Thinking about opting toward the Emotiva USP-1 and Emotiva UPA-200. Is this a better fit than the Outlaw?
Congrats on your 685's. They are very nice speakers. Your right, they require power, as do most quality speakers to get the most out of them, but not as much as you may think. The trick is to provide them high current power and I would think 60-70 watts from a high current amp with high damping factor would handle the 685's extremely well and maximize their performance.
Either of the models you specified above are certainly up to the task. Take your pick. However, neither are true intregrated amps. The Outlaw RR2150 is actually a receiver and the Emotivas are separates (a preamp and a power amp). If your looking for a recommendation for a true integrated with a good phono section, my usual recommendation to take a long look at the Marantz PM8004. This is amp built in Japan with top quality parts and not afraid to post it true numbers - 70 wpc, 25 amps peak current delivery and a damping factor of greater than 100. I have heard this amp powering 5000K 4 ohm speakers and was highly impressed. Some smart shopping on the internet and the Magnolias found inside Best Buys (if available in your area) will put this outstanding integrated amp right in your budget. Hope you get other opinions. This one is mine. Good luck building your system.
I've looked into both the Rotel and the Marantz amps. I was advised against pairing the B&W with the Marantz due the combination producing music that is "very bright, and wearing on the ears." Granted, I tried out a Marantz Receiver (not integrated) at Magnolia with the B&W 685's and I enjoyed the result.
I have heard that Rotel is a great choice, especially as they come from the same manufacturer if I've read correctly. But I have yet to find a place to demo a unit.
One other receiver that has come to my attention is the HK 3490. I found it online for $280 making it close to half the price of most of these (and only a third of the price of others). It also has a phone pre amp and a built in DAC. Will the Outlaw, Rotel, or Marantz produce sound that is significantly superior to it? I like that fact that it is a tad easier on the wallet, and if I weren't to like it, I could upgrade down the line. The money saved would likely go toward funding a basic turntable as well, such as the Debut Carbon or Rega RP1. I know asking questions such as "is the upgrade worth it?" are highly subjective and it comes down to the individual listener's preferences, but I don't have a "trained" ear yet, and as such, I am leaning toward starting with the HK 3490 and moving up the ladder toward a Rotel, or something of that caliber, down the line.
If you heard the 685's with a Marantz receiver at Magnolia, wait until you hear them with the PM8004 I recommended. I would not describe this amp as bright. Again, this integrated amp is a different class of Marantz - built in their reference factory in Japan. Do not confuse it with the PM5004 or PM6004 that are made in China. I suggest you speak to someone at your Magnolia and listen a 8004. If they do not have one, have them call around to other Magnolias as they are being offered in my area at insane prices.
The HK is a capable receiver but not in the same league as the Marantz PM8004.
The PM6004 is a very nice amp, and made in Japan. As far as the power goes, I've read countless times on these threads how every frickin speaker needs gobs of power to sound good. I've never found b&w bookshelves including 601 602 cm5's etc that difficult to drive, unless you are using a home theater receiver where the specs can be misleading. The Rotel RA-1062 or RA-1520 are rated at 60 watts, the Simaudio I have is "only" 50 watts, a tube amp I have is 30 watts, yet all of them drive those speakers to ear bleeding levels. Unless you are listening to them in a huge room, they'll get plenty loud without much issue, only concern would be if you were planning on upgrading later to a harder to drive speaker set.
Question for Paraneer -
I am in Japan (100V country), and moving to Singapore (220V country) soon. Want to get the PM8004 you recommend for B&W (mine will most likely be CM8).
Does the buying of step down transformer introduce noise into the sound.
Or am I better off getting the 220 V amp in Singapore.
Japan does make some of the best transformers (their power supplies are great) and the price I am getting on PM 8004 new is very good.
Thanks for any guidance.
I've owned B&W 703's and 803's. Avoid the rotel and outlaw, they're not a good match for B&W, I tried them both long enough to replace them quickly.
Ended up with Krell for my 803's and was a perfect match, 703's got along with Harman Kardon very well but come to life when I dropped Simaudio into the system.
It's all about trial and error and your budget at that time.
I don't know that the OP is even paying attention any longer, but I've had the 685s. They are good speakers with a signature sound. In my system I found them a bit too bright and even edgy sometimes. The mid range was also not as full as I would have liked.
I have to admit that I didn't try much to "tune" the sound as they turned out to be a bit too physically big for my application. For reference, I was running a Sonos unit playing 16/44 files from an NAS through an NAD C162 pre, Emotiva XDA-1 DAC and Aragon 2004 amp. Wiring was all Blue Jeans. That tad bit of brightness was probably due in part to the XDA-1 DAC and perhaps the amp. I say that because NAD is usually characterized as being a bit laid back.