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amit.gandelman
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looking for amp for b&w d's

Hello, I'm new to this forum although I have been following along for some time now. This is my first post here, and I knew that being an audio lover, yet not savvy yet with the audio language, that if any help would be received, it would be here. So first, I thank you all for this great community of audiophiles.

I owned the B&W CM9 until recently... My father gave me his set that he no longer needed because my parents moved to a new home and they did not feel like setting the whole place up acousticly again, at least for now. So we switched, he gave me his B&W 803D...

Although, since before we switched, I have been looking around at the B&W 802D at some of the audio stores in my area. I have quite fallen in love with them... And although the 803D is a huge improvement from the CM9, it doesn't quite fill the gap that the 802D have opened up for me. Question is, do you personally believe that an upgrade to the 802D is worthwile?

I am currently using my McCormack "set" (as I call it... ) which are the Line Drive model LD-2 and the Power Amp DNA-250. Will they really suffice the thirst for the 803D (or for the 802D, because that is a realistic prospect of mine)? What do you recommend? Different amps, cables, setup? Your opinions are very valuable and important.

Thanks for the help guys.

mrlowry
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's

The 802D are certainly in a whole different league than the 803D's. It's difficult to say what amp would run them appropriately unless someone has direct experience with both products, preferably together. The 802D's are a bit of a tough load in the bass which is why when being used with tube amps many people choose to hook them up to the 4 ohm taps. The best way to definitively answer the question would be to take your amp into the store if that is acceptable to the proprietor. It's always polite to ask ahead of time but any decent audio store should allow you to do so.

Why is the above answer so non-committal? Well, the wattage rating method used for audio products isn't standardized. The only way that wattage can be used in comparing two products is when dealing with models from the same manufacturer. Is a 300 watt Bryston twice as powerful as the 150 watt Bryston? Yes it is. Is a 300 watt amp from "X" twice as powerful as a 150 watt amp from "Y? " It might be, but it's far from certain. This is because of the variables in rating wattage. The first three don't get played around with too much in high end audio, those are only manipulated by the mass market manufacturers for the most part.

1. The Impedance used to load the amplifier's outputs during testing, rated in Ohms.
2. The frequency range being driven. Some manufacturers drive 20Hz to 20,000Hz because that is what many accept to be the human hearing range. Some cheap receivers are driven at only ONE frequency, 1kHz being the norm.
3. How many channels are driven AT THE SAME time. Just because a receiver or amp has 5 or7 channels doesn't mean that they were all driven during the test. Nearly all receivers only drive one channel during testing.
4. How long was the test. Many times an amplifiers circuit can deliver very high wattage but the power supply and heat sinks won't allow it to continue doing so for long.
5. How much "Total Harmonic Distortion" was deemed acceptable during the testing. More distortion allowed means more watts on paper but distortion is also usually the cause of damage to speakers.

struts
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's

Hello Amit, Welcome to the forum!

It would certainly help if you could specify a budget here as there really are lots of options.

I have one friend who drives his 802Ds with some Classe monoblocks, another who uses Simaudio and a distant acquaintance who I know uses Levinson. Kal Rubinson also compared a number of different amp choices for the 802D in his review.

My personal recommendation (if budget allows) would be Boulder. The Boulder 865 would IMHO be a match made in heaven.

Good luck!

jackfish
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's

You could try a pair of Emotiva XPA-1s (on sale right now for $1800 delivered) for 30 days and if you didn't like them you could send them back for a full purchase price refund. Plenty of power anyways.

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/power-amplifiers/520-a-secrets-power-amplifier-review.html

http://rmintz.blogspot.com/2009/06/emotiva-xpa-1-review.html

amit.gandelman
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's

mrlowry, struts, and jackfish:

thank you all for your help. i have a lot more to consider now... because they are the 802d's, i don't really have a budget although i would rather not spend a fortune on equipment that would work as well as any of the less expensive equipment for friving the 802d's to their full potential. i hope that made sense.

about the monoblocks...: does the sound thats coming from the speakers change in any way in a comparison between the monoblocks and a good power amp? what would be the real "plus's" to getting the monoblocks over a power amp?

i'll take a look at the boulder 865 now.

thanks very much guys!

p.s. - what cables do you recommend for the setup? i'm currently with "Crystal Cable - Piccolo" package set of cables.

jackfish
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's

With monoblocks there is a dedicated power supply for each channel and crosstalk between the channels is virtually eliminated. There are power amplifiers that are dual mono designs where you essentially have monoblocks in one case/chassis; even with two power cords.

