I currently own 801's and have heard many different pairs in systems with a wide variety of electronics. My last two amps were the Pass ALEPH 5(60w/ch) and Krell KSA-300S(300w/ch). The 801's sound completely different with each one; warm, tubey, but a little loose in the bass with the lower power amp while the big amp is a bit more sterile in the highs but rock-solid, tight bass that has deeper extension. Tube amps will all have trouble controlling a 12" woofer as well as good, high-current solid state amp. Look at damping factor specs to see the difference. The best comprimise for tube sound with the good transistor bass is the Pass ALEPH series or Threshold SA/e series (circa 1992-94). You could also biamp with a combination of tubes on the top and solid-state on the bottom, but it is very difficult to get a perfect gain-match between different designs. Also, you would spend a lot of money on an experiment! My personal preference would be a really smooth, very high current solid-state amp with at least 200watts/ch, like the two mentioned before or Mark Levinson. 801's really come alive with higher power if you listen to music with powerful peaks. They will also reveal the differences between mid-fi quality amps and the true high end. If you don't want to spend the money for new high-end, search for good deals on used high-end. Don't settle for newer, lower quality amps for the same money . Good luck & enjoy.
16 responses Add your response