I have done a lot of research on this too as I have the N802's for my front and N805's for rear with an HTM1 center.
I am looking into Krell because I have heard that they are a good match with Nautilus. You can find reviews on the Krell KAV 1500 at audioreview.com they have reviewed this amp with the Nautilus.
Let me know what you decide.
Problem for me and the Krell is the price. $3500-$4000 used. That is tough for me to stomach. I am hoping someone can tell me some nice things about the Earthquake.
Everything I read about the Earthquake specs look too good to be true, but I don't know how they would be with the N802's.
Other option I can find is the Sunfire Signature. Anyone have N802's and the Sunfire? How does it work for you?
Try the EAD PowerMaster 1000 or 2000. The 2000 uses SE or XLRs, 15A or 20A power, and has user selectable input sensitivity. It is an unbelieveably great amp. Plus, because of its power steering circuitry, if you are driving just 2-channels, you'll get 2x1000. It was on Stereophile's A list one year, before the company changed hands and has since offered new versions.
For that kind of money, you can do better than Krell, which in my opinion is overated. Check out the above mentioned EAD amps or a Aragon 8008X5, Classe CAV-180, McCormack DNA-HT5. All of these will beat any on your list and can be had for less than than $2500 used. Personally I'd go after the Aragon 8008X5, my friend has one and it's a extremely powerful amp, yet not harsh like the Krell KAV series. I'll stick with my 2 channel Threshold amp though. I only use a Denon receiver for HT, but I'm 80% music and 20% HT.
Your best buy for the money $2500.00 you quote is a pair of
Aragon Palladiums that are balanced... and a pair of nice cables that go rca to xlr...
I have had a kav and the Palladiums are everybit as detailed and musical... infact they are capable of driving any speaker and work especially well the the b and w line.
An incredible value... you will not need another amp for 2 channel ever!! Most people that read my posts know I am very partial to Aragon! Good luck,
Custom Audio LLC
I just saw a Meridian 558 5-channel x 200 watt amp go for 2550 on eBay. Keep your eyes open!
Many of the suggestions I am getting are only 200w per channel amps. The 3 amps I started with, cinenova, sunfire, and krell, were all 300+ watts per channel. From what I have heard, the 802's are very power hungry. Will these other suggestiong be able to drive my 802's?
Or is this a matter of one brand being that much better, example EAD or Meridian 200watt are equal to a sunfire 425watts?
Should I even care about power output?
The Aragon in mono blocks should be 400 WPC. I used to have an Aragon 8008st and sold it for a Krell FPB 200, but as I recall the Aragon 8008st is 200 WPC into 8 ohms. The mono blocks should be double that rating.
Power is more of an issue with inefficient speakers. How efficient are the B&W's?
Not being a B&W fan I cannot address that issue. I don't know anything about their sensitivity.
So it's quantity you want, well then your list looks complete. BTW, the B&W website has the 802's listed at 91 db sensitivity at 8 ohms, hardly power hungry. Unless you have a huge room or listen at extreme volumes 200 wpc should be plenty. Consider this a 200 wpc amp will drive those speakers to 114 decibels. A 400 wpc amp will drive those speakers to 117 decibels. So the extra 200 wpc will only get you 3 more db. How often do you listen at volumes exceeding 114 decibels?
The speakers can handle 500 wpc, so to answer your question, I don't think a 5X500 watt amp exists. You will need two amps to generate that kind of power. The 3 you have listed will give you the most power, along with the EAD PowerMaster 2000. There is one on Agon (EAD)now for $3200. I would take the EAD over the other 3 on your list.
BTW, make sure you have a dedicated 20A line for one of these amps. You wouldn't want to buy a Hummer and put watered down gas in it.
Jesseasi, you have some good suggestions from fellow A'goners in above posts. If 80% of your use is for home theater, as you have indicated, then I am not sure you will go wrong with the brands mentioned above.
I currently use a Krell KAV-1500 and a Krell KAV-250a/3 to drive my 5-speaker B&W Nautilus system. I bi-amp my Nautilus 801 front speakers and HTM-1 center speaker, with 2 remaining channels on 250a/3 for the Nautilus 805 speakers for surround.
I have bought and sold quite a few amps (including EAD) and have settled on the Krell because I found that I listen to music a lot more than I thought I would on my home theater system. I found Krell to be the best match for my B&Ws. While other amps were quite good, I just found the Krell to be the most transparent, dynamic and musical against my speakers.
Now the question is, are the Krells worth the price difference versus other amps? I thought so. But are the differences all that significant? Not really. But then again, that is the problem we all face with high-end audio... Often our choices are very subjective and personal.
So which ever amp you decide to settle with, make sure you bi-amp your 802s. It will make a lot more difference in sound quality than with which brand of amp you choose from the above mentioned list....
I'd look at a Bryston 9BST.
They can be had relatively new for around $2500 or so.
Not only do the Brystons sound pretty good, they are also bullet proof with the best warranty (20 years) in audio.
I would go for the Krell (I did). At 300 watts into 8 ohms, you can drive anything with plenty of power left over. You can also bridge the amp and turn it into a 2 channel or by bridging 4 channels it can become a monster 1100 watts! In other words, it's a great sounding amp, it's compact 19" wide by 6 1/2" tall by 24" deep, it's flexible, and at $3500 it will maintain most of it's value at resale.
I'm using mine to drive a pair of B&W Nautilus 804s, the HTM2 and a pair of N805s.