Hi all -
In my never ending quest to replace my B&W 802D’s (first generation diamond) I am now considering the Focal Sopra 3 and the KEF Blade.
What I’m asking is everyone’s impressions on these two models.
Unfortunately, the KEF is very difficult to find a dealer to listen to. Currently Best Buy has them at a few of their retail stores but they are setup horribly, pushed against a wall in a small room, seating a few feet from them etc… basically what everyone complains about when trying to audition speakers.
I did find a great retailer to audition the Sopra 3’s at. Unfortunately they do not carry KEF and (of course) view them as inferior to the Focal’s
I’m trying to get away from the B&W brightness but don’t want to go 180 degrees and end up with a dull lifeless system.
Please, let me hear your thoughts…
I would give the B&W 801/802 D4 a try. They sound better then the D1 IMO.
my only experience with either in a home setting is with the entry-level models. Focal Aria 906 (mine) and KEF LS50 (not mine).
No idea if this translates to their upper-crust models, but I feel like the KEF signature is super detailed, and you’re like, wow, but I can only listen for so long. Focals have more warmth, I think. Detailed, sure, but I can listen longer.
I like the look of the Sopras better, too. Blades are stunning, but I’d have a harder time incorporating them into a living space.
I have not heard either one but here is a set of pristine Blade’s for good money. I have some interest but not this year.
I’ve spent much time listening to Focal Sopra3s at my closest audio friend’s listening room.
He loves them. There’s something about them that I find fatiguing after an hour or so. And I also find that the soundstage loses much of it’s dimensional illusion at low, late night volume (high 50, low 60 db at around 8 feet). He feels no such fatigue but agrees about the soundstage.
This could be set-up or electronics or just my ears. He has Boulder stereo amp and preamps and Techdas Air Force TT. And he’s very knowledgeable, so I would suspect his setup last.
I would go wherever you need to to hear them live. And really put them through their paces.
Again–he loves them.
My buddy has Sopra 2’s and they sound fantastic!!! My local store has KEF Blades set up and they either sound amazing or really sharp…
According to my dealer, KEF is changing the Blades to Meta Blades, I think. Could be happening in March. He is an authorized dealer for Magio, Estelon, Rockport and KEF. The Blades are his least favorite speaker in his store. I live in Illinois.
I have Focal 2’s. In my smallish space they sound quite good at all volume levels. I did spend quite a bit of time dialing them in from the outlet (power) all the way to millimeter placement adjustments.
Tomorrow I am putting on Isoacoustics Gaia 1 and the placement tweaking will begin again. I am very grateful for @Paul Audiophile Guide. It’s been very helpful with organizing the process.
All this being said, next year I am going to seriously consider the MBL Radialstrahler 120. I find that I miss the 3D sound that I had with our Triton One.R. From everything I have read the 120’s simply disappear into a 3D soundstage. As the pandemic winds down and my normal light travel schedule returns, I will be in a few cities that have MBL dealers so I can audition them.
New Meta versions of the Blades and Reference series speakers were recently introduced. The upgrades go beyond the inclusion of their Meta technology.
What are you using for pre and power amps with the 802D?
Bryston BP26 preamp, and pair of Classe CAM200 monoblocks
While most people rave about both Bryston and Classe, I had a matching issue with Classe and my Infinity Modulus speakers. I long time ago I had a weekend trial at home with a Classe CP-35 preamp and Classe CA-100 poweramp. While they definitely sounded clean and uncolored, with very good imaging and a stability to the sound that was a huge improvement and at that point had never had in my system, they also sounded bright and fatiguing with my speakers. I ended up purchasing a Conrad Johnson tube preamp and poweramp. So I have a bit of understanding of what you’re experiencing. I don’t know if trying a tube preamp in your system and keeping your current speakers is the answer, of if purchasing new speakers that match your pre and power amps, like you are thinking, is ultimately your best option. If it was me, I would start with testing a tube preamp in your system, and see if that opens up a whole new level of musicality with your classic speaker system. But getting new speakers can be so much fun.
When the Blades and later blade 2 were announced I was quite excited. I’m a huge fan of concentric drivers and thought the cabinet design looked ideal.
I heard them only at audio shows, so take that for what’s it worth. I heard the blades in two different shows and the Blade 2 at another. I was quite disappointed. I was expecting something on par with my TAD CR1 which also have concentric drivers, or something hopefully even better. But at least in those setups it wasn’t even in the same league.
I would say to hear TADS as well as the new Blades before deciding.
But honestly if I were in the market for a high end speaker today it would be PS Audio’s FR30.
Welp, there’s the Blade update we were waiting for. Meta Uni-Q drivers. 28 grand or 35 for the two models. Aspen would like a word, please!
@onehorsepony Very interested in your quest to improve or replace your legacy B&W 802D as I have spent 6 years trying the same on my 801Series lll Matrix B&Ws. I added all PS Audio and it focused the speaker to it’s inherent resolution, wonderful, but is it still the weakest link? I would say so. The Matrix have always been warmer than bright, my preference would be for more resolution and a tighter bass. Demo’d Blade’s and Sopra3’s last summer, both fit my apparent need, yet the cost of diminishing return came in to play as the B&W still sound very good with amazing holography. The $28-$32k sweetspot also includes the new YG Acoustic’s Vantage, PSA FR-30, Estelon YB MkII, yet i like adifferentpaul suggestion of trying different amps, that process moved me farther down the path. Interested in hearing your updates, cheers. great quest…
What have you done with the system since late February?