I own the 800D and recently added an BW 855 sub. When I did so I thought I no longer need to use ss mono for I have enough bass now. So I tried a pair of Cary 211 Anniversary tube mono, 110W/channel. To my surprise, these amps drove my speakers in many ways better than any ss amps I had tried. The bass was not as good as my ss amps but the mids and highs were much more life like. For myself this is worth switching to tubes, and I also got more resolution and a bigger soundstage.
So if you are a tube guy then I think you should demo your speakers w/ some tube amps. Have fun.
B&Ws like to see a high current source, tube amps are generally not. No urban legend, just basic electronics theory. You'd be better off using a much higher efficiency speaker if you're going to use tube amps. Think Zu, Avant Garde, Klipsch, etc. for tube amps...
Not comfortable bi-amping...What's that all about?
You might try Audio Research 600 or another high powered amp.
Thank you rlwainwright for your your feedback.
I think it is not always a good idea to classify a 25w SET amp having a DF of 6 vs a 200w push/pull with a DF of 20. So not all tube amps are the same. But my topic was not to say anything regarding tubes vs SS, or which one is better. To my taste, it is better to use powerful push/pull tube amps with my B&W N800 and I am looking for advice who currently drives 800 with tubes, that is it.
I think biamping with two different amps with different speeds and characters might have a negative impact on the musicality and tonal balance, so one should be careful to match.
Thank you very much, I am arranging a demo with a pair of Cary amps as you suggested, will try. By the way, currently, I use an ARC VT-200. I also tried some SS amps, although I admit they improved the dynamics and impact, midrange clarity, musicality ans sounstage was missing to my taste, so I always kept my VT-200. However, I want to ugrade to mono amps, so I am looking for some alternatives. Thank you for your advice again.
I suggest the CAT tube amps for driving hard-to-drive speakers. Other high powered tube amps that sound good and have the kind of output transformers and power supplies required to drive such speakers include the big Audio Valve Challengers, the Air Tight Reference and the better VAC amps. Audio Research's reference amps will work, but I think they sound like crap in most systems because of the amount of negative feedback they use (they also produce a ton of heat). The big VTL's are too primitive (parts quality, not to mention lousy output trannies -- they are way less powerful than they ought to be), but VTL's new Siegfried is the real deal. The Sonic Frontiers Power 3's will work if you want to do it on the cheap. Just my opinions, folks.
Because of the very high cost of the above-mentionned tube amps, I suggest that you stick with high powered classic Rowland (Model 8, Model 9) or other solid-state amps known to work well with B&W.
If you like the ARC amp, then may be you could consider just going up their line to Ref-300 or Ref-600 monos.
or get the VTM200 monoblocks to add to your VT200. That's going to be a crazy set up. I'll feel for you when you'll need to re-tube though.....
I currently utilize a pair of Cary V12R monoblocks(100 watts triode/ 200 UL)to drive a pair of B&W 801 Matrix ser. II's(87bd eff.)I get fairly tight tunefull bass and great mids/treb, utilizing triode(always). Very dynamic, even on large scale music. I think it's due to the large, high quality transformers Dennis Had uses on these amps. My room is only 14' x 18' w/ 13' cathedral ceiling, so it dosnt take too much to get into the high 90's/low 100 spl levels. Hope this helps. Jim
One amp you might consider is the Moscode 401HR. Its
a hybrid amp that has many of the qualities of good tube
amp. I'm using it on my Signature 805's with great results.
It replaced the well respected DNA 500. You can audition
it for 30days and if you don't like it you can return it.
I own the N800's and used to drive them with a pair of Bryston 4B-SST's, yes a pair, and they rocked, then I was on the upgrade path, the ML33H's or the ML436' were my target. My wife and I went to a hi-fi show and heard these tube amps driving a pair of N800s, and they sounded way better than any of the solid state gear that was driving them. http://www.octave.de/english/products/PowerAmplifiers/INFO-MRE130.htm
I demoed the Octave MRE 130's with Super Black Box (outboard capacitive storage) and they made my N800's sound like I was in the room with the performance, the music felt more alive, and intimate despite losing some lower end bass compared to the solid state amps, I decided to get a pair. I addressed flushing the bass issue with a B&W ASW850 subwoofer and Velodyne SMS1 subwoofer controller. This has been an excellant combination and the soundstage is awesome. With the sub tapped into the second line out from my pre, I can use the Velodyne SMS1 to fine tune and integrate my sub with the rest of the system.
I am contemplating doing a demo with another pair, I would like to try bi-amping just to experiment and try to see if I get some more additional headroom.
Now these are available in Europe and Japan, and have recieved high marks and reference ratings, in fact the Octave combo HP500SE preamp and the MRE130's went head to head against the ML432 and ML preamp and they were both rated reference class in the German magazine Audio.
I am not sure what your price range is because the pair is 13500euro, about $16875 US dollars at $1.25 dollars per euro. I recieved a great dealer discount and a great trade in on my Brystons; so I did not have to pay that much. They are available in 120 and 240 volts and use 4 KT88's in each mono amp providing 140 watts into 4 ohms. They advertise these amps as being able to drive difficult load speakers, inlcuding the N800's.
For N800, its always nice to put tubes somewhere in the chain.
I heard a number of times, tube pre-amp with a powerful s/s amp.
Tube pre: Jadis, Modwright, Blue Circle, CAT, Hovland, Cary
solid state amps: Krells, Classe, Big musical fidelities, Mark Levinsons, and bigger Bats s/s.
I heard many many amps on the 800N speakers. And yess the most ss like Krell and ML where not the sound I liked. I use a modidfied Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 300 power. This one uses also tubes and you have a lot of power and control to. I changed the old transformers to E Transformers, those gave me much more control and also a very natural sound in the mid freq.