Ayre V-5. But it will work best for what you are asking if you remove your dac and preamp. Keep your CD player and put something like a K-5 or Calypso in between them.
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JB, note what speakers he is using. Not exactly the best candidate for use with a 300B SET. And note that his present amplifier is rated at 250 watts per channel into 8 ohms.
On the other hand the VAC Renaissance 70/70 MkIII that I use, which utilizes four 300B's per channel in a push-pull parallel configuration, providing 70 watts per channel, MIGHT be a suitable match that would provide the qualities the OP is looking for. (I use it with speakers that have far more benign impedance characteristics, and that are far more efficient). It would also be a good fit relative to the OPs budget, although retubing, if and when necessary, would obviously be quite expensive.
Also, ZD's recommendations are always well worth considering.
I owned the 802N and 800S for 8 years and 2 months of time. I stopped after hearing the 800D. Why? Because B&W missses the most important part for the absolute sound in the world in highend. There crossovers are poor in depth. I did test a few Ayre amps in depth. Pass and also Primare give both a much deeper and wider stage compared to Ayre. There is depth but not in the same league as Pass Labs. A B&W 802N never will be good in giving a 3 dimensional image caused by the poor crossovers. It is that simple!!
If you plan to keep the B&Ws, the Ayre is likely one of the better choices. This speaker does not play well with tubes due to the nature of its load (4 ohms in the bass, 8 ohms in the mids and highs). Four ohm loads should be avoided with tube amps even if they have a 4 ohm tap- almost any output transformer will loose a good octave of bandwidth off of the bottom end, simply by going for 8 to 4 ohms and the distortion is usually higher.
If you really want serve your amplifier investment dollar, the speaker should be either 8 or 16 ohms for best results! Even if you have a transistor amp, if sound **quality** is your goal, you will do better with a higher impedance speaker as the amp will make less distortion (read: smoother, more transparent). If sound pressure is your goal, there is a slight advantage to four ohm speakers, assuming the efficiency is otherwise the same.
Based on my experience, I think that Ralph (Atmasphere) is spot on with his comments in the last paragraph of his response.
Johnmc67 - if you are looking for a substantive change or improvement in your system's sound (timbre, depth and spatial response) I would suggest that you consider different speakers. Not that I'm suggesting that there is anything wrong or lacking with your N802s, but the most effective way to make a major change in the sound of your system is by changing the components that actually generate the sound and interact with the room.
If you had an electric car and were looking to improve the ride to be smoother, would you first replace the tires or the voltage regulator?
Unsound, if you would like I can show you a letter from Steve McCormick that disputes your position. It was written to Paul Speltz, who is known for the ZERO autoformer and the Anti-cables.
The letter states that with the DNA-series amplifiers they sound better driving a 4 ohm load through the ZEROs as opposed to direct), wherein the amp is loaded at 16 ohms, despite the fact that the amp has no trouble whatsoever doubling power into 4 ohms and can drive that load all day.
I also have spec sheets on a good number of solid state amps. Take a look- you will see that the 4 ohm distortion level is always higher than 8 or 16 ohms. This distortion is composed of a variety of harmonics, including the 5th, 7th and 9th, which contribute brightness and harshness. Take those things away, or reduce them and the system is instantly more musical.
First - thank you all for your responses. All very helpful.
While I am happy enough with the sound, I have heard other systems that deliver so much more in the areas I mention - and I know you dont have to spend a fortune.
From what I am reading I should sell my N802s - pity because they are beautiful speakers....
Do the 802D or 803D have the same crossover issues?
ANyone like Harbeth's?
The 802D also cannot give a deep stage either. I listend to the 800D in the past. I knew I would stop here. I wanted to go to the next level. So what is the next level? The next level was a deeperand wider stage. What does a wider and deeper stage do? This makes the music you love more involving and more 3-dimensional. Wenn the spacse of the stage becomes bigger instruments and voices get for freedom and space during listening. They wil stand more loose from eachother. You close your eyes and suddenly you can see were every person is standing. The smile on your face is so much bigger. It is like in real that they are standing there. It is the most stunning way of listening to music. It is also very addictive, you want to listen for many hours. That is why I only want to sell 3-dimensional sound to my clients. I want to give them the thing I love so much. Wenn people listen to it, you understand that you never want to go back to 2-dimensional sound anymore.
