The 25 ultimate audiophile speakers of all time

The editors of recently sat down for a classic debate over what are truly the best, ultimate level loudspeakers of all-time. We are very proud to take the number 2 and number 10 positions.

The rules and categorisation are laid out clearly on their website and demonstrate how seriously these journalists took their task. Interestingly, their aim was to start a debate amongst passionate sound enthusiasts as well as create a definitive list:

“The goal here wasn’t to pick a single winner (though we did) but to engage you, the reader, to really get down to thinking about what are the best expensive speakers of all time. It’s a fascinating debate when you get involved and you are invited to be part of the discussion right here on”

You can read the full list here.


  • Chris DuPont says:

    YES!!! I love B&W speakers and I really hope one day I can afford to have “Nautilus” and enjoy it….

  • Stephen George says:

    I have the 805 diamond speakers in my system and for me thay are the best.If or when i buy another set of speakers it will be B&W.

  • dr louis cardinal says:

    where is the list ….i don’t see it

  • Sandy Untermyer says:

    Actually, I believe my old Ohm Fs would have qualified EXCEPT for a flaw in the rules. When you limit yourself to over $5,000, how do you account for thirty or forty years of inflation? I believe that Ohm Fs surely would be $5,000 speakers today — for the increased shipping costs, alone. (They were delivered new by truck, on a pallet.)

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t change my little DM B&Ws + sub for those unwieldy Ohm Fs of yesteryear: Not only are they clearer and sweeter, but you don’t need a 250 W/ch amp turned up to 11 just to hear them reproduce music at all.

    No, I believe the REAL miracle of high fidelity components today isn’t to be found in the higher end stuff, but in how truly great our $300 Pro-Ject and Rega turntables are, or our little DM B&Ws on their stands, or our Rotel tuners. I can easily recall when you couldn’t buy a $1,000 (in 1980 dollars!!) turntable as good as a $300 one today, and when sound like that of the little B&Ws was reserved for huge speakers costing thousands.

    Last night I was listening to the first Elvis Presley LP, and heard stuff that I never could hear back in 1956 on my old Columbia changer. Or, in 1976, on my JA Michell Hydraulic Reference with a Black Widow tonearm hitched to those Ohm Fs. And, with these 68 year old ears — well beaten-on by shotguns, dragsters, and Ferraris, over the decades, not to mention rock shows at the Fillmore West — that’s truly saying something!!

    I’m sorry, guys — but what B&W can build you for $5,000 today isn’t really that amazing, as you’d expect that level of excellence and you get it, plus more; but what B&W can build you for $500 or $1,000 today truly IS absolutely amazing!! You just can’t imagine anything like it. You have to hear it for yourself.

    PS — By the way, my new hobby is rescuing old stereo stuff and getting it working. So I wonder if B&W is aware of how many 20 and 30 year old speakers they built are still proudly offered, and at premium prices, on eBay. If you compare B&Ws to the JBLs, Infinitys, Carvers, and Quads also for sale, you will find that a 30 year old B&W is worth a 20 year old anything-else!! The new never really wears off a B&W speaker.

  • Thomas Alain says:

    For me everything that journalist can say is Marketing. As a music lover and having heard all the BW speakers only two speakers ever for BW is of course the legendary 801 !!!!!!! unfortunately the serie 801 has been stopped because of the difficulties to set these speakers in a room, that’s it. This is a big Mistake !!!¨!!! Nothing will replace a 38 cm woofer and as I’m the lucky few owner i will recommand the Jown Bower silver signature which will beat a lot of actual small speakers. If you find a second hand, buy it with no hesitation (une véritable oevre d’art). As I know this product feed the speakers with a big Amplifier and get if you need more low frequency the new sub from BW then you will dream and forget everything. Belive me.
    Alain Thomas

  • Robin Churchill says:

    Nice advertorial but a truly grown up company, fearless and true to themselves would have published all the results/reviews, not just the one that favoured B&W.

  • ronald zuniga says:

    i agree, i’m very satisfied to the performance and durability of the 800 series, well done!!

