Amplification for Wilson Watt Puppy 7s or 8s

Putting together a new system and would like feedback from those within the community who own Puppy 7s or 8s in particular. I am trying to narrow my choice regarding amplification from the following. Would appreciate your feedback regarding your experience using these in your system:

VTL S-400 Reference; VTL 450 monos w/ VTL T.L6.5 preamp
BAT VK 150SE monos w/ VK 52SE preamp
VAC Phi-200 monos w/renaissance preamp
E.A.R. 890 monos w/E.A.R. 912 preamp

My listening room is 25"L x 17'W x 12'T . I listen to all genres of jazz, blues, house music, classical, gospel and spoken word. Yes it is eclectic but I truly love all forms of music. From time to time I will turn the volume up quite high but this is the exception, not the rule.

I hope to acquire most, if not all, of the components pre-owned but well taken care of. If I need to buy new, I will as a last resort.
Hi I have not heard the wilsons with any of the above gear, so I cant comment on such, but I have heard the wilsons with Audio Research Ref210 Ref 3 pre and it sounded awesome! The MAC 501 monos sounded good also, but not as big or resolving as the ARC gear. Good luck, Chris
Many Wilson owners use Lamm or Pass XA. I have the pass XA 160 with Wilson WP7's. Try them both.
I heard Wilsons with the VTL 400 Ref and the 6.5 with all Cardas wire the sound was impressive.

Many of the current show reports have raved over the WP with a full BAT setup. I think it was in the Absolute Sound that one of the reviewers who was not normally a Wilson fan was wowed over the combination.

The BAT premps especially the latest crop are outstanding. I did a demo with the older VK 51Se vs The VTL 7.5 and the BAT has better dynamics, better top end and a tighter bass. The VTL was believe it or not a tad warmer. The newest series of BAT preamps keeps all what was good and now the BAT preamps are a bit warmer and full bodied sounding. Design wise they are some of the best preamps out there.

As per amplifiers the big VK 600SE is incredible sounding, caveats you should leave it on, and use good power cords and good conditioning.

I did a comparison of a well set up VK 600SE vs a pair of $50k Krell mono blocks and the big BAT was as good in most respects other than the Krell Monos has an even bigger presence and deeper bass.
I am getting fantastic results with BAT VK-52SE and VK-600SE with Wilson Sophia Series 2. Maybe Jfrech can weigh in on his lengthy experience with BAT and Wilson.
Having had both the BAT Rex & VTL 7.5 mk 2 in my system, my bias is towards the VTL sound. For me it wasn't subtle at all. But I found I am not a fan of the Russian tubes in the BAT design and that the BAT description in the post above as compared to VTL to be close to my experiences. I just much preferred the VTL. If you have heard VTL systems that you like & BAT systems that you like then it will be a difficult decision but my personal taste is strongly towards the VTL house sound which is very natural and fluid. To me more like music.

I owned WATT/Puppy a few years ago. The biggest problem of these speakers is limited dynamic range so you must use very, very power amplifiers.

I would suggest a bit more expensive preamp REX by BAT (if you like BAT sound) driving pairs of cheaper Spectron monoblocks. Every reviewer who examine this amps compare them with excellent tube amplifier. One of the reviewer who will publish next month another review sold his VTL Siegfrieds (and its better then 400 you target) and kept Spectrons for himself

Even cheaper and musically better is combination of Spectron with the latest Joule-Electra flagship amplifier, LA-300ME. I owned both LA-300 and REX driving my pair of Spectron into 802N speakers and I choose LA-300 but REX is fantastic too ( much better then 52 you targeted).

Finally, a friend of mine owns WTT/Puppy 7 which he drives with Spectron and ARC REF preamp (#1 or #2). I do not like this particular ARC.

Good Luck,
Hello Winston,

I have Watt/Puppy 8 and I drove them with McIntosh 2102 tube amp and it was not enough, speakers need more power. I tried a few amps, some at home, some at dealer showrooms, some tube and some solid state and finally I settled on Spectron, first single stereo and very recently pair of monoblocks.

