B & W Matrix 801 S3 and tube amplifier


I cannot find an impedance graph for B & W 801 S3.. The manufacturer states min impedance of 4 ohm and recommends amp of at least 50W. I am wondering if a 60W tube amp such as Conrad Johnson MV 60 or Premier 11A would do the job for mostly low level listening in a small-mid size room. Does anybody have experience with similar combination ? Would ss Conrad Johnson amp be a much better match ?
pvctor
Even in a small room for "mostly" low level listening you should have as much solid state power as you can afford for that speaker.
the speaker will work with 60W as long as the amp can produce solid bass.
as for solid state a minimum of 100 quality watts would be plenty- 200W would
be optimal if you like big orchestrations in a 15x20 room. but your room is of modest size, so
while the 802 would be a better match, the 801 just wants a great signal to work with. this is not a watt-puppy with a 2ohm dip in impedence.
frequently blown output tubes guarranteed even at low listening levels as the best case scenario while could be far more complicated problems driving loads that substantially exceeding the amplifier abilities.
tube pre OK, but not tube amp.
Agree rrog . 110 wpc plus with levinson didnt come close in my 17x14x8 room. Give them 300 wpc or so and tons of current, and you get close. Would not think of tubes on any 800 series. Ive had 805, 803, 802 and 801s at different times with levinson, symphonic line and rowland. I never found a tube amp I hated enough to feed to the 802 or 801.
Totally agree w/ Rrog & Marakenetz. The 801 S3 is one of the finest speaker systems ever made. However, they are inefficient and were designed for professional-level amplification. Auditioned them back in the day with Threshold Stasis electronics, Sota Sapphire with a Magnepan Unitrac arm and Dynavector 23RS Ruby. Wow! Bought the table rig but couldn't swing the speakers at the time. Don't fool around; go for as much current and power as you can get. You won't be disappointed.
I use 801 s3 with tube amps. They really like high wattage, High current amps that cost big money. Getting those speakers to perform well has cost me a lot but it was worth every penny.
thanks for the comments .. 60-70W tube will not do it .. The most expensive tube amp I can afford would be Audio Research VT 100 MK II or III .. But based on the responses even 100W of tube power will not be sufficient(anybody tried this combo?). Since I have Conrad Johnson PV 12 pre-amp I would consider MF 2500A. I also like Simaudio and would consider W5.. Does anybody have experience with MF 2500A or W5 with 801 S3 ? Any other good suggestion under $2500.00 to be inserted between CJ PV 12 and B&W 801 S3 ?
Parasound Halo JC1's if you can find a deal on a used pair.
The A21 if you can't.
At your price range you need class D powerful amp such as Red Dragon or Wyred4sound.
I recommend Mark Levinson for the 801 series 3. You should be able to pick up a 23 or 23.5 in your price range. If you go with Levinson you will want to sell your CJ preamp and look for a Levinson preamp.
I agree with Rrog and would add the Classe CAM 350 amps. I used them for 6 months with 801's and performed pretty darn good.

Good Luck
We ran smaller/ mediem tube amps on them Quicksilver mono's and ARC and the quality was all there for acoustic jazz I would try it with the CJ . JohnnyR.
Pvctor - I am wondering if a 60W tube amp such as Conrad Johnson MV 60 or Premier 11A would do the job for mostly low level listening in a small-mid size room. Does anybody have experience with similar combination ?

Hi Pvctor – hows it going fellow canuckeer ?

Yes it should work.

But like anything else in this hobby especially an amp it should be trialed – imo – unless the money involved is no big deal so you can sell it later if you don’t like it.

Set the amp for the 4 ohm tap. My Music Reference RM9 tube amp sounds great with my 801’s at 4ohms. My Classe amp sounds ok with them too.

The 801’s are a fairly easy medium load - imo. Acoustats are a hard load. FrenchFries gave good advice imo – they are looking for a clean signal and don’t go down to 1 or 2 ohms.

The better the signal the better the sound quality. They are like looking in the mirror as far as your gear/room goes.

I asked the fellow that made my OTL’s that I run my 801s with about that CJ amp.

His reply.

“This amp is a copy of the Williamson circuit from 1947 without the driver stage. Not very quick and average bass performance.
The typical EL-34 and KT-88 output tubes have very high resistance necessitating a large turns ratio in the output transformer. On these type of tube amplifiers if a 8 ohm output is connected to a 4 ohm speaker the primary of the output transformer almost doubles in impedance. This affects the power transfer from the output tubes to the transformer resulting in reduced output wattage. The performance will not suffer, just the output.”

Cheers

05-06-13: Marakanetz
frequently blown output tubes guarranteed even at low listening levels as the best case scenario while could be far more complicated problems driving loads that substantially exceeding the amplifier abilities. tube pre OK, but not tube amp.

Must have been quite the scene at your place Marakanetz... When did you own the 801s and what tube amp ?
Ct,

I don't own 801's. I would never think of owning 801 for few reasons: 1. I don't like it's sound(which is main) 2. I haven't heard any successful demo in any room auditioned and with any amp. 3. I can't afford it or simply I would not waste money on the product that I don't like.

I fix tube, solid state and pro audio equipment part time at my dwelling knowing a large array of reasons why I get equipment to fix. After I've got equipment fixed, I'd have a very big chance of it comming back to me in few months guess why?? Because there are too many philes that think they could get arround with low-powered amp or having no idea what is impedance mismatch.

