How does B&W Nautilus compare to the best of today?

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,056
34
48
Manila, Philippines
#2
I don't know anyone who's ever heard the "Super Snail" before. I'm curious too.
 

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
5,883
59
48
La Jolla, Calif USA
#3
I heard the Nautilus years ago at a S'phile show and thought it was sublime. Easily the best sound at that show, and for me, many shows since then. I'm not sure how it would stack up against the Giya, as I haven't heard each with the same system or room, plus I heard the Nautilus years ago. BUT, I didn't get the same favorable impression when I heard the Giya's.
 

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
2,981
6
38
#4
I heard the Nautilus years ago at a S'phile show and thought it was sublime. Easily the best sound at that show, and for me, many shows since then. I'm not sure how it would stack up against the Giya, as I haven't heard each with the same system or room, plus I heard the Nautilus years ago. BUT, I didn't get the same favorable impression when I heard the Giya's.
Did you hear the Giya with tubes? I bet it would sound amazing with your CAT gear, which is how it was displayed at the Munich show.
 

flez007

Member Sponsor
Aug 31, 2010
2,897
0
36
Mexico City
#5
Good question caesar, I owned some early-models B&W and always liked them - I posted somewhere else in this same space a recent discussion with the Abbey Road chief mastering engineer where a pair of 801N are used as main monitors, they should have a pretty good reason.
 

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
5,883
59
48
La Jolla, Calif USA
#6
Did you hear the Giya with tubes? I bet it would sound amazing with your CAT gear, which is how it was displayed at the Munich show.
Hi Caesar, if I remember, I heard the Giya's with ss gear, not sure but I think it was Luxman. Sound was good but not up to my recollection of the Nautilus.
The CAT gear would be great to hear with the Giya's. I suspect it would be a better match than the Luxman:rolleyes:
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,056
34
48
Manila, Philippines
#8
The Nautilus remains B&W's flagship loudspeaker and thus can be custom ordered.
 
#9
I have heard two pairs of these. One pair belongs to a friend, and the other pair I heard in a hifi shop down the road. It was instructive because it showed what a poorly set up pair of these speakers could sound like. One system was very close to the best sound I have ever heard - shockingly transparent, dynamic, and really "integrated" - you can not hear the crossover points at all, nor is it apparent that you are listening to a multi-driver system. The downside is that the midrange was slightly thin, and the top end had that metallic quality (though not as objectionable as some other metal dome tweeters). The other downside - the whole speaker is surprisingly low, so you need a rather short listening chair (or listening stool) to get the ears at tweeter level.
 
Mar 12, 2012
169
0
16
Richmond, BC
#10
Necro thread bump.

My local dealer had a demo of this yesterday so I attended. Being not as exposed to high end as most of the forum members, I thought this was a good chance to compare my setup with a top line speaker.

The demo ran from a MacBook playing iTunes via (looks like AQ USB cable) to the Classe CP-800. It is then connected via (what seemed like low end Transparent cables - they were beige not the black TechFlex ones) to the Nautilus active crossovers and split to 3 x Classe CA-D200 driving the tweet/mid-tweet/mid and a Classe CA-2300 driving the woofers. The Bowers and Wilkins Nautilus was painted grey (Grigio Granito) to commemorate B&W collaboration with Maserati and the event was to celebrate the speaker's 20th (or was it 30th) year since its inception.

B&W Nautilus 01sm.jpg B&W Nautilus 02sm.jpg

Ok...to be blunt, I was not impressed. It sounded like what one would consider hifi 10-15 years ago. Maybe because I'm a neophyte, maybe because these are very direction and my seating position was terrible, maybe because the new digital amps aren't very good, or maybe it's the ALAC rips on iTunes (or a combo of them). The aluminum tweeter was kinda bright and while a lot of the highs was very good defining clarity of instruments, there seem to be no weight in it. Like there is no mass nor volume to the instruments. He played a cello piece and it sounded like stings/fingerboard/neck and that's it...like no body on the cello. A piece I'm quite familiar with - Oscar Peterson's We Get Requests: Days of Wine and Roses - was played and the keys just did not sound acoustic. It's hard for me to describe but it seems like the string attack was a bit late then it gets too harsh then there seems like no natural decay.

