Archive for High End

Blog posts pertaining to Audiophiles that may not be Ultra High End equipment owners yet.

How well do the Bowers & Wilkins 804 D3’s brighten up your Stereo Sound System?

804_D3-Bowers-and-Wilkins-Satin-WhiteI 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)

The "Great Room" demo room where we tested the Bowers and Wilkens 804 D-3's.


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.



Sonus Faber has written a beautiful Sonnet or Sonetto for Audiophiles.

As some of you know,  I live in a very biased world of Audiophilia here in our showroom at Audible Images AV.

Every day I can and do listen to Dan D’Agostino electronics, dCS Vivaldi & Rossini, Wilson Audio Alexx  speakers & other models along with the other ultra high end complementary gear items in the “Transporter” & “Great Room” reference rooms.

So how can I possibly enjoy listening to modestly priced, yet not ready for shipping, Sonus Faber bookshelf Sonetto 2’s and the new floorstander Sonetto V’s,  at $2300 & $4999 respectively, without developing a holier than thou perspective?

Because I love this stuff at all levels.  Ed’s Audiophilia is contagious around here.

The New Sonetto II's by Sonus FaberSo Tuesday, our Sonus Faber rep brought these two members of the brand new Sonetto Collection into our showroom to hear.

Now keep this in mind, I am not a reviewer guy,  I am an experience the fun guy only.  And man was I excited with the new sound.  Made in Italy too!

First, we plugged the Sonetto II bookshelf speakers in, placed up on our 29 1/2 inch from the floor stands.  Which was a little too high to be honest, for the listening sweet spot, but we had to make do.  Our electronics choice was a Parasound Halo combo.  The P7 preamp with the A31 , 3 channel x 250 watt solid state amplifier.  Our source, was the Bluesound Node 2 streaming music server. I had already tested the A31 with a couple other pair of speakers to make sure it would deliver the goods, and it did.

The first thing I wanted to hear was if these new made in Italy beauties could hand out some excellent base response.  And deliver they did, I was impressed! I wasn’t looking for a 15-30 hz gutteral rumble, just well balanced bass musicality. We didn’t spend too much time with the testing of the Sonetto II bookshelves for their mid-range and tweeter success, because the stands were just too high for the room, so my final note on the Sonetto II’s: “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo” by Bella Fleck had the base punch I wanted so much to hear.  And the lesser bass in “Tin Pan Alley” by Stevie Ray sounded excellent and gave me the lower end musicality I was hoping for 🙂   

The Sonetto V's by Sonus FaberI was a bit more anxious to hear the Sonetto V’s.  At $5000 a pair, you tend to adjust your Wilson “Alexx” hat a little more closely to listen in.

If it seems that I share many of the same songs over and over again when putting on the listening / testing hat, you would be correct.  Why do I do this? Because Ed has pounded into my head (a bit of hyperbole), to develop a Reference for listening via a few set parameters.  Specific Songs to quickly observe delivery of each of the 3 main frequency areas of bass, mids & tweeter, develop or use a consistent reference room and it’s ambience, and then you can more easily discern nuances in a tune as delivered from the gear you are testing.

So back to the Sonetto V’s. Fantastic, and excellent.  After filtering through my base testing of the V’s, check, and much better than I would have suspected.  I just tested a $9000 pair of speakers a while back, and I can say they were inferior to these new Walnut colored Sonetto floorstanders.  Both had 4 drivers, (being lazy on the comparison), but the accuracy of the V’s was very good.  I now started to look deeper into the mid-range and higher frequency, and the words airy, clean and absolutely no abrupt decay of any instruments are the words that came to mind. (Thank you Stereophile Magazine for your Audio Glossary dictionary to help make my point)

I would love to have these Sonetto V’s in our showroom.  I wish I had the opportunity to test them with the D’Agostino Momentum Integrated amp, but time ran out.

Sonus Faber,  your Collection, or Family name was very appropriate, “Sonetto”, I give them a thumbs up for my Tuesday pleasure time at work. 🙂


Audible Images AV is excited to be serving: Melbourne, Florida, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Port St. John, Satellite Beach, Space Coast, Vero Beach, Orlando, Daytona, Kissimmee, Central Florida, the entire state of Florida…and even the greater USA

A concert DVD listening experience of Chris Botti in Boston in our Escape Pod listening room theater.

I’m enjoying the amazing “Chris Botti In Boston”, Blue Ray Concert DVD in our “Escape Pod” listening / reference room.  If you’ve never listened to this concert DVD from 2008 recorded with the Boston Symphony at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA, you are totally missing out. 

I consider my self pretty fortunate that I work in a showroom for Home Theater and High End two channel stereo and part of my job description is to listen to great music in one of our 3 Reference Rooms.  Ed wants me to enjoy it, critique it and share it,  from a new guy’s perspective to the Audiophile’s world.

The concert is a spectacular mix of Contemporary Jazz, Pop, Classical and maybe some light rock, delivered by an array of gifted guest Artists, and of course the stunning performance of Chris Botti on the trumpet complementing each of the artists.

Who are some of the guest artists?  Well there’s the not too hard to look at Katharine McPhee, there is Lucia Micarelli, Sy Smith, Sting, Josh Groban, Yo-Yo Ma, Steven Tyler, John Mayer & Dominic Miller.

When you come into the showroom, and your mouth is watering to hear an excellently matched, wonderfully tuned, very affordable 7.1 channel system, that cranks very nicely, the Escape Pod does not disappoint.  The room size is 11.5 feet by 13, You would call it a spare bedroom or home office size room.  It does have some modest acoustic treatment that delivers an impressive sound and visual  experience (emphasis on sound), especially for the person who does not want to make mistakes mis-matching gear for their first home theater setup.

You will want to request to hear Katharine McPhee in her version of Frank Sinatra’s “I Got You Under My Skin”.  Her stage personality will keep you grinning with her pleasant mingling with Chris Botti and then his Guitarist.  Her breathtaking beauty coupled with a remarkable voice is just one of the many magnificent guest performances.

Here’s the system we now have tuned up just right in the room for you to come in and enjoy:

7.1 Channel NAD T-758 Surround Sound Receiver
PSB Imagine X2T Tower Speakers – L&R Front
1 Center Channel – PSB Imagine XC Centre
4 each: Surround L & R, Surround Back L & R in wall speakers
1 Sub Bass – Subwoofer – REL T/7i

Come in and just melt on the couch, we’ll leave you alone to enjoy the concert or your choice of 2 channel listening with music streaming for all of your favorite hits.

Ed Masterson the owner and my friend from way back is an audiophile and just enjoys  shooting the breeze and sharing his passion of High End to Ultra High End listening.

Treat yourself and come in for a listen.

Audible Images AV is excited to be serving: Melbourne, Florida, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Port St. John, Satellite Beach, Space Coast, Vero Beach, Orlando, Daytona, Kissimmee, Central Florida, the entire state of Florida…and even the greater USA

Keywords to this post: home theater, concert dvd, surround sound system, audible images listening rooms, NAD Electronics, High End systems, 2 channel reference listening rooms, PSB Speakers and more later.