HELP B&W 802D or Revel Ultima Salon2

Hello everyone. I'm anticipating a speaker upgrade in the not too distant future and I would appreciate any experienced opinions. I have had the opportunity to audition the 802Ds at my local dealer twice in the past week. I can get a pilomotor erection (hair standing up on arms, chills, etc.) even now simply by remembering the experience. Quite an improvement from my current Mythos ST setup. I've finally experienced some of the things I've only read about up to this point!
Now I have to wonder how good it can get at this approx. price point. I've read the reviews on the Ultima Salon2s and wonder if I might be even happier with these.
(I do realize I would need additional amplification to properly drive them)Unfortunately none of the Revel dealers in the Dallas area have any available for audition.
There exists an opportunity to purchase a lightly used pair for about the same as a new pair of 802Ds.
I would especially like to hear from anyone who has experience with both.
Thanks to all in advance.
I had Salon1 and I am now considering buying the B&W 802D.

I just started my search and the one speaker I really want to hear is the Thiel 3.7. Based on the great comments about it online it seems to be a must listen for my musical tastes.

The following thread may have some useful info for you, especially if you are into Rock music.
I also live in the Dallas area and have made the rounds as far as speakers go at this price point. The 802D sound great and had a chance to listen to some Studio 2s in Grapevine, but have not heard the Salon 2s(I believe they are a lot more expensive than the 802Ds).

You may want to also give the Dali MS5 and the Wilson Sophia 2 a try. Both are great speakers for different reasons and can be found in showrooms in the DFW area.
I am not surprised with your findings. And YES - other speakers in that quality range may also shock you compared to your current setup. I would not pull the trigger too quickly. Without more details on your listening tastes it is hard to say more - except you seem to like plenty of bass and therefore B&W makes sense and so does Wilson. .
I like the 802D pretty well even though they take a lot of flack around here. I like B&W much better than a lot of bands (focal, sonas faber, etc) but there are speakers I like better ( Sophia, Thiel 3.7).

How big is your room? The only real down side to the 802d is in a small room they can be too bassy.

At this price rang everything is pretty good and it comes down to personal taste.
If you have a Monitor Audio dealer near enough to go have a listen to the new PL300's I would encourage you to do so. I was very close to buying a pair of Harbeth M40.1's, this after listening to a couple of the speakers you have mentioned....the MA's changed my mind at first listen.

Won't hurt to give them a listen.
Thanks to everyone for responding. Sorry for the delay in my response, I was out of town and without internet access this weekend.
I should start by providing more listening habits...50/50 2-channel music/HT...
My room is approx 20'x16' with 18' cathedral ceilings, open on one side to a long foyer....
My music tastes varies....classic rock and R&B, jazz, and salsa/meringue....
I spoke with a local Wilson dealer (also carries Revel) and I'm planning on auditioning the Sophia 2 and hopefully the Revels next week.
I will look into checking out the Thiel 3.7s, KEF 207/2s, as well as the MA PL300s.
Thanks to all for the suggestions, and any further advice offered.
Make sure you listen to the 802D on your own gear before you buy them. If they ever fix the midrange in any of the B&W's they would be a good speaker not a great speaker though. Good highs good lows but the midrange is just awful.
I can't understand why people knock a good speaker/amp/cdp etc etc. It is fine to say it is not your cup of tea but statements by people like Mtdking are simply ridiculous.In one thread he states how esoteric cdps are at the bottom of the pile and in another thread he recommends an esoteric x-01 as one of the best. It would be better if people like this kept their opinions to themselves as they are simply too mixed up to give sound advise.
I have come to realize audio is a lot like sports cars.You have a nandful of really ggod speakers, amp etc and they are all good but you may like one over the other for various reasons. Some people like ferrari while other will swear by lamborghini etc etc. To say you like one and that the other is junk is simply ludicrous and so it goes with highly opinionated audiophiles.
Budt, well said.

I for one think the midrange of the B&W 800 series speakers to be among the best. If my budget was just a little higher then it is I would own B&W 801D's - but unfortunately such is life.

Of the speakers mentioned in this thread not one is a dog, they all afford very high performance, and each has certain strengths the others may not have.

