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Here's some food for thought. Check out odysseyaudio.com. Odyssey makes the Stratos amp a 150W/ch that sells for $995 direct. I took a chance and gave it a try, and it is the best sounding amp I've ever had in my system (previously Audio Research). I was amazed with how much more information I was hearing. They also make the Tempest pre-amp also $995. I haven't heard it yet, but it is supposed to be very comparable to the Stratos in sound quality. So, here's an amp/pre-amp combo for around $2k that will make your music sing. Plus and added bonus of being new, and they carry a 20yr warranty (no misprint). Give Klaus Bunge a call at (317)299-5578 you won't be sorry.
I recommend the Bryston 3B-ST (120 wpc) or 4B-ST (250 wpc). Superb amps with a 20-year unconditional guarantee. You can get the 3B-ST for about $1250, and the 4B-ST for about $1650 (contact Danny Oovlin at "Bestofdeal" - firstname.lastname@example.org for more info). There is also a Marsh 400 amp listed right now on Audigon. Marsh is a great new amplifier line designed by one of the most respected guys in high-end audio, and the one listed on Audiogon is $1600.
Stvr, I understand your position. I too am in central Fla. and find the lack of quality equipment resources pitiful. There is indeed an element of risk buying used, but some common sense measures can make things less risky. First, I write the seller and ask some questions: where will you ship from, can you use Fed Ex, can you double box, and (or) any other unanswered questions the ad didn't cover. Pay attention to the general tone of the response. Are they prompt, business-like, and intelligent sounding? I've found the general tone and manner of correspondence is often indicative of their ability to conduct a transaction. I admit that I also like to see positive feedback, but this isn't an absolute if it's a new seller. Of the several items I've bought from ads on the web, only one has been less than satisfactory. The preamp I bought was advertised to be in perfect order, but arrived DOA. When the manufacturer repaired it, I was told it could have easily been damage by UPS dropping the box. So that will forever be an unknown. I also have had my purchases shipped cod. Pay with a US Postal Service money order. If fraud is perpetrated, they have commited a federal offense. If we want relative certainty, we have to buy new. But with the huge savings that used offers, you can get more for your money used.
ok, shameless plug-time - buy my electrocompaniet aw100 amp i have adwertised f/s on a-gon - i doubt there's anything as nice for my asking price. much warmer than typical solid-state, w/o losing what s/s does well. i replaced my gfa555 (now used as a sub amp) w/electrocompaniet. why then, am i selling, ewe may ask? cuz it's not bridgeable, & i want to run a bridged pair of 'em. those oddyssey amps are supposed to be nice - i almost sprang for a pair to run in bi-amped config, but research on electrocompaniet showed that even their aw60 puts out more current than the oddyssey's, & i *know* i like the electro sound. and, the oddysseys cannot be switched from stereo to mono w/o being sent back to the factory.
regarding preamps, tubes is great 0 i especially like the melos music director i bought used, but almost as good, at ~ghalf the price, wood be a melos sha-gold or maestro. i also liked the cary slp98 a lot, but the melos is in another league, imho.
whatever ya get, i recommend buying used, especially if auditioning stuff is difficult. that way, if yure not happy, ewe can sell it w/o taking a beating.
good luck, doug
The metallic sound is probably from your older adcom equipment - it was known for that sound. Krell amps are a classic match for the big 801's. One things krells do very well is produce massive power for big speakers. This match was common wisdom 10 years ago, and probably hasn't changed. I would stick with a 200Watt plus solid state monster for the 801's.Maybe 300w.
An inexpensive amp to try out would be the 300W adcom 5802. That's a pretty nice sounding amp for $1000ish used. You should also look at the mccormack dna-2 ($2000ish used). Those are tremendously powerful amps w/remarkable bass control. I personally prefer mccormacks to krells - they have more of a presence to them. I used to own a dna1/reva and it was a bass monster. You might feel differently. Krells are more detailed, but they have a little metallic edge to them (I've only heard the A/V series, and the FPB 200. The relative softness of the B&W (compared to audio physic speakers for example) would probably tame this edge. For krells, I would look at the ksa-200 -> 300 like you are doing. I've heard those are a little more relaxed sounding than the current fpb. Be careful and get a good price - they seem to languish on the used market.
For a preamp, I would try a nice tubed unit such as the audible illusions 3a (give you a little warmth but you'll pay in detail), a pass labs (yes, I know I have one for sale) aleph (ultra quiet), or an adcom 750 (very quiet). Used Krell preamps seem a little high priced when you can buy performance like the adcom 750 for $800 used. My old adcom 750 had 95% of the performance of my $4000 (new) aleph P. My aleph P is actually more detailed than my new audio research ref 1. In short the 750 really is a world class preamp.
My honest first cut would be the adcom 750 and the adcom 5802. Maybe buy a dna-2 or a krell 200s if you can spend a little more.
Buying used over the internet is scary. For equipment condition, I've been lied to about 20% of the time - from individuals AND dealers. Little things like scratches on the equipment. I usually buy from local people or brick and mortar used equipment dealers. You'll pay 10% more but it's worth it. Check out www.audiodeals.com. or www.audio-logic.com (they sell krell)). I occasionally buy from a distant person. Look for original buyers who are willing to give you the serial numbers, and the original place of purchase. Call the manufacturer with these numbers to verify its not stolen, the repair history, and the original place of sale. Look for audiogon sellers with several good ratings. Look for ratings from audiogon id's that appear in the chat rooms - that way you can tell they are legitimate good ratings.
Good luck. The big B&W's are classics.
I have a pair of 802s series III too.I have Conrad-Johnson MV-75 on top and Sonograph SA-120 on the bottom.Best of both worlds.I can also suggest Krells my friend also have the 802s but series II and they go well together.Threshold and PASS LABS amps will do tremendously well with these great speakers.These choices will blow away the ADCOM any day,so good luck in your search,as far as speakers your search is over.