Integrated amp for B&W 805S under $1200?

Hello everyone,

I got a great deal on a B&W 805S earlier this year. Unfortunately, I haven't found the "right" amplifier for it yet, given my budget and musical tastes. So please help a new audiophile!

I mostly listen to classical music, and also some opera and jazz. So I want an amplifier that does justice to the grand symphony sound (think Mahler's Fifth or Tchaiokovsky's Sixth). Sounding musical is very important also: in particular, in violin and piano.

I had a Rotel 1062 from my older B&W CM1. I felt that it struggled with the B&W 805s and the sound was harsh. I next tried the Musical Fidelity A3.5. It sounded much better and I was pretty satisfied. But I noticed I was getting listener fatigue after listening to a moderately loud volume after an hour or so. I next tried a YBA YA201. Wow, musical! Strings and vocals sounded incredibly silky smooth on it. It brought to life my favorite violin and cello concertos (Mendelssohn, Elgar) and Ella Fitzgerald just sounded wonderful. Unfortunately, it was weak on pianos (sounded a bit muffled) and lacked a wide soundstage.

So here I am, trying to find another integrated amplifier. I'm a grad student so $1200 is a somewhat hard limit. Any suggestions? I was considering a Naim Nait 5, a Classe CAP151, or a Plinius 8200.

My CD player is a Rega Apollo.

Thanks in advance,
I upgraded from a Rotel 1062 to a Bryston B-60SST. I found the Bryston to be more powerful,refined, and much more musical. I would highly recommend it or if you can spend a little more, pick up a used Bryston B-100.
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Jolida 502brc is running (very well) my Matrix 802 s2's more thab enough power and very good vocals,etc.
I really like the Bryston and NAD suggestions. Both are a bit above your price range, though.
I know you're asking about integrated, but if you want good sound, especially for classical music, my advise would be to go with separates.
Here is something you can afford and manage with a $1200 budget:
Pick up a McCormack DNA-0.5 Deluxe amplifier. Add a nice linestage to it, think something like Adcom GFP-750. You will be better off with this set up, which will run you around $1200, than with the $1200 integrated.

Trust me, amplification is NOT the area to skimp on when you have B&W speakers, especially the 800 series. They can do enough bass, give the proper amp. McCormack will drive them in spades.
Raise your budget a bit more & look for a Symphonic Line Integrated in the used market. New is very expensive. This should be 'end of the road'.

With 800-series, just as a fellow member said, you skimp on the amp, you'll never reach your goals. Most B&W 800-series owners complain but seriously they never went all the way!
Pick up a used Marantz PM15S1 for about 1250 dollars. I do not agree with (Bob_reynolds) comment about the 805 not doing bass- probably his experience has been with less than good amplification. I have owned both the original 805 and the 805s- both are excellent bass reproducers provided you power them right. I have used the Krell 400xi with VERY good results. Right now I have the PM11S1 integrated (approx $2200 used) and having also owned the PM15S1 I feel that at your price point the 15s1 will be sufficient. Besides you get great build quality, remote convenience with the 15s1.
I have listened to, but not owned the 805s. Also, I don't listen to a lot of classical music. That being said I have owned numerous integrated amps including the CAP-151. For the used price there are better sounding amps.
My recommendation is you look into a used Bel Canto eVo2i. I currently use one and don't see how I can better its' sound without spending more money than I'm willing to. It runs cool and quiet and is more eco friendly than most amps. review.
Another recommendation for sound quality is the Portal Panache. Mine had a very warm and inviting sound with the only downside being no remote. Or if you liked the YBA sound maybe you should look at the YBA Integre line. Good luck with your search.
I have heard the 805S' driven with a mcintosh 6900 integrated, Rotel separates, and a 100w Yamaha reciever (yes, I said it, "receiver"). The 805 got about as loud as you would want to go on a bookshelf (about 90 db peaks on Von Karajan's Eroica from 1963 on DG (CD), driven by the reciever, and I heard no distortion. Out of the bunch, the mcintosh sounded the best, but my second choice would not be the Rotels. Bryston makes a nice 100 watt integrated also, which you may be able to find for around 1200 not new but I only heard it driving Dali's and Dynaudio consumers and have a sneaky suscpicion that it may be a little harsh for the B&W's, particularly with classical music. For my ears ( and other than an occasional nostalgic listen to the Stones or Janis I listen to classical 99.5 hours out of 100) the 805 sounded very nice without a sub, to get down low you will need a sub anyway. Only relatively few works will leave you somewhat lacking - heavy bass such as Mahler's 9th for example - you can get to ok levels say 90 db peaks with the 805 and to do so won't actually take more than 50 watts in a normal room of say 8 ft. ceilings and 12 by 20 positioned about 6 feet away. As far as musical, the 805S is really hard to beat - for anything other than concert levels for big bass heavy works, I do not think I heard any speaker sound better than the 805S - and that includes the 802D, Focal's beryllium tweeter floorstander listed at around 10k, Dali's Helicon 4 Mk II, and the magnepan 3.6.
If you have the rack space and strength for it (56 lbs, 19+" deep), 4" clearance top and sides), look into a Denon PMA 2000 IVR. 80wpc into 8 ohms, but a full 160wpc into 4 ohms. This is one of those really high current amps, the type I've always found to sound uncommonly liquid and musical while keeping a tight grip on bass control and extension.