This hobby is about sharing our knowledge, but our personal preference when it comes to the equipment we purchase and the sound we hear from it is very personal.

I have to jump on the bandwagon here. I had N801's and now have Signature 800's and there is nothing to "fix."

B&W bashing makes some feel superior. One of my favorite quotes that I read in a few threads when doing some research on the S800's was "B&W's have certain flaws that are inexcusable." Oh aren't we important! Give me a break.

To the original post, at CES last year the Revel Salon II's sounded amazing with a minimal front end system. I heard them in a room set up in a corner. This was a digital amp circuit board manufacturer that had borrowed the speakers for the show. They had them set up with a very minimal system (chip amps, Luxman CD player from the 80's). The Wilson WP8's were also a show stopper but with $150,000 of VTL front end gear (not saying that they would not be great with a lesser front end). I did not hear the B&W's atthe show.

The Theils and Ushers sounded really harsh but this was at a show so YMMV. Not exactly a fair to pass final judgment on a bad sounding setup at a show.

Personally, I would buy the Salon II's for the same price as the new B&W 802's. Less depreciation and they are just wonderful speakers, probably more in line with the B&W 800's but I am just guessing. I am obviously a B&W guy but you really cannot go wrong with the Revels and if you decide you want something else you can flip them easily (make sure you get the boxes). Your room is a good size so I am guessing that they will work well in there.
FWIW, I just read an ad where the Salon II is Stereophile's speaker of the year for 2008. if this is true I am not surprized at all, it was very impressive.

Did you get a chance to audition them yet?
I too read it, along with other raving reviews.
Apparently no dealers in the Dalla area have them in house.
I will be in Los Angeles Christmas week, I should have better luck there.
You maybe find that you can get very close to the performance of the Salon2 with the Salon1 for much lower price point (1/2 the price of new B&W 802D).

I listened to the Studio2 with decent ML gear and I heard a little bit more detail (very small improvement) over Salon1 in the highs. They sounded very much like the Salon1 but with less bass (Studio2 vs Salon1).

As a pervious owner of a Salon1 I would think I would buy those again over spending much more for the Salon2. I would get more satisfaction in the 50% saving over the xx% improvement in sound. I would guess the Salon2 would sound very much like the Studio2 except it should have a more fuller sound. Just like the Studio1 vs Salon1 comparison.

Anyways, just some random thoughts from a penny pincher.

Stacey's Furniture off of 114 and main in Grapevine has a pair of Salon 2s hooked up to a McIntosh that you can audition. The showroom is on the second floor back in their home theater furniture area.
Both excellent speakers, but I definitely preferred the Salon2 to the 802D. You should listen to both and see which you prefer more.
Thanks for the advice Yyz and Jkalman.
I will be heading over to Stacey's today to hear the Salon2s, thanks for the heads up Rshad I appreciate it.
And Jkalman........awesome system you have there!
Thanks again for everyone's input.
Well I made it to Stacey's, unfortunately the "house expert" and only person able to demo the speakers is only there on weekends. I'm planning on trying again on Sunday.

Out of curiousity did you ever make it back to Stacey's to try out the Salon 2s? What were your impressions?
Franco, you are welcome to come by and listen to my line arrays for a different point of view....
Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it. I just returned from a Holiday visit to Los Angeles and wasn't able to find any dealer that had them on the floor (I called several area dealers). I'm planning a visit to Stacey's this weekend for a listen. I'll keep you posted.

That is an impressive system you have there.
Thanks for the invite, I would certainly like to stop by.
Where are you located?
I suggest that if you like the the 802D's : support your local dealer and get them these from him
I've been interested in hearing the Salon2's as well and I just found a dealer around me that has them so I'm going to try to audition them by next week. Where I live though, they cost considerably more than the 802Ds so I'm not sure it's a fair comparison.

