Amplifier Recommendation for B&W Nautilis 804

I currently have N804's driven by Musical Fidelity a3CR amp and preamp. While I like the sound, I am finding the combo a bit lacking in weight, particularly in the bottom end. I'd like to see a little more punch in the music without losing detail that the a3 is known for. The A3cr is 125 watts into 8 ohms, and the 804's are rated from 50-200 watts into 8 ohms. I would spend up to 3000 for a noticable improvement.

Does anyone have a similar setup and/or any suggestions? Thanks.
Go with a Plinius SA-100 used or if you can a Plinius SA-102, sound great with B&W's
agree -- plinius sa-102 or sa-250.

plinius + B & W = great match.
The Plinius is a nice choice. Still, even the older Used Threshold T200's are as good and stronger in the bass!...and overall strong enough at 100w even. The Pass X150 is also stellar. I'd chose these later over the Plinius in my experiences with 804's.
A possible better choice for you however is TO NOT SELL YOUR AMP YET! If you picked up another excellent bass amp(like most any of Parasounds offerings, which have adjustable gain controls), you could use that on the bottom, and yours on top, and BI-AMP! This is a MUCH STRONGER combination and option. Before you go "ditchville"
you might consider this. I would bi-amp those speakers, as it seems to be the way to go with them. I've bi-amped those speakers with dual Classe CA151's, and the sound was superb for the money!
Actually, it'll save you money, and possibly improve on bass if you end up with, say a Parasound HCA1500 or 2200 driving the bass. The one thing the Parasound's do well is bass indeed!
Hope this helps
I purchased the very same speaker, amp and preamp last year. IMHO the problem of lack of weight, particularly in the bass, is inherent in the speaker. Find yourself a REL Storm or comparable powered sub and your problem will be solved.
I also agree with wiggle --

If you like B & W Speakers, consider upgrading to
the N803's or N802's. In my opinion, there is a big
jump in quality from the 804's to the 803's, especially
in the depth and tightness of the bass, but also in the
overall coherency and sound-stage.

And, it *would* be interesting to bi-amp, using solid
state for the bottom end and tubes for mid-range up.

Like to hear the results of that experiment.

But first, I think I would upgrade the speaker before
the amp.

Check out the N803's before you try to solve the problem
with the amp!
Thx for all your ideas. I cannot put larger speakers in my room, so a couple of questions:

Mrwigglerm, did you try other amps (ie more power, known for weight like Bryston, etc)and not get results?

If anyone has used a REL sub, once you set it up, do you get consistent sound or do you have to keep adjusting it?

Also, unfortunately, I don't have room to bi-amp. The 804s have two woofers in them. How much power do you need to drive them at the same levels as the mid/tweeter?

Thanks for your help!
I had the 803s but upgraded recently to the 802s. I am powering the B&W with the Marsh A400 (200 w/ch). I would give the Marsh a listen, as well as the Bryston 4BSST and the MF a308cr.

I agree with others that bass on your N804's will always be limited. :( Still, a bigger amp or biamping can't hurt.

I drive N803's with an (ancient) SAE s/s amp. 200wpc into 8 ohms rising to 300wpc into 4. The old thing has ample dynamics and virtually never clips. Whatever you pick, make sure its output increases significantly into more resistive loads. All the Nautilus are only nominally 8 ohm speakers. They can drop as low as 3, which puts a huge demand on the amplifier's current delivery.
Jeff --

Amps do make a difference. I recently added Krell
FPB 350 MCX monos to the front left and right and
I was able to turn my subwoofer completely off. The
Krells really filled out the bass, made it nice and
tight, deep and detailed. Then again, my speakers
had the capability for that kind of bass -- it just
took the Krells to maximize them.

I can highly recommend the Plinius -- I heard the
combo of Plinius SA-250 and N804. That Plinius was
getting everything out of those 804's and thensome.

Are plinius amps widely available in the US, so that I can have a listen?