This year I sold my old audio rack to a person who owns the Denon AVP-1 and POA-A1 combi. After 30 min hearing my set his words were: so this is the end of my Denon set. Because 3D is superior to any 2D sound. It is also the speed and timing what convinces people what they often miss in there set.
amps which can give depth: Primare, Pass Labs, Pathos. These you also can get 2nd hand for good prices.
Onkyo is the only brand I know to date which can give deth in the price range they work. Wenn you compare there competitors like Denon, Marantz, Cambridge, Nad and Yamaha you will hear how much smaller there stages are even used with speakers which can give a deep and wide stage. That is why I call these brands 2-dimensional.
the 1000 series of Focal can give a deep and wide stage.
Monitor Audio is the only brand I know to date which can give depth with all there speakers they make. Even the cheapest ones. In the past I sold the silver series with Primare a lot. All other shops sold 2-dimensional sound for this kind of money. I was the only one who could dilver a 3 dimensional sound. Even for not a lot of money.
I also use Onkyo with Primare amps togheter. With Audyssey Pro ( measured at my way) I can even get a higher level. I can adjust the stage depth and wide as I want it to be. And I can even adjust the freq. respons to the sound a person wants.
My current Bel Canto Ref1000m monoblocks are about as good as anything I have heard anywhere in recent years with my OHM and Dynaudio speakers, and come in your price range used, but there are certainly lots of great amps out there.
You just gotta pair up the right amp that floats your boat for the specific speakers and room at hand.
There probably is no single "best". If there is, I do not know what it is and not sure how such a thing could ever be determined even.
I would expect to have to open my wallet up way beyond any norm though in order to truly be able to afford the best of anything, and the cost these days for the "best" audio gear, assuming price is a good indicator, probably comes in right behind the price of the best home or car, or perhaps the undeniable perfect model woman? Like a Kate Upton or equivalent maybe?
Is that what you really want?
There are more way's to a 3-dimensional image. But there is a big but. In the world of audio there are unfortunately a lot more 2-dimensional products. These days I do not sell products anymore which give a 2-dimensional image. Wenn people ask for some brands who does give a 2dimensional image I give a negative advice. Wenn they still want it, it's ok with me.
Oh I am sure he is not done yet P59. He has only been talking about the multi-dimensionality of certain amps in this thread. Amps that coincidently are the ones he sells.
He hasn't started talking about how certain amps have "talent". Amps that again are the ones he happens to sell.
Its strange though, I keep looking for specifications for "dimensionality" and "talent" in an amp so I don't make a mistake and buy the wrong ones. But I have yet to find these specs in anyone's literature. I guess we'll just have to ask Bo, who coincidently happens to be an audio salesman.
Stage depth and wide can be created by all parts in a system. In over 15 years I am in this business you hear many many amps, sources, speakers and cables etc. Wenn I use the words properties/talents I talk about how is the stage build of the part you test. What is the sound? Is it warm, clean or more to natural. How is the speed and timing? How much weight and drive does it give. And how much detail/resolution it can give. And how sharp is the individual focus of instruments and voices? How is the level of blacks. Blacks is the space between the instruments and voices with there acoustic information were they were recorded. Wenn instruments and voices become more palpable were they stand the level in blacks is higher. Wenn you have done so many tests you easily can give everything you test properties/talents. Wenn I listen to a set within 10 seconds I know what there is and what is missing.( with my own music) You use the right properties to complete the parts which are missing.