About the 802Ds, however, what a FANTASTIC speaker! I loved them so much while auditioning that I bought them! They were way expensive for what I originally budgeted, but after hearing them against so many other speakers for over two months, from Focal, Wilson, Paradigm, Swan, NHT, Energy, Def Tech, Klipsch, JBL, KEF, MartinLogan, Quad, and others, the 802Ds crushed most of these. I even tried some ID speakers from AV123 and Salk and only wasted my money with shipping back and forth. The only one that came close was the Wilson Sophia which was excellent and was in my final two, but I preferred the 802Ds in the end.

If just remembering about the listening experience makes your hair stand up, then I think you've found your speaker. Only my final two did that for me, which made my decision easier. You can read all the reviews you want and get as many opinions online as you want, but those can be as adverse as they can be helpful. Bottom line is you know what you like best so don't be afraid to jump in if you really like something.

On that note I have a friend that also took a long time auditioning and finding a pair of stereo speakers for his dedicated listening room. He found one that he really liked, but he went online and a bunch of strangers trashed it and said he HAD to hear these other ones, which had better FR, had this and that type of driver, got these reviews, etc. He went and heard them, THOUGHT he liked them better than what he initially chose, bought them and now he totally regrets it. He basically convinced himself that they were "better" because it seemed "everybody else" thought so, and thus he had to get them. Then he got them home and after breaking them in, they still don't do it for him and all he does is dream about his intial choice. Now he wants to sell them but his wife is so pissed he spent that kind of money and is unhappy with them that she's forbid him from buying anything else, even if he sells the speakers he has since he will have to take a loss and she thinks he's just wasting money.

What my friend learned is that "everybody else" isn't paying for his speakers, "everybody else" aren't using his ears, and "everybody else" doesn't matter at all, only his opinions matter in the end.

So a very expensive lesson to learn. Anyway, you should demo the Salon2s if you are really interested in them as well and demoing more and more speakers is always good, but you should do it with an open mind and be honest with yourself, not try to convince yourself you "should" like something because a review or people on the web told you you should like it.
I've owned both. Both are great speakers. I loved the diamond tweeter on the 802Ds, but overall I liked the integrated sound of the Salon2 better. You really should go listen for yourself though...
And Jkalman........awesome system you have there!
Thanks again for everyone's input.


I haven't posted here since around a month ago, so I didn't notice I had already posted in this thread.... Hehehe, sorry about that!
I am in the same boat, deciding between the new B&W 802 Diamond, Salon2 and Focal Scala and Andra3
Opinions on B&W are polarized. Many love them, many hate them. I listened to a couple of them and owned a pair till I came to the point I couldn't listen to them any more. Mtdking is right. Midrange so, so.... but the tweeter was horrible. I had Nautilus not "D" so I can't speak for the new version.
Having had the opportunity of hearing a used pair of Revel Salons at a home nearby, my reaction was that they have a very neutral sound. No well defined highs, mids or bass. Quite honestly, I found them quite dull. I ended up getting a pair of the new B&W 803Di's. Their sound is quite amazing. If you have a chance, you really need to have a listen to the new series. It is a vast improvement over the older diamond series.
I've listened to both, and it is very important to listen to the latest version of the 802D. IMO, B&W really improved them, but for some reason didn't update the designations at all.

That said, I prefer the Salon2 and purchased them. Not only did I prefer the overall spectral balance of the Salon2s, but their bass is significantly better than the 802D's, and IMO so is the important woofer-to-midrange transition on grand piano. The real clincher for me, though, is that to this day I've never heard the B&W 800D or 802D image well front-to-back. The newest 802D disappeared in the side-to-side soundstage, even putting images beyond the speaker positions when appropriate, but I could never close my eyes and get that feeling of having the images come out at me, and the Salon2s do that in spades. The Salon2s are extraordinary in this regard. It might just be the dealer set-ups I've heard with the B&Ws, but I heard pretty much the same thing in two different venues.

One comment I would make is that if you haven't heard the Salon2s you might think 802Ds are about as good it gets. Or, you might not be as sensitive to a 3D soundstage as I am. Or you might like the fact that the 800D/802D have more "bite" in the upper mids and highs than the Salon2s do. Some people just prefer a more up-front balance, and then the 802Ds might sound superior.

