Amp for Nautilus 801

Any nautilus owner out there help me selecting an amp for my Nautilus 801!
The options I ve got are:
Mark Levinson No. 333
Krell MDA 300
Conrad Johnson Premier 12
Bryston 7B.
My music preference is Jazz and classical,occassionally pop.For pre amp I am using Casablanca II.Any suggestion will be of great help.
A pair of Bryston 7bsst monoblocks will give your 801's everything they need.
I recently replaced a Levinson 331 with a McCormack DNA-500 driving my Aerial 10Ts. The DNA-500 produced an exceptional improvement in dynamics, slam and transient response. Very musical!
Tubes are always at the top-of-my -list.The CJs should be a good choice,and are becoming more affordable.
I currently own the B&W 801's and am driving them with Bryston 7Bsst monoblock amps and used along with a CAT Ultimate MKII pre. The 801's are a demanding speaker and can handle alot of power. I can only speak for the Bryston's and can say that they effortlessly feed these speakers. They are rock solid on the bottom end, Mids are precise and Hi's are detailed and not overwhelming. They are quiet running and when put to the test, these 600w amps can produce some heat. The warranty from Bryston is one of the best and carries over if sold second hand. I believe for the money that it will be hard to beat their performance. Also a large listening room is preferred with these speakers to appreciate what they are capable of producing. For those tube amp lovers I have heard (by word of mouth only) that the Bryston's lean towards a tube sound. If you have a chance of auditioning these 4 amps that you've mentioned by all means line it up, for it will be well worth it to you and other Audiogon members. Take your time in choosing and above all HAVE FUN doing it.
The Nautilus 801 is a very difficult speaker to drive and decent shops that sold it bi-amped it with expensive, truly high-current solid-state amplification such as Classe Omega, Levinson, Krell FBP or Rowland.

Unless you limit yourself to chamber music, the c-j tube amp would be totally inappropriate on N801's, as would all but a small handful of tube amps.

N801's also need to be used in a big room with lots of placement options so they don't boom, as they produce prodigious bass. They are also not shelved down in the treble and thus tend to sound bright, especially with digital sources (because most recordings are bright and most CD players still can't do treble). In short, they are hard to use properly and thus not very practical -- are you sure they are the speaker for you? If 90% of what you listen is full-scale symphonic music and rock, if you have a big, well-damped room and if you own megaamps, then okay, but otherwise, there are a many alternatives that are better choices.
The Nautilus 801s will perform very well in a large room w. the right cables and a high power amp. I prefer the Levinson and then later you can vertically biamp w. the Levinson. Otherwise I would use the Krell monoblocks.
Dear All,
Thanks for the very detailed responses.After reviewing all the replies I come conclusion of deleting both the extremes CJ and Krell and arrange an audition for the mark levinson and bryston.Cjs premier 12s are very good amps I enjoyed them for 5 years in my previous system with Martin Logan CLS which was bit shy on both extremes.Since I want to move one step ahead and design a system with mids like CLS and good extension on both sides of the spectrum in a 20'x19' room. I will short list my audition to only two amps and get back with my findings.It was very surprising that no body reccomend Krell, any comment!
Kind regards from the other side of the world (Pakistan)

I would recommend the Krell but not the MDA 300s. I would prefer two FPB 600s on the B&W. It would be magic above & beyond. I know that the B&W shine w. vertical biamping which is a much less expensive alternative then buying 4 monoblocks. Your choice was for Levinson 333, not my favorite sound but if you run 2 of them it would be best. Better would be two FPB 600s in my opinion. I have owned the 801 so I hope this clears things for you. The 801s love power & can play loud. Big difference from the Martin Logan designs. You will enjoy them. Very few speakers can do what they do at thier price. You will need to spend about $40K to get the ability to play loud w. out strain from most other speaker brands.
I also highly recommend Krell Amplifiers. I've heard the N801s powered by the FBP-300cx and FPB-400cx and both Amplifiers easily powered these Speakers to realistic levels in a fairly large auditioning room. You simply may not need to go beyond either one of these Amplifiers and both can be had here on Audiogon less than $6K (US).
Hi Ali

I own a Nautilus 801 myself and use a ML 23.5 amp (2*200W). Although the 801 would gain dynamic with more power (especially the bass) I don't feel uncomfortable in my relatively small room (4m*6m). Heights and mids are highly musical and the bass is not really a problem since I put the speaker on spikes (what I strongly recommend!!).

My B&W dealer recommends the 2*200W Classé Audio 2200 with the 802D and the 800D. Of course you don't get the last whamm with these, but it's all a question of taste.

I have a good feeling for the 2*300W ML 333. Try it!


