I enjoy reading threads in a number of the Audiophile forums on gear that we have on the floor in our showroom here at Audible Images AV. Especially when they are asking how a particular pair of speakers sound and with what amplifiers would they recommend.
Here I am tasked with the job of listening to gear from Modest High Performance to crazy Ultra High End.
Now granted we don’t have a pair of the “Relentless” monoblocs by Dan D’Agostino, but I do get to enjoy from NAD Receivers to Dan D’Agostino’s Momentum and Progression monobloc amps on our floor. If you like test driving Porsche 911’s, then you know how fortunate I feel from a listening perspective in our showroom.
So, we got in some Bowers and Wilkins 804 D3’s right out of the box to test drive from the B & W sales rep.
Well, I got to test these speakers in two reference rooms in our showroom. Below are the Amps and Receivers I tested them with.
Now keep this in mind, I am not a review guy like at Stereophile Magazine or The Absolute Sound. I am blessed with just sampling up to the finest candy available comparable to a Sugar Boutique store (that also sells “Rock Candy”) in downtown Manhattan during Christmas time. And I simply share just how I enjoyed the taste. I’m working on the jargon of Audiophilia so I don’t leave you scratching your head. But it’s a work in progress 🙂
“The Great Room” – demo
I started off in what we call our “Great Room”, an entrance to high end, but certainly some modest gear is also on display. The Great Room is an open or shared space typical in modern homes, well lit with wood floors and a vaulted ceiling. Its acoustic signature results in rich sound with brightly illuminated stereo images. That said..
(photo below of “The Great Room” before Bowers & Wilkens 804’s were brought in)
We connected those beautiful Satin White Floorstanders with Dan D’Agostino’s Momentum Integrated Amplifier. This may have been overkill, but Dan is our normal Amp that stays connected to normally Wilson Audio Sabrina speakers and the dSC Rossini DAC with streaming as a source.
The nice thing about the 804’s, they can handle a lot of power, and the Momentum Integrated puts out 200 Watts into 8 Ohms, and they responded nicely with the Integrated Amp. I did find out that they need to be toed out quite a bit more than the Wilson Sabrina’s, and we found the best spot.
All of my test drives were using Digital Streamers/Music Server DAC’s as a source.
Definitely a great amount of detail showed up in the upper mid-range. So I could tell these low footprint floorstanders had great potential, but now it was time to pair them up with the classic McIntosh and Bower & Wilkins marriage that we so often hear about.
So next up, still in the “Great Room” we fired up the Mac MC452 2-channel 450 Watt Amp with our fairly new C2600 Tube Preamplifier. This was a really nice match. In fact, it was a much better match up than the Momentum Integrated Amp.
I went through quite a number of tracks, from Classic Rock, R&B and some Classical.
“Fade To Black” , is almost always a first test run to feel how the base delivers. I did have to mentally erase the base punch I get from the Sabrina’s (also the Sabrina’s add $7500 over the 804’s so keep that in mind), and once that was remedied, the two 6 1/2 inch Woofers in the 804’s clearly came to life. The guitar intro and further in the song also confirmed the Bowers & Mac marriage. Now just to make sure I wasn’t deceived by this classic Dire Straits hit and the transition from the Momentum Integrated Amp to the Mac 452, I then tapped over to “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones which is so easily done with an iPad and a Roon Nucleus Server. The Hippo had the thump I was looking for. The base in the Hippo is pretty extensive and came across very nicely. The details from the mid to upper mid-range provided the timbre I expected for each instrument (with emphasis on the fact that I am an experience sharer and not a “Reviewer) and would totally satisfy the Audiophile seeking a Mid-Range fix with Classic Rock n Roll delivered from the Mac and Bowers marriage.
I closed out the test drive with some R&B and Classical, and then decided it was time to experience Audio Research with the 804’s.
Audio Research Reference 75 SE Stereo Amplifier
Audio Research Reference 6 Stereo Preamplifier
Overall a pretty good match, good base, also not overwhelming mid-range. The base may not have been quite as balanced vs mid-range as the B&W’s were with McIntosh electronics.
Now it was time to walk the 804’s thru a couple amps ranging from very modest to shall we say high performance modest.
“The Escape Pod” room – Demo
NAD T 758 V3 A/V Surround Sound Receiver
Definitely not the right marriage. The B&W’s certainly like more power.
Rogue Audio – Cronus Magnum
I was very impressed with the McIntosh MC452 and C2600 matchup mentioned above. On the Cronus Magnum, the base on the B&W’s was less than optimal. I probably should have changed the Rogue to 4 Ohm, but since the procedure requires opening up the chassis, I skipped the task. The process is much more involved than just plugging into 4 ohms on the back of the McIntosh amp.
In summary, those Diamond 804 D-3’s delivered some very nice upper mid-range detail, and I can’t help but see how Bowers & Wilkens really likes to court high end tube amps, and if I was pointing with a laser for an amp & preamp, McIntosh in one of their mid to high-end range lines would be a very special marriage target.
Thank you Bowers & Wilkens for a very pleasureable day in the Audiophile Candy Store.