1990 B&W 802 Matrix Series 2

JDL

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Jun 13, 2023
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About three weeks ago I saw a pair of B&W 802 Matrix Series 2 speakers with the original stands for sale. I already own a pair of 805 Matrix from the same era, with the same design ethos and they are beautiful sounding speakers.
I bought them, being pretty certain, that they would deliver a sound that suits me just fine. Fifteen hundred quid.
My dear old Dad, who died last year at the ripe old age of 93, had left some money to be shared between the five of us, his children. Simon and I had received two thousand, one hundred and forty Pounds each. I wanted the money to go on something decent. Something I could look at, and hear in this case and remember him by.
They were pick up only. They weigh 69lbs apeice and the stands I think are lead filled and weigh about 25 lbs each.
My car's at the garage being fixed, so I asked my brother for a lift to collect them. He said; "Yeah, sure where are they?"
I said; "Oh somewhere just North of Birmingham."
We looked at Google maps. They were in Peebleshire, about 10 miles South of Edinburgh. My brother wasn't exactly delighted, at this point, I won't tell you exactly what he said. Anyway I paid for breakdown cover on his Alfa Mito Cloverleaf Multi Air Turbo, and managed to appease him. We left and went to collect them.
When we got there, the very pleasant gentleman said; "Have you got a CD you want me to put on to try the speakers out?"
I handed him "Gong Live etc" and asked him to put track 12 and 13 on. He did as I asked. The speakers sounded every bit as good as I was expecting. His amplifier was a Musical Fidelity KW 750, I'm not sure what the CDP was but he said it wasn't very good. He'd also told me during our messaging that he was upgrading the speakers to B&W 801 D, but I wasn't to let on to his wife.
While we were there he showed us his company car. It was an all electric Audi. £150,000 new, this one had cost his company £100,000. He took us for a ride. His house was next to a long, straight and deserted A road. The 650 BHP and 870N/M of torque from the two motors, propelled this rather nice looking Audi from zero to seventy-five mph, in about two and a half seconds. The bloke's glasses flew off his head, and landed in my brother Simon's lap. I'm glad to say that the car didn't burst into flames.
We arrived back home at one-thirty having left at 10 o'clock the previous morning.
We carried the 69 pound monsters in and set them up on their stands after a quick coffee and spent the next couple of hours auditioning them properly. They're very, very good. Not a hint of bass boom, quite a forward mid-range presentation, but beautifully detailed very fast responsive bass. My Marantz Model 30 does a really good job with these speakers, whether the volume is low or high. What impresses me about them is the ease with which they handle high volume levels. They don't sound as though they're even trying with the volume cranked up.
The guy I bought the speakers from messaged me several times to tell me he had been researching the band Gong and wanted me to recommend which albums he should get. I could see while I was there, that he was listening intently and it's clear that Gong had really made quite an impression on him.
Yesterday my Meridian 508.20 CD player, arrived back from Mr Tech Guy Ltd, having been sent to Russ Phillips there, an ex-employee of Meridian of thirty years, for a full overhaul and re-cap, which included new lasers, the best available. It's performance is highly improved.
I'm completely happy with the sound of my system. To me it sounds incredible.
A thirty plus year old CDP, a nearly new integrated amplifier and thirty plus year old speakers.
Not exactly conventional but....well, I never was entirely conventional.
An addendum to this story: The Alfa broke down about a week after our trip to Peebleshire. There's something wrong with the electrics. We thought it was a failed battery. The garage said it was the alternator. However, they've looke into it and they can't even get the car to bump start now. We live out in the sticks, we absolutely need a car.
Simon bought an Alfa Brera 2.4 diesel two days ago, so luckily, we're mobile again.
 
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JDL

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Actually no it was a 4 door car. It looked slightly more ordinary and the figures were my estimation from just watching the speedo. It was a beautiful looking car though and I've never experienced that kind of acceleration. I shouldn't think his tyres will fair very well though.
 

JDL

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Your taste in speakers is great, clearly. Aesthetically your taste in cars too. But if you want one that doesn't break down - for pity's sake; don't buy an Alfa!
Why thank you Simon. Thank you very much. I believe Alfa's aren't quite as unreliable as they used to be I think. (Hope) I've got a Chrysler 300CRD. I await it's return from my local mechanic. In fact I can't wait to get it back.
 

WayneKerr

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Actually no it was a 4 door car. It looked slightly more ordinary and the figures were my estimation from just watching the speedo. It was a beautiful looking car though and I've never experienced that kind of acceleration. I shouldn't think his tyres will fair very well though.
Of course you've experienced that kind of acceleration before, John, you've owned a ZXR750 :)
 
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JDL

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Turned out to be an expensive pair of speakers... for your brother :)
Ha ha. I did talk to him about that and his reply was that no, it was hardly my fault because one ought to be able to go any where one chooses to go in a car. Therefore it was due to break anytime soon regardless of that trip. I'm forgiven!
 

nopiano

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Ha ha. I did talk to him about that and his reply was that no, it was hardly my fault because one ought to be able to go any where one chooses to go in a car. Therefore it was due to break anytime soon regardless of that trip. I'm forgiven!
I must admit when I was about half way through your tale I thought it might turn out to be a shaggy dog story. But apart the specs flying off I think it’s plausible! Glad you love the period speakers.
 
