former would reduce treble but also reduce mid-range.

    The Wiz

  18. #18
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    don't let anyone knock the Sony 5400es player - its an unknown giant.

    is the Quad 909 bridgeable? if so, maybe try a 2nd one (should be avail 2nd hand easily enough) and bridge them as monoblocks to get more power and maybe push the midrange forward?

    I have to say I'm surprised the music first and the quad are a good combo.... I would have though an active preamp was much more to their liking.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicbox View Post
    don't let anyone knock the Sony 5400es player - its an unknown giant.

    is the Quad 909 bridgeable? if so, maybe try a 2nd one (should be avail 2nd hand easily enough) and bridge them as monoblocks to get more power and maybe push the midrange forward?

    I have to say I'm surprised the music first and the quad are a good combo.... I would have though an active preamp was much more to their liking.
    Bridging the 909 is a good suggestion. I phoned Quad in Huntingdon about this and they said that no loudspeaker needed more current than the 909 provides (which is wrong) and that the 909 couldn't be bridged due to 'earthing problems'. I suspect they might want to put people off having Quad equipment tampered with and that the 909 can be bridged. After all, there was a monoblock version produced for the USA market. I'll post a message on the Technical forum about this.

    Thumbs up for the 5400! What a shame it's no longer produced.

    Cheers
    The Wiz
    Last edited by wizons; 10-01-2011 at 07:14 PM.

  20. #20
    Moderator Cambs12's Avatar
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    A similar thread was started on another forum for the Classe 2200,which can apparently be bridged,along with an explanation of how to do it.Classe themselves don't make mention of it,or seem to approve it.

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