Active DBLs or S800

So I have the former and extremely happy
The scale of the sound, the openness, detail and involvement they’re an absolute joy
And that’s before we look at the tremendous bass, not only very low but extraordinary deep and detailed
Out of all the speakers I’ve heard I can’t think of anything that gets close and when it comes to live music we’re about a gnat’s naughty bit away from the real thing

So with all that I’m wondering from people that know both what extra if any does the S800 bring to the party.
And am I right in thinking they need to be away from the rear wall


Keep the DBLs. They are an all-time great speaker at what they do. The S800s are good, but the DBL is just something else entirely.

What do you have them active with?


I once heard S800s at Naim. They are absolute monsters and were positioned about 2m from the back wall. My lasting memory is the enormous scale and the feeling that my own speakers are much more engaging.


I think you’re dead right, when I first heard these things in a fairly basic system and a ludicrous room the sound was so so much better than my greatly superior electronics and room - active Briks

These DBLs are being serving:

Above Klimax level LP12
Klimax Rad
Stiletto & Skorpion
Lyra Etna
Super Sarum tonearm cable

Tom Evans Mastergroove SR with Music cable

552 DR
500 DR x 3
Highly modified 362 + S/Cap DR

All Super Sarum / Super Sarum T cables

Obviously the new bearing and probably a Chord Music tonearm cable
Music cable between pre and Snaxo

Naim Fraim


Hungry Halibut

Yes, the S800’s are smaller and lighter than the DBLs but having them 2m out is the problem
A pair of Kans sitting in the middle of the room would be more inconvenient than my 2 “wardrobes”

These things do scale like you’ve never heard
As for musical involvement I’ve listened extensively to SBL’s, SL2’s, NBL’s, DBLs
The musical involvement gets higher as we go from left to right with a massive leap between NBLs and DBLs


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I was very impressed by the DBLs driven active by NAC52 and 6-pack 135s. I was also very impressed by the S800s driven by NAC52 and NAP500. I heard them about 15 to 20 years apart, so difficult to compare, but the DBLs were just amazing. Fantastic bass (deep and well controlled), and the sound stage was amazing. The treble of the S800 was superb, and the bass was very good, though I’m not sure that they went down quite as far as the DBLs, but that might just be my deteriorating hearing. I suspect that I would keep the active DBLs, but would like to hear both for a comparison. I don’t think either would leave me disappointed, but if I already had the DBLs I’m not sure I would change to the S800. Now if they could put the S800 tweeter into a DBL (and get the appropriate active crossover) I would be sorely tempted to try that.


That’s exactly the amp set up I had when the DBLs moved in and as amps go they’re the dogs dangly bits
The DBLs do go deep down, never heard a speaker go that far
The tweeters are everyday Scanspeak, nothing overly incredible about them, though scanspeak have since produced much costlier models which theoretically could fit into a DBL
I replaced the tweeters in mine, can’t remember the internal housing although I should have pics

DBLs are my dream speaker. I’m not sure if they can run passive but if I had the room to accommodate them I wouldn’t ever let go of them.

I’ve never heard them mind you, but if they have what my SL2s offered with controlled and deeper bass I can only imagine how good they must be.

Is it realistic to expect passive s800 to outperform active NBL?

El Marko

Not heard the S800

But for me the difference between NBL is massive
So yea


Haven’t heard the 800s or the DBLs, but we all know a couple of heavy weights with tons of experience with both… Not to mention the full loom and Statement. With that being said, I have a little experience with da Briks: Not da DMS, PMS, but the later model, which were deemed to be a bit on the colorful side!

Sounded great to me, but that’s all I know is Linn & Naim!

Wonder what this guy was talking about:

Keep the DBLs and upgrade to Chord Music.

