What's your budget?
Take a look at the Norma IPA 140
My real advice is to bring your speakers to a dealer and listen to several amps until you find something you like. If that’s not possible, something with tone controls, like the Mac, might be a good choice. I see it over and over where people buy speakers with hyper-detailed sound and then have to spend a lot of money softening them. It’s all part of the audiophile journey I guess.
You mentioned tube amps. Not sure if you meant that your aren't interested in tube amps or if you meant so say "don't recommend tube amps." I'm a tube amp fan because they tend to be the most transparent bringing all the details most clearly to the listening chair.
Your speakers are not a good match for tube amps because of their low efficiency. There are tube amps that put out enough power but the lower power tube amps seem to dance to the magic better.
I just bought an ss amp because all the reviews make it sound like a tube amp. It was inexpensive so I bought one to listen to. Haven't received it yet but you might want to consider the Kinki EX-M1+.
If you're trying to "soften" the speakers like ezikl suggested then I'm not sure a super transparent amp is what you're looking for.
You might like the Circle Labs A200. Here's a thread on Audiogon where other members shared their impressions: https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/circle-labs-a200-integrated-amplifier-review-it-will-appeal-to-both-t
I had 804D with Naim amplification and I agree it sounds a little harsh. I demoed a few amps. The best that went with the 804D was a Vitus RI100 (now called RI101) for a clean but smooth sound. One stage further were amps from Luxman, whose sound is very warm, almost tube like. The Luxman lost some of the detail that the Vitus brought however.
In the past I had tried tubes also but found B&W 800 series do seem to prefer more power.
My review of the amps is here
Thank you for your responses and recommendations. Budget is around that of the Naim Nova which is around $7500 USD, but prices in Australia are very different.
Seems like there are quite a few recommendations for hybrid amps. I'm open to hybrid or tube amps, but I have no knowledge or experience with them, especially current and power etc.
The Circle Labs look awesome, but unfortunately not available in Aus. Have heard the SImaudio (pre and power separates) with Dynaudio Heritage Specials, was an amazing experience, then straight after, the MA12000 with Sonus Faber floorstanders (flagship line with 2 bass drivers) not sure of the name - thought I died, hugged a fluffy teddy bear and gone to heaven........Hope this gives an idea about the sound i like haha.
Havent heard the Luxmans but is on my list, although some people said it may not be a good pair.
MF with AudioQuest cables! That is exactly the dealer's recommendation when I told him I preferred MF over Naim! Funny that!
Cant demo a Parasound or VT or Kinki - damn shame.
Yes, I fell in love with the detail of the 805 but unfortunately didnt realise about the fatigue until later. No buyers remorse, I still remember how I FELT when I listened to the 805 for the 1st time. (not heard - people forget this, but will always remember how they felt the time they heard something special - like the Mac and Sonus above but sadly outside my budget for now) Now I need to make it work so I can enjoy my speakers for hours and days.......
Thanks for the input everyone, keep it coming !
I own 804D3,
Tried Pathos Logos (hybrid tubes), Shangling (full tubes) and Accuphase E460. But now playing with Bryston (first 4b and now 14b sst) and Cardas golden cross speakercable. For me the Nryston brought true realism to my system which i admire and and enjoy everyday. Clearly the 804 needed more robust power.
Another aspect that brought magic and coherence and balance to my set up was much more significant toe in of the speakers than in my normal set up in the 40 years before..... i would also recommend you give it a try.
Let me put on my shield first. I always thought the MAC stuff sounded kind of muffled. Could be other things, but that is what I consistently hear. That's just me
If I recall, I have seen Classe paired with B&W. I have Pass but not sure how it would sound with B&W. They would be slightly less warmer than the Luxman. Recommendations are tougher since you live in a far away land.
An amp with some Class A would be good. I don't think Class D would give you what you want. Might work if you had a tube preamp or we are back to the hybrid brands. Good luck!
