We've always liked the B&W 805, but it was only with the debut of the up-rated ‘S' version that they became something special. So special, in fact, they won our Award in 2006 in this price category.
Build is excellent – these speakers are solidly made with great attention to detail. They feel rock-solid thanks to an extensively braced cabinet, yet look incredibly elegant. A word of warning: that top-mounted tweeter pod looks a tempting place to pick these speakers up from. Don't – it'll break off.
There's the usual B&W technology orgy here. The metal-dome tweeter is mounted at the front of a tapered tube to soak up any rearward radiation, producing cleaner highs, while the mid/bass driver uses a Kevlar cone for its resonance and dispersion properties.
Other highlights include a dimpled port for improved air flow and a simplified crossover, which potentially has benefits across the board for sound quality, if implemented properly.
Setting the standard
B&W's engineers have done a great job. These standmounts are fabulous. They set the standard at this price level when it comes to clarity, timing and dynamics. Listen to a complex recording, such as Orff's Carmina Burana, and the B&Ws paint an utterly convincing sonic picture, with pin-sharp stereo imaging and breathtaking articulation.
Sure, most floorstanders at this price level will produce deeper, more authoritative bass, but in every other area these B&Ws shine.
Whether you listen to Prokofiev, the Prodigy or Prince, the 805Ss will serve you spectacularly well. That's the major reason these speakers remain the benchmark by which others are judged.