In general, B&W speakers require high current solid state amps to really make them sing. I would do with a SS amp and tube preamp or CDP.
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Look into a plinius 8200, although this is a solid state integrated, it has a "tubey" sound. While I had the N805s, I deffinately felt that the Plinius was the best especially when wanting a more tubelike sound out of the speakers. Also, I would suggest a used Musical Fidelity Nu Vista M3, this is a hybrid integrated which is superb, but might be overkill for the speakers, although the 805s are great, they just might not be refined enough for the MF amp. Good luck
The opinion of Bigkidz regarding B&W and SS is a common one. However, I had success with several tube amps with even more expensive B&W designs like Silver Signature, Signature 30, and even Nautilus 802 and 801. What you need is a powerfull tube amp with good speed and bass control. I've had good results with Aronov LS-9100 monos (I just sold my pair, but there is another one on gon right now , upgraded version, priced quite low). Also, Air Tight ATM-2 is a great for B&Ws, they pop up sometimes at under $3000. Audio research VT-100 MkII might work too, In fact, I am using one right now with my Sig 30. Might be selling it soon to go for CAT JL-2.
Just avoid single ended low powered amps, they don't have enough juice for B&W. If you go for solid state, there is only few which would satisfy you as a tube lover. The best for your speakers would be any Symphonic Line design. RG-1, RG-4, RG-7, if you can find it.
Yes, I compaired a few amps in the same system.I just looked at your system and it's very good. You are using Pass, which is on the warmer side. The only area you might need improving could be the speed. As i mentioned above, for my taste, the best SS amps for B&W are Symphonic line. I think it's the only design which replaces tubes being super fast at the same time.
You have a monster $6000 amp, so, I would not recommend the RG series, which I mentioned in the previous post. I would go for Kraft reference 250 stereo or mono (250W class A). IMHO, the best solid state amp except the Kraft reference 400(400W class A), which is not in production any more.
I heard the 400 monos in my friends system driving huge Matrix 800, and it was stunning. Even Ken Stevens of CAT acknoleges they have the best bass in the world.
By the way, his new JL-2 is unbelievable as well. I am talking about these big boys because you alreeady have a big one, and to upgrade, you might have to go to that level.
Please let me know if I can be of any help.
I have no doubts that you are a REAL user of Sig 805s and that 300b makes them sing. I also tried single ended Audio Note amps on My Silver Signatures,( I also own Signature 30) but did not stay with them. They sure did make them sing, but didn't make them jam. They certanly work, I just don't think it's the best choice. In my opinion, and experience, B&Ws can be pushed hard and benefit from it. It's all about listening habbits. By the way, I visited Mr. Kondo in Tokyo last year and asked him if his low powered single ended amps are a good chioce for my Silver B&Ws. It would have been logical sinse he uses silver throughout. Well, he had reservations about it. 88-89db is not enough sensitivity. And they drop down to 4.6 ohm. Well, unless it's all mighty Ongaku(27W/ch), or new push-pull Gaku-o, which I heard and was ready to sell my house for it.....
I agree with your points on B&W speakers other than Signature 805 as I also own Nautilus 805, which will be for sale later. I have never tried Silver Signatures using 2nd order low-pass filter, and you have never used Signature 805s using 1st order low-pass filter. In addition, my amplifiers have 4-Ohm taps. The dealer I bought my speakers from is using Classe CAM-200 to drive them. At the volume I audition them, my SETs only lost a liitle bit at macrodynamics.
My exerience was mostly with Nautilus 800's -- very little with the 805sig. However it may be useful for Glai & Bigkidz.
Gvatchna: my experience using Symphonic Line tallies with yours. On the 805's (a brief, 1hr, audition), a Kraft 250 ref slightly outclassed the RG4's in musicality, nuance and control. OTOH, the RG4 driving the 805's sounded, subjectively, ever so slightly "faster"... The differences b/ween RG4 and Kraft 250 were more than evident on the 800's: there with the Kraft we had detail and an "iron" control in the lower end -- indeed, the louder we played, the better (more open, more headroom???, more detailed) the sound became.
We also tried a tube -- a pair of KR mono's (allegedly an SET design with proprietary tubes -- huge) that drove the 805's very well. On the 800's we had a feeling that loud Mahlerian passages were a little compressed -- but that may have been an impression.
Please note that this was NOT a "critical auditioning" session -- just playing around (none of us could afford the 800's anyway) -- so after the first 2hrs or so, we ended up listening just to the 800's driven by the Kraft 250. Not that we rejected the 805's... but those belonged to a friend while the 800's to a dealer, so we grabbed the chance to play w/ the 800's :)!
Pre was a CAT Ultimate. Cheers
In term of thruth of timbre my Unico int/hybrid as done actually better than many expensive tube amps. that came my way. Another modern inexpensive classic with great timbre is Comrad Jonhson CAV 50 int. push pull. More expensive and only used would be Cary 20 LX Mono using KR 300 BLXS giving 20 in SE mode. My faved amp but could be compromised with the 805.