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Amplifier Matching with N800

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  • Amplifier Matching with N800

    Hello everyone,
    Finally i found this nice forum related to B&W.
    I checked the current topics and could not get a similar one so that i decided to post a new tread.
    I use B&W since 2000. My first speaker one a pair of N805 bookshelf. It was beautiful two way. Then i upgraded to 804 and then upgraded to N800 finally in 2003.
    Since audio is my hobby, i talk to people, read and search. One of the gray areas in audio for me is amplifier selection vs the speaker. From an engineering point of view, it is better to use amplifers acting like a stable voltage source by changing its current according to speakers impedence, say halving the impedence making two times power from the amplifer meaning two times current with the same voltage output. So it might seem a no-brainer to use powerful SS amps to drive especially low impedence speakers like Nautilus or new 800 diamond series speakers. Especially we can say this for N800 or new 800D and 802 (801 even a different issue). I have the June 2002 issue of Stereophile, which Kalman Robinson made a review and John Atkinson made the measurements. He also tested 802D in December 2005 issue. When we also look at impedence vs frequency diagram, although nominal impedences are given as 8 ohms, especially for a larger portion of midrange pushes down it to a level between 3-4 ohms. They also verified high capacitive phase degree overlapping with low impedence factor in bass and midbass regions. So technically it is also proven that these speakers react like 4 ohm loads with good and stable current deliveries from amplifier.
    So then the pain starts for a guy like me. SS amp owners might disagree but i like valve amps more than ss. This is my personal and subjective assesment. I am not trying to make a point here by saying tube amps are better. You cant say apples are better or oranges. To my musical taste, a good tube amplifier can outperform a good solid state counterparty in tonality, soundstage and musical integrity. The price is most probably not the best power source in order to handle the dynamics and transients as powerful as a ss one. But i still think the realisation of low and midbass frequiencies are better to my taste than a bass slam like very tight bass control. As time goes by, tube amps tried to compansate their weaknesses to drive todays more power hungry speakers by improving their designs and power and current delivery ratings. At the same time, i started to observe that new generation solid state amps tried to deliver a more tube like relaxing and smoother sound without being to edgy and harsh especially in treble. But i still prefer a good tube amp to a good solid state.
    For the last 4 years i use an ARC Vt-200 power amp to drive my speakers. I am on a research for an upgrade in amplification. I tried some ss amps (one pair of Halcro dm-68 mono and Krell evo-402) at home trying to match with my N800, but somehow i was not so happy and swithced back to my old Vt-200. (I also made a demo in a B&W dealer with 800d with Classe Omicron amps, the sound was very detailed and powerful but still lacked the midrange clarity and musical body wrt Vt-200) I have VTL MB-450 monos, VTL Siegfried monos, ARC Ref-210 and Ref-610T in my research list. So i would like to have your opinions about choosing the appropriate amplifier(s) for 800D or N800. Especially for the ones if any using tube amplification (or biamping with one tube and one ss), your recommendations, listening experiences are all welcome. I know everyone is responsible from his own taste and listening, it will be good for me to see valuable views from you, especially the ones who use tubes for 800s.
    I mostly listen to jazz and classical. And for me qualitative aspects of music is far way above quantitative or technical necessities if these technicalities will not give me my first watt sounding good. Having said, for ss users who also have 800 speakers and at the same time have previously used tubes with their system, all feedback welcome.
    My system:
    Audio Aero Prestige SACD player/line stage
    Audio Research VT-200 amp
    B&W N800 speakers
    Transparent Reference cables

    Hakan Kalkan

  • #2
    Everyone using McIntosh seem to be very happy with them and they always say their ss-amps sound tube-like but with all the power of ss. Worth trying out I think.

    Good luck!


    • #3
      You already own a pair of VTL's. Why not Bi-amp? Add a powerful SS for bass and keep the tubes for midrange and tweeter.


      • #4

        Thanks for feedback. Does it require an external crossover to adjust? I am bit sceptical for biamping with different types of amps. Or is it just simple as simple and use another pair of cables for other amp thru speaker? I used to read somewhere that biamping should be carefully monitored if different amps and cables are used, according to their possible speed differences etc.


        • #5
          There is no point in passive bi amping since you will be still using the passive cross over within the speakers. A true Bi amp set up would use a active cross over for different frequencies similar like the B&W prestige (snail shell). I use the Gryphone Ref-1 Mono's to drive my N800 with great result ( Plenty of True class A current ). B&w N series need plenty of current. Mixing different type of amplifiers for bi amping even running active will produce unbalance results, you have to match amps very carefully. Hope this helps.


          • #6
            Perhaps it would be a solution to biamp: your VTLs on mid-high, and a Mac - really smooth, almost, indeed! - with variable gain, to match levels.


            • #7
              After a painful research and trials, I upgraded my ARC VT-200 to ARC Ref-610T mono blocks. I might say, i could not believe what my N800s and rest of my system are truly capable of! I remember the day when i upgraded my N803 to N800, it was a big big improvement from A-Z. My current upgrade has at least the same impact of that previous one. Now the sound is almost addictive.


              • #8
                A happy audiophile, excellent news. enjoy your system !
                Mac 8gb SSD Audirvana ->Weiss INT202 firewire interface ->Naim DAC & XPS2 DR->Conrad Johnson CT5 & LP70S-> Vivid B1s. Nordost Valhalla cables & resonance management. (Still waiting for Paul Hynes PS:M)
                Siamese :evil: :twisted:


                • #9
                  thank u

                  Briz Vegas,
                  Thank u.
                  Finally my dream of tubes+n800 came true. : :lol: :B :rofl:


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