Need help with picking a system: Cary, Wadia, B&W

Hi, all,

I am thinking of putting together a "minimalist" system with Wadia (301 or 302) directly driving the Cary V12R with B&W N804S Speakers.

My living room is about 18' (L) X 11' (W) X 10' (H). The room is lively with hard surfaces. My music taste is mainly small scale classical, female vocal and opera. I rarely listen to loud music. I am looking for a system that will give "weight" and "characteristic" to the music. For example,a piano note vs a violin note should each have it's own characteristic decay. For your reference, my bedroom system with the sound I like consists of EAD T-1000/DSP-1000; Aragon 18K; NAD 216; Maggie SMGc.

I am looking for a richer, fuller version of that sound with tube gear and floor standing cone speakers for the lving room. Is it possible? What are my alternatives to the Wadia/Cary/B&W combo within the same price range (all used components)?

Thanks in advance for reading and your inputs. I learned a lot in this forum.


the system you have picked out sounds nice, but at some point a preamp/controller will be important to you, unless you go with a quality integrated.
Ken, nice pairing IMO except for the 804's. If it were me I'd find another full range floorstander more suited to the V12R. Something alittle more efficient with an easier impedance load so you can run the V12R in blissful triode mode at 50wpc and get maximum performance. I'd look at Silverline, Coincident, Von Schweikert, etc. There are tons of threads here on V12/speaker pairing.
Lively room is going to have to be worked on if you want B&Ws. You'll have to go with 8th nerve adapt treatment or at least their response treatment. This will give you what you want with the B&Ws. Otherwise, look for another speaker with a little less lively sound. N803D would be perfect for what you're looking to do, but I guess it wouldn't be minimalist anymore. Another solution is McIntosh tube amp as they usually have less energy in the trebble.
I would not recommend a zero feedback amp like the Cary with B&W N804's.
I agree with jaybo. I was running a Cary 306/200 CD with an analog output (better than digital) direct into a musical fidelity A-308CR power amp into Von Schweikert VR-4jrs for a long time. I recently borrowed a friends ARC LS-3 and was stunned and the improvement. The bass was tight and controlled, the staging was amazing, and the sound was overall much more holographic and realistic.

I tried to avoid purchasing a preamp, but in the end realized that it really is necesary. I recenly bought a PrimaLuna Prologue 3 and am loving it! Good luck.
Thanks for all the responses so far. I guess I can always play without a preamp first and add one later. So...if B&W is not a good match, anything else I should put on my list? BTW, is B&W overrated due to good marketing (perhaps other than their most expensive line)?

Thanks again.
B&W are awesome speakers and in my opinion not overrated. The speakers are very sensitive to the upstream components and require very good electronics and cables to sound their best. They will not forgive any weaknesses in the chain. You're aiming at good components so far, but the B&Ws will like some room treatment behind them...corners, seams, etc...

My other suggestion as far as the speakers are for what you're looking for doing is Vienna Acoustics. They will be more forgiving to room conditions and electronics. Take a look at their Strauss and Beethoven Consert Grand.

If you can, go and audition some of these speakers along with the B&Ws.

Also, if you can, go with pre-amp and amp instead of integrated. You get more flexibility this way. Used Sonic Frontiers Line1 tube pre and used McCormack DNA-125 amp should do the trick. With the McCormack amp you can send it for upgrades if you want and turn it into an amazing sounding amp. These 2 pieces used will probably run you close to what you'll pay for Cary integrated.