i'll add to your great shortlist...electrocompaniet e3, or 4...the very overlooked nad m series...the magnum dynalab 308 integrated.
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The Krell KAV-400xi is in your price range, and worked very well for me, when I had my B&W N804s & N803s. This is a nice sounding and powerful (400-wpc>4-ohms) Integrated Amp., with excellent bass extension. It was in my B&W System for a few years, along with the Krell SACD Standard, which made for a great, inexpensive, and nice looking 2-box system. I had to spend 3X the cash to improve on this Int. Amp.
Musical Fidelity A5 - used
Shanling A-3000 - new
Cayin A-88T Vacuum Tube Integrated/Power Amp - new ("only" 45 W, but you will be surprised)
Vincent Audio - SV-236 Hybrid - new
Primare i30 - used if you can find one for under 2 grand
Bel Canto is interesting, but if the Rowland didn't do it for you, I am a bit skeptical this one will either - again buy used if you can find one
Creek 5350SE integrated amp. new for about $1600, used for about $800. Neutral but very life-like. Dynamic. Plenty of power. reliable. great midrange with a variety of speakers. I am currently using them with Dynaudio 70s. They run about 4 Ohms but occasionally can dip to 3 Ohms. Highly recommended.
Maybe, but Six Moons notes the Blue Circle NSCS "is equipped with a massive 600VA toroidal transformer and over 100,000 microfarads of reservoir capacitance for a power output of 110wpc into an 8 ohms." That is a lot of reserve capacitance available for transients. While maximum volume may ultimately be reduced compared to say, a 500W Rotel digital separate or Musical fidelity KW 550 integrated, at most listening levels I think the Blue Circle would keep up quite well with the 804's and provide a nuanced listening experience hard to get in one box under two grand, IMO.
You don't need the power for maximum volume but control of the woofers with the B&Ws. Potential volts is unimportant compared to actual power delivery into the load.
I didn't offer a specific integrated because I don't really know one in his price range with the power that I suggest. The Rowland Continuum 500 will do it, but that's 4-times his budget. Separates is probably the only way to get the needed power at that price point.
Perhaps of some relevance here - posting from "Maccur" on AVSForum.com
"I don't know about Martin Logans, but I did an in-store comparison between the two about two years ago and went with the Musical Fidelity A5 for my B&W Nautilus 804 two-channel system. The Krell just didn't seem to have the depth and soundstage of the Musical Fidelity and, like most Krells, seemed to emphasize the bass. It's been a great match with the 804s, but it might be totally different with the Martin Logans. The best advice, as always, is to try out the equipment in your home and choose what sounds best to you."
I have always liked the MF A5 a lot.
If separates are a possible track, that would be a whole different ball of wax. Shooting for decent sound, control and power in excess of 100W in a pair of even used separates for under 2 grand is a tall order.
The product that immediately comes to my mind would be a used Odyssey Stratos amplifier with the Cap upgrade for power and possibly an Odyessy Candela tube preamp. This combination could be had for under two grand. It is only 150W but it has tremendous current capacity - which I think is more important for control and dynamics.
Another idea could be finding a Rotel RB 1080 (200W/ch) and RC 1080 preamp used.
Not sure either of these pairings would perform considerably better or even as well as some of the really very good integrated amps recommended above - and they would take up more space.
In general, good luck with this.
I'm thinking that separates only make sense if the OP has a pre or an integrated that can serve as the pre. Then a used stereo amp might be possible.
The fact that he says Rowland didn't work with these tells me he needs more power, plus knowing B&W to a degree. Of course Rowland would have never been in price point, unless it was pretty old.
Good point about possibility of using existing integrated or pre and loading up downstream with watts and current in a separate box. JI2 originally asked for info about a new integrated - which led me to think they have need/want for both control and power amp in the same box.
This brings up the question of relative importance of power and pre amps to the sound that would eventually emerge from 804's. Perhaps the Rowland had the juice, but not the finesse? Or some kind of impedance matching difficulty? Not trying to argue a point here as much as throw an idea out there for folks to react to. I guess I think both control and power are important to overall sound, but am starting to think Preamp is critical link...
JI2, if you can get a Blue Circle NSCS for under $2K I think you may want to try that and flip it if it doesn't work out - doubt you would lose much in the transaction.
Knownothing, you really like the Blue Circle NSCS. You have been plugging one for a while, are you selling one?
It is pushing the price point for me.
I had a Classe CAP-80 that ran my B&Ws better than the Jeff Rowland Concentra II. I do not think it is a issue of power because the Classe had 80W to the Rowland's 150W. I went to the CAP-151, and then Classe separates. Worked the B&Ws right, until I met BAT. The Rowland just sounded like it was on mute, even at high volume. I do not understand why...
I came off of BAT separates, beautiful pieces. I would opt for the BAT-VK300 integrated, but that is too much $, and I do not have $ to spare right now.
I also need space, so 1 piece is better than 2.
I like the magnum dynalab 308 integrated.
I demoed the Krell KAV300, and did not like the sound [a little dark and cold].
I am worried the 400 would be the same.
Thank you all for your imput.
