I see a lot of discussion of Brand A vs Brand B in driving B&W 802D speakers. I'm trying to gather a bit different info.
I'm ready to change amps and there seems to be some different possibilities available for amp configurations and how the speakers respond. I'm interested in the pros and cons of each.
1st - a large stereo amp (400w/ch) wired direct. 2nd - a pair of mono amps (400w each) wired direct. 3rd - a pair of momo amps (400w each) bi-wired. 4th - a multi channel amp (200w mid/hi, 400w bass) for each speaker, or something close to that.
Does any one of the configurations have a significant advantage? Also, do balanced interconnects between the preamp and amp have an advantage over a good set of RCA's.
If you have some thoughts and care to share your expertise I would appreciate the info.
Bi-amping is probably the best way to go from a theoretical standpoint. Driving the bass with a larger amp than the mids and highs makes sense because the mids and highs just do not need as much power. Option 2 and 3 are no different. Biwiring is not going to have any effect, it is electrically the same as direct wiring; the arguements for biwiring are misapplications of engineering principles and are laughable. Driving each speaker with a 400 watt amp will almost certainly give you the same experience as biamping because a 400 watt amp is going to drive the 802D to its max spl and will do so without overdriving the amps. A large stereo amp will also give you the same experience as any of the other options UNLESS you drive the 802 to high spl's on large orchesteral pieces. I did that several times in deciding what amp to buy to drive a smaller version of the 800 series - the amps were hooked up to 802D's and I tried this more than once. With a 400 watt MC 402 Mcintosh , I could get the 802D's to turn on the power guard. Now keep in mind that I am talking Mahler's 2nd Symphony, Fischer conducting, 1st movement, which has some really heavy duty bass portions and Karajan on Beethoven's Eroica and spl's which are probably as far as the 802D can go, about 110 measured with a radio shack meter, and the power guard lites just flickered a couple of times. For what it is worth, I also listened to the same speakers driven by a Classe 200 watt stereo amp, the largest Classe that I could find to demo in a 100 mile radius. I thought the 402 did a better job of driving the speakers. In short, all of your options are equivalent unless you want to listen very loud and with only then for a certain type of music. The 802D is a nice speaker - good choice. One thing to keep in mind, you could do something like hook up a pair of 1.2 kw mono's to the 802D but that may not give you a whole lot of return on those speakers - it is possible to cook a speaker without overdriving the amplifier and sending it into clipping - just feed the speaker more current than it can handle. From my experience, a 400 watt stereo amp will drive those speakers to about as loud as they will go. Let us know what you decide.
Abbey Road uses 2 400w monoblocks to drive their D800's. http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/display.aspx?infid=1621 I use a single pair of Omicron monos. It depends what you want to do, I went with the higher quality amp that still has plenty of current.
I was trying to stay away from the typical one brand vs another, because you can get that info elsewhere on the forum. However, I am looking at several different possibilities.
- McIntosh MC402(400w/ch) or a pair of MC501's (500w/ch) - Classe CA400/401(800w/ch@4 Ohm) or a pair of CAM400's(800w/ch@4 Ohm) - Wyred4sound (Cullen) pair of SX-1000's (1000w/ch@4 Ohm) ICE amps - Wyred4sound MultiChannel a pair of 250's (500w/ch@4 Ohm) and a pair of 500's (1000w/ch@4 Ohm) ICE amps
The first two are the more traditional (safe) approach, the last two are a bit "Out of the box". However, the multi ICE amp solution is about the same cost as the Mono's and has some interesting possibilities.
If your preamplifier has two output sets, you can try two stereo amplifeirs in passive vertical amplification. One stereo amplifier for each speaker and of course you need two full range speaker wires. If you like the Classé CA400, you can try two in that configuration and your 802D will blow. Both Classé and McIntosh match perfect with B&W.
I greatly appreciate everyones comments on the amp configuration. I really don't change setups very often so I would rather put in a little extra time up front.
I am going with a bi-amp setup for the 802D's and giving the nod to the ICE amps. The Cullen Circuits multi-channel amp (Wyred4sound) seem to be the best fit and Rick will build what I want down to the binding posts. A five channel amp will provide a 250W and 500W for each of the 802D's and an extra 500W for the HTM2D center channel. Each channel has its own power supply and the output power doubles into 4 ohms.
It's a significant increase over my current amps and I'll do a followup after the amp comes in, gets some break in hours and I do some listening.
I've had some time to get the Wyred4sound amps installed, new interconnects and speaker cable and everything settled in. Also, I would recommend carefully cleaning all contacts with Deoxit. That stuff cleaned contact crud that I never knew I had... ugh!
The bottom line is the amps are amazing. The 802D's really wake up with the bi-amp setup and lots of power. They sound much better than even the dealer's demo room driven with Classe amps (not bi-amped). The high frequency amps have an 80Hz high pass filter, so you get good clean highs.
I can honestly say that in 40+ years of audio systems, this is the best sound that I've been able to achieve. I'm very pleased with the upgrade and thanks to everyone for your help and comments.