Bowers & Wilkins and Classé
I think a lot of us are familiar with this now classic pairing from Bowers & Wilkins and Classé. Even our own Dave McNair used B&W Nautilus 801 speakers and Classé monoblocks in his professional mastering studio for many years, and won several Grammys in the process.
Reporting by Eric Franklin Shook
Among our recent reviews we’ve had our own experiences with these brands’ more recent offerings. Marc Phillips‘ recent review of the 805 D4 (linked here), got me excited about the evolution of the 800s series. And Graig Neville‘s upcoming review of the new Classé Delta series monoblocks is sure to be a write-up for the ages.
The 800 Series Diamond
The new 803 D4 in Satin Walnut (as pictured) is just stunning to look at. They say that some cars look fast when they’re parked, and this is one of those types of speakers. They look super sonic just standing there.
The 803 D4 is the smallest of the Turbine™ headed floorstanding speakers from the 800 Series Diamond stable, but not short on dynamics like the two bigger boys on the team.
This was tested on day two of the show when I returned to the room to sneakily get a second listen while the system was being pushed upwards with watts but also Rage Against The Machine. It was glorious!
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The Classé Issue
When it came to sit and listen to the new B&W 800 series speakers, I was happy to see Sound United showing them Classé Delta series electronics, but more happy still because the speakers would be properly bi-amped with a stereo pair. Something we actually don’t encounter that often at hi-fi shows. I don’t know if it’s just companies wanting to show off their best monoblocks or just that they think consumers aren’t as interested in assembling systems with vertical bi-amping.
Audio Advice LIVE had three rooms by my count that chose the bi-amping route, and all were better for it.
The Classé Delta Stereo amplifiers operate at “low” levels (12.5 watts — not low in my book) in Class-A. Above that power mark they move into Class-A/B operation, and during my weekend listening sessions, I think I heard both modes of operation and found them to be supremely linear in output character. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being a fan of this brand pairing.