Anyway, he cycled through a whole bunch of music and it was all over the place for me. Like I said, it sounds good but not impressive; especially for a CAD$70K speaker.

Afterwards, I went to the other rooms and the 802D Diamonds was playing connected to a Mac amp (can't recall which model) and it sounded way better. Fuller and better depth. Also chanced by their D'Agostino display (DCS Scarlatti and Totem Element) and it sounded smooth and full.

I hate events like these because I come out of them more confused and depressed (since my gear are of the same brands).

My two cents (USD$0.018).

Cheers,
-H
 
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flez007

Member Sponsor
Aug 31, 2010
2,897
0
36
Mexico City
#11
Necro thread bump.

My local dealer had a demo of this yesterday so I attended. Being not as exposed to high end as most of the forum members, I thought this was a good chance to compare my setup with a top line speaker.

The demo ran from a MacBook playing iTunes via (looks like AQ USB cable) to the Classe CP-800. It is then connected via (what seemed like low end Transparent cables - they were beige not the black TechFlex ones) to the Nautilus active crossovers and split to 3 x Classe CA-D200 driving the tweet/mid-tweet/mid and a Classe CA-2300 driving the woofers. The Bowers and Wilkins Nautilus was painted grey (Grigio Granito) to commemorate B&W collaboration with Maserati and the event was to celebrate the speaker's 20th (or was it 30th) year since its inception.

View attachment 13883 View attachment 13884

Ok...to be blunt, I was not impressed. It sounded like what one would consider hifi 10-15 years ago. Maybe because I'm a neophyte, maybe because these are very direction and my seating position was terrible, maybe because the new digital amps aren't very good, or maybe it's the ALAC rips on iTunes (or a combo of them). The aluminum tweeter was kinda bright and while a lot of the highs was very good defining clarity of instruments, there seem to be no weight in it. Like there is no mass nor volume to the instruments. He played a cello piece and it sounded like stings/fingerboard/neck and that's it...like no body on the cello. A piece I'm quite familiar with - Oscar Peterson's We Get Requests: Days of Wine and Roses - was played and the keys just did not sound acoustic. It's hard for me to describe but it seems like the string attack was a bit late then it gets too harsh then there seems like no natural decay.

Anyway, he cycled through a whole bunch of music and it was all over the place for me. Like I said, it sounds good but not impressive; especially for a CAD$70K speaker.

Afterwards, I went to the other rooms and the 802D Diamonds was playing connected to a Mac amp (can't recall which model) and it sounded way better. Fuller and better depth. Also chanced by their D'Agostino display (DCS Scarlatti and Totem Element) and it sounded smooth and full.

I hate events like these because I come out of them more confused and depressed (since my gear are of the same brands).

My two cents (USD$0.018).

Cheers,
-H
I am not surprised on your comments HedgeHog, usually demos are not the best place to build up solid conclusions on any piece of audio gear, added to the fact that expectation could be way up with such a high sales tag attached.

I have had Classe amps some years back and were "good sounding" equipment, nothing expectacular IMO (these were entry level amps so take my comment with a grain of salt).

My two pesos (USD$0.24)
 
May 30, 2010
14,302
134
63
Portugal
#12
I am not surprised on your comments HedgeHog, usually demos are not the best place to build up solid conclusions on any piece of audio gear, added to the fact that expectation could be way up with such a high sales tag attached.

I have had Classe amps some years back and were "good sounding" equipment, nothing expectacular IMO (these were entry level amps so take my comment with a grain of salt).