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I’d love to know haw many pairs of S800’s were made, it wouldn’t be many, so too rare for most of us to acquire. There arn’t that many DBL’s that come up for sale but they were in production for quite some time. 20 or so years maybe. I’m not getting rid of mine. Thing is naim have the know how to make a statement speaker. I’ve said it before but no one listens. The suspended SL2 tweeter would be easy to incorporate into the big cut out in the DBL “L” cabinet, the midrange suspension needs updating to something like the BMR suspension plate, or maybe just the BMR with a super tweeter if it was that good. I always felt that the Ovators I heard lost some sparkle, but still very good. The S800 BMR was said to be better than the 600 and 400, but I never heard the 800. The advantage the DBL has for me is the close to wall placement, I love that about them unlike many, I don’t want speakers a meter into the room, that’s a waste of valuable floor space.



@Lyndon Having read through all the posts on here so far and read again your opening post, I wonder why you would consider changing. I have only heard the two speakers on very few occasions (and then a long time ago, in different systems and different places) but the one that really sticks in my mind is the DBL. You describe it well - it really does come that close to a true live sound. Aside from perhaps improved looks, I cannot think of any reason to change. If I had the space, it would be DBL all the way for me.


Being able to use a pair of large speakers close to the wall is a significant advantage to most folks. Before acquiring my DBLs I did consider NBLs, but they are actually deeper than the DBLs.

Anyway, I can only agree that DBLs are superb speakers, and currently, of all the different speakers I’ve listened to over the years, there are none I’d sooner have. My friend Mr Darke Bear owns a pair of active S800s, which do sound excellent in his room and he’s put considerable effort into ensuring they give of their best. No, I wouldn’t swap my DBLs for them, even if I could afford to bring the speakers further out from the wall. No doubt DB will comment when he sees this topic.

Of course, there’s only really one way to discover whether you consider S800s to be better than DBLs in your system, isn’t there?


Hi again Lyndon.
I have the s800s and love them. They are the best speakers I have ever heard for what I look for in a speaker. I have had them 4 years and not tired of them once. I thought the DBL were excellent too but the 800s are the ultimate.
I forgot to say I have them 15cm from the back wall and they work great there.

I’ll send my bass drivers for reconing to ATC as we speak…:wink:
Meanwhile I guess I’ll try out some s808s … active :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
The bets are open …

My S800 are 0.7m into room - work fine - you do not need 2m.

Vs DBL - I respect the DBL but find the S800 better everywhere that matters to me. Active they are wonderful. I had the option of DBL at the time of purchase - and the S800 was superior, for me, so that is what I got.

DBL and S800 are both good speakers and it is not as silly as one is so better than the other stuff.
Set-up matters for both and the free-field placement of the S800 does mean they are into the room, so you need the right room, but there is something gained from this too.
DB x2019-1
Over Christmas pic.

Whatever with DBL or S800 they are both great speakers and I could live with either - just prefer what I have. :slightly_smiling_face:



@Darkebear, is 0.7 meter to the back of the speaker or to the driver fronts from the wall?

It is how far the speaker back is from wall - so 0.0m is flat to wall and 0.7m is how far I settled on for my room.

A bit more in is a little bit better, a bit less a little heavier. You can use them even 0.3m or less away from the wall and they still musically work - bass is fast, deep and tight still (a feature of the S800). All that happens is that you get more bass coloration as you get closer to the wall and the sound gets weightier. In Active mode you can to an extent compensate a bit for this. I ended-up not touching my Active crossover once I was hooked on the result I got.

I found that although more than 0.7m was clearer it was not really musically better - I found a sweet-spot for my room - side-to-side distance became very important - you need a good meter and preferably a bit more from side walls for them to breath - and a little bit of toe-in, but only a little bit. You move-listen until it clicks musically. A little toe-in and it gains focus - too much and it falls apart, loses power and goes a bit analytic-HiFi if you are not careful.

But just right and they are musically seamless, fast and with a beautiful warm rendering of harmonic structures all correctly focused on each instrument in space as it plays. And the sound stage is rock-solid - everything just plays where it is and there is no blurring and dynamic movement - the perceived dynamic range is awesome…ok enough! :slightly_smiling_face: I like them a lot and although the DBL gets plenty of correct and worthy praise - the S800, properly installed into the right room and system has its own magic IMO. :bear: