New amp for B&W 803s - Classe or Mac or ???

I know, I know - B&W/Classe is a "classic" pairing from the same audio group. But in spite of a comfortable budget I have to keep my costs in mind.

I'm replacing 3 x Musical Fidelity XP-200s (LCR, 200w each bridged) and a Rotel 1562 (100wpc). I have 2 x B&W 803s, an HTM2 center and a pair of B&W in-ceiling rears rounded out with a Paradigm sub. The front end is a Meridian G61R/HD621. The room is about 17 x 18, carpeted, draped, and has a couple offset angles along with a large micro-fiber covered u-shaped sectional.

Maybe it's old age, but I'm finding that when pushed a bit in our new TV room (SIM2 Mico50 and Carada 114" screen) the 803s have a bit of an edge. The room is great and it loads the bass really well while remaining tight and controlled. Voices are good, midrange is good - it's the "edge" that seems to have crept in that I'm trying to get a handle on.

I can't afford a full gear swap out and I've tried some interconnect and cable cable swaps with no luck. I thought about a Meridian swap to DSP-5200s but that would still set me back about $12K after selling out the amps and B&Ws. So it's a Classe CT-5300 or a Mac 205 (again, a bit of apples to oranges from a power perspective).

(Note I have some dealer loyalty here, so it's Classe, Mac, or NAD and Audio Research is out of my league).

There's only one way you can fix your problem. And that is to get rid of your 803's. I'm not guessing on this. I know from experience. There's just no fixing that aluminium tweeter. If you try to find components that will be used as an EQ, plan on spending a lot of $. You'll still have the same problem with you are done.
Direct and to the point and you may be right. I've had other advice to move to a NAD Master series amp and dump the 803s for 803d (or re-evaluate my years-long liking of B&Ws). Thanks.

Maybe it's old age, but I'm finding that when pushed a bit in our new TV room (SIM2 Mico50 and Carada 114" screen) the 803s have a bit of an edge.

Hi Gordon
The biggest challenges I have had with this hobby is when moving gear from one room to another. I’ve had the exact same gear in 4 different rooms. 4 different sounds. Your new room sounds really cool. Based on the info in your post did the speakers work well in your previous room ? Without a “picture” we can only provide info based on assumptions and your post info. We are listening to our rooms even in a TV room.

I can't afford a full gear swap out and I've tried some interconnect and cable cable swaps with no luck.

Some speakers are more revealing of room/gear. Some are more polite sounding. No speaker is perfect. I have learned the following lessons.

a) spend some time and effort fixing the room issues if allowed (shared living space has constraints – is your room shared?) if this does not resolve the problem.
b) then try different cables/interconnects.
c) finally changing gear (amps/preamps/speakers). Maybe multiple times. This is obviously what manufacturers/dealers/distributors want us to do. Maybe you want a change and have cash. IDK.

So - I would take some time with (a) first and maybe you have already – your post doesn’t say. In the new room I assume the new screen is between the 803 speakers? Maybe you have already done this; as an experiment have you tried covering it with a blanket and listen to see how it affects the HF? This obviously defeats the purpose of the TV room but it may tell you where the problem lies. Resolving may mean moving the speakers into the room a bit – if allowed. The new room is close to being square as well which is more difficult. 800 series are very revealing of the room and the gear feeding them.
Good luck.
Room is 17 wide, 18 deep, 8 foot ceilings. Rear wall is actually not "flat" but imagine that each corner has a 3' wide by 4' deep chunk taken out and that recess has an 11 foot wide u-shaped sectional. Behind the sectional is a 96" wide window covered with a heavy curtain. The left wall (looking at the screen) has a 96" window with a heavy curtain. To the right of the screen is a door to my equipement room. Covering that door is a heavy curtain with a matching curtain on the left side. Room is neutral with only a slight clap echo no matter where you clap (no STD jokes please). Speaker placement was done with help of local sales guy prior to putting in the carpet spikes. Room eq done twice w/Meridian SW w/help from sales guy (who has about 20 years exp, about 12 w/B&W and Meridian). If you know Seattle you know who the dealer is.