So I have a good feeling for the 300W ML 333. Try that.
Hi Alphorn,
Thanks for the response,I tried them with single 333 and the result was good.2nd ML 333 will be included in the long term plan.I am also exploring the option to auditioning Bryston 7B ST since I heared good things about 801 with 7BST and they are available.How long you are using N801s& what system do you have.
Any cables suggestions.
Hi Ali

As we don't get Bryston in Switzerland I can't say much about it. All I know is what I read about the 14 B in a stereophile test you may know. I guess the Bryston won't match the 333's musicality but produce a more dynamic / brute sound.

I have lived with my 801 for 6 years and I'm still completely happy. The rest of the system is older (ML 38 pre, ML 37 drive, EAD 7000/III D/A, ML gel interconnects and apature speaker cable).

I intend to change my CD unit and buy the brandnew Classé 202 CD-player which plays in the same league as the ML 390S. I can't recommend ML CD devices. Most of them show klicking noises from time to time (so does my 37 also) and besides of that the company (Harman) doesn't offer sufficient service when garantuee is over (no replacement parts on stock). Try also the expensive Accuphase CD-players or -if money is not of importance- Esoteric Teac or DCS.

For preamp I strongly recommend any ML device (26, 28, 38, 380, new 320 or 326). You will hardly find something better.

Concerning cables I don't think there is a "best" cable. There is just the right cable (doesn't need to be expensive). Try out and try not to loose nerves! My dealer is very much on Kimber. I can recommend it also.

Have fun with 801!!
Put mono amps Classe CAM-400 or the older Classe CAM-350 on your list.

B&W speakers and Classe amps are great match so much so that the owner of B&W bought Classe. Another benefit to consider these are their weight. They weight around 80 lb each. Very manageble.

I am using Classe CAM-350 with B&W N802.

Hi guys
I fully agree with Ldk concerning Classé CAM-400 Monos. I can also imagine to use 2 2200's (bridged) or 1 2200 on heights/mids in combination with a digital high power amp driving the bass. In the second case you will need a dB-regulation (in-built or external).

Has someone tried to drive the 801's bass separately? any experiences?

Hi folks,
Thanks for the very valuable information.I am situated in Pakistan where we dont have much options are available.Shipment of big hefty amps are very expensive also.The choices I mentioned in my first mail were the amps currently available and capable to drive the N 801s.The only classe amp available in my area is DR 5 and DR 25 combo which I think is bit small and old for handling 801s load.Has any body tried Perreaux amps on B&Ws?

Sounds like mineral water to me.


If the amps you list are the only ones available to you, buy the Levinson, as it is, by far, the highest current amp on your list (it has really big power supplies for a stereo amp and weighs 155 lbs.) that is reasonably young. The Krell monoblocks are even more powerful, but are so old that you should avoid them.

As I explained above, you should really bi-amp N801's, but the 333 is an appropriate amp for N801's.

I otherwise refer to my first post above.
High Ali

If you can buy a ML 333 - what else do you want more. It's a wonderful amp. You should take it (that's about the only point I agree with Raquel).

Hi folks,
As suggested by Alphorn and Raquel,I did a very extensive audition of ML 333 and finally bought it in US$4500. I think ML 333 is a very good amp to drive Nautilus.Thanks friends for the great advise.My next goal is to upgrade the front end any suggestion on Sony XA 777ES or Cassablanca II,s Extreme DAC is superior?
Hi Ali
I do not know the products you name exactly.
But: Theta sounds good to me and I've heard very nice D/A converters of this brand.
I don't see Sony as a high end brand really. On the other hand I tested an old 555 once as a drive and the result was quite good.
The Sony could be the better drive than your Denon but I would nevertheless recommend to look for something else.

Hi Alphorn,
thanks for the response,I also tried an old 777 long ago as a transport and the result was very good.The other option is Wadia 7/9 combo,what you say,
Hi Ali
Don't know the 7/9 but I've heard excellent Wadia devices.
Try that!! (should be much better than 777).
Thanks Alphorn,
I will try to arrange an audition next month and decide. Kind regards
AAK may also end up with the Wadia drive and your Theta DAC. In the system you own now the drive is really not to be underestimated (more influence than the DAC in my opinion).

I agree for a Krell FPB 600. This will generate alot of power that this pair of B&W needs. You only need a great preamp to tame this Krell FPB, I recommend ML380s. You will thank me alot later.
Hi Alphorn,
Yes you are right,Wadia 7/9 is a big improvement.Thanks everybody for all the input.
The old Krell KSA250 can easily drive these speakers. My relative has these with the N801. His pre-amp are the Jadis JPS2. It sounded very good.

Tube pre-amp + any big krells on these N801 are verY good choices!!

good luck