Wilson speakers and Spectron amps - it is the match made in heaven. I never thought that such synergy was possible. When and if you hear it - you will know what I am talking about.

Good Luck
I've had the WP7's in here for a couple of years and used the Pass XA-160 monoblocs. I've recently switched to the XA-100.5 monoblocs because we'll be upgrading the speakers soon. If you own any Wilson, you owe it to yourself to audition Pass XA series amps.
Hello Crna39,

I auditioned XA-100.5 monos in my system. They are about the same as McIntosh 2102 I had - in presenting efforless presetnation, soundstage etc. In some areas PASS is better e.g. bass and in some McIntosh e.g. midrange.

You owe it to yourself to try your Wilsons with really powerful amplifiers - like Unsound suggested "big Krells" - I am not a fun of Krells in the most important area for me - musicality - but regardless, you will see that big power can do with your speakers.

I know this is an old post, but I hope someone can help. I just picked up a pair of wp8 and am currently using with a CJ CT-5 pre-amp which is single-ended only, and a Spectron Premiere 7-7 channel amp.

I love the CJ, and want to keep it, but am considering selling my multi-channel Spectron. I would consider a high power tube amp (must be rca capable), Spectron mono-blocks, or any other experienced recommendation.

Any comments wouyld be greatly appreciated.
The WP8s are very tube friendly so you have a wide range of amps available. You do need some power, but the requirement is not crazy. The National sales manager for Wilson ran a set of our MA-1s on his WP8s and they are only 140 watts. He only got our bigger amp when he went to the Maxx.

ARC is also popular with the Wilson crowd; I would expect that CJ would be a nice match, if you can afford it, CAT would be good too. VTLs work great on them... like I said there are a lot of amps for you to try.
I used to have wp7s with a Spectron MIIISE amp and VTL 7.5 pre. I replaced the spectron and vtl with the APL UA-S1, it made à big difference and i havent heard the Wilsons as good before or after that. In short the sound moved from hifiish to live.
i have used a krell fpb 600c with my watt puppy 7's for 6 years or so. it sounds pretty damn good. i have heard many suggest that this is not a great match but there is much to like about them to my ears. my next amp will be spectral and find them to be a fine mate with watt puppy's too. whatever you get, i have come to find they do love power. enjoy your quest.
Thanks guys. I contacted Martin Collms, of HiFiCritic, after he reviewed the WP8s and he very much favored high power/current Krell amps. Hes not a fan of any class D amps. He felt they lacked an organic completness to the sound, though he did not actually say he heard the Spectron amps. Of course the Spectrons don't use a switching power supply like most of the other class D amps use, do to the noise they add. My own experience with older Krell amps is that they have iron fisted control of the bass, but their midrange and high freqs may be a little lacking.

I dropped off my Premiere 7 at Spectron for a check up, and borrowed a T+A A1530R 170 watt stereo amp. I was very impressed and thought the combo sounded great, but knew when I got my Spectron Premiere 7 (one transformer per front channel) back, that it would vastly improve the WP8s. Well, I have to tell you after 2 hours of warm-up, and maybe several hours of listening, I did not have the same involvment in the music, possibly the lack of wine at the time. The Spectron was incredibly clean, fast with great frequency extension, but almost like analog compared to digital-there seemed to be a certain sterility that I did not notice with the T+A. Maybe Martin brainwashed me.

With that said, I have left the Spectron on all night and will do some more listening.

My plan is to sell the Premiere 7 and look at a pair of Musician III Mk2 Mono-Blocks, VTL 450, BAT 600, ARC, or Pass X350.5

QUESTION-I notice many of the higher end amps are XLR only. Can I use XLR to RCA adapters with little degradation to the sound, as my CJ CT-5 is single-ended only?

