B&W 805 D3 loudspeaker Page 2

Having heard all the models in the new D3 range and their predecessors, it was immediately clear to me that the latest 800-series has been dramatically improved. This goes for the 805 D3 too – and the first thing you notice is a new authority. Goldie’s ‘Inner City Life’ [Timeless; Metalheadz FFRR 828 614-2] is a classic slice of ’90s electronica, with a wide bandwidth and vast swathes of sub-bass. The 805 D3 still goes surprisingly deep for a speaker of its size, yet there’s no sense of an artificial upper bass peak slightly higher up.

This is a trick often used with small boxes as designers put a little lift in the upper bass, so the speaker sounds fuller but tends to give a ‘one note’ bottom end. Not here though, as the baby B&W was both surprisingly well extended, devoid of boom and satisfyingly tuneful too. You can of course tell that you’re not listening to a JBL Everest – the 805 D3 can’t defy the laws of physics – yet still this speaker is able to push out commanding low frequencies (for its size), moving generous amounts of air without complaint. This confers a solid character to the speaker, even at high volumes where lesser designs compress dynamics more.

At the other end of the frequency spectrum, it’s clear to hear that B&W’s diamond dome tweeter is working better than ever. The Crusaders’ ‘Street Life’ [Street Life; MCA Records MCAD-31024] is a really well recorded slice of late ’70s jazz/funk. The hi-hat work is especially enjoyable, sounding delicate and pure with nothing in the way of splash. Via the 805 D3, cymbals don’t quite have the bite of some high-end speakers, or indeed that wonderful glint – instead they sound smooth, nicely textured and zesty, fast, crisp, and devoid of tizzy overhang. It integrates very well with the cabinet below, giving the 805 D3 a very ‘all of a piece’ sort of sound. In absolute terms, though, it doesn’t quite have the sweetness and space of rivals such as Dynaudio’s similarly-priced Contour 20 [HFN Nov ’17] – but it’s still a class act.

Unlocking The Song
The midband is where the 805 D3 really delivers the goods. ‘The Crystal Ship’ by The Doors [The Soft Parade; Elektra 7559-75005-2] is a little off the beaten track for audiophiles – it’s hardly a superlative recording – yet this little speaker worked wonders at unlocking the song. The recording is a little over-processed and can sound nasal and thin, but the 805 D3 simply zoomed in on the haunting lead vocal line, and the melodic noodling of the backing electronic organ. There was a real sense of naturalness to its presentation, so I found myself disappearing off into the music, focusing on the recorded acoustic with no sense of the speaker obstructing the view. There’s a good deal of clarity, yet this speaker doesn’t sound overly forensic – it’s more like a musical performer than a scientific investigator.


Indeed, this speaker sounds surprisingly tuneful and bubbly, which is a characteristic that all the new 800 D3 series models share. You could criticise its predecessors for being a little cool and dispassionate, but the D3 range has made great strides forward. Interestingly, B&W’s engineers have made the 805 D3 seem a good deal more engaging in musical terms, but not via the simple expedient of making it brighter.

In practice, although things seem smoother, the speaker is better locked into the musical groove. Chic’s classic disco stomper ‘Strike Up The Band’ [Chic; Atlantic AMCY-116] was bubbling with energy. The combination of snappy transients and the ability to stop playing the note almost as quickly, made for a most engaging and rhythmically propulsive listening experience.

Precise Images
It really impressed in other respects too. My favourite imprint of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony [Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Karajan; DG 2531 106] showed off the 805 D3’s ability to image very effectively indeed. I have heard better from more exotic designs at higher prices, but the 805 D3 did really well for a compact box loudspeaker. It convincingly conjured up the Jesus-Christus Kirche recorded acoustic, with every section of the orchestra located precisely where it should be in that space.

So, the 805 D3 doesn’t quite dissolve into the ether like an electrostatic, but it still gave a surprisingly open and expansive performance. Again, it proved way better than its predecessor in this respect, delivering a sizeable and believable sound that pulled me in time and again.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The new 805 D3 is the most user-friendly of B&W’s latest 800 D3 series, offering a clear taste of the talents of its larger stablemates in a more manageable standmount package. Like its bigger brothers, it’s a consummate all rounder, performing most impressively without boasting any one particular standout quality. It’s simply solid, powerful, punchy, extended, spacious, detailed and engaging. Difficult not to like!

B&W Group Ltd
West Sussex
Supplied by: B&W Group Ltd
0800 232 1513