B&W (Bowers & Wilkins) Matrix 801 Series 2 Speakers
Back in the 80’s and 90’s if you walked into a recording studio you were more likely to find these 801’s than any other speaker.
No wonder, they are incredibly transparent and are able to reproduce every audible frequency possible. They have great authority and are capable of keeping up with anything you throw at them from classical to hip hop.
While the Series I had some sound shortcomings, the magical engineering department at Bowers was able to sort it all out by Series II and many believe this is the sweet spot for this speaker.
This pair came to us from the original owner. They are in perfect working condition and all drivers work as they should. I ran them through a frequency generator down to 17 HZ without a rattle or hiccup. I also listened to them in my main listening room with all types of music and was very impressed.
Most speakers of this era can be disappointing - but not these. No wonder they sold so many pairs.
The surrounds on the drivers are intact and do not show any signs of aging. I’m guessing these are good to go for another 30 years.
The cabinets do not have any deep scratches or dents but there are a few imperfections here and there. Some were touched up carefully and have disappeared. Overall, they are in fine condition and would not disappoint.
The top cabinet and midrange grills are in very good condition and almost look new. The woofer grill fabrics are not to my liking so I did not include them in the pictures. I think they look great without them.
This model has the bi-wire input terminals and the reviewers insist you must bi-wire them for best results. Includes the original manual and casters which are installed.
From Stereophile Technical Highlights
The Matrix 801 Monitor is a large loudspeaker, employing a massive, front-vented cabinet housing the low-frequency driver and crossover network, with a separate fibercrete head housing the midrange driver (the tweeter is mounted in free field above) placed directly above the bass cabinet. The midrange/tweeter head is electrically connected with the lower cabinet via a short umbilical and an XLR connector, and is secured b y a very long bolt that runs completely through the head, down into the bass enclosure. There are two sets of speaker terminal connectors on the bottom rear of the bass cabinet, in order to allow the listener to bi- wire the speakers (these connectors are normally internally bridged, so in order to bi-wire, the bottom cover under the bass cabinet must be removed, and two very short jumpers removed...a less-than-ideal setup).
The cabinet construction is excellent, showing a great deal of attention to assembly and aesthetic detail, except for the quality of the speaker terminal connectors. Rather than utilizing standard five-way binding posts (as B&W does with their less expensive 802 speakers), they have opted. for some rather poor-quality, screw-type terminals that just don't belong on a product of this quality. Except for the round port vented on the front of the bass cabinet directly below the woofer, the new Matrix 801 is visibly similar to its predecessor. The casters mounted on the bottom are nice to have when moving these behemoths around the house or studio. But since the speakers really need to be placed on stands in order to operate at full potential, this otherwise practical addition is somewhat useless.
The internal design and components represent a clear departure from the earlier 801. By using their effective Matrix technology of incorporating an internal system of honeycombs within the bass cabinet, the engineers at B&W claim to have reduced low-frequency enclosure resonances and colorations to a significant degree (I agree). Additionally, but using a sixth-order Butterworth alignment through the addition of an outboard equalizer, they have been able to achieve extraordinary low-frequency response (-6dB at 17.5Hz) without compromising bass attack and clarity. Although the speaker can operate without this optional equalizer (thereby effectively representing a fourth-order Bessel filter with a -9dB point at 19Hz), the addition of this device clearly enhances its overall musical accuracy.
The midrange fibercrete head assembly and Kevlar-coned driver remain basically unchanged from the earlier 801. The high-frequency driver (the TS26 tweeter), on the other hand, represents an entirely new design, incorporating a metal-domed diaphragm. This design was arrived at partially through B&W's computer-aided design (CAD), and is a modified version of the metal-dome tweeter used in the less costly Concept 90 series of loudspeakers. B&W claims that this new tweeter "exhibits perfect piston-like behavior to frequencies well beyond audibility." The newly redesigned bass driver has a cone of specially formulated plastic compound, is heavily damped to remove sonic colorations, and employs a 13lb, 13,000 Gauss magnet.
In order to protect the drivers from over load, B&W has upgraded the already existing Audio-Powered Overload Circuit (APOC) by incorporating two such units: one operates on the bass section, the other on the midrange! tweeter, allowing complete protection even when the system is bi-wired.