What preamp will you be using?

amit.gandelman
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's

I posted previously that I am using the McCormack Line Drive model LD-2 Pre Amp and the Power Amp DNA-250. The supposed obstacle is that I am almost sure that they cannot fully drive the 803D's to their full potential (and especially the 802D's).
struts linked the Boulder 865... but I understand that the 865 is both a pre amp and a power amp. Is it a dual monoblock design? I'll keep reading about it.

struts
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's


Quote:
struts linked the Boulder 865... but I understand that the 865 is both a pre amp and a power amp. Is it a dual monoblock design? I'll keep reading about it.


The 865 is not strictly speaking a dual mono design, as you will see from the picture on the datasheet both channels are powered by the same toroidal transformer, although I suspect the signal paths are dual mono.

If an integrated is not what you are looking for then Boulder offers stereo and mono power amps in the same series. These also perform well and will drive the B&Ws with aplomb, although for my money the 865 integrated is the value champ here.

struts
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's


Quote:
because they are the 802d's, i don't really have a budget although i would rather not spend a fortune on equipment that would work as well as any of the less expensive equipment for friving the 802d's to their full potential. i hope that made sense.


Unfortunately that doesn't make total sense. Saying you "don't want to spend a fortune" implies you do have a budget, so I would recommend you sit down and reflect on what it is. The Boulder 865 costs roughly $12,000, much more than any of the other amps recommended here, yet it is the cheapest in the Boudler line; one man's "fortune" is another man's entry level. The 802Ds are fine speakers and quite capable of revealing the differences between different amps. However there is no one answer to the question of which is the 'optimum' amp to drive them (wouldn't it be great if life were that easy?), it is really down to you, your preferences and your pocketbook. IMO all the advice you've received here is good advice, unfortunately only you can decide which is the right advice for you.


Quote:
about the monoblocks...: does the sound thats coming from the speakers change in any way in a comparison between the monoblocks and a good power amp? what would be the real "plus's" to getting the monoblocks over a power amp?


I have to say I don't really buy in to the monobloc religion. I understand the advantages from an engineering perspective, I just don't think they justify the massive additional costs they pull through. The casework alone is a very high proportion of the cost of a high quality amp, for instance I am building an amp right now that will end up costing around $4500 in parts, of which $1500-or-so will be casework. So even with the highest quality electronic components throughout (just the ALPS volume pot is $650!) the casework will still represent a third of the total cost. And I really do mean at cost, in other words just the cost of the billets of aluminium and the time on the CNC milling machine. You can triple all of these figures if you're talking about a commercial product. So my own personal opinion is that the money is better spent on a higher quality stereo amp. However once again, it is between your ears and your pocketbook to decide what's right for you.


Quote:
p.s. - what cables do you recommend for the setup? i'm currently with "Crystal Cable - Piccolo" package set of cables.


Cables are like the seasoning in a good casserole, the final 'fine tuning' that gets everything 'just so', you don't want to decide on them before you've chosen the main ingredients! If you buy your amps from a good dealer then he will be able to recommend suitable cables. If not come back and ask, guys like mrlowry, jackfish and others have reams of experience and someone is bound to be able to help.

Good luck!

amit.gandelman
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's

thank you very much struts

i'm sorry if i was a bit confusing with the 'budget' comment.

what i meant was, for example: i could spend 20,000 on an amp although if a 6,000 amp will have similar performance results, i would rather go with the latter. unless of course, the former has a true justification to its price... i.e. which may be design or hand-picked selected parts... for example, the YGA speakers use aircraft grade aluminium, which sky rockets its price as well as it's incredible fine-tuning.

Quote:
one man's "fortune" is another man's entry level


that is exactly true. i guess the best way to put it is, if you had those 802D's (unless you already do ) what setup would you go with to get the results an audiophile like you aims for?

struts
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's


Quote:
i could spend 20,000 on an amp although if a 6,000 amp will have similar performance results, i would rather go with the latter.


Amit,

I don't quite know how to interpret this statement, it seems so patently self-evident that I almost have a hard time taking it seriously. Have you ever heard a $20,000 amp? If not I would strongly suggest narrowing your search closer to the $6,000 price point. That gets you into the foothills of 'high end' territory and should enable you to achieve sound you will be delighted with if you don't have any other more exotic reference points.

More expensive components are like expensive wines or cigars. Once you have learned to appreciate the basics you begin to understand (a) your own tastes and (b) the often quite subtle refinements that constitute 'better'. You could give me a $10 cigar and a $100 cigar and it is highly unlikely that I would be able to tell you which was which. I might be able to taste the difference, I might even be able to tell you which I preferred, but I am highly doubtful I could say with certainty which was the 'better' cigar and why. That's why I would never spend more than $10 on a cigar. Even if a friend who was a cigar aficionado and whom I trusted implicitly recommended me a $100 cigar as the best value cigar ever made I still wouldn't buy it as I know I wouldn't be able to appreciate it.


Quote:
i guess the best way to put it is, if you had those 802D's (unless you already do ) what setup would you go with to get the results an audiophile like you aims for?


