B&W Nautilus 805 loudspeaker
I had to agree. During a brief audition of the Nautilus 801 at HI-FI '98 in Los Angeles—where it played tracks from the Titanic soundtrack at full volume in a room packed with 30 people—I was bowled over by its bass slam, impressive low-end extension, wide dynamic range, and freedom from compression.
But the Nautilus 801 weighs 230 lbs, and for optimal performance, two of them require four channels of topnotch amplification. I wondered if its sonic characteristics could be distilled into a two-way loudspeaker using the same design principles. When B&W's Chris Browder made it possible for me to review the "bookshelf" model, the Nautilus 805, I jumped at the chance.
All Nautilus 800 loudspeakers, including the 805, have common acoustical goals: a stable center image, good depth of soundstage (even off-axis), no coloration, excellent bass-transient performance ("slam"), and no compression. To meet these goals, the Nautilus 805 joins its brethren in having curved cabinet surfaces, a Matrix enclosure, a Nautilus tweeter, a woven Kevlar cone in the mid/bass driver, a "Flowport" venting system with computer-designed flare and anti-turbulence dimpling, separated crossover boards, and shrouded WBT speaker terminals.
The B&W Nautilus 805 is quite different from its predecessor, the good-sounding Matrix 805, in size, shape, drivers, crossover, and price (it costs 25% more). The Matrix 805 (Vol.16 No.4, p.225), was a rectangular box topped with a bullet-shaped "eyeball" tweeter housing. The new model is a scaled-down version of the Nautilus 801's round-backed Matrix woofer cabinet. Its rounded, narrower cabinet profile is almost elliptical in cross section when viewed from above. The transmission-line tweeter housing—described as a "racy-looking, streamlined, tear-drop-shaped nacelle" by Wes Phillips—is nestled in a groove in the top of the Nautilus 805's mid/bass cabinet.