Another impression I had is that, IMO, the B&Ws have better cosmetics than the Revels. The 800D and 802D look and feel sumptuous. The wood finishes, especially, are luxurious. The Salon2s, either finish, have a shiny, almost plastic look to them. In black the Salon2 looks very sleek and high-tech, almost like Apple did the design, but the B&Ws look like Aston Martin did it, if you know what I mean.

FWIW, it's been eight months now, and I still marvel at the sound of the Salon2s.
This discussion is very helpful.

I am having the same debate between B&W 802 diamond and either the Revel Studio or Salon. I have a family room that adjoins the kitchen. The family room is hexagonal and is about 500 square feet. The kitchen is another 300 square feet. All the rooms have large glass window surfaces.

The primary use will be for normal TV viewing (news, etc), movies, and only 10% music. Consequently the center channel is key for voices.

Three questions:

- Will either option work better in an environment with a lot of large glass windows?
- Is one option better when located close to the rear wall?
- Does one require a lot more amp power?

Thanks for any comments.

Your listening space sounds very similar to mine. For the uses you have in mind you might find the 802D a better choice. In fact, the 802D is so good with voice reproduction you might not need a center channel.

Both the Salon2 and the 802D like to be out from the rear wall, and well out of corners.

If you like action movies I'd highly recommend a subwoofer. If you have a typical two-channel audio system I'd choose a self-powered sub with a high-pass output for the amps. If you don't use a sub both of these speakers like about 200 watts per channel of solid state amp. With a subwoofer you can get away with less IMO.
Jim, my sunroom is also fairly large and also has a lot of glass. When auditioning speakers for my new system in late October, the three best I heard were Wilson Sashas, Revel Salon 2s and B&W 802Ds.

I ultimately went with the Salon 2s. The Sashas sounded great in a controlled dealer environment (carpet, room treatment) - especially the bass - but I thought they'd be too shrill in my room with all that glass. They are definitely not a "neutral" speaker, let's put it that way, and in my environment a certain level of neutrality is necessary even for a bassophile like me. In your price range you might want to check out the Wilson Sophia III - it's similar to the Sasha with I would say a bit less dynamism and deep bass - and in any event I would try to listen to either the Sasha or Sophia.

I was frankly not all that impressed with the B&W 802Ds - they were powered by some nice Classe gear but the treble sounded a little forced. The mid-bass was good but it seemed to roll off quite a bit as it went deep. They didn't really seem to have the kind of punch I was looking for at volume, either - I don't blast music all the time, but every so often I want to put on something like Houses of the Holy, crank it to 11 and pretend I'm 14 again, and these just didn't seem the speakers for that. Overall I didn't find them engaging and just didn't get a thrill from listening to them.

Where the Salon 2s really impressed me during my dealer audition was in two areas: soundstage and dynamism. I didn't go in thinking I'd find those areas so important, but when I walked BEHIND the Salon 2s and still could hear a well-defined soundstage and great stereo image, well, I was beyond impressed. I also thought they were not only very dynamic, but very realistically dynamic: a Herbie Hancock grand piano solo recording with a surprising amount of dynamic range was rendered so effortlessly that when I closed my eyes, I was THERE. And this was despite the fact that I frankly wasn't that impressed with the ML 532H power amp/pre-amp combo driving the Salon 2s that I thought was lacking in low-end oompfif not extension. To be fair to the ML gear, speaker placement and the room may have had something to do with that, but I left certain I'd like the Salon 2s with Plinius gear better - which as it turns out I do, very much so.

I also felt that the Salon 2s would be more forgiving speakers for flawed recordings than the Sashas would.

You should know that my system is a dedicated stereo system and will not be used for home theater purposes. Accordingly, my selections were made solely for music listening, mostly classic rock (Stones, Who, lots of Grateful Dead) and some jazz. The sound you are looking for in a home theater setup may be entirely different than what I wanted.
You might want to check The New Focal Electra 1038 BE. I auditioned them twice last last week along with the B & W 802D. To my ear the Focal was superior. The B & W did have some more in the low end however the Focal I thought handled the lows well and were an overall superior speaker.
I couldn't believe the Focal sounded better as I am a B & W fan. I went back another day and both my friend and I who I brought along came to the same conclusion.
P59, glad you are enjoying the Revels. I've heard them and think they are great. May wind up getting a used pair of them myself soon (checking out a few different options, including Genesis 5.3). Anyway, As when this thread originally appeared, I still dont understand why the comparison is with the 802D and not the 800D? The 802D lines up pricewise with the Revel Studio2, not the Salon2. If one is looking at the Sasha and the Salon2, then the 800D is the natural competition (and actually cheaper than the Sasha). As good as the 802D is, I would certainly expect that it couldn't really compete with good speakers 50% more expensive. Why didnt you listen to the 800D?

