Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus/800 Series Diamond Home Theater Speakers

Expert Review

For about $70,000, you can have a 7.2 version of the exact speakers used in Abbey Road studios, the Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond; throw down an extra 20 grand and you get to swap the 800 series loudspeakers for B&W's world-renowned, handcrafted Nautilus speakers, a treat for the eyes and ears alike. These prices include the Nautilus HTM2 Diamond Center Channel, four 805 Diamond Satelites, two DB1 subwoofers, and two of either the 800 Series Diamond or Nautilus custom crafted loudspeakers.

Either way, you will be treated to some of the finest sound money can buy: B&W's breathtakingly detailed, exciting house sound will make you believe you've walked into a live studio recording session. The Nautilus speakers offer an ever-so-slightly brighter sound that is famous for being measured as pitch perfect, but the 800D is a bit more truly neutral to the ear, integrating its proprietary Diamond tweeter slightly better than the snails, and giving it the smallest edge in coherence; the Nautilus sounds a bit artificially transparent in comparison. The 800D also has slightly enhanced bass performance that is just as deep and tight as the Nautilus, but offering just smidge extra punch. The Nautilus speakers are notoriously difficult to drive and match properly with a source, and due to the extra bit of brightness, they can be harsh on less-than-perfect recordings.

Overall, the 800D are a better deal, sound slightly more natural, and are less picky about source and amplification, so they will be the safer choice for most buyers...but those Nautili sure are pretty. In the end, whichever speakers you choose, the 800 series is an incredible deal compared to some other summit-fi system; I dont honestly think anyone could ask for much more in terms of sound, especially considering the DB1s fantastically accurate bass response and state-of-the-art room correction tech, and those looking for a musical yet accurate home theater system truly couldnt do much better. The sound is incredibly rich and spacious, offering one of the most three-dimensional sounds available without over-emphasizing dynamic elements o the sound the way some bassier systems tend to.

Accordingly, its not the explosive, ultra-dynamic sound that many people will doubtless want from a home theater; thats what the JBL Synthesis Everest or, for those not quite so heinously deep of wallet, Paradigm Signature Collection are for. But for those wanting a neutral, accurate, and yet peerlessly musical system of the highest order, the 800 Series Diamond is nigh on impossible to beat.Rating: 4.5/5

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