Narrowed to 3: 802D3, Sopra 3, Reference 3


Hi all,
Here's the situation:
Room is 14x17 with vaulted ceilings from 9" to 14", and the room is mostly open to a foyer with high ceiling and is about 10x10.

I'm currently running a setup scavenged from my home theater:
Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ > Rotel RC-1590 Preamp > Rotel RB-1582 mk2 amp > B&W 805 D3

The sound overall is excellent, but it's a little bright and lacks bass presence (as you'd expect for a 2 way bookshelf). Here are my top speakers I've auditioned:

B&W 802D3 ( Auditioned with: Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ > McIntosh C52 > McIntosh 601) at Magnolia

KEF Reference 5 (Auditioned with Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ > McIntosh C47 > McIntosh MC452) at Magnolia at the same time as the 802.

Focal Sopra 3 (Auditioned with NAIM DAC > NAIM NAP 500 DR Amp - 140W per channel) at difference location

I also heard the KEF Reference 3 and Blade but ruled them out, the Ref 3 for sound, and the Blade for price and it being kind of ugly.

Here's the thing, I feel like I'm not sure what to get. I love the general sound of the 802, but I'm afraid even with the MC452 it'd be a bit bright. It also really lacked the presence in the bass like the Reference 5.

The Reference 5 sounds wonderful, and the bass is prolific, but I'm a little concerned about it being too warm. I heard the Ref 5 and 802s in the same room with virtually the same equipment, back to back, and they were so very different. The Ref 5 was warm, with rich full mids, that maybe were even too lush, with bass so good I honestly thought the subwoofer was on.

The 802 had good bass, but nothing to write home about (and it even had the more powerful 601 monoblocks), but the clarity was astounding, I just fear it'll be a little too bright for my room, which seems to lean bright already. That said, there is just something so exciting about the sound of this speaker playing orchestral. The problem was I much preferred the KEF for rock/r&b.

Then, to add to the mix, I liked the Focal Sopra 3 a lot, but I also felt it lacked bass presence, though it was on the weakest amp by a wide margin. The Focal seemed to be the middle ground between the B&W and KEF, but the bass concerned me. I'm not a bass nut, but I do want my bass to be powerful and don't want to have to add a sub. (Even for orchestral, I felt the Focal lacked a bit in the low cello and bass parts)

My plan was to keep the Mytek, and probably get a McIntosh C47 and MC452 or MC462, as I think the Rotels are probably too bright and underpowered for any of these setups. I was definitely hitting 300+W on the 802s during my audition while listening to orchestral music.

Thoughts? Is the KEF really that pudgy in the middle, is the B&W really that bright, and does the Sopra 3 really lack bass presence?

p.s. I thought the Blade was better balanced, but also still pretty warm.


Ag insider logo xs@2xmayoradamwest
@ nathansaudio
Yes, that larger mid driver on the Aeris is just awesome.  When set up optimally, the Aeris can render male baritone voice and lower mid frequencies like no other that I've heard.  Try Leonard Cohen's Alleluia and some of Boz Scaggs vocals.  
@nathansaudio and mtrot... Stop It!

If you guys don’t cut it out... I’m gonna order a pair of the Aeris.

I’m weak... I’m weak!
I just became a dealer for Vandersteen Audio speakers. We respect territories. I am blown away with the performance of the Vandersteen Quatros with Bryston 4B- 3 amplifiers. I also like Audio Research Pre-Amps with this combination. Look up and find a local Vandy dealer...Amazing Powered Woofers with lots of room correction too !

Playing with my system last night.  Found out my right channel was 2 inches off laterally so I fixed that.  Now the sound is perfect again.

Even my 4 year old daughter was like - play another violin, Dad!

It’s spooky real when the stars align with these 802d3
@joey_v that’s awesome! My daughter is 2 but I hope she asks for violin instead of Rafi ;) even with my placeholder 805 D3 I’m amazed how good these things sound. They just need a sub or two. Will certainly report back when the 802s arrive.