What are the biggest difference between 2 and 3 dimensional sound. Wenn you visit other shops, shows and people at home most sets are what I call 2-dimensional. This means that everything you play most instruments and voices stand on the same line. There is maximum 1 metre of depth. Many amps and also speakers push the image forwards. I Always use simple recordings with 2 instruments and 1 voice to let people hear the difference between 2 and 3 dimensional. So it is easy for everybody to understand.
A 3-dimensional stage is a lot wider and deeper. Wenn you use it to the max the music will even become from beside your speakers. Many instruments ( depending on the recording ofcourse) can come from 4-5 metres from behind the speakers.
What is the difference what it does to you wenn you listen to a 3-dimensional image. Wenn instruments and voices stand full loose and palpable infront of you, you know in a few seconds that it is a different world. I can see it on the smiles of the people who are listening. During listening you can focus on every person who plays an instrument or who is singing. You can walk true the recording during listening. The level of emotion is so much higher wenn you play 3-dimensional. The distance between you and the music is smaller. It is more intimate. this is the word many people use wen they listen to it. I feels like you are pulled into the music. Wenn you are at a show I Always take a look at the faces of people. Wenn you see many smiles you know it is good.
Bo1972 is very open and straightforward as to who he is and what he sells. He makes it crystal clear he is a dealer and has many clients.He's expressing his opinions and experiences with various brands, what is wrong with that? People can take his comments for what you think they're worth. I certainly don't get the impression he's here hunting for more business.
The world of audio is small. Everyone knows eachother. The thing I hate most is the high level of egoism. They are nice to you wenn you sell there stuff. Wenn you do not sell it anymore it suddenly changes a lot. The thing I dislike most is how many people in this business sell average or even poor audio for high prices. People are not informed by honnest information. Wenn you visit them at home you are often amazed about the low level the play. Even wenn they paid a lot of money. My direct approach will never be everybody's favorite. Because sometimes prefer there own truth. They want to hear what they would like to hear. Wenn you criticise there stuff they often feel like you attack them. So people can get irritated. People have to learn to look further. Also in audio. That is why I never will use the words you should buy this. I only say; you should listen to this. In real I have the advantage that I can make my words stronger and more honnest by letting people hear it. Because honnesty is everything for me. I do consulting in sound and vision because I love the freedom. I worked for over 8 years in audio shops. But for me it is no challenge anymore. I hope people will open there eyes to see there is more. You do not have to agree with me. Because every person can have there own opinion.
That is certainly the case Charles1dad. He makes it very clear that he sells Pass Labs, Monitor Audio and Onkyo. I have no problem that he is a dealer. In fact, I have stated more than once that he is one of the very few dealers that recommends cheaper components over much more expensive ones. What I find wrong is that fact he is taking over every thread by repeating the same thing over and over again. Check for yourself what is the typical number of posts he is posting in a thread, and more importantly, if there are any significant differences between his posts.
I do not only talk about these brands. There are a lot more products I like or talk about. The people who have comments on me often owns products I criticised about. Or they have a different opinion. That is a forum for. You also have the freedom to give your own thoughts about it. Be open and say your own opinion.
Usher is a different price league. I auditioned them at shows. I like the looks and also the sound and image. But Usher is working also at a higher level compared to Monitor Audio. It is difficult to compare. There are more speakers which can give a 3-dimensional image. Monitor Audio is not the only one. Monitor Audio there cheapest speakers even can give depth, this you do not find in the lower price ranges. Magico is a brand which also give a good 3D stage. But is working at a much higher level.
I had learned about most of my gear (and bought) through the postings here. Be it from members, manufactures or dealers, that means justifies my ends as it got me to my VERY satisfying system and closer to my love of music. The icing on the cake is that I've met great like-minded people along the way!!
Bo1972, My fathers heritage was pure Dutch and hence my surname, of which I am very proud of:) Following Nvp's posting of "never critized the brands I own", in another thread, you had downplayed a source component of which I use. You had some listening experience of that brand overall. When I came back with a well received review to the contrary of your opinion, you were humble and admitted of not hearing it all. I welcome all of your postings.