Great comments. We share many things.
Any other comments on speakers that do or do not work well when placed near the back wall?

Yes, they are close to the wall. Some reasons for that. One, the room is a mess with speaker boxes etc. that I have to put down cellar - which in turn requires some cellar cleanout action. I'll get to that after Xmas, LOL.

Also, while I may bring them more out into the room, I may still leave them spread out wide to the walls. I like the super-wide soundstage I get from wide placement, and I'm only really noticing bass nodes building up in a couple of areas to the rear of the room where no one would likely be doing any critical listening anyway.

Second, right now I'm going through the new 73-disc Grateful Dead Europe 72 box set. It's mixed from the original 16-track reels and so should have had plenty of bass throughout, but they kinda screwed the pooch on the mix on some of the shows resulting in less low end than there should be, so I've got the speakers parked in the corners for extra bass reinforcement. One of my buddies has run the release through a parametric EQ program to address some of the imbalances and I'm going to send a hard drive to him soon to copy his files and hopefully resolve the mix issue.

I do agree with Irv that they are best out into the room and off the walls, but I'm finding the trade-off of less than the absolute best sound in the "sweet spot" in favor of pretty good in a larger area to be worth it in my circumstance. I do a lot of my work in the room and don't like to be moored to one spot all day, so being able to move around and still get 90% percent performance in multiple locations is fine with me. And the fact that you can get them to sound pretty good with less than ideal placement to me makes them a more versatile speaker than the Wilson Sasha, which is a much more placement-dependent speaker system - I'd guess they would sound terrible where I presently have the Salon 2s.
Quick response. I've had both sets of speakers in my home for a few months so I could choose between the two. IMO and in my listening space the Revels Salon 2's are the best speaker. I've always had a soft spot for the B&W's, but in an A/B comparison with my equipment, my room, etc. the Salon 2's really beat them. It only took me so long because I like the B$W's and couldn't believe it. Now please, B&W people don't come out of the woodwork and beat the snot out of me. It's my ears, my place, and my equipment. Of course I've had several folks I respect also listen to the the A/B comparison and reach the same conclusion.

As for why one should compare the 802d's rather than the 800d's to the Salons, it's because the price point is closer in the used market. The B&W's retain a higher resale value (and are not discounted as highly initially) consequently the comparison in price in the used market is between the 802d's and the Revel Salon 2's. In the used market the Salon 2's fall between the 802d's and the 800d's. Depending on condition and market etc.

One last thought: the Revels want lots of power to really shine and I'm now going to have to upgrade my amplification (when I do, if I still have the B&W's I'll do another A/B, but it looks like the B/W's will be on the market at Audiogon soon).
PS. I'd echo much of what Irvrobinson wrote in his post on 1/7/11.
As an aside: My room is quite large with lots of glass and the current setup is less than ideal with both speakers. I think any speaker with an ideal room setup for that speaker can make a huge difference (I have a pair of Medowlark Herons setup in another place and the room is nearly perfect for them). What I'd really like to do is demo both sets of speakers in a "golden cube", but that'll have to wait until I win the lottery.
Nab, I see your point on the 802 vs 800 if we are talking used. As for your in home audition, did you have the 802D or new 802 Diamond? New Diamond is supposed to be significantly better than previous 802D. I too am a B&W fanboy, but the Salon2 is one of the best I've ever heard, and certainly better than the 802D. No argument there.
I had the B&W 802D. They looked cool but didn't sound like 15K speakers to me( maybe 8K ). I traded them in on the new B&W 800 Diamonds. These are on a whole other level( not even close IMO). I would also look at Vivid speakers.
I have the 802 Diamond. No doubt about it - it is a great speaker. Part of the issue is taste in speakers, B&W is hard to beat for midrange and high's, but I think it is because I like the coloration of the speakers in those ranges. Let me re-iterate something I think I said before: I think room configuration has a lot to do with which speaker shines.

