An interesting exercise in applied theory [B&W 803 Diamond vs. Tidal Contriva Diacera SE]. As a previous owner, many moons ago, I must confess, of the B&W 801s, that I admire their approach and to some degree their results. On the other hand, the Tidal Contrivas, which I heard at this year’s CES, leave little else to be desired from a midsize full-range speaker. Owning a pair of the Tidal Sunrays sheds an intrinsic light on the rest of Tidal’s models, design, construction, and ultimately their beguiling sound.
This comparison begs the question: would you compare a BMW M3 to a Toyota Corolla SE? Both will get you there; one, though, a lot faster and in greater style and performance.
I like your BMW-Toyota analogy. In some respects, it works for me. The M3 is certainly faster and a much greater chick-magnet than a Corolla. However, the Toyota will be more reliable in the long term (I've owned several BMWs, and after that 50k warranty expires, look out!), have greater resale value, get better gas mileage, and all that for a much better price. So, for many consumers, the more prudent buy is the Toyota based on what it does.
But these aren’t cars. And loudspeakers aren't measured in 0-60 times. You listen to them, of course, and that result determines their intrinsic value. I actually heard the Tidal Piano Diacera speaker at RMAF this year and I have to admit that I was smitten by its ability to throw an astoundingly transparent soundstage. After hearing it, I can reasonably conclude that the Tidal Contriva Diacera SE is a really awesome speaker. But the B&W 803 Diamond I have in my room right now is also very good in its own right -- and it is still one-sixth the price of the Tidal.
So, back to the car analogy: The BMW M3 has a base price of $58,400. The Toyota Corolla starts at $15,450. For most consumers, those looking at the Toyota won't consider the BMW. And since you might not have heard the 803 Diamond, you have to ask yourself: What if, just what if, you got the Corolla on the track and it did do 0-60 in 5 seconds flat because a company with the engineering resources decided to make it so, would you buy it? In the loudspeaker world, that could very easily happen. I could give you so many examples where price does not equate to performance in high-end audio. After all, I know of some train-wreck six-figure loudspeakers out there. That's why we have to ask these questions and that was the real purpose behind the article. . . . Jeff Fritz