My two pesos (USD$0.24)
This is what I wrote at WBF two years ago about the Nautilus :

I also love the Nautilus. I heard them first time in Switzerland - more precisely in Montreux , the place of the Jazz Festival - in a very large room in an old hotel with high ceilings. They were driven by four pairs of Krell amplifiers with a Krell custom crossover and the sound was life like. They played Haendel Music for the Royal Fireworks / Trevor Pinock and I could believe I was king George II assisting to the performance. The impact and speed of the percussion and horns was thrilling, as the sound was also effortless and 3D. Unhappily the second time I listened to the Nautilus, in a poor room with all Classe electronics was a complete disaster. It is why I do not rely on sound demonstrations in shows.

Still regret that long ago I was once offered a pair at a ridiculous low price and I had to say no ...
 
Mar 12, 2012
169
0
16
Richmond, BC
#14
I am not surprised on your comments HedgeHog, usually demos are not the best place to build up solid conclusions on any piece of audio gear, added to the fact that expectation could be way up with such a high sales tag attached.

I have had Classe amps some years back and were "good sounding" equipment, nothing expectacular IMO (these were entry level amps so take my comment with a grain of salt).

My two pesos (USD$0.24)
Well, I really didn't have any expectations (heightened or otherwise) going in. I was curious what a top line speaker designed eons ago would sound like today. And perhaps compare it to my set of current same branded ones.

As mentioned, I also have the same brand of amps and like the sound (although, now I want those D'Agostinos :eek: ). It was just a meh demo but I was surprised how the other room with the 802D2 sounded so much better. I also purchase my amps here after listening to a demo (a fairly short one too) and was impressed by them (also on 802D2). Nonetheless, I was surprised they didn't bother using CA-M300/M600. Wonder if synergy would have been better no mixing the new D200 with the 2300 amps. Or using better cables.

Shame also that this dealer is no longer carrying Wilson Audio...would have loved to compare the Nautilus to the Alexia.

FWIW, I prefer my setup (albeit in a bad acoustic room) to this Nautilus setup. And from my recollection, the McIntosh/802D2 setup sounded quite similar to my setup too.

Cheers.

-H
 

Ronm1

Member Sponsor
Feb 21, 2011
1,746
0
0
wtOMitMutb NH
#15
One of my audio buds had 5 in walnut.
Hopefully the diamond tweeter is an
improvement. Regardless of their pedigree, they are not for me. Not a fav. Demo room or not.
 

RBFC

WBF Founding Member & Super Moderator
Apr 20, 2010
5,121
0
36
Albuquerque, NM
www.fightingconcepts.com
#16
The diamond tweeter was a huge improvement to the B&W high-range speakers, and the lack if one would probably make the Nautilus a no-go for me because of the old tweeter.

Lee
 

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
5,883
59
48
La Jolla, Calif USA
#17
Personally, the lack of the diamond tweeter wouldn't stop me from buying them; instead the option of getting the Giya G1's at similar pricing would sway me over to the newer and possibly better speaker. Although, I would love to do a side by side listen to the Nautilus and the Giya's. I heard the G1's recently ( and was VERY VERY impressed), have not heard the Nautilus for many years now.
 
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Orb

New Member
Sep 8, 2010
3,022
0
0
#18
The diamond tweeter was a huge improvement to the B&W high-range speakers, and the lack if one would probably make the Nautilus a no-go for me because of the old tweeter.

Lee
Yeah someone I know on a forum in the UK has the snails and also latest 802d for surround.
Nautilus setup properly is stunning, unfortunately it also requires some serious amps and had a fair amount of Classe CAM400s monos.
The one weakness he felt was the tweeter compared to the modern 802d.
But with space and setup properly they are stunning, amusing to also have 802d as surrounds when needed.

Cheers
Orb
 
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#19
The $60K B&W Nautilus are the best sounding speakers I have ever heard when you put them with the right gear!;)

I heard them with a Jeff Rowland Aeris DAC and four Jeff Rowland 625 S2 power amps and those $60K B&W Nautilus speakers really sounded more like Real Music being played in the room!:p

With this gear these speakers sounded better than Vivid Audio Giya or.. any other type of speakers too!!:b

If I ever hit the Lottery I will have this system in my house and never look back!:D
 
Aug 2, 2013
233
10
18
#20
They don't have much bottom end for the asking price.
 

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