One thing to consider about Musical Fidelity is that for whatever reason they do not hold their value well if buying new. Not sure why, maybe change models too often? I bought a a1008 for $1400 and this was a 6k integrated in 2009ish. It sounds very very good. If this represents the MF sound overall I would describe it as smooth and powerfully with a nice meaty mid range.
@ezikl I have the 805 d3’s and am powering them with a Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II. Great combo. I know some might not agree with the idea of “tuning” the sound with interconnects and speaker cables but that’s what I do and it’s a great way to take the edge off the diamond tweeters. Good luck!
I need to clarify something. The Parasound does not have more bottom end than Luxman. It is just a darker amp.
@brunomarcs - B&W gets plenty of love on these forums,with many coming on to ask for matching components. I'm not sure if Troels or some one else suggested these speakers sound better on mid-axis instead of tweet axis, but worth trying if you haven't already.
I can give you my experience with power amps with B&W 702 S2’s. Classe paired a bit better than a Musical Fidelity M8S (which I was rather disappointed with). My current amp is a Coda no8 which was a massive step up from both in every way so expect the Coda CSIB would be a very good integrated with B&W. I was at the Montreal audiofest this weekend and they had 800 series B&W towers (new 801’s probably) paired with Classe in one room and McIntosh in another. Probably more setup / song playing than anything else, but the McIntosh pairing was very very good to my ears and a bit better.
I’ve had the Primaluna Evo 400 integrated, Krell 300i and Coda CSIB in my system at the same time, was able to compare them, owned them. I didn’t have B&W speakers but did have Focal’s 1028be’s which share the same hyper detailed, somewhat forward sound attributed to many B&W’s.
Primaluna held up well from a power standpoint - it sounded more SS like than some other Tube options but punched above its weight when delivering power to speakers, it brought the tube like qualities associated with Tubes but was more detailed, crisp at the higher frequencies than I expected.
Coda and Krell both paired better with the Focal’s - the extra power seemed to smooth out the performance. They have different sound signatures, I wouldn’t call 1 better than the other, it would come down to personal preference but I’d put either up against just about any integrated on the market and wouldn’t surprise me to see both outperform some high end separate stacks. Either likely would pair really well, the Coda has less bells and whistles but has old school sensibility in that it has a great Pre amp section you can use as a stand alone Pre down the road. The Krell is designed to be a true, 1 box solution, especially if you opt for the Onboard DAC but isn’t set up for growth, incorporating it into your system as you add separate components, if you wanted to do so.
I’ve had a Parasound A21 amp - for the money - great amp but preferred all 3 integrated amps referenced to the Parasound. Tried the A21 with a Parasound P6 Pre, fed it directly with a Lumin Streamer / DAC and fed by higher end AV Receiver’s geared toward Home Theater.
I currently have a Krell Duo 300 xd with a Krell Illusion 2 Pre- way pricier set up than the integrated - bump up in performance but if I had heard just the Coda or Krell integrateds could happily have lived with those in my set up for a long, long time. Krell and Coda do a great job taming the highs a bit - combining the heft of SS but with some tube like qualities. They maintain the detail, nuance that speakers like yours are designed to deliver.
if you could work a Krell 300 duo xd or Coda 8 - both amps only into your system and then incorporate a Pre - unsure if that’s an option - probably your best path to the best sound. If you can find a used Coda CsIB that would likely be the path I would go down - then if you wanted to take it next level; you could add a separate Amp.
I will further recommend Luxmen if you want a smooth high resolution transparent amp that is not harsh sounding. However, the B&W diamond tweeters are very revealing and can show problems with your cables/terminations. If you are using Audioquest cables, the silver-plated connectors (i.e. banana plugs, spades, XLR/RCA, etc.) can make the sound bright and thin. On the other hand, gold-plated connectors will make the sound warmer and slower. The best transparent connector I have found is Furutech rhodium.
