B&W Nautilus 805 loudspeaker Page 4

The speaker's uncolored sonic presentation is evident on Emmylou Harris' "Prayer in Open D" (Spyboy, Eminent EM-25001-2), rendering an exquisitely translucent but warm sonic image of Harris' voice, backed by crystalline guitar chords. Even so, the 805 could not quite equal the Revel Salon's ability to capture the dark, rich, slightly nasal timbre of Harris singing her a cappella version of "Calling My Children Home."

The Nautilus 805s did a superb job of generating a palpable soundstage, often "disappearing" when I listened with my eyes open. If I closed my eyes, the 805 tricked me into believing— as John Atkinson reported of the B&W Silver Signature two-ways—that it was a much bigger speaker than it is. When I played "Running Water," from the I Ching album, the speakers seemed to have nothing to do with the sonic image—startling in its realism—of a wide, tall waterfall pouring down between them. This type of sonic imaging, so three-dimensional and real, was typical of the Nautilus 805s' deep, detailed, holographic soundstaging.

Although its deepest bass response might require the help of a powered subwoofer, I came to love this bookshelf speaker's timbral accuracy, three-dimensional imaging, transparent upper register, large soundstage, and, above all, its ability to involve me in the music. Its $2000/pair price—even with another $600 having to be added for B&W's stunningly attractive FS-N805 stands—makes the Nautilus 805 one of the real values in today's high-end market.

If you prefer jazz and classical music to rock, have a moderate-sized listening room, need a small speaker, and can afford to use it with an amplifier as good as the Mark Levinson No.334, then put the Nautilus 805 at the top of your list. As to whether or not B&W has met the sonic design goals of their 800 series in the Nautilus 805, I found the speaker to be a real chip off the Nautilus 801's block, and a contender for the category of "Class A—Restricted Low Frequency" in Stereophile's "Recommended Components."

The hardest time for me is when a product under evaluation must be boxed up and sent on to Santa Fe for testing. That's when I ask myself if I face the prospect with relief or a sense of sadness and loss.

In this case, I'm sure you can guess which feeling predominated. As I write this, I'm surrounded by CDs, about to plunge into one last long listening session with the Nautilus 805s.

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North Reading, MA 01864-2699
(978) 664-2870