Any other input will be greatly appreciated.
Hello Brett,
Premiere was not designed as a high end stereo amplifier as compared to Musician III (e.g. power supply is of the same type as early Musician III which is far inferior to current Musician III power supplies). It was designed to work, mostly,in home theater. W/P 8 needs much more "finesse" then Premiere can provide. Keep it in mind.
Good Luck
My only real experience with the W/P 7 was when we had them in our showroom and were using a Krell FPB700CX and it was awesome!! MF Trivista SACD through a VTL TL-7.5 preamp.
Lubes, my recommendation is to go for the APL amp it will drive the WPs effortlessly and the most musical youve heard them much better than my older combo. Good Luck!

Unfortunately, the APL was reviewed poorly in 6 moons, especially in the bass, nor is it available to demo,so I have not pursued that. The Krells may have improved in the upper freqs, but class A generates too much heat for my un-airconditioned SoCal home. The T+A I borrowed sounded pretty good and I would imagine as Mono-blocks would sound even better, but as a relatively unknown, if I was unhappy down the road, I don't think the resale market would be very good.

Spectron has been very supportive, plus they are local, in the event of any problems. So, for now, I think the Musician III Mk2 w/v-caps mono-blocks, will be the path I take.

Thanks again,
I don't know what your budget is, but I drive my WP7s with Ayre MX-Rs and a Nagra PL-L
Lubes, unfortunately 6moons have no feeling for uncolored sound. The APL has better bass than the spectron. Also the APL is revised edition now even better. It can be bought with money back guarantee so if you dont like it you can return it and get the money back.
Lubes, I've heard the WPs with T+A amps on a number of occasions in a dealer system. IMHO, the T+A amp was performing at a lower level compared to BAT or Halcro amps in the same system. Not sure which model it was, but the T+A amp was holding the system back. Just my 2 cents.

I've had WP7s for a few years and used to use a Krell FPB-400cx. The power and bass was great but I agree with others here that that version of the Krell missed some midrange and HF magic. So, I've been on a search for tube amps too. FWIW, the best I've heard in my system so far are the Atmasphere MA1s. The have the very clean and open sound of OTLs. One more option to consider.
I was talking to one of my dealers and he suggested I try the EAR 890 tube amp. It's only 70 watts of class A power and can be used as 160 watt mono-blocks, but he thinks it would be more than enough for the WP8s. The reviews, though old, are very positive.

I've got nothing to lose and have always been intriged by the discussions of tube amps. I'll keep you posted on what I hear.
Dear audiophile friends,

What about ASR emitter ii exclusive with WP 7 or 8?

I am preparing to upgrade and i am considering the following setup:
- dcs puccini, which i already have
- asr emitter ii exclusive
- WP 7 or 8
- nordost valhalla

comments and suggestions ?

I have a fried tha live at other state , he had a pair of wp 7 and he used with audio research vt200, he tryied emiter ii, and all the audipholes that were there to listene tese amplifier became every disapointed, they told me the high was very very bad compared to the higs of AR. Next days I will receive one Wp 8 and I amgoing to use with audio areo PP 50 watts classe a ( kt 88, EL34, 6sn7).

Thanks for your response. Yes, the T+A may have been holding back the WP8s, but they did sound better than the Spectron Premiere amp. I would guess the Musician III will outclass both of those amps.

I have heard good reports about the Atma-Sphere amps, not necessarily with the WP8s. Have you heard anything else since?

Has anyone heard about the McCormack DNA-750 Mono-Blocks? I guess they are made by Conrad Johnson, but I would guess similar to the DNA-500 with the benefits of 2 totally separate transformer/chassis with, maybe as much power, 750 watts/channel into 8 ohms, as the Spectron Musician III MK2 Mono-Blocks. No published specs on current delivery, though.

Another consideration for the Watt/Puppy8s.

OK Guys, I've had 3 hours with the McCormack DNA-750 Mono-Blocks (750 watts/ch into 8 ohms, 1000 watts/ch into 4 ohms) in my system, which consists of:

Conrad Johnson CT-5 Pre-amp
McCormack DNA-750 Mono-Blocks (Demo for a week)
McIntosh MVP-871 (Upgrade Company Modified) CD/SACD Player
Whest PS .30 RDT Phono Stage
VPI HW-19 MKIV TT w/TNT Platter/Bearing
JMW 10" w/Ortofon Jubilee
Crystal Cable and Transparent Audio Cables

Not sure how many hours are on these or if they are fully broken in yet, but they have a very smooth controled sound. Maybe not the last word in detail, but smooth, effortless, and tight/punchy bass. No solid state edge or grain. Very organic sounding, at least compared to my Spectron Premier. They develop very little heat, but are larger than the Spectron Musician III MK2.

