8-10k budget suggestions please

Hey guys, 

been out of the game about 10 years, got a new wife, new house, and plugged in my old B&W 804's.  Connected them to a Denon receiver expecting to want to do surround sound.......But forget it!  I really want to maximize my 804's for 2 channel listening.

My room is 15ft long by 13 by 9.  not very big but I need amplification and streaming capabilites.  Will add TT later as I do have vinyl.  Room tx is on it's way so let's just assume it's already done.


Thanks for all your help!


The Circle Labs A200 would be great. Here's a thread on Audiogon where owners share their thoughts: 


Sell the 804's and add the money to the total budget. Building something special around speakers of questionable listening qualities is bordering futile. No offense...

McIntosh MA9500. Will sing with B&W! It has a crazy good DAC and Phono section. You would only need a streamer for the DAC and you're done! Also has HDMI (ARC) for connection to your TV. 

Come on...the syrupy and homogenized sound of McIntosh is the only thing that COULD sound good with the fatiguing and overly bright house sound of B&W. You are attempting to start fresh, so raise your listening expectations.

Try a Cambridge Evo 150,  save lots of money getting great sound, and call it a day.  I did. 

Aren’t the 804’s known for their Bright tweeters?  I’m thinking a used Hegel H590 should work for you and it has a decent DAC built in.

I think your 804s could sound really good on a decent tube amp. I’d consider looking into Prima Luna, Rogue, Willsenton, Nighthawk, or even VTA by Tubes4hifi.com

I’d also consider upgrading some crossover components in your 804s....better caps, better inductors, better resistors where needed, and better wire.

Add that TT with a decent cart, and welcome back!


Mine are the pre diamond series. Not going to sell them now. Would like to start elsewhere. I mean considering all my other equipment……. A denon receiver and laser tv….. no matter what you think about b&w they are definitely the best thing in my system right now

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For about 6k I can get a newer Krell integrated with DAC built in. How would that pair with b&w

Rose RS520.  So far the best all in one 2 channel device on the market.  I have had the M10, Evo 150, M33...

i would recommend a hegel h190 or 390

spend the rest of the money elsewhere

If you are sure the speakers are fine then.....


Parasound Halo Hint 6 (A little over $3K)


Auralic Aries G1.1(A little over $3K)

Alternative Bluesound Node

Both units will stream the big three natively(Amazon, Qobuz, and Tidal)


Denafrips Pontus II ($2K)

Schiit Yggdrasil

Leaves enough for good cabling and a turntable.


would the krell be a big step up from the parasound?  Also Hegel 390 is about the same price as the Krell.  Anyone compare the two.  Audiotroy I know you are a dealer, but is there a reason that you chose to sell Krell over Hegel?


Okay super stupid question here.  If it makes you laugh that is okay.  I know that, at least from what I can tell Aurrender and Innuous seem to be the audiophile pick for streamers, but I was thinking of mating the Krell with built in DAC and a Rose streamer.  In a kiddish way the Rose looks so cool.

Okay question is this..... With the Rose I can connect to my TV and listen to YouTube music or even see the lyrics while the music plays.  I know that sounds stupid but I like it for some reason.  Is this a feature only on the Rose or does every streamer do this?

Just a suggestion:

+1 on a Hegel  integrated with DAC. 390 over on USAudiomart for <$5K and one on here as well.

Spend the rest on a small green computer (SGC) bundle/enpoint  and set up a ROON server.  

Later down the line upgrade to a stand alone DAC.

I agree with Krell. Used yagdrassil and Cambridge transport.audio research preamp used.Tellurium cabling black series.

the krell is more liquid then the hegel the krell has a fantastic built in streamer 

@asmithkash Keep it simple....Find yourself an all in one streamer/DAC/Amp.   All the viable options will connect to your TV (HDMI) including the Rose.  You can spin yourself silly trying to find the optimum separates configuration and never be able to enjoy the listening experience.  

I would keep streamer/DAC separate from amplification. I recommend keeping digital separate from analog on separate lines if possible. More flexible upgrade path, less noise input on signal.

One way to extend your budget is to purchase fairly new but used amplification.  For half your budget you would do well. Many great integrated amplifiers can be found for ~$5K.

Search the forum for streaming options. You might start out with a budget streamer  like the Bluesound Node to get comfortable with streaming. Then purchase a better outboard DAC or all-in-one streamer/DAC after exploring the market. 

So many ways to go, so little time :-).

oh man the krell has a built in streamer too?  i didn't know that.

Mesch what integrated would you suggest?

@asmithkash Well, it goes back to a question I have regarding the power you think you need for the speakers. I have not looked them up so I don't know impedance specs. 