Also, has anyone tried the N804 with the bryston 4bsst?
Jeff -- go to Plinius' web-site -- they should have a
dealer locator or a US distributor who you can contact
to find your nearest dealer.
Jeff, I played around a bit with the B and W before I decided on a more neutral speaker. While the B and W series in general, and the 800's in particular deliver great musicality and detailed midrange - what is called the british sound - their low ends are invariably weak. I hope you get what you are looking for in an amp that tries to do what you are looking for, but my gut feel is you need a different speaker for depth and accuracy in the bass. Just my 2 cents - Thx, Arvindh
Thanks for all the feedback. Actually, the weight or bass is great on some recordings, but a little week on others, so I'm not sure of a speaker problem for my tastes. I think I'm going to try a little harder driving amp, like the plinius, maybe classe, and maybe bryston.

Anyone heard the 804s with a Bryston or Classe?
I heard Classe with the CDM7's. Classe Yanked them around by the nose. I didn't see the need for dual bass drivers that the CDM 9's use. B&W was using Classe Omega's on their snail so maybe B&W likes the synergy.
I disagree that B&W has "the British sound". Spendor, yes. BBC monitor's also. I don't think British sound means weak in the bass anyhow. Not if you compare B&W to Spendor. From what I've read, B&W made the Nautilus to be neutral and to be used in European homes with solid plaster walls. Sheetrock walls used in US looses bass.
Sam Tellig was right IMHO that B&W bass is unbeatable. It is very accurate. Something you can't get with underdamped bass. But it tends to be quick with little overhang hence the feeling of little bass. B&W choose small excursion on the bass for better linearity/less distortion. Active speaker bass is better but for passive designs B&W is pretty good. Better to have too little up to just right bass vs. just right up to overbearing bass IMHO.
Karls, I think, had an excellent post last year describing how a 6" bass driver cannot be effective over something like 75-80 dB. A larger or double 6" was good for 90 dB. I'm going by memory so don't quote me exactly.
I didn't find Classe, Bryston, or Plinius (why do people recommend Plinius so much anyhow?) to be neutral. But that may not be your goal. Krell would be my first recommendation if you want more punch. The new A3.2cr also is more krell-like but tends to be bright. Sort of the smiley-face equalization. It may measure flat in M-F spec sheet but sure doesn't sound flat into real-world speaker load.
Otherwise suggestion for a REL sub is excellent. B&W rolls off pretty evenly and a good sub up to 40 hz would help a lot.
Also have you looked into putting speaker more into the corner? N804 has such wide dispersion you can put them 9-10 feet apart and stil not have center image breakup.
BAT VK-200
Jeff, don't know if you're still amplifier shopping, but I just started feeding my N803's with a c-j MF2500A. Absolutely stunning results. We are immensely pleased because it does *exactly* what you said you wanted: musical bass with slam *and* control, very fast and detailed microdynamics. It also eliminated the last vestige of graininess from our system. Lousy digital recordings are still lousy recordings, but they're no longer painful.

Dealer demo MF2500's go for about $2300 or you could get an MF2500 used for about $1500 and have c-j upgrade it to "A" status for another $500. Strongly recommended.

Agree w/ all the people posting above because EACH one has recommended a power amplifier that is "brute" in terms of current sourcing/sinking capabilty. I own the 604S2 speakers from B&W & from my experience these speakers NEED a "brute" to power them. They "sing" when the volume is turned up a bit(evidence).

So, whatever you choose make sure that it has lots of lower volume level current sourcing capability. You are probably not going to exceed 50W from the amp so make sure that it can source ample current at that lower level. Obviously to buy a "brute" with some finesse will cost you money! This, IMO, is WORTH it 'cuz the more clean your power amplification, the better the N804 is going to sound.

If you satisfy these 2 criteria the N804 should sound very nice indeed (even tho I agree that you should have gotten the N803 or N802 right from the start! Budget is always a concern so just enjoy what you have).

Give it lots of clean power & it will delight you w/ its sound. B&W uses 4th order x-over ckts & this screws up the impedance curve ruling out the littler amps. My 604S2 says 90dB SPL & I thought that this would require a decent amp but I found that I really need a very good amp! The 90dB SPL had me fooled!

