You are here

Log in or register to post comments
Temporal_Dissident
Temporal_Dissident's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 months 8 hours ago
Joined: Aug 8 2019 - 8:27am
Amp Options for B&W 803 D3 Speakers?

Greetings Audiophiliacs,

My first post, which I will be cross-posting to a few other forums.

I have the immense pleasure of designing/building my first true audiophile system. I will spare you the backstory. Point is, it is happening.

Aside from the million other questions I am researching related to moving coils, Roon, room correction,...I investing most of my time and money on the foundation: Preamp > Power Amp(s) > Speakers. The decision I am spending most of my time on relates to amplification.

Unfortunately, I do not live in a city where I can easily test hifi systems, so I have to rely on a lot of written research and reviews.

However, today, while traveling on business in Hong Kong, I stumbled on a B&W showroom. I was able to listen to a pair of 803 D3 speakers, which have been on my consideration list for a while (along with Focal Sopra No 2's). We listened to several CDs. The sound was the best I've ever experienced. A piano/cello piece was so incredibly quiet. Velvet blackness. Dark Side of the Moon's opening transition from "Speak to Me" to "Breathe" blew me away. The clarity and openness between the instruments was remarkable. Frankly, it was a near-spiritual experience.

Here is where it got interesting...

Afterwards, during lunch at a restaurant in the same building, the waiter saw my B&W catalog and said I should go to the “other” hifi showroom in the building. Why not? I headed back up the elevator to find a KEF showroom. I was able to listen to a pair of Reference 5 speakers, and then the $224k Muon. The source was a digital file through Roon. I know the R5s were powered by a Class D amp, not sure about the Muon.

Neither KEF setup approached the 803 D3's. Not even close. I know sound is subjective, but I played that same sequence from Dark Side of the Moon (which I've been listening to for 30 years) and I am telling you there was no comparison.
WTF? Why?

I think it must have been the amp. When I asked the B&W rep about the massive, black stereo power amp running the 803's, he laughed and said, "oh, it is only about 100 watts,...but it is pure class A." It was a Gryphon. I think it must have been an Antileon EVO Stereo.

Anyway, the moral to the story (for me, anyway) is that the advice I’ve often heard, “Amplifiers are far, far more important than speakers” was made very real for me this afternoon. It has scrambled my head. Whereas I had been looking for a high-quality, high-power, solid-state, stereo power amp, I have now fallen back down the rabbit hole and am reconsidering tubes, mono-blocks, and, God forbid, pure Class A amps.
What do I do?

(Caveat: all due respect to you seekers of audio-nirvana, I really do not want to be an audiophile who is constantly tearing my system apart and trading components up, out, and sideways. I know digital hardware will change, but with my Preamp>power amp(s)>speakers, I want to be extremely intentional about what I buy, and then not mess with it for a decade. The idea of “try something and if you don’t like it, trade it out” does not appeal to me.)
I love the B&W 803 D3. While I haven’t bought them yet, let’s pretend that the loudspeaker variable is held constant.

I am tied in a pretzel over the amp question. I am prepared to invest in a high-end analog pre-amp, mono-blocks, separate DAC, power conditioning, etc.. I’ve looked at PS Audio, McIntosh (tube and solid-state), Anthem, etc. I tried to look at Classe, but it appears their status as a company is too uncertain.
I am open to any, all advice or thoughts. Does my listening room experience today trigger a thought with anyone? What was it about that Gryphon Class A > B&W 803 sound? And how do I get it without spending $32k on an amp?

Thanks in advance

commsysman
commsysman's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 2 days ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
Amplifier

I have been playing around with audio systems for over 50 years, and The amplifier is certainly a key component in the sound.

Many years ago (around 1980) I purchased a Yamaha Amp for around $1000, and it sounded crappy. A guy at a store challenged me to try a NAD 3020 amp, which was only $200. The NAD sounded great with my new speakers (which were pretty good), where the Yamaha sounded just awful, even though it was rated for 4 times as much power.

My old amp, by the way, was a Harman-kardon A500 tube integrated amp, and it was OK but no where near as good-sounding as the NAD (and a bit low on power).

Anyway, I have moved on and have a great $25K system with Vandersteen Treo speakers (wonderful), and an Audio Research tube preamp and Musical Fidelity solid-state power amp; sound to die for!

One of the superb values in a great-sounding integrated amp right now is the Musical Fidelity M6si, which is only $2999. I say "only", because IMO it sounds as good as several fine integrated amps that cost 2 to 3 times as much. It has power to drive any speakers, and the sound quality is excellent. I have recommended it to 3 people recently, and every one of them was astounded at how good it sounds and thanked me profusely.

