Calling B&W speaker users with tube power amp


Am currently using a B&W Matrix 803 series 2 speakers, driving it with a solid state power and tube pre. Am actually preferring tube sounds. Therefore, am toying with the idea of getting a tube power to replace the ss. Big question in mind is whether tube power amp is able to drive the speakers.

Could anyone who is using B&W speakers driven by tube power amp share experiences pls? pls also inform what brand/watt of the tube power amp used.

I've driven my B&W N804's with a KR 18 BSI - a 20 watt 300B SET integrated. It kicked the snot out of the 125 wpc Sugden Au51P sand amp I'd been using before. It just sounded sooo much better - including deeper, fuller, richer bass! The mids were to die for, the highs were smooth, sweet and clear, and I've never heard the 804's sound so overall lifelike.

Now, I wouldn't use a garden-variety 8 watt 300B SET on them, but any tube amp of 15 watts or better and the ability to source a good amount of current should make them very happy. Lots of good push-pull tube amps in the 40 watt range should do the trick. The notion that "B&W's can't run on tubes" is parochial nonsense.

The only reason I've gone back to using the Sugden on them is that they're in the living room system, and the KR was a bit much for the kids to handle.
The matrix series cross-overs like more juice to make the speakers come alive. The tube amps will drive the speakers but a high current (note the word current) SS amps drive the speakers much better. It also depends on how loud you like the music also. I used a friends Graaf 5050 on my M803 SIIs and it sounded OK but the Pass X-250 SS amp blew it away. On other speakers, there were differences but not as large.

Happy Listening.
I have a good friend driving his 801 MKIIIs with the Quad IIs {15w/ch} and they sound great.Keep in mind that you won't peel paint from the walls with this combo,but satisfactory SPLs.Any interest in a set of Vivas?
I ran my 801 series 2 with Thor TPA 30 watt monos very easily..
Thanks all for the response.

I am quite surprised actually to find that most responses are having good experience with sounds like some had good experience with relatively 'small' amps (8 to 30 watts).
For gliderguider, tpsonic, and thorman, have you had the chance to listen a ss amp driving your speakers? If yes, do you think the tube amp still drives it better?

I am also very curious on comments from Bigkidz. Could you explain more on why matrix series' crossover need higher current to come alive?

The tube amp, I have in mind, is BAT vk 60. Am wondering whether this is enough to make my speaker sings. My music genre varies from jazz vocal to percusion to pop.

My current systems are: electrocompaniet emc1 cdp, audio research LS22 pre, audio research d400mk2 power. What I like is it has the dynamics/fast/speed/slam for music type like fourplay (max-o-man)or michael jackson (black/white). I feel the smoothness of midrange/vocal on jennifer wearnes/holy cole trio is not quite there yet. Not sure whether I am asking too much out of my systems.....or maybe I should consider bi-amping...?
I am driving a pair of 802s with a 100 wt Jadis Defy 7 with super results.
As I mentioned, I'd previously used a Sugden Au51P with my 804's, and also a SimAudio 4070 - a 60 wpc SS amp. The tubes were better than either in terms of vocal quality, soundstaging, treble smoothness, bass extension and overall realism.
It really depends on how much demand you plan on putting the amps/If you listen at modest sound levels ,you'll have no problem.But if you tend to listen at higher levels you'll place more demands on the amps and may need more for that situation.Depends on you needs.
I'm using CJ Premier 12's (140w) to drive my B&W N803's. Best combo I've had with the N803's. Completely effortless and musical.
From my experience and that of a few others who have used the BAT VK-60,I recommend getting them mono'd or using another amp.They don't sound like they have the power you would think.Why,I don't know.If you are set on the VK60,arrange an audition first-just a word to the wise!
I agree with Tpsonic. From my inquiries, the BAT VK-60 doesn't have enough juice. From my own experience with 802 Matrix, they mate well with an Audio Research VT-100 Mk2, or Rogue monoblocks.

In other words, use a push-pull tube amp of 100 w., and you'll get good drive, punch & flesh out the B&W sonics.

Thanks again for the helpful perpectives. I actually have asked around, even to BAT itself, and come out with the same conclusion, which is I probably need to bridge it as mono. I think then I will let go the vk60 option.

Another option I have in mind is actually similar to what was said by Kevziek -- rogue audio 150 mono blocks.
I have heard/read a lot about the magnum m120, but somehow haven't heard much about the 150. Perspectives anyone?
The Rogues are the solidstate of the "tube world".More top-end energy,but less "tube" timbre/harmonics.The B&Ws tend to be a little more forward in the highs,without damping them.The Rogue may cause listener fatigue,unless mated with a softer top-end component/cable.I think the ARC would probably fall into this region also.Maybe a Gamut or Plinius SB300,Lamm M1.1?
I'm driving my n804's with a Blue Circle BC28 hybrid(120wpc). I went hybrid because I wanted the slam of solid state to go with the tube sound. Highly recommended!
OK...thanks for all the perspectives. Happy listening
Audiodb, I must take issue with Tpsonic's comments on the Rogue. Rogue equipment is hardly "the solid state of the tube world." Perhaps those who like a bloated, over-caramelized, amorphous tube sound would feel that way. The new M150s are wonderful sounding amps with a full-bodied sound, and hardly cause listener fatigue on B&W's. They would be an excellent match.

Just got a hold of a rogue m120 original version. Haven't got the chance to set it up in my systems yet. But listening it through my friend's more 'primitive' systems, it was a wow already.

BTW, you sound like you have had experience with rogue audio before. Since my rogue has been at least 4-5 yrs old, and the tubes have never been changed, which of the tubes would you think needed to be replaced first? have any particular tube brand(s) you have in mind? and if i change a tube in say the left one, i should also change the tube in the right one, correct? anything else you'd suggest me to replace or check? lastly, could you also help provide email address for rogue, i somehow couldn't get it from their website.

Audiodb, For a long time I have driven my B&W 805N with a Cary V12I (now R) amp in triode mode (50w). I listen loudly to Jazz vocals, blues and R&R. I must admit that at times the Cary seems unable to drive the 805s to the volume and pressure that I desire. But, when listening at 'normal' volume the combination is breathtaking. Huge soundstage, warm involving believable mid/vocals. Nirvana probably could be found with a more powerful tube amp.
I am using a cj140 to drive my bw n803 with no problem whatsover and with excellent bass response..not some overblown bass slam you get with some ss units ..
I'm running a pair of B&W 604s3's with a AES/Cary superamp, and a Mcintosh pre. I cut my teeth with a pair of ASL wave 8 mono's and they sounded great. So much so I sold my Mac MC162's running mono at 320wpc. The superamp is 15wpc and I've rolled and found a great tube match so far. All B&W's are a little foward in the mids, and I think this makes for a good match with the B&W's. Keep in mind that the combo must work with pre, source and amp.