So room is dedicated, dark (indigo walls/ceiling, dark gray carpet, reasonably heavy dark curtains - not that the color impacts the sound!). I do have a blanket that I can use to drape the screen - which, although not the solution of course - would provide another data point.

I've been messing with this stuff since Radio Shack in Chicago sold Scott and HeathKit recievers (yes, I'm in my 60's) and had a "high end" department. It never ceases to amaze me how many variables we have to deal with and how, even after the most studied efforts, "audio nirvana" always seems to have an element of luck that separates very good from OMG!!!

Again - thanks for the time you took for a thoughtful response. I'll futz with a blanket tomorrow (a rainy Seattle Saturday) and post results and whenever I finish this mini-journey I'll close out this thread.

I didn't mean to be too direct and to the point, but if you haven't guessed, B&W is somewhat of a sore spot with me. I could barely stay seated while reading your post.

I tried everything with those speakers. The upside is, I leaned more about audio trying to get those speakers right than any other experience I've ever had. It was just extremely costly and frustrating. You can try things with the room but honestly, I don't think that will do any good. High frequencies are very directional and what comes out of that tweeter takes a direct path to your ear. (I understand that some of it gets reflected but in your case, thats not the problem.)

If you want to keep your speakers the only thing you can try to do is change the sound of what is coming out of your tweeters. I can recommend 2 products that I think will help. Understand, though, that I consider these to be "band aid" fixes. What I mean by that is you would be using these components to fix something else in your system. Personally, I really don't like doing things like that. I feel that an audio component should be able to stand on its own; without any help.

The first component I think will help is a Jeff Rowland 112 (Or Model 10 or 12's). They're all part of the same line. No other amp I've ever heard handles high frequencies quite like the 112. At first you think its rolled off but the more you listen to it, you realize that all of the information is there, it just gets timbre correct. Things sound like what they're supposed to. Anyway, thats the best way that I can explain it. The amp has its flaws, but it should work wonders on your B&W.

The other component I would look at is a pair of Synergistic Research Signature 10 speaker cables. Normally, I hate to recommend cables to fix issues. This is an exception. Its a biwire cable that uses different materials for the high and low frequencies. Whatever they put in the HF portion of that cable, is exactly what you need for your B&W's. The best way to explain how it sounds is to compare it to the Rowland I just mentioned. It has a very similiar effect. I'm pretty sure the cable is no longer in production so you would have to find it used. If you can't find one, I would call Synergistic and see what would match up to the Sig 10's in their current line. Tell them you want whatever they used for the HF's in the 10's.

Anyway, I hope this info helps. That said, I still think you should treat yourself to a new pair of speakers. If you keep thinking about your problems with the B&W's, I'm pretty sure that you will be able to talk yourself into getting new ones.
Zd - thanks for the follow up. I haven't been as sensitive to this issue until the last couple/three months and we've been in the house since April. The only change since we moved in is that I "wire loomed" all the dangling, messy cables. I routed all the power cables down one side fo my 6/5' high rack and all the other cables down the opposite side. Anytime I had to cross power and an interconnect I crossed at right angles. The amps are on the lowest shelf and I'm using the entry-level Transparent interconnect. And on and on. I have no idea if this project created the situation or if so, why. That said - I'm coming to the same conclusion.

Once I have satisfied my 2012 obligation to my friends in Washington DC, set aside a bit of my Q4 incentive towards our mortgage principal, finished with the last few pieces of furniture, and decided on a couple other purchases I'll see what, if any, I have left to contribute to my "fix the high frequency fund" and new speakers are on my list of options. This is finally the "forever house" and sometime this year I *will* get this resolved.

I think I'll close down this thread - I've had good input here and elsewhere and virtually all the input has confirmed what I really didn't want to hear. Heck, maybe I should just keep the MF's and the Rotel and go speaker shopping. Know anyone who wants a very clean B&W 803s LCR setup? ;-)