JohnnyR is a dealer that may demo or connect it for a few minutes to the unused speaker and let it go. OP wants to listen I guess a-bit longer. On a used speaker the outcome may become different when speaker breaks-in and voice coils become working at much larger dynamics and frequencies creating substantially more complex loads to the amp resulting higher operating temperatures on all circuit elements becides tubes.

If you listen to small band(no piano) on low volume levels or spoken word you can even use SET amp driving your speakers. Otherwise refer to majority of above posters.
"“This amp is a copy of the Williamson circuit from 1947 without the driver stage. Not very quick and average bass performance."

This is just the opposite of what the 801's 12" woofer needs to sound its best.
Rrog and Marakanetz

When someone asks for an opinion I like to read about direct experiences and real data. Based on the OP’s requirements – which may change, my reply was based on his OP. I figure he can make a decision based on his own.

How do we know he doesn't have a friend down the street who has this amp he can borrow. We don't. Not enough info yet.

Just remember when someone says:

Yes it should work

This implies it will work – you will get sound - does not imply it will sound good to the OP. This is subjective.

Which is why I said.

But like anything else in this hobby especially an amp it should be trialed – imo – unless the money involved is no big deal so you can sell it later if you don’t like it.


05-08-13: Rrog
"“This amp is a copy of the Williamson circuit from 1947 without the driver stage. Not very quick and average bass performance."

This is just the opposite of what the 801's 12" woofer needs to sound its best.

Rrog - I agree which is why I put it out there for Pvctor to consider.

Cheers
i think technical work along with testing of technical work on various components is considered to be direct experience by definition and i didn't say that it won't work. it will only for a while.
Thanks everybody for the comments. I will focus my search on solid state amp(s). So far I have Simaudio Moon w5 on my radar and I am curious about CJ MF 2500A.. Parasound seams like a good suggestion (will have to do some reading on their models) .. Are Parasound amps reliable? Do they retain value over time ? Any other suggestion for a secondhand amp in approximately $1500 - $2500 price range that would go well with CJ PV 12 and B & W 801 S3 ?
Parasounds IME are very reliable which is probably why they have one of the strongest warranty's, 5 years parts and labor. Of all the brands that I have custom installed, other than possibly McIntosh, they give me the least problems.
PS- It is the Halo line from Parasound that IMO are an excellent match with 801's.
801s deserve better.
Rrog, Should I assume that your comment refers to Parasound? By the way , I appreciate your straight to the point message.
I have read about Parasound A21 ( I do not think I can score JC1's in my price range) and somehow I feel more conformable spending $2500 on a 5 + years old amp than on a new one.
Any alternative to Mark Levinson that you already recommended ? How would my first choice (at least for now) Simaudio Moon W5 compare to Levinson?
Is there anybody who has had 801 S3 and Moon W5 ?
I do not think I gen get CAM 350 that Vegasears recommended for $2500 or less ? What other Classe amp would be a good match with 801s? I have not had a chance to listen to a Classe amp. I am looking for a rich , full sounding (not lean ) and not bright amp. Do Classe amps generally fit that description?
Does anybody have a experience with Classe & 801 S3 ? How would the combo CJ PV 12 , Classe amp and 801 work ?
Pvctor, The Levinson amplifiers I recommended are outstanding with 801 Series 3 speakers. The only thing better is Levinson Class A monos, but you will not find them within your budget. The only Parasound to consider is the JC models (John Curl) who also designed some of the early Levinson products which are still in high demand. All of the new equipment that compares to the amplifiers I recommended will cost a fortune and everything else is a shot in the dark. You will most likely have to lose the CJ preamp and find a Levinson preamp. You don't hear much about them, but they are extremely good preamps and will give you the most from the Levinson amplifier. You will not be disappointed with that combination.
CAM 350 is great amp if you can get within your budget.
There are a lot of good amps. The trick is finding the right match.
in any situation CAM350 fits well budget components and way better than 60W CJ.
if funds will allow CAM350 will be easy to sell/replace.
Hi Pvctor

Attached are a couple of graphs from B&W for the 801 matrix.

801 Impedance Curve

Note the 4 ohm symbol. Not sure why it was plotted on this paper. You can also find plotted graphs on the stereophile review of the S2.

801 Frequency Response with & without BAF

The above graph is from the UK. All 800 matrix series B&W speakers are an active design as you are probably aware, and were meant to be run with the BAF and were shipped with them. Unfortunately these ended up getting lost as speakers went from one owner to the next.
The BAF’s allow for extension to 20hz on 801’s. This is documented in the owners manuals. The BAF’s also make the speaker more sensitive then the advertised 87 db. More bass extension and sensitivity is documented in the B&W BAF owners manual as well. My listening confirms this. I have owned my 801 S3 for 18 years. I own a couple different BAF versions.

Hope this helps and good luck with them.

Any questions you can reach out to me at bcpguy@bell.net

Cheers
that is to see from the graphs that mid-powered 60wpc tube amp will always and constantly have a current deficit.
I hate to revive an old thread but recently I had the opportunity to run my 801-2 with a Musical Paradise MP-501 Mk2 and I was left in awe. My current Bryston 7b's and BP25 sounded thin, grainy and lifeless in comparison to the 60w tube amp. I swapped in the Bryston equipment now i am left disappointed with my system and considering going tubes. I'm not sure if a Tube Preamp with Bryston amps are the cure but you can definitely run the 801's on tubes and be happy.