I don't own the 802Ds but if I did I would be heading directly for an audition with the Boulder 865. That was the basis of my recommendation, anything else would have been completely disingenuous. I have owned Boulder amps for years, love their sound, love their aesthetics and love their build quality. However given your latest comments I am now starting to question the wisdom of this recommendation.

Rather than chasing down the recommendations you've received here my advice is to do some thinking. Reflect on your musical tastes, your listening experience, what you thought sounded good and what didn't, which apsects of sound reproduction are important to you and which aren't. Think about your budget, and how spending that amount of money on anything in the world would make you most happy. The answers to these questions will tell you more than anyone on this board possibly can. More importantly, not having answers to these questions will make you an easy lunch for the first unscrupulous hifi salesman you come across.

Good luck, I think you're going to need it.

amit.gandelman
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's

struts,

that is the most sound advice i could have asked for! my mind is racing everywhere to too many possiblities, which is why i needed someone to "anchor" me back down to earth. sorry if i sounded ignorant or too dependant, as that was not the intention. i'm just too excited for my own good, and i just was looking for someone to put me in the right direction. so i truly thank you, as you have succeeded in doing so.

to everyone else here:
thank you very much for your added opinions and advice. it surely was beneficial and has helped me toss out the other dozens of ideas racing through my mind. this is the best community of sound professionals on the web.

update: a few days ago, i had gone to a professional local stereo store. i requested to try the 802D's with the Boulder 865, Simaudio Moon W-7, and the Class

struts
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's

My pleasure Amit, glad it helped. Looking forward to hearing how you get on with your audition!

ncdrawl
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's

the Best amp I have ever heard is the FM Acoustics. (with those speakers)

Truly a "buy once" proposition.

http://www.fmacoustics.com/set_domestic.html

Freako
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's


Quote:

Quote:
because they are the 802d's, i don't really have a budget although i would rather not spend a fortune on equipment that would work as well as any of the less expensive equipment for friving the 802d's to their full potential. i hope that made sense.


Unfortunately that doesn't make total sense. Saying you "don't want to spend a fortune" implies you do have a budget, so I would recommend you sit down and reflect on what it is. The Boulder 865 costs roughly $12,000, much more than any of the other amps recommended here, yet it is the cheapest in the Boudler line; one man's "fortune" is another man's entry level. The 802Ds are fine speakers and quite capable of revealing the differences between different amps. However there is no one answer to the question of which is the 'optimum' amp to drive them (wouldn't it be great if life were that easy?), it is really down to you, your preferences and your pocketbook. IMO all the advice you've received here is good advice, unfortunately only you can decide which is the right advice for you.


Quote:
about the monoblocks...: does the sound thats coming from the speakers change in any way in a comparison between the monoblocks and a good power amp? what would be the real "plus's" to getting the monoblocks over a power amp?


I have to say I don't really buy in to the monobloc religion. I understand the advantages from an engineering perspective, I just don't think they justify the massive additional costs they pull through. The casework alone is a very high proportion of the cost of a high quality amp, for instance I am building an amp right now that will end up costing around $4500 in parts, of which $1500-or-so will be casework. So even with the highest quality electronic components throughout (just the ALPS volume pot is $650!) the casework will still represent a third of the total cost. And I really do mean at cost, in other words just the cost of the billets of aluminium and the time on the CNC milling machine. You can triple all of these figures if you're talking about a commercial product. So my own personal opinion is that the money is better spent on a higher quality stereo amp. However once again, it is between your ears and your pocketbook to decide what's right for you.


Quote:
p.s. - what cables do you recommend for the setup? i'm currently with "Crystal Cable - Piccolo" package set of cables.


Cables are like the seasoning in a good casserole, the final 'fine tuning' that gets everything 'just so', you don't want to decide on them before you've chosen the main ingredients! If you buy your amps from a good dealer then he will be able to recommend suitable cables. If not come back and ask, guys like mrlowry, jackfish and others have reams of experience and someone is bound to be able to help.

Good luck!

Excellent post

Freako
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Re: looking for amp for b&w d's


Quote:
thank you very much struts

i'm sorry if i was a bit confusing with the 'budget' comment.

what i meant was, for example: i could spend 20,000 on an amp although if a 6,000 amp will have similar performance results, i would rather go with the latter. unless of course, the former has a true justification to its price... i.e. which may be design or hand-picked selected parts... for example, the YGA speakers use aircraft grade aluminium, which sky rockets its price as well as it's incredible fine-tuning.

Quote:
one man's "fortune" is another man's entry level


that is exactly true. i guess the best way to put it is, if you had those 802D's (unless you already do ) what setup would you go with to get the results an audiophile like you aims for?

The highlighted part of your post is the crux, the ART of this hobby, and what countless people strive for, sometimes during excessive periods of time. Many do so for years, and some never reach that goal. Welcome to the nutty hobby of hifi!

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