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  1. #1
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    Need an amp for my B&W

    I have a B&W Nautilus 804 and just bought a Kimber Kable 8V. Right now its hooked up to a $150 Yamaha 5.1 receiver and the sound is just not even close to what I want. I need to buy an amp under $600. Now, I'm not buying a new one. Definitely used from Audiogon. I don't want a bright amp like Rotel 1080, although its got great reviews. Don't care how old it is as long as it was made after the 90s. Can anyone help? Now, for a more pronounced effect, should I replace the receiver? Or is most of the quality depended on the amp?

    B&W recommends 50+ WPC, but I've also heard that for high end amps like McIntosh/Classe/Musical Fidelity, 30W per 8/ohms are ok.

    PS: I need specific model #s. Thanks.
    Last edited by wackydesigner; 11-29-2006 at 05:18 PM.

  2. #2
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    Dump the receiver. An amp will help but it will be limited by the poor preamp section of the receiver. How did you have the Rotel hooked up, I'm surprised you found it bright. Rotel and B&W are generally mates. I'm not a big Rotel fan either but I didn't find them bright, I find their sound pleasant but a bit sluggish or too relaxed.

    Are you wanting this amp for home theater or just stereo? Let us know a bit about your listening habits. I will then try to find some suggestions.

  3. #3
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    Just stereo. I would like an integrated amp (cant afford power-amp and preamp). I have zero experience with amps. Rotel "I heard" is too bright. Right now, the N804s sound is too "shrilly." Its not enveloping me. Its just sound. Will an amp make the difference of night-and-day?

    In headphone terms, I'm after for the Grado sound, not Sennheiser.
    Right now, I'm looking at Musical Fidelity A300......any good?

    Also, these Kimber 8V cables terminate as a banana clip. Does anyone know how to install these on the N804s? Can't find a spot to put these in. Did I get the wrong cables?

  4. #4
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    I've never heard the MF A300. Adding an amp won't do what you want. I'm not sure if you can find one to drive the B&W in your price range but you might want to consider a tube amp. Anyone in your area carry Jolida?

    Here's a possibility:

    http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ran&1169656241

    http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ran&1169455814

    * http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ran&1169171343

    * http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ran&1168894497 The A300 looks like a lot of amp for the money.

    *** http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....ube&1168847671 I've heard great things about Shanling but personal experience. I've also heard Cayin and PrimaLuna are good tube amps in the affordable range.

    www.amusicdirect.com carries Marantz integrated amps and offers 30 return if interested in new. They were offering a deal on the PM7200?, it sold new for $500.00 and can be switched from class A to B operation.

  5. #5
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    I think I might have misunderstood your question when you asked if an amp would make night & day difference. Adding one to the receiver, I wouldn't think so but putting a quality integrated in it's place certainly will. Another thing that will also make that large of difference is a good source, ie. CD player, turntable or whatever you use. If your CD player isn't that great you can always add a DAC to step things up. I haven't had experience with Kimber but they are definitely well respected as a good product. I hear that Cardas makes a line of cables designed to enhance that warmer feel.

  6. #6
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Damn Pee, Very nice of you to list all the integrated you found on A'gon. If I never discovered the magic of tubes, I would be all over that MF A300. Shanling looks Veeeeeeery tempting, but.....

    One thing though. Members always suggest getting a DAC to improve CD sound. I'm not so sure about that. I believe having a quality transport makes a huge diffference too. I'm not saying this based on my Mararntz, but if you connect different players to a receiver via digital. I can really hear the difference in SQ, and it is pretty evident. I do recommend people to stick with their receiver and add amps, so it's kinda contradicting. But why spend $600+ on a DAC for some DVDP when good CDPs can be had for that price?

  7. #7
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    Looks like I'm after the A300 then. Dont know much about Tubes and seems like its a bit out of my price range. Any tubes in the $500-$750 area? Definetly want to warm up the metal tweeters.

