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B&W 804D
Sound quality
Conclusion
Measured Performance
All Pages

CONCLUSION
The 804Ds were at times breathtakingly pure and concise; B&W’s engineering shines through to make them a special experience, especially with classical music. There were times with closely recorded Rock that treble was just too strong: Steve Earle’s 'Esmeralda’s Hollywood' had tambourine hissing at me with demented strength. Overall though, the 804Ds are an impressive experience and at times had me wondering whether an audience of broad taste would think this is what a high fidelity loudspeaker should sound like. Not truly accurate then and a bit hard to swallow at times, nevertheless the 804Ds were impressive – with a capital I. If you want a punchy, visceral and fast sound with diamond pure treble than do try and hear them.

EDITOR, DAVID PRICE SAYS:
If you’re spending over £5,000 on a pair of loudspeakers, then you have an awful lot of choice. There are some superb electrostatics (Quad), equally wonderful electrostatic/moving coil hybrids (Martin Logan), fascinating ribbon/moving coil hybrids (LFT), stunning ribbons (Apogee) and all number of moving coil designs, weird and/or wonderful. Asked to nominate the quintessential high end conventional moving coil, I’d have to say B&W’s 800 series. You don’t get much better engineered and built than this, and they have a meticulously voiced sound that personifies the attributes of a speaker built with multiple voice coils moving the same number of cones, set into a big wooden box.
    Of course, the way a speaker is engineered completely determines its sound, which is why ribbons and electrostatics don’t - can’t - give great bass, whereas moving coils lack the finesse and space of panel speakers but can move air around a room. The 804Ds fall into this category; they’re not madcap weird, nor are they especially innovative or endearingly flawed and quirky; rather they’re straight-down-the-line big moving coil boxes with punch, poise and power. Accompanying this is a sublime build and finish, although it’s very much in the conventional idiom here; its design isn’t special, it’s just very well done, with a particular type of sound in mind. The 804D attempts, and largely succeeds, to be everyman’s high end loudspeaker - for those who don’t want weird things with horns or clingfilm inside them, for those who’ve been raised on the idea of a big multi-driver box. Given this remit, they work brilliantly.
    If you’ve got a large room and/or want a pro speaker, you’ll be buying the 801s or 802s. The 804D instead attempts to deliver a good deal of the 802’s majesty, but in a smaller and – critically – more UK room-friendly package. So they’re not engineered to push out vast tracts of bass; indeed you can (and should) push these quite close to a rear wall and they’ll work happily in a modest-sized British listening room. Properly run in (ours took yonks) and aspirated by smooth and punchy amplifier via a serious source, they give startling results. Taut, tight, propulsive and engaging, they’re wonderful for rock music, yet subtle enough for serious classical listening too. The result is a loudspeaker of great precision, with layer upon layer of detail served up with effortless ease. Treble is distinct, but works well; the Diamond tweeter does deliver a crystalline clarity and is smooth too. All in, a powerful, punchy, incisive loudspeaker with style to match the most modern of listening rooms. DP


Beautifully presented, sleekly styled floorstanders with a seriously fast, clean and punchy sound.


FOR
- punchy, tuneful bass
- crisp, clean midband
- engaging, incisive treble
- suit Rock and Classical

AGAINST
- forward treble
- well lit midband


B&W 804D    £5750
B&W Loudspeakers Ltd              
+44 (0) 1903 221800
www.bwspeakers.com



 
Comments (5)
When is enough enough?
5Wednesday, 14 January 2015 22:37
Jenell Kesler
The 802's are rather large, so I understand the need to create a speaker with a smaller footprint, but why make an 804 to begin with, if the 803 is better, why not put all the effort there, cut the price with no 804 costs, and just make the higher end at a better price?

Does B&W really need to be ALL things to ALL people?
aa
4Wednesday, 10 September 2014 13:39
aa
Hi Laurie. The Monitor Audio PL300s and B&W 803Ds both have raised treble output, our measurements show. If that's the balance you like then they are otherwise well engineered and will suit the Naim SuperUniti. You should also consider the Usher Dancer Mini-2 that has a diamond tweeter like the 803D, but of smoother response and better quality: compare the B&W804D and Usher Dancer Mini-2 frequency response curves on this site. You might also like to audition Tannoys, like the DC8/10s that are great for Rock and smoother than the B&Ws and Monitor Audios. Noel
to Laurie
3Tuesday, 23 April 2013 21:41
Bert
Hi Laurie,
I compared the 804 Diamond with the Monitor Audio PL300 and found the PL300 a bit tiring with too much treble. The 804 came across much more natural. With the 804 I then compared Superuniti with NAC-N172XS+NAP250 and the latter combination was a true winner, which I bought in the end. Initially the speaker sounded a bit harsh but this disappeared in the first weeks.

It depends also on your musical taste: the 804 Diamond is magnificant for classical and acoustic, but probably less suitable for dance.

Good luck!
B&W 803Ds speaker drivers
2Monday, 01 April 2013 14:14
Waldemar Koralewski
Hi Noel. I'm well happy with that review and your conclusions. But is there any chance you could tell bit more about the B&W 804Ds speaker drivers itself. If possible some about the HTM1 centre channel as well. I'm more interested about the values and characteristics. Since my B&W 600 s3 home cinema got flooded being in garage for a while. Over decoration change. Really sad. So I decided to keep the drivers but build my own DIY speaker system. Still based on B&W but similar to the 804D with HTM1 as centre channel . So basically I'm looking to find out what is the ohm values and the frequency range of each driver. To figure out if the diamond series crossover would work well with the spare drivers I got left. Maybe I'm not for here. But any professional help I'll be much appreciated. Thanks

I do not have that information. The best solution is to salvage the parts you have and rebuild the cabinets if they are damaged, ensuring they are the same volume as before. You will not successfully re-design the 'speaker with the information you are looking for. It is a complex business requiring considerable measurement with software such as we use, Clio from Audiomatica of Italy. NK
Query
1Sunday, 10 March 2013 21:59
Laurie Hogan
Hi Noel,

I'm saving up for my first hi-fi system. Demo'd the Naim Superuniti with Monitor Audio PL300s and Proac D18s; thoroughly impressed. I'm also looking at demoing the B&W 803Ds. What else do you think i should be considering? I aim to make so with the power output of the SU until i can move up to a NAP 250/300 after paying of the initial sting.

Kind regards,
Laurie

Hi Laurie. The Monitor Audio PL300s and B&W 803Ds both have raised treble output, our measurements show. If that's the balance you like then they are otherwise well engineered and will suit the Naim SuperUniti. You should also consider the Usher Dancer Mini-2 that has a diamond tweeter like the 803D, but of smoother response and better quality: compare the B&W804D and Usher Dancer Mini-2 frequency response curves on this site. You might also like to audition Tannoys, like the DC8/10s that are great for Rock and smoother than the B&Ws and Monitor Audios. Noel

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