With Burmester 911 mk3 you're simply in a different league...In my opinion "better"...
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Our listening test take place acout one year ago using Dartzel preamp, Nordost Valhala ICs and SCs and Acapella Violon (mk?) loudspeakers. The final result was unanimus from three persons having absolutely no interest of it. All of us claim that Thorens had more refined sound, presence, perfect timbre, better soundstage in every dimension and better instrument separation in big orchestra works. Burmester was more bass oriented amplifier, but again in a manner that covered the rest frequency range.
Sorry, but I totaly disagree with you.
Hr1, Magnepan speakers are famous for being current-hungry and very hard to drive, not a typical load.
The OP has BW 801 speakers, an easier load.
So, IMHO, your audition does not prove unequivocaly that amplifier A is better than B, it only shows that the Burmester amps were very happy to drive the Magnepan speakers.
Murrayp, I believe that you would be better off by upgrading your speakers, because your amp and digital rig are recent, top tier products.
The 801 is an old design. BW and several other speakers manufacturers have evolved their designs by leaps and bounds, several new speakers are much better-sounding than your 801s. The 801 large/heavy woofer is quite difficult to control, it tends to sound overweight and slightly boomy if not driven by a very powerful amp with iron-fist control of the bass, therefore your success with the switched amp.
I suggest that you audition Sonus Faber, Verity Audio, Vienna Acoustics and Revel speakers. These are only a few examples of speakers that certainly will better match your electronics and improve your system's sound quality.
Listened many times an Acapella Triolon Exalibur (latest version) owned by a my closest friend...
My friends owns a mono-pair of Burmester 911 MK3 with Burmester 808 MK5, power conditioner Burmester 948, cd player Burmester 069 and a mono-pair top of Mactone with the related preamplifier. All was cabling with Nordost Odin...
For my friend and his friends, including me, the superiority has been unanimous in favor of Burmester ... I think, in that particular situation, the result was particularly amazing and considering your opionion I could realize that our taste diverts us with evaluations. Personally I do not like colored sounds. I searched delicacy and especially extreme linearity. With Burmester the way is right...This of course is my opinion...
Many thanks to all who have taken the time to contribute their thoughts and experiences. I greatly appreciate all your comments. I guess the question was really a bit simplistic and only one step better than "what is the best amplifier?". Of course at this level they are all great pieces of equipment, and of course each will have its own particular strengths and character, and these will inevitably suit some loads/speakers more than others.
It is interesting that posts have discussed experiences with Acapella speakers - I actually owned a pair of Violon Suboktav Bass (about 2000 vintage) for a few years. I had B&W801ns before that and in the end I went back to the newer B&W801ds (the choices are not so wide out here in New Zealand). The Violins did some things incredibly well, but I listen to more modern music, jazz and electronica than classical. Not surprisingly perhaps in this case I guess I found the 801s were more integrated, controlled and forceful, if ultimately less resolving. Giving up the plasma tweeter was hard though :-(
Casouza, thanks for your advice. I actually listened to the 800ds as well before returning to 801s - the 800s had better mid-bass integration and in retrospect I should have bought those probably - but for electronica and recreatign ahll ambience the lows from the 801 are hard to beat. I think the top B&Ws can do better than most people give them credit for, but I'd agree the mids have a certain coarseness to their character. Several years ago I heard the Burmester 001 player and 911 amp driving middle of the line (Strauss) Vienna Acoustics speakers with live jazz club music. The realism was quite stunning, particularly in the portrayal of depth, so I have been attracted to that combination since. I guess their new speakers must be quite excellent. I think you are quite right to identify teh speakers as the weakest link (well probably my room is weaker unfortunately.....)
Thanks again to all for the time taken. In my case anyway, I find with good gear that, yes, in a given system one amp my sound better (usually to all listeners) than another. But actually both sound great and either would be fine. So probably there is no wrong decision and other factors (availability and ease of resale for instance) must be considered too. So... I have the small ASR with its particular character, and I have no thought to sell it at this stage, but I'll also find a 911 and see how it works out.
Thanks again for so freely and enthusiastically sharing your experience.
I agree with Casouza. But first I have to honest. The level of gear you people are talking does make me a bit jalous. I think I have spend less then 10% on my system then you spend on amps. You have the gear I could only dream of. But I have heard some high level gear at shows and dealers. So my info might not be the best but still here it is.
Dump the speakers. I have heard most of the B&W 800 series but thought the 801 was the worst of the bunch for the money. The 802 with a pair of velodyne DD12 subs or a B&W 800 with no subs. But still at that level I think there are better speakers like Wilson Audio, Verity Audio, Martin Logan Summit, Martin Design etc etc all depending on personal taste.
Enjoy the music.
Burmester is maybe more expensive, but it is NOT in a different league..the Burmester can charge alot of extra $ for the name only, and its very good..But, I have owned both units, and sold the Burmester mk3 and kept the Emitter 2 exclusive ( which I still use)..In my opinion and many who heard the a-b testing ( which was done by a meriod of some months, to let each of the amps break in... the Emitter 2 exclusive was simply much better. It can drive much more difficult loads, with an extreme amount of current to back up those loads. I know of no amp to even come close to the current this amp can provide.