    As far as comapnies go, is Marantz up there with Musical Fidelity? Or is it down there with Rotels?

  8. #8
    Demoted to Low-Fi Carl Reid's Avatar
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    A couple of quick points:

    1) Upgrading from your receiver to a good integrated amp or seperates will make a big difference....

    2) I strongly suggest you try listening to a Rotel/B&W combo before you dismiss it as either being 'bright' or 'down there'.... Just go to a B&W dealer and they will more than likely have that combo set-up... Many people (my self included) regard that as an amazing match.... So just try it for yourself before you buy something else online...

    3) The Nautilus 804s are some pretty high end speakers.... so even though you can drive them with cheap electronics... you'll be missing out on most of what they have to offer... so if you can afford to spend more than $600 on an amp, I'd really suggest doing so... cuz a combination of a $600 amp and a $4000 speaker doesn't seem like you're getting the most out of your system.....

  9. #9
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    Is it really about the price? I mean a Classe that was $3500 5 yrs ago is now a fraction of that cost. So isn't it about the quality of the amp? Also since I plan to buying a used (with or without scratches) $600 amp, the original retail will be around a grand.

    I'm looking at the Classe CAP-101 too (selling for $800-ish). Will this give the most out of my 804? I mean it is a Classe!
    I'll check out the Rotel-1062 as well.

  10. #10
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    You might want to consider this PS Audio HCA2 from audiogon. This is switching amp. It is not a ss or tube, yet exhibits qualities of both. A Stereophile Class A rated amp, the HCA2 combines the sweetness of tubes with the speed and slam of the best solid state amps. Lightening transients from pitch black backgrounds will startle you. Perhaps best of all for your 804's is the fact that the HCA 2 is load invariant. Meaning, it doesn't care what kind of wild impedence swings (a rather infamous Naut trait) you throw at it, it will still deliver. This is all wrapped up in a amp that runs cool to the touch while consuming little more than a night light in stand-by (try that with your typical Class A space heater).

    If you'd like to learn more about the PSA and how switching amps work, here are a few reviews.

    http://stereophile.com/solidpoweramps/729/
    http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue9/hca2.htm
    http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/psaudio_hca2.htm
    http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volum...er-6-2002.html

    Hope this helps.

  11. #11
    Demoted to Low-Fi Carl Reid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wackydesigner
    Is it really about the price? I mean a Classe that was $3500 5 yrs ago is now a fraction of that cost. So isn't it about the quality of the amp? Also since I plan to buying a used (with or without scratches) $600 amp, the original retail will be around a grand.

    I'm looking at the Classe CAP-101 too (selling for $800-ish). Will this give the most out of my 804? I mean it is a Classe!
    I'll check out the Rotel-1062 as well.

    When I talk about pairing a $600 amp with a $4000 speaker, I don't mean that any amp you get for $600 (including used) are bad... The point I'm trying to make is really to ensure that you are pairing a high quality amp with those high quality speakers... So if you can get a great amp on the used market for $600, then you've done really well....

    Classe, Rotel and B&W are all owned by the same company and are generally paired together in retail stores.... With Rotel used to drive anything from the 600 to entry level 800s while Classe is pretty pricey and is generally paired with 800s... so if you can get a classe to go with your 804s, then I suspect you'll be pretty happy... but listen to a pairing first and see what you think....

  12. #12
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    The Classe' I can guarantee is in a league beyond Rotel. The Marantz is not on par with MF. The PS Audio is also a good suggestion.

    I am one that needs no convincing that transports are important and they can make a difference. On the used market you can pick up a great DAC for under $500.00 and can make a major upgrade in your system, even with an entry or average CD player. I was using a higher end Denon on the front of an Adcom system. The Denon is old DAC technology though. The system sounded alright but still mid-fi at best. I put a $450.00 used Conrad Johnson DAC in the chain and the system is near high end now. The CJ DAC originally sold for $1,200.00 and as also somewhat old tech but was so good it still blew any of the modern under $1k single box machines away. You can still find CJ DACs reasonable on Audiogon. The EAD DAC and transports are one of the best steals on Audiogon going today.