Also note that a couple of people use sub(s) to add that bass extension. Can I please ask for their rationale / listening experience with the sub(s), and do they affect the rest of the sound? (I had this issue in the past with the B&W 602s)
I like the look of the Luxman, kinda like my dad's Sansui components during the late 70s/80s. Amazing components, we weren't allowed in the music room but my friends and I used to sneak in at night to listen to Guns and Roses and Grandmaster Flash......lol
I like my Ayre AX-5 Twenty integrated amp very much. The sound is different in that the sound is MORE natural and less ’exaggerated’ than my previous amps. This is very hard to put into words. The sound is there with no artificial extra stuff around it. The music is normal meaning it makes music, never adding color or stripping the musical recordings of their textures, feelings, and dynamics. The music from the AX-5 Twenty amp is relaxed and smooth without sounding dark or laid-back. The Ayre Acoustics AX-5 Twenty amp is excellent.
BTW, there is an Ayre AX-5 Twenty amp listed for sale on Audiogon. Another less expensive alternative is the Ayre EX-8 2.0 integrated amp. I hope this helps.
I have a pair of the B&W 805D3 speakers.
Have paired my B&W's with two different integrated amps: McIntosh MA252 and Raven Osprey. Currently using a Pass Labs XA30.8 (with both Conrad Johnson ET3 and PS Audio BHK for preamps).
All combinations worked well, but Pass Labs amp and BHK preamp is by far the best. No listening fatigue, great detail, wonderful full sound (with Pass phono preamp and MHDT Pagoda DAC). Big advantage of separates is the ability to keep mixing and matching.....
However, one change that really changed/tamed the 805D3's more than anything else was placing them on IsoAcoustic Gaia feet.
I know that the B&W 805s have come a long way since I bought my pair of 805 Matrix speakers 25 or so years ago. But I liked all three of the amps that I have owned with those speakers, and they were all tube amps. My first tube amp was probably what you would call entry level; it was a Cary SLA 70 and although I liked it a lot, it was the one that was lacking of most sonic aspects that one would listen for in a system. Next I had a pair of ARC VTM 120s, and that amp/speaker combination could rock out or play quiet. I am now driving those same speakers with a Cary V12 (50 wpc in triode mode or 100 in ultralinear) and I cannot remember the last time I switched to the ultralinear mode.
But with all that typed, and with absolutely no sarcasm intended, it is quite possible that my ears are not as well tuned as yours and therefore that I am not as discriminating. It is also possible that I am easier to please regarding presentations of sound that you might not tolerate.
I also just bought the new in 805d4 in white…gorgeous speaker.
I will tell you any higher wattage tube amp will sound great with them…right now I’m running a pair of the newer kt150 quicksilver v4 monos at 170wpc…no brightness or harsh sound…b&w has greatly improved this with the latest versions.
Preamp is arc Ref6se and Berkeley ref2 dac…nice 2nd system….
just fyi I run magnepan 20.7 in my primary system and sometime I enjoy the b&w 805d4 “mini system” just as much.
I have had my fair share of solid state and tube amps. you would be doing yourself a disservice by not looking into the Cary Audio sl1-100. Its a beautiful piece that truly gives you warmth when wanted and blow your face off when wanted. The price is very buyer friendly . I'm running Project turn table and vinyl amp, audio lab 6000d transport with a schist doc, Raven Coruvus Monitors which on there own are magnificent now paired with 2 SVS SB3000. The Speakers, Amp and Subs Made in America with outstanding customer relations
Given what you’re looking for, if I’m you I’d look at a hybrid integrated like Unison Research or Pathos. If you don’t listen to boom boom music at loud levels I’d highly recommend looking at the Octave V70 or a used V110 as I think their sound qualities also match well with your tastes/goals. There happens to be a near-new V110SE for $6150 available on EBay now that’d be well worth a look...
I think any of these brands would be a great fit. Personally, I’d start with Unison Research because I find B&Ws crave some power that the UR integrateds can deliver, and you only have to deal with input tubes that tend to last longer and cost less than output tube so less hassle/expense overall. Read the reviews and see which fits your needs best. Anyway, hope this helps, and best of luck.