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JDL

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I must admit when I was about half way through your tale I thought it might turn out to be a shaggy dog story. But apart the specs flying off I think it’s plausible! Glad you love the period speakers.
Ha ha. A shaggy dog story?
We don't have any dogs.
Cheers. 👍🏻
 
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JDL

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Not point scoring, honestly. But it does make an interesting point, often raised here in other contexts, that we can't always trust our senses - in this case our internal sense of time.
Hey no worries. I only meant that in a tongue in cheek way. And you're absolutely right as far as trusting our senses in so much as our internal sense of time goes and certainly in other ways too. The happenings in our world, and our experience of them can certainly be misleading. In particular where I'm concerned. 😄
 

JDL

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I must admit when I was about half way through your tale I thought it might turn out to be a shaggy dog story. But apart the specs flying off I think it’s plausible! Glad you love the period speakers.
Thank you. I do like the speakers very much. I'm in the process now of sprucing them up. All the grill cloths need replacing which I can do, including the peice that covers the top of the cabinet. I contacted B&W hoping they could tell me if the separate mid range housing can be removed without having to hold a nut or something inside the cabinet. They replied the next morning assuring me that they can be removed by undoing the visible large aluminium bolt from above.
I decided to apply a couple of layers of Rustin's pure shellac French polish to the cabs and it's given them a really nice sheen. It's not too glossy and it's revealed the grain nicely and darkened the rather dry looking veneer and has a nice natural, subtle look unlike varnish.
I've also contacted Wilmslow Audio who assured me that if I remove the crossovers and send them, he can renew the components on the boards with better quality components without it costing a fortune.
I saw some upgraded crossovers on eBay. They're in America, made by a fellow who calls himself "The Crossover Chef" but they work out at about £600 to £700 a pair with postage and that doesn't include import duty.
When I talked to Wilmslow Audio, Dave Smith assured me, that they can do the crossovers for me a whole lot cheaper than £600 and he doesn't require schematic diagrams. I'd like to have them do this, rather than risk the now rather aged crossovers failing and I believe the performance of the speakers can and will be improved by getting this done. I'm really quite excited about restoring these speakers. It's all good fun to me being a slightly obsessive music listener and Hi-Fi enthusiast.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Thank you. I do like the speakers very much. I'm in the process now of sprucing them up. All the grill cloths need replacing which I can do, including the peice that covers the top of the cabinet. I contacted B&W hoping they could tell me if the separate mid range housing can be removed without having to hold a nut or something inside the cabinet. They replied the next morning assuring me that they can be removed by undoing the visible large aluminium bolt from above.
I decided to apply a couple of layers of Rustin's pure shellac French polish to the cabs and it's given them a really nice sheen. It's not too glossy and it's revealed the grain nicely and darkened the rather dry looking veneer and has a nice natural, subtle look unlike varnish.
I've also contacted Wilmslow Audio who assured me that if I remove the crossovers and send them, he can renew the components on the boards with better quality components without it costing a fortune.
I saw some upgraded crossovers on eBay. They're in America, made by a fellow who calls himself "The Crossover Chef" but they work out at about £600 to £700 a pair with postage and that doesn't include import duty.
When I talked to Wilmslow Audio, Dave Smith assured me, that they can do the crossovers for me a whole lot cheaper than £600 and he doesn't require schematic diagrams. I'd like to have them do this, rather than risk the now rather aged crossovers failing and I believe the performance of the speakers can and will be improved by getting this done. I'm really quite excited about restoring these speakers. It's all good fun to me being a slightly obsessive music listener and Hi-Fi enthusiast.
That sounds like a real project for you! Do the series 2 tweeters have ferrofluid, as I believe that can dry out too?
 

JDL

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No I don't think they do. These have aluminium tweeters
My 805 Matrix stand mounters I own do have ferrofluid I believe. But they seem to perform fine.
 

JDL

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I thought I'd show the progress I've made on my 802 Matrix Series 2 speakers.
The crossovers are at Wilmslow Audio having all the components replaced with better quality replacement. The capacitors will be a combination of Mundorf and Jantzen.
The main grill frames were badly distorted. Hand strength and a vice sorted that out and I fitted brand new British made profession grade, audibly transparent (allegedly ha ha) grill cloths. The smaller top mid unit grill frames had some breaks in the ring that supports the cloth. Luckily I found that a speaker wire reel I found had thick, strong plastic ends, that were exactly the right diameter. I removed them, carefully cut them into rings and glued them to the original plastic frames, then covered them with the same cloth as the main grill cloths.
I decided that rather than cover the cabinet tops with cloth again, which I had bought to do along with the others, I painted them with some Plastikote textured paint.
The top mid units were carefully masked up and repainted with Rustoleum Special effect paint.
The stands I also repainted with a Rustoleum textured finish paint.
I'll post some more pictures when the crossovers come back.IMG_20231125_115158.jpg
 