Get one of these and I guarantee you will love it. My current preamp and amp sell for around $10,000, and sound wonderful, but the M6 comes very close. I could live happily with the M6 if one of my current units went out.

Another excellent one is the Krell 300i which has similarly high power, features, and superb sound. I don't know the current price but I suspect it is around $5K-$7K.

Temporal_Dissident wrote:

Greetings Audiophiliacs,

My first post, which I will be cross-posting to a few other forums.

I have the immense pleasure of designing/building my first true audiophile system. I will spare you the backstory. Point is, it is happening.

Aside from the million other questions I am researching related to moving coils, Roon, room correction,...I investing most of my time and money on the foundation: Preamp > Power Amp(s) > Speakers. The decision I am spending most of my time on relates to amplification.

Unfortunately, I do not live in a city where I can easily test hifi systems, so I have to rely on a lot of written research and reviews.

However, today, while traveling on business in Hong Kong, I stumbled on a B&W showroom. I was able to listen to a pair of 803 D3 speakers, which have been on my consideration list for a while (along with Focal Sopra No 2's). We listened to several CDs. The sound was the best I've ever experienced. A piano/cello piece was so incredibly quiet. Velvet blackness. Dark Side of the Moon's opening transition from "Speak to Me" to "Breathe" blew me away. The clarity and openness between the instruments was remarkable. Frankly, it was a near-spiritual experience.

Here is where it got interesting...

Afterwards, during lunch at a restaurant in the same building, the waiter saw my B&W catalog and said I should go to the “other” hifi showroom in the building. Why not? I headed back up the elevator to find a KEF showroom. I was able to listen to a pair of Reference 5 speakers, and then the $224k Muon. The source was a digital file through Roon. I know the R5s were powered by a Class D amp, not sure about the Muon.

Neither KEF setup approached the 803 D3's. Not even close. I know sound is subjective, but I played that same sequence from Dark Side of the Moon (which I've been listening to for 30 years) and I am telling you there was no comparison.
WTF? Why?

I think it must have been the amp. When I asked the B&W rep about the massive, black stereo power amp running the 803's, he laughed and said, "oh, it is only about 100 watts,...but it is pure class A." It was a Gryphon. I think it must have been an Antileon EVO Stereo.

Anyway, the moral to the story (for me, anyway) is that the advice I’ve often heard, “Amplifiers are far, far more important than speakers” was made very real for me this afternoon. It has scrambled my head. Whereas I had been looking for a high-quality, high-power, solid-state, stereo power amp, I have now fallen back down the rabbit hole and am reconsidering tubes, mono-blocks, and, God forbid, pure Class A amps.
What do I do?

(Caveat: all due respect to you seekers of audio-nirvana, I really do not want to be an audiophile who is constantly tearing my system apart and trading components up, out, and sideways. I know digital hardware will change, but with my Preamp>power amp(s)>speakers, I want to be extremely intentional about what I buy, and then not mess with it for a decade. The idea of “try something and if you don’t like it, trade it out” does not appeal to me.)
I love the B&W 803 D3. While I haven’t bought them yet, let’s pretend that the loudspeaker variable is held constant.

I am tied in a pretzel over the amp question. I am prepared to invest in a high-end analog pre-amp, mono-blocks, separate DAC, power conditioning, etc.. I’ve looked at PS Audio, McIntosh (tube and solid-state), Anthem, etc. I tried to look at Classe, but it appears their status as a company is too uncertain.
I am open to any, all advice or thoughts. Does my listening room experience today trigger a thought with anyone? What was it about that Gryphon Class A > B&W 803 sound? And how do I get it without spending $32k on an amp?

Thanks in advance

Wised
Wised's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Sep 12 2019 - 8:53pm
803 amp recommendation

I have my 803d3 driven by a Mc Intosh MAC 6700 receiver with Kimber Kable VS12 cables biwired. Im running the 803's with a pair of DB1 subs that I had for my previous 805s. I can honestly say that this is the best system I have heard in my life bar none for any price. Trust me I heard a lot of high end audio in my 4 decades of buying and auditioning audio equipment. The 803s are simply spectacularly revealing speakers, the addition of the subs add an amount of deep clean "slapping" base that is incredible. A perfect blend of power and finese. The Mc's 200 watts (matched at 4 ohms) provide incredibly clean sound up to ear splitting levels. Some have criticized previous BWs as too polite to be good rockers, boy are they in for a surprise, my system can play AC/DC like a champ at concert levels! With a receiver no less!

  • X