I am sure some would disagree but I consider impedance across frequency range more important than sensitivity when it comes to the power needed. Sensitivity relates more to how a speaker plays into the room. Impedance relates to how the amplifier interacts with the speaker. The size of your room helps. It is similar to my own.


I should add that I am not familiar with the sound of your speakers, just that you like the way they sound with your AVR. I am positive you are going to be please with the road you are about to travel. A high quality 2 channel integrated amplifier will take you much of the way.

I prefer some warmth, with a non aggressive or tipped up  treble, and articulate midrange in my speaker. 


Are your 804s the one with a pair of 6.5" woofers?  

I would think that you may not need the subwoofers you were thinking about in your original post. A small room supports base energy. For music it can get to be too much. 

Mesch, yes they are!  I don't think I will need a sub either.  Plenty of bottom end on those suckers in that room.  

Why such hate for B&W from some.  Too bright for many correct?  I did hear some Harbeth speakers on a nice rig about 3 years ago that sounded awesome!  

My first foray into high end audio had me originally lusting after a pair of B&W, they were aesthetically a good looking product with a great pedigree...it was the house monitor at Abby Road Studios, mind you. I was able to audition several models in my home paired with a McIntosh MC300, then with a borrowed Parasound. I felt every one I listened to with intent to purchase were immediately fatiguing to listen to given their very bright, in your face(in a bad way), presentation. My first pair of high(er) end speakers ended up being a pair of PSB Stratus Gold's for less than I was willing to pay for the B&W, and I was in audio nirvana...until that itch needed another scratch.

I still believe that whatever gear you decide on, the 804's will be your weak link. There are a pair of PSB Synchrony 1's on this site that would be an excellent foundation to begin your hunt for YOUR audio nirvana.




I think you should give listen to the modern-day B&W diamond series. When auditioning, I compared 802D3 to Paradigm and Kef Reference. The B&Ws were the warmest of all. I did not find the tweeter bright at all. The Paradigms were like nails on a chalkboard! 

Also, I see you don't care too much for McIntosh. I just purchased a C2700 tube preamp and MC611s. The system is not broken in yet, but it has provided me with some of the most realistic vocals I have ever heard. The MAC integrated would provide great synergy with B&W and a pretty nice DAC (upgradable) and future phono capabilities, as the OP wishes. The icing on the cake would be HDMI (ARC) for hookup to the tv!

Daledeee1. Definitely doing room tx


jeffreyw. I have no opinion on Mac. It seems like with audiophiles it’s kind of like when you were a kid…. you were always looking for the new band that nobody knew ….and if you were the first one that found the new cool band you felt like a boss. Bands like the Beatles were good but if you were the first to find out how good Led Zeppelin was well crap you were a boss. Kinda feel like Mac is the Beatles. Does that make sense? People wanna be first to find the new special brand.
Also so many different perspectives on what you find important. I don’t even know yet. Maybe I’m so new I just want something to blow me away but in the future I will have a different opinion on what I appreciate

In the first 15 years of my Audio Bug, so to speak, I was completely infected by the McIntosh Brand. C42 Preamp to a C2300. MC150, MC300, MC501 Monos, MC601Monos, MC2301 Monos...the handsome looks and Big Blue Meters had me in a trance. Only when my audiophile peers within my circle of influence began venturing into brands like, Pass, Audio Research, Krell, Accuphase, Luxman, Coda etc. did I realize the the Big Mac sound that I had long coveted was not the sound that I (now)preferred. I suppose I should not speak so disparagingly of the brand because for many years as mentioned, I was as loyal as those I now question. 

i never make an audio purchase w/o 1st consulting Absolute Sound . a quick look at their site presented a review of Roksan Attessa Streaming Amplifier which is "highly recommended" at a nice price as well . maybe this is good enough for you and suits your purposes though i am not certain of them . --Best

Go for the KRELL. That K-300i integrated is fantastic. I am working a second job to buy the KRELL KSA i400 amp which has some of the same tech as the K-300i. I had the K-300i integrated and then the Duo 175XD amp. Both sold to get the KSA i400.

The KRELL is very smooth and buttery. Perfect for B&W speakers (I think). Only heard B+W at dealers.


I, too, shared your journey during that time frame. However, I did not like the McIntosh sound during that time; crazy. I gave modern MAC a chance again and was floored by what was presented. The modern MAC sound has changed for the better! We all hear things differently, which makes the hobby/addiction fantastic!!

I'm jealous of the OP because my journey has ended. Maybe onto interconnects now! It appears Krell may be a good fit for him which is certainly a fine component. 