My goal is to compare them to the Spectron Mono-Blocks and be done. Comments/questions are highly recommended regarding these high powered work horses.


I don't know if these have the current to control my Watt Puppy 8's woofers. They need to go into a fairly well ventilated cabinet(WAF), so I prefer amps that don't generate a lot of heat. I believe the DNA-750s operate in class AB and the Spectrons are digital, so neither generate much. The McCormacks were played pretty hard for about 3 hours last night and were barely warm to the touch. McCormack/CJ claim they only need 15 minutes to warm up. I cannot confirm that yet. But they created a very involved musical environment within the first hour. A second glass of wine may have also helped.

Again, I am initially pretty impressed. Plus, I found them for quite a bit less than the Spectrons.

Thanks for your responses,
i know you are close to nailing this down but thought i would throw out another to consider. as much as you seem to like the speed, detail and efficiency of the spectron you may want to look at spectral. dma 250 would be a great match or even an older 180. for the maximum, depending on budget, dma 360 mono's which wilson uses in design and has for many years. you will not match the speed and accuracy of these amps, no way no how.
Lubes3 sounds like you've found what will work for you great!!!

FWIW I've heard the WP-7 with the Jadis 200 in a word fantastic. The WP-8 impedance drop to 2 ohm might be too much for the OTL's good point.

FWIW, the Puppy woofers don't need a lot of 'current'. John Giolas, the national sales manager for Wilson, used our amps for years on his WP7s and 8s. You have to understand that at Wilson, you have your pick of almost any amp you want, and you don't see them using amps that are particularly 'high current'.
I respectfully disagree with Atmashere. I owned WATT/Puppy 5 and they had impedance dip at about 2 kHz doen to 2.5 Ohms. I used old Audio Reasearch classic 60 and I was happy but when I got 225 watts Equilibre tube amp from Audio Matiere (now Audio Aero) - then and only then I understood correlcation between specs and music

Current WATT/Puppy - "Sasha" dip at 100 Hz to 1.8 Ohm. So, to drive them with OTL amp...but not very well.

I heard Watt/Puppy 7 with Spectorns (not mine, I have 802D) and its was SPECTACULAR !!!

Lubes 3,
I never been great lover of DNA series amplifiers ( I always hear "glassy" highs there and with time it drives me literally nuts) but I did not audiotioned one you are having now.

Good Luck

In my conversations with Wilson, they currently use Spectral amps to design their speakers. Don't know what they did in the past. Wilson also said that because the WP8s dip to 2.3 ohms at 80 Hz, they will certainly benefit from a high current amp, especially if you like some high playback levels, which I do entertian on occasion.

The McCormacks are sounding better, as they only have about 20 hours on them now. My Wilsons now have about 100 hours, so they are loosening up, as well. Bass is getting better. Ray Brown Trio has such a deep organic bass, solid, tight, yet punchy with great low-end resonance. Piano is also fantastic. I don't notice any glassy highs on the 750s, just the contrary. Very smooth and maybe forgiving at the top, though, Cymbals may not have the last word in detail, and vocals may not be as silky smooth as I remember the Spectron, when running 4 channels into my PBNs. Again, only 20 hours on the 750s.

I'll get the Spectrons on Tuesday, and hope to compare by Thursday.Unfortunately out of town Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Talk to you then.
Hello Perrew,

The preamp was Joule-Electra LA-150 Signature and front end Marantz SACD Player ( I can't recall the model number).

Lubes 3: I think I use word "glassy" as oppose to silky smooth, liquidity etc. But again, I did not audition the DNA-750 - they could be different.