  • Jon says:

    aesthetics whoever was voting on that clearly needed glasses, 4th and 5th should have been giving 0.
    B&W’s aesthetics are beyond the others by far, with the nautilus being top for that.
    If only you could make the whole of the diamond range have the cabinet design as the 802,800.

  • Bowers and Wilkins says:

    Dear Dr. Cardinal and Mr. Churchill,

    If you click Audiophile Review in the first paragraph it takes you through to the original list post. I have now added a second link at the bottom of the post as well.

    Kind regards
    Bowers & Wilkins

  • Lee says:

    I’ve had many hundreds of pairs of speakers in all situations and for me the 52″ tall proac response 3.5 is one of the best speakers ever built, so precise and detailed even at a volume level fit to make ears bleed.

  • albert sainte-catherine says:

    i have a pair of b&w 801D. Yes it’s a big speaker but it give you a so big sound and realistic.
    I think i just begin to know what she can do .i leave in a small french island in the caraibe ..Martinique.

  • Domingos Pereira says:

    I’m a fan of BW loudspeakers. Unfortunately, I don’t have a pair of 801(or 802), but I’m very proud of my DM602.
    If the 602 already have a fantastic sound (in its range, of course), I can only dream to the sound of 800 series!

  • David Shakeshaft says:

    I suppose it must have been around 1971 aged 19 years old that I bought my first turntable, a Thorens TD125 from Ray Wilkins at the Bowers & Wilkins shop at Goring by Sea. I promised myself that one day I would buy a pair of B&W speakers when I could eventually afford them. My dream came true in 1987 when I bought my first pair, the newly introduced Matrix 3Es. At the time it came down to the ESL63s and for me there was no comparison. I’m still using my 3Es coupled to my Quad 606. At the time, and to this day, they remain a beautifully crafted pair of speakers. Without doubt my hearing will have deteriorated over the years but if and when the time comes to replace them, B&W will be top of my list – It seems to me that truly iconic designs stand the test of time and offer reliability. I have a now very ancient Apple Powermac G3 which works as well as it did the day I bought it, it languishes up in a spare bedroom and is rarely used but it is hard to get rid of because it has been so trustworthy and the design remains contemporary though less so than my newer iMac. I think the same will be true of my B&Ws, which I very much cherish and would find hard to part company with.

  • William Chow says:

    I’m disappointed not to see the B&W Matrix 800 somewhere in that list. These have a special place in B&W’s proud loudspeaker heritage. For a list that supposedly covers audiophile speakers of “all time” there are simply too many contemporary inclusions.

  • Hal Owen says:

    Glad to read B&W speakers are so highly regarded by discerning audiophiles. Has anyone taken the time to discover what power sources listeners prefer with any/all of these twenty spectacular speaker systems? I presume serious speakers want serious power to perform well. Any thoughts?

  • Ken says:

    I just ordered a pair of 802 Diamonds to upgrade from my 4 year old 804s. The 802 sounds beautiful. When I auditioned it in store I used a single McIntosh MC275 at 75 W pc. It sounded great. At home I have two MC 275 in mono to deliver greater power. They should sound great. My 804s have given me great pleasure and i expect even more with the new 802 diamonds.

  • Hal Owen says:

    Hi Ken, I use McIntosh to power my B&Ws as well. If I may be so bold to inquire – what pre amp are you using with your MC275s? Best, Hal Owen.

Add a comment

We welcome debate within Society of Sound, but please keep it friendly, respectful and relevant. We have a few house rules which we ask you to abide by to keep the debate intelligent. Read more.
Product enquiry or support issue? Please click here.

Related Posts

Nautilus speaker gallery.

Now recognised as a design classic, the original Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus™ is not just our flagship product, but the very …

Bowers & Wilkins factory video tour: cabinet manufacturing

In the first of a series of video tours around the Bowers & Wilkins UK factory, we take a look at 800 Series Diamond cabinet …

Industry firsts – Flowport

Bowers & Wilkins’ team of acoustic engineers is constantly pushing the limits of their understanding of audio technology. The result …