I would think that the Rowland Concerto would have been fine with the 804 since it's got 250 watts, but maybe he had an older unit. There would be no lack of finesse in the Concerto, but if you got much lower power with those speakers I think that bass would be poorly controlled and the transparency in thickly scored pieces would be obscured.
As I moved up the power chain with my Vienna Acoustic Beethoven Baby Grands, each step was pretty dramatic. I started with a 50 wpc Bryston which was fine until pushed or with really deep bass content. Next I went to the Conrad Johnson CA200 for 175 wpc into 8 ohms, which really showed me what the bass good do and got much cleaner on complex passages, particularly at high volume. When I went to the Rowland Continuum 500 the bass control grew by an order of excellence and the transparency opened up further, dramatically. The pres all were incremental improvements in each case, but I think it was the amplifier section that really took over my speakers and made them way more dynamic and focused. The B&W has a similar need for power and control, IME.
Given the budget, 200 watts is the minimum that I'd go for, but hope for a way to get closer to 500 watts.
I ran my Nautilus 804 with a BAT VK-200, 100W into 8 Ohms.
No problem there, power for anything with plenty to spare, and with pretty big rooms. I think that BAT power is very conservative [felt more like 150W].
I also ran them with a Classe CA-101 prior, also @ 100W into 8 Ohms.
No problem there either, a little strained at higher output, but all good.
The Rowland I had was a Concentra II @ 150W, not the 250W Concerto.
I had really high hopes for the Concentra II, but ...
Nope, don't own and am not selling any Blue Circle gear. I do like how they sound and have a soft spot for hand made gear from builders with a passion for music and elegant designs. Blue Circle gear is hand wired with no unnecessary circuits in the way and they sound like it.
In general, I like solid state and tube gear that are dead neutral to just a bit on the warm side. For example Naim, Musical Fidelity, ARC, Cayin, PrimaLuna, Simaudio, Shanling, Vincent, Primare, and some Classe, some Conrad Johnson, some Mark Levinson, some Macintosh and even some NAD pieces. While I crave resolution, I am not crazy about super dry solid state gear, and I have very little experience with ultra high end amps.
With that said, many of these makes and other suggestions you have gotten in this thread list for well over your suggested budget and are not likely to be available at any given time on the used market, and/or don't have the power needed to drive your speakers.
Yes I like the Blue Circle as a potential one-box match for the 804's because it should sound similar to the Classe with a bit more detail and refinement - maybe not quite as good as the BAT (a high bar!!!), but not far off either. Dollar for dollar, the Chinese companies are building some really great stuff these days, and the Shanling suggested above is a good deal. If the Blue Circle is too rich, I would look at the Shanling A-3000 or the German made Vincent SV-236 Hybrid, both available new within your budget and capable of driving the B&Ws.
I hear you but watts usually cost about $25-$50 a piece in tube land, $10-$20 a piece in transistor land and $5-$10 each in switching amp land.
For some perspective and sympathy with your point - the best I have ever heard the little B&W CM1's sound is when driven by a 500W/ch Type D Rotel amp.
All I can really say is facts is what they is and budgets were made to test us...
I have had great sucess with Musical Fidelity and B&W 800 series. I have an A308CR preamp and Bryston 7b ST monoblocks. The MF A308 has a "tubelike" top end that works very well with nautilus tweeters. I have heard many say that Nautilus tweeters and Bryston amps are harsh. I have never had this problem with N801's nor with S800's.
You can go the same route with a Musical Fidelity pre like an A308, A3.5 or A3.2 pre(I also have a CD Pre 24 in my office - awesome unit, Preamp, CD and DAC/ADC in one box) and a Bryston 4Bst amp if you don't mind going separate.
If you can find a MF A308CR integrated, it should be below your budget. The A308 is teh last to be made in England and supposed to be extremely reliable.
Nowone has mentioned the LSA tube/SS hybrid. It is certainly within reach 2nd hand and appears a bit of a steal at it's price point. It has 3 price points of course, same basic design with improved components. The midle Signature version seems the best value. Having heard it on several occasions, it is on my shortlist when my current integrated needs changing
I used a Mark Levinson #383 with no problem with the 804's. I even used it with 803's. It worked well with my 802's but the Musical Fidelity kW500 was better suited for the 802's. Now I have a Primare I30 driving Kharma Ceramique Referance 3.1's and it sounds FANTASTIC! I loved the sound so much I bought the matching Primare CD player and I'm enjoying music more than ever and also put money back into my audio fund to play with cables. I sold my SimAudio I7 and never looked back. Peace and Good Listening.
Totally agree with Tigerwoodhorns that the Musical Fidelity A308cr preamp works well with the N804 tweeter.
The A308cr has greater bass extention and a softer presentation than the A3.2cr pre.
Also, I see many people like to use solid core copper speaker wire with B&W's. I've found AudioQuest CV-6 works well. Found AudioQuest Gibraltar lets too much detail to come through.
As for an Amp, I'm just about at my witts end.
However, I am now of the opinion that a class A power amp
with MOSFET's is the way to go.
BAT VK 200 ???
I'm very curious to hear what your experience has been with the 9100 & B&W combo! I'm about to build a temporary system with the same two pieces and am contemplating if it is enough power to control the bass and bring finesse of the B&W, so I figure you may have some valuable input! Please let me know what you hear!