IMO the Reveals are more accurate (particularly with bass) than the 802's and the high end is still great (B&W might beat 'em slightly in the midrange (but I think this is preference over accuracy) - I need more listening time, but had to take one pair down). When it comes to bass the B&W's have a bit of "boom" to them compared to the Revels.

Having said that I must add that I am now compelled to upgrade my amplification to drive the Revels better. The B&W's were happy, the Reveals are not (well they are satisfied, but could use a bit more excitement). Ahhh, I wish I were young again (but with money), now I'm old - with old ears and a fat wallet. Oh well . . . .

Fat wallet or young ears....that's a tradeoff.
There are other tradeoffs in life as well, for example buying what you want or what the decorator permits.

I did have a chance to audition the Salon2s and the bass is soooo tight.

Thanks for all the useful commentary
"Ahhh, I wish I were young again (but with money), now I'm old - with old ears and a fat wallet. Oh well . . . ."

Amen, brother. At least my ears are still acting young. Nonetheless, I decided to max out my audio system before my ears gave out. I know too many guys with hearing aids, and I doubt they can tell the difference between an 802D and a Salon 2.

It would also be nice if my gut was thinner and my wallet fatter by comparison. ;)
I also am a very happy owner of Revel Ultima Salon 2s. I use a Gamut D3i pre and D200i power amp to drive them and to me they sound phenomenal.

As a previous owner Dali Helicon 400 MkIIs and after a long audition of Dynaudio Sapphire's, I did not hesitate to purchase Salon 2s.

Haven't heard upper range B&Ws, but to me, for the money, Salon 2s are as good as it gets.
A contrarian viewpoint to the consensus here. So I am a B&W fanboy, but as I stated earlier in this thread, I was really impressed with the Salon 2 in several reasonably long dealer sessions.

Well, lo and behold, a good deal came up on a used pair and I jumped on it impulsively. Have had them in my house for 3 weeks and...I don't really care for them.

Although I readily admit that the neutrality, accuracy, and coherence is there in spades, and the imaging and distinction btwn instruments is absolutely amazing, they don't move me. Vocals are ever so slightly recessed, and there is no "life" to them. They are quite unforgiving of even average recordings (forget poor ones), which greatly limits listening options. The bass is really good only on good recordings, but they can't seem to pull out the lower mids and bass on average CDs.

The most interesting but frustrating part of the experience is that they seem to sometimes deconstruct a song into it's musical parts: vocals, distinct instruments, leaving an uninvolving collection of distinct sounds (clear and neutral as they can be). While sometimes I am absolutely amazed at the imaging or clarity, I more often find that I'm easily distracted instead of immersed and toe tapping.

I have come to the conclusion that, great as they are, I may just prefer a fuller, warmer more forward sound. Maybe that means I like a more colored sound or the "BBC midbass hump", which I know is audiophile heresy, but so be it. It's what I like. Just my two cents.

Going to take a good hard listen to the 802Di and the Sonus Faber Elipsa.
Before you spend a zillion dollars replacing the Salon 2s you might consider analyzing your system. I highly recommend a Dayton Audio OmniMic set-up from Parts Express. It'll run on any PC. You might find that you have a big suck-out in the 500Hz-2KHz range, which might explain your problem with vocals. It could just be that you need to adjust your speaker placement for room modes. Even if you end up getting a different speaker the OmniMic is a great tool for system set-up, so IMO you can't go wrong. Yeah, it's about $300, but compared to $15K speakers it's a nit.

A couple other questions:

Do you listen to the Salon2s with the grilles on or off? Have you tried both?

Have you tried adjusting the controls in the cable connection box?
Jeffkad, there's plenty of life, musicality and slam in my system and I'm not experiencing the issues you discuss. What's your other gear upstream from the Salon 2s?