Here is another data point. I think I was at about 10K to 12k range. Two Revel F208 speakers (during a sale), Benchmark DAC3, Benchmark Amp, used BlueNode streamer (streamer only), cables from Benchmark and BlueJean cables. I feel it sounds good for the price.  I don't care for B&W sound signature so try others to see what you think as time has passed.  My 20 year old Sonus Faber's had lost too much sound quality due to age and my tastes changed as well.    

@asmithkash - what music (2 channel) do you listen to?  And at what volume level (minding the size of your listening room)?

One reason you may be getting varying opinions of the B&Ws is that they've made many different speakers over the last 30 years or more with the 804 numbers.  It's unlikely all the generations were voiced exactly the same.  If you have really early ones, you may need to replace surrounds, ferrofluid, or crossover caps eventually.

If I were you, I'd get tickets to a concert or play in Houston, book a hotel room, take your wife on a well-earned night out, and spend the next day listening to some contemporary setups.  That'll help orient you a bit & give you a chance to see if there's a dealer you want to wok with.  If your wife is like mine, she'll love you for the night out, but might find other things to do for all or part of the next day.

For 7k, the KEF LS60 are getting strong reviews and gives you streaming, amplification, & a new set of speakers

Hey guys, thanks for all the help.  I'm pulling the trigger on the KRELL.  

Petaluman,  that is a great idea!  I will definitely do that as I move through this journey but the Krell makes sense to me.  I listen to rock, some country, and that is about it.  I have the little LS Kef's in my living room and love how easy they are with everything built in.  They sound great, but nothing close to my B&W's.  At least to my ears.  

any suggestions on cabling guys?

have you listened to the Krell or just pulling the trigger? For 8K, separates make more sense (as I read, not that I ever tried)

just pulled the trigger.  I will have this amp for 30 years.  Its everything I need right now.  Maybe one day Ill go with Harbeth's and tube separates!

'Grats, OP - you should love the Krell, and it may very well last you the 30 years you expect.  I'm not an "all-in" cable type of guy, so I'll defer to others who have stronger opinions on how to string up your components...

@asmithkash +1

"I will have this amp for 30 years."    

sure beats churning and chasing...

and yes good amps can and should last that long.  (I have an Onkyo Integra from 1986 that still kicks butt, and a Pioneer Elite from 1999 that is deep, powerful, and gorgeous... so unless there's something faulty, your Krell ought do a great job for a long time, indeed decades.)

if you do, however, happen to feel like trying new speakers, consider Concept 50, by Q Acoustics. 

Personally, I don't like "bright" speakers, though I haven't heard your particular set... But, I understand holding on to beloved speakers, as with only small update I've held on to my Epi 100 speakers for over 40 years due to their smooth clear rich balanced sound.  I also have other speakers now, too, but the Epi still due their duties in the room they're in.

so, in my experience, pulling the trigger is never a good idea.

I did it once. I got so burnt (un-resellable, hideous looking and sounding brand new speakers with no return policy) I didn't turn my system for weeks. On a pair of 1500 dollar speakers, I lost over 900. My largest purchase ever. 

I don't know how you would know this is what you need, unless you tried it and tried others. 

But of course I hope it will be exactly that, you best choice. 

@asmithkash you’re off to a good start! Don’t forget the room is probably your most important component. Once you get the room in order and get familiar with the sound, consider cable upgrades. The right power cord and speaker cables will take it to the next level. Don’t have to go too crazy - there are plenty of reasonably priced cables on a used market. 

That’s a tough room. I’d consider speakers that allow for near-field reproduction, five to seven foot max listening position to speakers. That will take much of the room out of the sound. Plenty of artificial Ficus trees, 5 - 6 feet in height and to the sides of the speakers.
The 804s MIGHT work, but a pair of Sonus Faber Olympia 3s might better fit the needs. They will provide a nice musicality and a great full-range DEEP image in fairly nearfield positioning.

@asmithkash Congrats, on the KRELL. I am assuming it is the K-300i. I have not read all of this thread, but I saw somewhere that you had a bad room.

Here is something to consider. The reason I bought the KRELL K-300i was to be a headphone amp for the RAAL SR1a earphones. Pair the KRELL with the potentially bright RAAL SR1a and you have some of the best "2-channel like" sound in your room. The room acoustics do not matter with the SR1a, unlike the B&W.

The K-300i can easily be setup for both SR1a and B&W at the same time (a flip of the switch on RAAL the adapter box). Something to consider if you like to listen late at night when the family is sleeping, like mine. Only problem is I stay up too late and do not get enough sleep.

I am bummed out that I sold the K-300i because I could use it again in my bedroom as a headphone amp (I needed the audio $$ when I sold it).


I'm on the Hegel bandwagon here. I have a H390 paired with Dynaudio Contour 30s. Roon ready, just add TT  and phono stage.