Tonal Balance of B&W 802 D3/D4 vs the D2 Generation

When looking for speaker upgrades I tested many speakers including the Wilson Sasha DAW’s, B&W 802 D3’s, and 801 D4’s. I mentioned to a salesman that I wasn’t getting the full, rich sound I was getting at home with my 803 D2’s with my Gryphon Diablo 300 (which I was using for all my in-store auditions), and after ruling out any purchase the sales guy conceded that the B&W D2 range, including my 803’s, had a reputation for having a "fat" sound, that was "more rock ’n roll", with more rich bass and mid-bass. He said some guys seek out the D2 range because of this.

With that in mind I found a mint condition pair of 802 D2’s for sale online and just purchased them without listening. There were certainly some surprises with a crisper midrange than my 803’s (a surprise as both models use the same driver) but overall I found I was extremely happy with the tonal balance which was in fact rich with mid and upper frequencies being well-supported by the lower frequencies. I found that the 802’s did what I wanted - much better mid and upper detail, way more clarity, better imaging and soundstage depth, and a bigger more established overall sound.

My question is, do others agree that the B&W D3 and D4 range has a leaner presentation with a more mid-focused sound, as compared with the D2 generation?

I want to like the D3 and D4 generation because they are clearly even better with detail, soundstaging and imaging, and their ability to "disappear", but to me they just get harsh and not tolerable with some styles of music. And no, I am not referring to poor recordings, and it is not due to any component issue.

For reference, I tested Wilson Sasha DAW’s, Audiovector Arette R6’s, Magico A5’s, Sonus Faber Amati’s, all driven by my Diablo 300 with my Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker cables and Audioquest Dragon power cord.

I am very happy with the 802 D2’s by the way - they are everything I was looking for, and a bit more. Doesn’t hurt that somehow, they are in mint condition and look as though they came straight from the factory!


Congrats on your 802 D2s!

I purchased 803 D3s a few months ago and couldn't be happier. I don't notice a lean presentation, nor do they sound harsh to me. But, that is in a dedicated, acoustically treated listening room. Years ago, after I did all the treatments, every speaker I've owned since then has  sounded substantially better.

@nyev , I'm with the same opinion as you.  Coming from the Nautilus and S series, I jumped into D3 series in 2018.  After 5 years of component pairing struggle with various amps (Class A, Class AB, Class D...etc) and DACs and cables, I found no plausible way to get around the leaner sound caused by the ultra high resolution of the continuum cones + today's HiRes music streaming.  A local hifi store has graciously allowed me to bring my D3 speakers to pair with their Mcintosh MC462 + C70 + Linn streamer and the result while better was more or less the same thing.  I would compare the experience to eating bland vegan salad, no matter how expensive vegetable and salad dressing I use, it's still vegan salad in the end.

I have now in my home the 803D2 and the 803D3. The 803D3 is indeed much brighter. But I added a DB1 subwoofer. Not only does the bass get better but the tonal balance totally changes from bright to full and rich sound with details.

Without subwoofer I would prefer the 803D2 but with subwoofer the 803D3 goes way beyond the 803D2 in resolution and speed. Adding a subwoofer makes it a totally different sounding speaker.