Would you upgrade?

Here Focal Sopra 3 are £16,000 and a P20 £10,500, so that’s 65% more. I assume that as @onehorsepony asked about changing his speakers, these suggestions are in addition to changing his speakers. I was recently in the market for a pair of speakers the same price as the Sopra 3 but demo’d the Diablo Evo, which is smaller and the next level up. They are very popular because they are better quality with a big sound for their size. They have a bigger sound than the Wilson Sabrina I bought. The Sopra 2 are apparently the most popular of the Sopra range.

Having had Focals ar home on demo in December I found they imaged very well with a big soundstage, and they didn’t need a regenerator as I don’t have one. My dealer doesn’t sell regenerators either. B&W and Focal are both highly regarded UK/EU brands with lots of owners, but here hardly anyone mentions using regenerators. I had one, but the advice was to use it only for source components and plug the amplifiers in the wall.

A guy here had trouble getting any soundstage from a pair of 802 and this guide sorted it for him.

I can confirm as a B&W owner that you have to work at getting them positioned correctly for imaging and integration. I found it much harder to get them on song than the KEFs they replaced. But they reward perseverance and once you find the positioning sweet spot …well I am hooked

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Not a direct comparison but 3 1/2 years ago I was interested to upgrade speakers & B&W 803 D3’s were high on my short list. I invested considerable time over several sessions auditioning at 2 different dealers. Something about the midrange didn’t sound natural. Shortly thereafter visited another dealer who didn’t carry B&W to audition the Audio Research VT80 power amp which he played through Focal Sopra 2’s. Not long into the listening session it was no contest, the Sopra 2’s sounded better across the board & after 90 minutes listening to a wide variety of favorite, well know SACD’s which I brought with me I knew I found my new speakers. Over 4,000 hours listening (driven by BHK300’s) has confirmed that decision.


Love my 804d3s…front ports make them pretty easy to place. I could probably work on my precision, and plan to do just that. I also plan on exploring my options and moving the 804d3s in to the HT with the other (considerably lesser) B&Ws. I’m thinking of Tannoy Kensington’s, Maggie 20.7s, Harbeth 40.2, Tekton, Vandersteen, and I’ll probably hear the PS Audios before making the choice. I’m in no hurry.

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For the first time, I am learning that try equals buy LOL especially when I said that it is subject home trial :smile: This is not even selective reading.

May be it was an oversight on my behalf not to mention 101 speaker placement should be revisited before anything else. One last thing, that Arcam CD player may need a revisit. Again, something with a home trial may help.

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That’s very good to hear and they are very highly thought of and popular over here. My dealer, who’s been selling Harbeth since the 1970s and hosted the launch of the M40.2, prefers the Sopra 2 over the M40.2, which is quite a compliment. Neither would get in my house (wife issues). I suspect the 300 monoblocks are a significant factor in squeezing the pips out of them.

No worries! The poor chap comes for a word of advice about his speakers and in a few hours his whole system gets torn apart.

I got told off for wanting to spend @onehorsepony’s money too freely, maybe he should just rebuild his house! That’s no joke as I’m about to do that, although it’s more to do with my wife wanting a new kitchen. A new room for the stereo was part of the bargain, and she got to choose the speakers, so she can’t complain.

You may be forgiven for thinking he had his speaker positioning sorted out. Here dealers do that as part of the service. In 2017 my dealer was flown by Wilson to Utah along with two other UK dealers (a 10,000 mile round trip, fully expensed for a week) to learn about the products and how to set them up properly. So when I move my speakers he will pop round and set them up. Years ago I popped into his store by appointment, he was not there, I asked why and apparently a client had called and wanted him to come around straight away to fix his system, out in Dubai, so he’d dashed off to the airport. Must have been a good client.

I appreciate everyone’s input, but if we could just focus on my original post.

In my selection, I also need a speaker that will make poor recordings and older recordings sound musical.

I had found that my Thiel 3.7’s made anything but good records sound intolerable. I personally, don’t think this is a sign of a good speaker. Yes, it is a very revealing speaker, but my 802d’s make older and poor recordings sound, well poor, but yet they are listenable.

I go to audition speakers, Focal, B&W, and the first thing the salesperson does is remove my cd and proceed to play some perfectly recorded upright bass jazz piece which sounds amazing.

I’m running into this issue of listening to the speaker vs listening to the music.

Your thoughts.

I’ve not heard every loudspeaker manufacturer’s products by any means, but I have heard dozens of well respected brands and not one of them will make silk purses out of sonic sow’s ears IMO. Now certain brands (Theil among them) do exaggerate unwanted qualities in poor recordings, no doubt about that. Expecting a high quality system to make a poor recording “musical” is a bit of a stretch though. About the best I think one can reasonably expect is something like the story Mike Fremer retold about someone at an audio show exclaiming that $90,000 was an obscene amount of money for a turntable. “Yes, but that’s quite reasonable for a time machine” was the reply. So it is with speakers I think. I find speakers that give me the most satisfaction longterm give an accurate recounting of both musical performance and the limitations (or superlatives) of whatever recording technology was used. Personally, I don’t ever find myself listening to a really good system that so transforms poor recordings that I completely lose awareness of the fact that recording quality is lacking. To paraphrase your observation, making older poor recordings listenable is about as good as one can expect IMO if you also want to be able to fully realize the potential of great recordings.


I understand you are looking at speakers but I have my doubts new speakers will solve your issue.

A number here really like Decware and have raved over this product’s ability to make poor sounding recordings listenable (I hope I have the correct one), click here.

Both of the speakers you keep referencing are more similar than not so changing from one to the other won’t in my opinion get you what you are looking for especially on the top end.

I think you mean this:


That may be it! Thanks

Let me say first: Tell your salesperson that you want to hear the music that you brought, not the music that they chose to sell stuff.
I have some cd’s that I love to listen to that are awful recordings. For example, Stan Getz Plays Jobim.
The recording is full of grain. Just awful. But the performances are wonderful.
I wouldn’t dream of changing to less resolving speakers/components/cables to accommodate the poor recording.
I would say that if you enjoy the sound of your system with most recordings, then you’ve arrived.
Don’t dumb down your system to fix what someone else did wrong.

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