First, the 544 is a pretty good amp, ahd one for a while, and it will be nice with B&W's, so don't fret.
The only difference between the CT and Delta series is the CT is designed to fit into an installed rack (think Middle Atlantic) Sonically they are the same.
Personally I think you got some bad information. While Classe is a very good match for the 800 series B&W's, the truth of the matter is that B&W themselves use Levinson amps at their factory. I know this from reading an article about B&W where the author mentions the Levinson amps used when he toured the factory, plus I have a DVD about B&w and in the DVD you can clearly see that they use Levinson amps in at least one of the sound rooms at the main B&W facility. I have heard the 433 amp, not driving B&W's though, and it is an outstanding amplifier. The only issue I would have right now with any Levinson product is the apparent difficulties that currently exist with their service department. The local dealer who used to carry Levinson, that is where I heard the 433, who now has dropped the line, mainly because of this situation, related some horror stories to me about the service at Harmon. The good news is that the 433 is very well built and there shouldn't be any service issues,hopefully, for many years.
Oops! Meant to say 433 amp....
Classe' and B&W are frequently paired and voiced together as they are under the same parent company.
B&W has not used Levinson equipment since 1999. The Nautilus was the last series of speakers to use other amps other than Classe to tune their speakers. I have heard Levinson on B&Ws and it sounds good provided you get good cables. Levinson usually sound a little dark & B&W are a little warm in the midbass & midrange. The Classe are a very nuetral in their sound. The newer Krell amps are alot like like the Classe with better bass. I would buy the Classe CAM 400 mono blocks for the 802Ds.
Thanks, all. I'm finding that, when it come to medium to hi-end audio, ignorance may be bliss. Had someone simply given me the system I described and said "You may listen to this, but you may never ever ask an opinion or read an article about it or it will be taken from you!" I would have listened to the end of my days, rapt in blissful ignorance. Ah, well. It is the way or the world that innocence must be lost and knowledge (one hopes) gained.
The latest thorn I encountered on the thorny path to knowledge is that B&Ws have "truly terrible phase behavior." Now, as my understanding of electronic engineering is bettered only slightly by my understanding of the atmosphere of Pluto (the planet, not the dog), this means almost nothing to me, but, like global warming and the expanding universe (two more things I know next to nothing about), it worries me. The Spectron Musician lll was suggested as possibly having sufficient power and musicality to compensate for this terrible behavior of the B&Ws. If anyone has experience with the Musician lll and its muscle, musical and compensatory powers relative to the above amps and to B&W speakers, I'd love (knowledge!) to learn about it.
Thanks, as always.
My 2-bits in 3 sections:
1) I agree with "Thesoundhouse" - ML amps are very dark sounding. The 433 is a good amp but not the best match for B&W Diamond series. I have previously used ML332 with 802N and was not very happy. Things improved with the Pass Labs X150.5 so much that the 150.5 stayed in my system more than a year (thats a loooong time).
2) The CAM-400 is a far better match for 802D. You will benefit from the diamond tweeter really shining through while the overall musicality is preserved (by this I mean very little listener fatigue and a sense of just relaxing with the music). Bass is also better defined.
3) IMHO, the CT and Delta series are NOT identical (barring the SSP-800 and CT-SSP). I have owned the CAM-400 paired with the WP8 and recently replaced with the CT-M600. Tremendous improvement in the bass and more black background. And the delicate decay of treble notes is simply delightful- me and my sons revel in hearing newer and finely nuanced sounds from the same recordings. Maybe someone should look under the hood or contact Classe - for me I am content with the performance.
What was the reason you purchased those B&W 802's again? I thought you were knocked out when you heard them at a dealers? Have you considered asking the dealer where you heard the wonderful sounds you so loved, what amp they had on them and if you could buy it? THIS is why dealers are becoming in shorter and shorter supply here in the USA.
If you find something you love then just buy it and then establish a relationship with the dealer you bought it from.
It's really pretty simple and for the life of me I can't understand it. Let them do the leg work for you for crying out loud and then enjoy the fruits of their labor!
If you thought the Classe on the B&W's were "simply phenomenal" (your words) then you HAVE to know that they were! No funny impedence this or terrible phase behavior that....only fabulous music, only making you fall in love, only a rarity in this crazy hobby.
A match of world class products.
Relax and enjoy the ride.
PS. There is only one "knowledge" that you need. YOUR reaction to a product.
You cannot go wrong with Classe Delta CA-M400 with B&W Diamond speakers IMHO. Londons Abbey Road Studio purchased no fewer than 33 Classe CA-M400 monaural power amplifiers to drive their reference B&W systems. Abbey Road engineering staff concluded that the Canadian high-end makers design was the ideal tool to derive the utmost accuracy, dynamics, and transparency from the facilitys extensive arrays of B&W reference monitors.
To tell you the truth, the Classe CT series cosmetic design is a step backward compare to the older Delta series. I truly enjoy the unique and stylish look of the Delta series than the newer CT series.
Having gotten a pair of CT-M600's in the last few weeks, I think you are missing the point of these amps. They are designed to be rack mounted in a Middle Atlantic or other for installed systems. That is why they put so much work into the active thermal management, which keeps them at ideal temperature no matter how hard you drive them (I had them rocking out as I was across the house and wanted to burn them in and after 5 hours they were only warm!) I like the look of the front, but the Delta line (I also have an SSP-800) are the single sexiest pieces of gear I have ever owned!
i was told by almost everyone (friends as well as here on a-gon) to avoid Levinson and the dark-side. dark, dark and more dark was often mentioned when asking for comments. horrible customer service, outrageous price's and wait times were also often mentioned. not being a true audiophile, i took the comments very seriously and tried to avoid the brand when my new amp search began.
long story short.....after listening to several amps in my price range, i went with what *I* liked best. not saying anyone is right or wrong here. just saying *I* love the sound of the ml 300's and 400's (have not heard anything from the 500 line). wrestled with the idea of buying something that so many more knowledgeable folks advised against.
in the end, i did what i've doing all my life....going with what i thought was best/right for me, regardless of other peoples opinions/thoughts. very glad i did and couldn't be happier.
there's alot of great advise to be had here on agon. lots of folks really know their stuff, which can be very helpful. just don't let others helpfulness get in the way of finding what *you* like/want.
nothing wrong with liking "dark sounding amps" with "crappy customer service" =). if it works right in *your* system to *your* ears.....go for it and enjoy.
Yes, I understand the CT series is designed for rack mount and I have seen them in rack mount at my local dealer. Not as interesting and sexy looking when you compare them to their Delta series. Perhaps they should put CT-series electronic and parts into their Delta series chasis as their next upgrade :)
Classe is doing exactly what you said. I have been talking to someone at Classe for over a month and there will be a new line of amp coming out that use the CT design, but will have the Delta Series style case.
I think we should see something from them in the next couple of months or so. They will be CA-M600, CA-300M, CA-5300, and the CA-2300. The differences between the new design and the old design is substantial and from what I've been told sound very different.
by the way....if you are willing to start thinking outside your choices of Levinson or Classe you really should try to hear Audio Research. With B&W...AMAZING.
The CT-M600 has newer circuits than the older CA-M400. You have to compare the CA-M600 to the CT-M600. The CA-M400 appears to be being discontinued. The CA-M600 and CE-M600 both have much better specs than the older CA-M400.
RealHifi, what Audio Research amps did you hear with B&Ws?
For what it's worth, John Atkinson of Stereophile just reviewed the Classe 600 watt monoblocks and gave them his highest rating. I totally agree as I thought they were fluid, dynamic, and had the spatial quality that few amps posses. Specially at this price.