    I agree that it doesn't make sense to drive a high end speaker with a mediocre amp. There have been some good amp suggestions. It also don't make sense to put a $200. or $300.00 CD player on that type of system either. You have to start with a good signal and maintain it. A amp or speaker does not create what isn't there. It may color it up or reproduce it to the best of it's ability but it will not add detail or information not there in the first place. If a good source signal wasn't important we'd all still be using cassettes, or worse.

  13. #13
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    Ok so I have narrowed my choices to Classe CAP 101 and Musical Fidelity A3.2. They're both around $900 used. And they both look beautiful. Anyone want to comment on these amps?

  14. #14
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    I have heard the Classe' but no MF. By hearsay only, I'd guess the MF would be closer to the Grado sound you are looking for.

  15. #15
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    What were your thoughts on the Classe?

  16. #16
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    I'm a big Musical Fidelity fan -- I'd lean that way. But I've heard good things about Classe -- I don't think you can go wrong either way. But I've been wrong before.

    Buy both; sell the one you like less.
    Eschew fascism.
    Truth Will Out.
    Quote Originally Posted by stevef22
    you guys are crackheads.
    I remain,
    Peter aka Dusty Chalk

  17. #17
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    Ok looks like Im gonna get a MF A3.2 for $1000. Im assuming this is a good deal.

  18. #18
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    It's been a while but I'd have to say the adjective to describe my memory of the 101 would be neutral. I say this because it didn't strike me with any outstanding character other than sounding good. It seemed to be detailed with smooth response. The bass was controlled but didn't have the slam of a Krell. The system was the CAP-101, matching Classe' CD player, driving pair of Hales.

    I got to thinking when you asked about the sound and I really was sort of at a loss for words. The Classe' had a good sound, it just didn't lend itself to anything that would make a stand out statement, like "warm", "fast", "tube like" etc. I think that is a positive really. If I had to choose which headphone it most resembled though, it would be Sennheiser rather than Grado.

  19. #19
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    Go get a gainclone kit. Audiosector.com has reasonable prices on the LM4780 kit, which, wired in parallel, will drive any speaker in the cosmos. (It will run happily with a 2-ohm load, in fact.)

    Add an ALPS volume pot for a passive preamp, and you have an inexpensive integrated amplifier that should perform brilliantly.

  20. #20
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    I just bought a new Crown Xti-2000. Very powerful, clean, amp. I was a little worried about buying a pro-amp, but I couldn't be more pleased with it. Cost $699.00. The Crown XTi-1000 is $499.00, same amp less power. I have no problems with Crown amps at all. My old DC-300 still sounds great. My new XTi 2000 sounds the same, but much more dynamic.
    Last edited by tony3d; 12-02-2006 at 03:02 PM.

  21. #21
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    Ok guys an update. I got me a Portal Audio Panache. In one word? Get it. Superb amp for the B&W N804. So warm, dynamic and detailed. The highs and midrange are silky smooth. Bass is lacking but that might be the bad speaker wires. I am in heaven...

  22. #22
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    I'm not familiar with Portal Audio. Just out of curiousity, what led you to this particular amp?

  23. #23
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    The Panache, on paper, looks like a good amp. I'd have to have a remote myself. I'd really like to hear one. The passive pre and the design of the amp is interesting. What caught my eye in the power section, aside from a high quality design, was the Class A, single ended, first stage. If it sounds as good as it looks like it might, at the price, it would be hard to beat

  24. #24
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    What led me was this one particular review of it. He compared it to the other amps I was talking about!
    http://www.portalaudio.com/user_comments_panache.html

    Also check out he stereophile review
    http://www.stereophile.com/integratedamps/780/

    After that, I talked to the owner Joe (yes he answers the phone!) and really seemed like a nice guy. Plus I got it for $900 and its only 5 months old, so hard to beat.

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