Agree with Cdc in that Plinius is not neutral to my ear - atleast not the SA-100 Mk3. The SA-102 might be better but I have not heard it. However, the SA-50 (50W/ch BUT class-A) might sound better than SA-100 Mk3.
Some of the bigger Parasound amps can source large currents. Their Halo seems to be more refined & on A'gon they even seem to be reasonably priced used.
No one has mentioned Pass Labs X series amps. They are expensive but the N804 will thank you.
Bombaywalla, great reply.

"So, whatever you choose make sure that it has lots of lower volume level current sourcing capability. You are probably not going to exceed 50W from the amp so make sure that it can source ample current at that lower level."

How do you know an amp meets this?
You got tons of good feedback. I have owned N805's, currently own N804's and am familiar with two more systems with N804's and N803's.
With N8XX speakers, wimpy amps need not apply, period! Even the N805's that I used to own didn't wake up until I put a gutsy amplifier on them (a Krell).
Also, go immediately to the Sound Anchor website. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Instead, spend $225 and get a pair of their dedicated speaker stands. I did. The other three guys that I know who own N804's and N803's heard mine and now have these stands. All four of us got a substantial improvement. Money very well spent!
Best of luck and have fun.
I got a good deal on used N804s one time. They had a beautiful cabinet and all but my new Paradigm Reference 100.2s have a much more pleasing sound quality. B&W lack weight - just as you said. I am glad I got rid of the 804s. Arthur

Unfortunately, there is no standard procedure to determine this! Nothing in the spec will show you this either!

It will be determined by the listener him/herself. If the store you are auditioning the B&W has a number of amp brands try on the smaller ones & then some of the bigger ones. You will hear the sound diff. The bigger amps will lend more authority & weight to the sound + they will sound "right".

All these terms are fuzzy & each person's ear is diff. so the definition of "authority", "right" is all subjective & I cannot exactly define these for you. I can tell you that the bigger amps sound much better w/ B&W.

Sorry for such a non-commital answer! It's very subjective.
I agree with you Bombay, the Nautilus speaker do need good clean power and a lot of it. I will also second, or third, the Sound Anchor stands, big difference.
I have been very happy with Cary SLP 2002 & V12 driving my N804s in triode @50wpc in my 11'x13'room. N804s are made for small rooms like mine. For tweaks, remove speaker and tweeter covers. Tweeter covers are magnetic attached. The Sound Anchor stands tighten bass.
I agree with Bombaywalla on Pass Labs amps. I had N802's and drove them with a Pass X250. It was a great match. I also had N804's prior to getting the N802's. I drove the N804's with a Krell FPB200 and a McCormack DNA2. I was never disappointed in the bass of these amps with the N804's, but the Pass X250/N802 combo was very special from top to bottom.
How 'bout just buying a new house with better acoustics? Cheaper than upgrades..? ;-)
A common complaint about the B&W 804 Nautilus is their lack of weight.

A solution to this is to have them sit on granites stands made by HNE. They cost around US$500 here in the UK but they make a huge difference to bass weight and overall integration of bass with the mids. Without the stands, I find the 804s lacking bass weight and its bass timing somewhat odd. I certainly think that these stands are essential for the 804Ns to sound good.
Compared to the N803, the N804's bass is loose and flabby. It's a problem inherent in the speaker -- even when it *is* properly amplified.
Before spending a lot of money on accessories, I would trade up to the N803's, which will always have more weight and more satisfying bass. Or, I would take a look at some Sonus Faber Grand Piano Homes, which,
IMO, sound better than N804's, cost a little less, and are a lot more efficient -- meaning -- it won't be nearly so hard to drive them.
I agree w/ many posters above. Get a good amp and put the speakers on spikes. Try checking out the Soundcare superspikes. These added more base response to my B&W CDM9's then the Odyssey Stratos amp did (150 w/ch). Plus adding a decent OFC speaker wire will help quite abit as well. I second the Krell recommendation above. This addition to my system added quite a bit of base control.
I got my superspikes at Spearitsound in Boston.