All The Best
Dob, you might want to try it before you write off tubes with the WPs. There was a resonant peak that you referred to in the Watts at 2KHz, so Wilson installed a trap that set the impedance to 2 ohms or less. What do many transistor amps do with low impedances? They make more power as we all know. This exacerbates the resonance issue. Now put a tube amp on there and what do you get? The power goes down, and the tweeter resonance is controlled.

For some reason, the low impedance in the woofer range of the Sasha does not seem to bother our MA-1. It might be due to the phase angle, but in the system I heard you could play it to a very nice volume and yet the VU meters on the amps hardly move.
"Dob, you might want to try it before you write off tubes with the WPs "

Hello AthmaShere: Both amplifiers I mentioned in regard to the sound of W/P were tube amplifiers: AEC Classic 60 (60 wpcs) and Equilibre (225 wpc)

I did so call "soprano experiments" to test amplifiers when I decided to change my old ARC 60: In other words when soprano coming to crescendo then all but Equilibre amplifiers (and I tested almost every tube amp under the sun) recreated her gorgeous voice as police siren - so many distortions was there at 2 kHz. Only Equilibre could show this voice(s) equally gorgeous at low and high levels and I grabbed it!!!!

" could play it to a very nice volume and yet the VU meters on the amps hardly move "

As I am sure you are well aware, NAD experiments showed that human ear/brain is sensitive to musical peaks of even 3 msec duration and unless its heavy metal it will rarely be longer then 500 msec (may be less then 0.1% of recorded music). That means that while your ear/brain will register the peak (distorted or not)- your VU meter will barely move and I doubt if you could see its movement over just a few hundred milliseconds duration.

When I read your post I checked McCormack and Spectron specs - since the author of this thread is interested in these two amplifiers.

Most interesting is that at full output McCormack distortion level is 1% and Spectrons is 0.3% or 30 time better.

So, if he - in his testing - will stress his system with Mahler symphonies then.... I am waiting for his report !!!!

All The Best
Hey guys. Just hooked the Spectron Musician III Mk2 Mono-blocks up for about 4 hours, so only initial observations. Contrary to what I thought I would hear, I prefered the highs on the Spectrons, cymbals/brushes sounded much more real. The McCormacks almost seemed rolled off but not as natural. Now the bass was just the opposite. They both played deep and powerful, but the bass of the McCormack had a more natural, woody, organic sound. Overall the Spectros seem to have higher resolution and the McCormacks seem more forgiving, maybe due to lower resolution.

Dob, I really don't look too much at specs to judge a piece of gear's sonics, but your quoted distortion figures could account for some of what I heard.

At this point I need to buy or return the McCormacks (they have about 75 hours now), but I'm not ready to make a decision yet, so I will return the McCormacks. I'm not counting them out, as I found them very musically engaging.

I have the Spectrons for 2 weeks, so I need to put some hours on them to form a better opinion of their sonics.

Till then--
Dob, thanks for your input. As far as the musical peaks thing goes, FWIW I am used to seeing those meters move a little- the fact that they don't on the Sashas in the system I heard says to me they are easy to drive.

Given the amps you mentioned, I would go with your choice too, I think. Not all tube amps are equal!!
2/16/10-Initial comparison:
I can only compare the new Musicians to the McCormack DNA-750 mono-blocks at this point. The highs are much better and more “real”, to me, on the Spectrons. The bass is very strong and powerful, maybe more so, on the Spectrons, but the McCormacks may have a more natural, organic bass. The midrange is, at this point, very similar, though I remember the Premiere, when bi-amped being smoother than both.

With that said, the Spectron Musicians are brand new, and may benefit from some burn-in time, as well as some isolation platforms.

