Amp Advice for newbie

Buying Nautilus 802's and 804's with HTM1 center. What difference will I get from say a higher quality amp with lower power like a Pass X5 versus say a higher power amp like a Sunfire 400W per channel? Getting much advice, do I want more wpc at good quality or lower wpc at better quality? Trying to manage my expectations and budget.
I'd go with the Pass any day. 400 wpc for a home theater sounds like overkill to me, unless your room actually is a theater. Also, can your electrical system deliver that much power?
room is 20x20. how would I tell if my electrical system can deliver that much power? I'm currently running 200x5 B&K
Are you talking about the Sunfire Cinema Grand or the Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature ? Both are 400+ wpc, but the standard model does that at 4 ohms and the Signature does it at 8 ohms.

Either way, the Sunfire's need a "real" low loss 20 amp circuit if you want it to operate like it should. They are efficient amps but due to their high output, they still draw big power. They also work best if you can feed them via their XLR jacks i.e. in balanced mode. Then again, the Pass is probably biased relatively richly, so i would think that it would also need a good dedicated AC line.

The Sunfire runs relatively cool, even if you are getting on it for an extended period of time. In order to "help" keep it cool, it works best if you can elevate it up off of the shelf a bit. Most of the heat that they do radiate comes out of the bottom of the amp. The Pass will probably run noticeably warmer and require more effort in terms of dealing with the radiation of heat.

As far as sonics go, i would think that the Pass would have enough power and sound better. Then again, i do not know how loud you like to listen and / or what the room acoustics are like. If the room is rather "dead" i.e. heavy drapes, fully carpeted, large stuffed furniture, etc... it is going to take more power than if the room was sparcely furnished and much "liver" sounding.

Personally, i like both amps and own multiple products from each designer ( Pass & Carver ). I prefer the sonics of Pass products but the sheer "grunt without straining" that the Sunfire's provide is pretty hard to beat ( if you need that type of performance ). That's why i have Pass products in my 2 channel system and Sunfire in my HT. Sean
I own a Sunfire for my home theater because it runs cool fits in a shelf and doesn't offened, but it is lacking the ulimate high end 2 channel and my EAD Powermaster 2000 has more of everything (finesse, details, control, depth,etc). The pass will probably sound better for music, but will be missing something if you listen at THX levels (just a little bit), just make sure you have a good sub, and roll off some of that bass.
Arthur, I can understand the budget limitations, mine certainly are limited.

I would like to inquire, do you listen to 2 channel? If so how much? For example, I listen to probably 80-90% 2 channel with some 5 channel here and there. So obviously my preference is biased torwards the best 2 channel sound.

Do you prefer high volume or low? Yunno Sean is spot on about your room acoustics. The more acoustic absorption you have the more power you will need, to quote Sean, to "liven" up the sound.

Arthur, if you check my system you will see that I have 2 amps. One 2 channel for my fronts and one 5 channel for the rest. This is my biasing torwards 2 channel. For whats its worth that B & K 7250 is a pretty nice amp.

Consider your needs and wants and post them I am sure my fellow A'goners can help you purchase wisely.
Thanks Dist - Let me line it out this way:
Room - 20x20 with carpet, overstuffed couches and large paintings on all walls. Room also opens into staircase running length of wall to upstairs, landing area into dining room and hall into kitchen. So I have some space to fill and some absorption.

Listening - Concert DVD's 40% of time, DVD-Audio or SACD in 5 channel 30% of time, movies in 5 channel 20%, and straight out 2 channel 10% of the time.

I like to play it loud and listen more for clean delivery than details and nuance. I'm pretty much narrowed down to Bryston, but have a great lead on a Sunfire Signature at 400Wx7 which fits my current budget constraints better. Any other thoughts would help. Thanks.
I feel pretty confident with a deal I got on a bryston 6B SST for the front 3, and I'll use the B&K for the surrounds until I can put on a Bryston 4B SST. Still taking opinions though. Thanks.
Well I use Bryston(4B-ST) with my B & W CDMs, with hardwood floors in a 15x22, and I am pleased with the sound. I believe the Bryston ST series where known for being bright with great bass. I like highs, so this is right up my proverbial alley. The SST series has improved sonics all over I believe.

If you like high volume and you have alot of space to fill, your gonna need some juice. Not to mention B & Ws really like to be fed some watts. Bi wiring does a lot as well, but that is another thread.

Seeing that you listen to very little 2 channel, you may be better served by disregarding all my previous suggestions. All the Amps I mentioned are very fine machines indeed, but, those mentioned tend to be more 2 channel oriented.

I think the Sunfire 400x7 should not be disregarded so easily. Dont get me wrong I love Bryston, and "peddle" them here on a regular basis. Your using N802(front) HTM1(center) and N804(surround) in a 5 channel setup, right? With the 7 channel Sunfire you could use 4 channels for your N802s, essentailly biamped, and the other three channel for the center and surrounds.

Ultimately it isnt the watts, its your ears. Get what sounds best, if you have dealers in your area I would suggest you get them to let you have an in home tryout.
so cost aside...bryston or sunfire?
Having listened to only the smaler Sunfire, I chose Bryston, I like its characteristic solid bass and extended highs. The 20 year warranty is nice as well. The Sunfire I auditioned was a little warm sounding for me, but thats my ears.

I made plenty of mistakes when I started this hobby, the biggest one was buying equipment on someone elses recommendation. Granted Sunfire and Bryston are both very well made with excellent sonics to boot. They do sound different. I strongly suggest you listen before you buy, in home if you can.

A properly chosen amp can possibly serve you for years maybe decades. Possibly longer than anything else in your system.
Good counsel, will set up in-home listening. Thanks.