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JDL

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Jun 13, 2023
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I thought I'd show the progress I've made on my 802 Matrix Series 2 speakers.
The crossovers are at Wilmslow Audio having all the components replaced with better quality replacement. The capacitors will be a combination of Mundorf and Jantzen.
The main grill frames were badly distorted. Hand strength and a vice sorted that out and I fitted brand new British made profession grade, audibly transparent (allegedly ha ha) grill cloths. The smaller top mid unit grill frames had some breaks in the ring that supports the cloth. Luckily I found that a speaker wire reel I found had thick, strong plastic ends, that were exactly the right diameter. I removed them, carefully cut them into rings and glued them to the original plastic frames, then covered them with the same cloth as the main grill cloths.
I decided that rather than cover the cabinet tops with cloth again, which I had bought to do along with the others, I painted them with some Plastikote textured paint.
The top mid units were carefully masked up and repainted with Rustoleum Special effect paint.
The stands I also repainted with a Rustoleum textured finish paint.
I'll post some more pictures when the crossovers come back.View attachment 5598....and I applied a few coats of French Polish. Not so much as to make them too glossy, but enough to give them a nice (in my opinion) shine.
My advice to anyone with French Polish is not to be afraid to use it. It's easier to use than one might think and it gives a much more natural look than varnish.
I got a white fine cotton dress shirt, that I was never going to need cut it up and used the cuffs, carefully folded as 'brushes'. It sets virtually instantly but really is easier to use than you might think and gives a streak free finish applied carefully the way I did it. I ignored the expert advice on the internet to make a 'rubber' using linen wrapped around cotton wool. I just poured some Rustin's pure shellac into the cut off bottom of a 4 pint milk bottle, dipped my applier (the shirt cuff) in, gently squeezed or excess and apply fairly quickly using long even strokes.
 
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WayneKerr

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I thought I'd show the progress I've made on my 802 Matrix Series 2 speakers.
The crossovers are at Wilmslow Audio having all the components replaced with better quality replacement. The capacitors will be a combination of Mundorf and Jantzen.
The main grill frames were badly distorted. Hand strength and a vice sorted that out and I fitted brand new British made profession grade, audibly transparent (allegedly ha ha) grill cloths. The smaller top mid unit grill frames had some breaks in the ring that supports the cloth. Luckily I found that a speaker wire reel I found had thick, strong plastic ends, that were exactly the right diameter. I removed them, carefully cut them into rings and glued them to the original plastic frames, then covered them with the same cloth as the main grill cloths.
I decided that rather than cover the cabinet tops with cloth again, which I had bought to do along with the others, I painted them with some Plastikote textured paint.
The top mid units were carefully masked up and repainted with Rustoleum Special effect paint.
The stands I also repainted with a Rustoleum textured finish paint.
I'll post some more pictures when the crossovers come back.View attachment 5598
Looking very nice, John (y)
 
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Gray

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I thought I'd show the progress I've made on my 802 Matrix Series 2 speakers.
The crossovers are at Wilmslow Audio having all the components replaced with better quality replacement. The capacitors will be a combination of Mundorf and Jantzen.
The main grill frames were badly distorted. Hand strength and a vice sorted that out and I fitted brand new British made profession grade, audibly transparent (allegedly ha ha) grill cloths. The smaller top mid unit grill frames had some breaks in the ring that supports the cloth. Luckily I found that a speaker wire reel I found had thick, strong plastic ends, that were exactly the right diameter. I removed them, carefully cut them into rings and glued them to the original plastic frames, then covered them with the same cloth as the main grill cloths.
I decided that rather than cover the cabinet tops with cloth again, which I had bought to do along with the others, I painted them with some Plastikote textured paint.
The top mid units were carefully masked up and repainted with Rustoleum Special effect paint.
The stands I also repainted with a Rustoleum textured finish paint.
I'll post some more pictures when the crossovers come back.View attachment 5598
Really excellent job.
Your Dad would have been very pleased for his money to have been so well spent 👍
 
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JDL

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Jun 13, 2023
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The crossovers arrived on the 22nd. I fitted them on the Christmas Eve and got the speakers into our living room on Boxing Day. While fitting the crossovers, I noticed the 802 Matrix S2 are wired with Silver wires not Copper. It was tricky because the makers had pulled all excess wire through, sealed the wires in with a hard clear sealant and I had 8 wires on one side of the crossovers in the cab, less than an inch long to strip the ends and connect to on both speakers. The other side with 6 were longer and easier.
Anyway, I managed it got them set up and now I'm listening and noticing that as the components 'burn in' the sound is improving.
My Meridian 508.20 arrived the same day as the crossovers. It had to go back because the transformer started humming after the rebuild. Luckily Russ at Mr Tech Guy, had recently had some wound. That's a great CD player the Meridian 508.20. Over 30 years old when I got it, and working flawlessly.
Now fully rebuilt and sounding terrific.
Something of note. Both the CD player and the speakers sounded bright, lacked depth until both the CDP and the speakers were re-capped.
Now I'm enjoying listening. The 802 Matrix Series 2 speakers are mesmerising to listen to. Just beautiful!IMG_20231228_210507.jpg
 
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