2/20/10- Impressions-A few days later with Omicron Magic Dream Isolation on Spectrons (as I returned the McCormacks and could not compare Omicrons, but would assume both would benefit somewhat equally)
Yes, the Spectrons are sounding better everyday. The mids and highs are getting ”silkier” with more air around the instruments and the bass is developing that natural organic extension I was looking for. I brought the McCormacks back to Katli Audio in Chino Hills. I was then heading to another dealer to pick up 2 Composite Products platforms for the Mono-Blocks. They retail for $550 ea, but I was getting a decent discount. I asked Fred, of Katli, what he uses. He showed me some Omicron Magic Dream-$130 for a set of 3. They create a floating “platform” (with no platform, just 3 "sticks", like Stillpoints, that I put under each amp and immediately I noticed a tighter deeper bass, better dynamics and better soundstage with more air around the instruments. I only listened for a half an hour, as my family wanted to see the movie Avatar. I will have to do more evaluations by switching my CP platforms with the Omicrons. Anyway, very impressive and much less than the Composite Products platform.

I probably keep at least 1 Spectron, depending on sound when I disconnect 1 and convert the other to a stereo amp. Great option.

I could have been very happy with the McCormacks with their errors of omission, but the Spectrons provided more information, with possibly less distortion. Both amps exceed the older Spectron Premier 7 in all aspects of music.

Several days later-
After installing the Omicrons, immediately I noticed a tighter, deeper bass developing that natural organic extension I was looking for, the mids and highs are getting ”silkier” with more air around the instruments and the soundstage is improving in width and depth, with more air around the instruments, and better dynamics. I decided, after this, the Spectrons were the keepers. This was observed after only 4 hours of listening and maybe 60 hours on the amps, maybe 100 hours on the WP8s.

I checked out 1 Spectron amp in stereo mode, and thought the bass was solid, midrange smooth, and highs silky, but the overall impression was one of less impact and dynamics. The overall soundstage seemed smaller. It was missing something, almost like the speakers were out of phase, that I couldn’t necessarily put my finger on. Upon reinsertion of the 2nd Spectron as Mono-Blocks, all that was missing returned.

The Spectrons are a proprietary Class D amp (no ICE modules) without a switching power supply with high power (over 1000 watts into 8 ohms as Mono-Blocks) and high current.(can deliver 65 amp peaks) They use a fairly traditional power supply, as they weigh around 65 lbs. each. Like the comp. they are small and fit in my wife’s HT cabinet without generating any heat, and are very energy efficient only drawing 40 watts each at idle.

The WP8s now have close to 200 hours and are sounding fantastic. I have not had the dealer over yet to voice the system, as I wanted to settle on some amps and break in the WP8s first. Depending on the music, the WP8s disappear like no other speaker I’ve had in my system. They are much smoother and more dimensional, as well. They also excel at producing the bass punch and slam I sometimes crave. However, they don’t reproduce some of the lowest organ notes, like my PBNs did, but those frequencies are very rare. Overall, very happy with the WP8s.

Thanks again for all your advice.

Hello all,

I am a new one here... first post
I just moved to Seattle from ... Paris FR!
I am looking at buying a pair of Watt Puppy 8 here on Audiogon.
Back home I owned a pair of Kef Reference 203 powered by a Mcintosh preamp and power amp.
I was reasonably happy with it.

The reason for my posting here is the following:
I brought a Musical fidelity A1 amp and CD player with me (last Gen). This is a kit that I will always keep because of its efficiency/price ratio.

I am planing on using the A1 to power the W/P8 to begin with. I know it is not going to be ideal and some of you might think I am fool to do so but at least I will try.

So here is my question: what would you recommend I look for in terms of power amp to add to the A1 used as a preamp.
I know the Sasha speakers very well from hours of listening in France and would say that what I have enjoyed the most with them is solid state power amp and tube Preamp to give them some "warmth".... I don't know what to expect at all with the WP/8... I have actually never heard them...

any light you could shed would be greatly appreciated!
Wilson recommend (Davids favourites) are Ayre MXR's and VTL. at this price point.
" Anyone heard watt/puppy7 with Manleylab 250 neo classics?"

I did but with W/P-8. Spectrons (with Joule-Electra preamp) were much better in all respects - musicality the most, also realism, dynamic range etc.

Currently, I have Sasha and Spectrons (with Joule-Electra prwamp) drive them flowlessly!!!

A few weeks ago, I added E-SS racks from Still Points and all improved to the level I thought impossible to achieve. Of course it cannot help poor electronics...