Lots of reviews at audioreview and elsewhere. Price is exactly what you're looking for. I think that its ability to deliver high current on demand would bring out the potential in your B&Ws.

As far as accessibility goes, there's gotta be at least one Denon dealer in every town. Even Crutchfield is a dealer. With the weight of that monster, their free shipping is attractive.
I hate it when people say "if you could find just a few more dollars..." but, if you could find a few more dollars, try to find a used Ayre AX-7e. I believe the B&W 805s has a first-order crossover, but cannot say if they are time and phase aligned. The Ayre would be a good match.

The room really dictates the need for a sub with the 805s'. I also disagree with the need to high-pass your amps for solid subwoofer integration. I had a REL Strata III when I owned B&W N805 speakers, and had it rolled off somewhere in the 30's. Integration was smooth and seamless. Again, the room has a lot to do with this.
Congratulations on the 805S speakers. They are indeed wonderful speakers that will sound sublime given the right amplification. We know your budget is $1,200 but I agree with a few posters that suggested not to skimp on the amp. I have owned the N805, although an inferior version of the 805S, I have somehow found that the point of diminishing return happens at around $3,500(used) worth of amplification, in my case.

If you couldn't find a few more dollars, the Classe Cap-151 or Plinius 8200Mk2 might cut it considering your musical priority which leans towards violin and piano. It would however be important if you can listen to both pieces to ensure they wouldn't sound muffled on pianos as with your YBA amp. I would also agree on the recommendation of Bryston B-100SST which will render a more neutral sound in comparison to Classe and Plinius, if you can find a few more dollars. Sound of piano notes may be slightly precise and true to the recording. The B-60SST is slightly underpowered in driving the 805S,.

Apart from the selection of amp, it is also very important to play around with speaker placement. If you want wide soundstaging, try to work with the room. Assuming you don't have any allowance for room treatments, these speakers need to be placed away from the front and side walls at least 3' for a more convincing soundstage and better imaging.

Good luck.
Agree with all, these are very nice speakers and will embarrass lesser electronics.

Try these budget solutions;


-Used Odyssey Tempest(2 for sale now on Audiogon)
-Used NAD C162


-Used Odyssey Stratos
-New Emotiva XPA-2
-New or used NAD C272

or Integrated Amplifier:

-Used Xindak XA6950 US Model (for sale now on Audiogon)
-Used Naim Nait 5 (not sure this will actually drive these speakers, although I have not seen one fail to drive any speakers yet to at least pleasant listening levels)
-New Shanling A300 (on ebay)
-Used Primaluna ProLogue 2 - not so many watts but good power supply and hassle-free tube listening.
With your stuff I think you should try a tube integrated. I like the Pathos a lot. Art Audio just came out with one too. With your tastes you would love the warm open sound of tubes. Don't get the Plinius. I think it is quite limited sonically and at odds with the taste you describe.
"I mostly listen to classical music, and also some opera and jazz. So I want an amplifier that does justice to the grand symphony sound (think Mahler's Fifth or Tchaiokovsky's Sixth). Sounding musical is very important also: in particular, in violin and piano."

DITTO for me,

I am running a Rega Apollo with a Jungson JA-88D and could not be more pleased with the synergy of the two. Have put many monitors in front of me with this front end and can say this........the JA-88D has no problem driving and keeping anything in it's grips with a velvet touch. FWIW I've been around here and the "hi-end" block for quite some time. Recently I've been going minimalistic in my approach to listening and have had this combo for more than a year which is a good sign as it meets my standards for reproduction of PRAT, Non-fatiguing, good stage width & depth, balanced from octave to octave and the most enjoyable thing of late.....Soul.

I had a pair of B&W DM601 S3 on loan to me for 3 months and thoroughly enjoyed that setup enough to make them a "hit" on my list of next purchases. I don't have first hand experience with your speakers but think it would be the same.

That is why I will throw the Jungson JA-88D in the ring for a worthy contender, and the best part is the Price of a pre-owned unit........around $800 when they do show up on here........just make sure they are U.S. versions!

Good Luck in your journey.
Portal Panache - suggest checking with Joe at portal Audio to see if he has a loaner coming back in - great amp - (I am not affiliated other than as a satisfied customer)
>>With your stuff I think you should try a tube integrated. I like the Pathos a lot. Art Audio just came out with one too.<<

Well that's bad information as the Art Audio Lissa is a solid state (chip) amp, not tubed.
Pathos integrated tube amps range from $2700 to $10,000, which seems a little out of the $1200 limit.

You really need to check out this amp.

Myriad reviews here.
Thank you all for your feedback. Much appreciated! I thought I'd update you with what I'm going to try next. I found a Classe CAP 150 (sonically the same as a CAP 151) on here for sale, and it should be arriving tomorrow. I'll post my review once I've had time to listen to it and compare it to my YBA YA 201.

I'm hesitant to go to the separates world, so I decided to stick with integrated. I don't have room for separates in my small entertainment unit in my apartment. I'm also a bit hesitant about tubes or hybrids: I'd like to try them out in my system but I don't want to commit to buying one. It seems tubes lack the dynamics of SS and that's important to me in orchestral works.

In terms of my short list. A lot of people say Bryston and Krell are harsh so I'm staying away. The Naim Nait 5 is very highly recommended, and I may try a unit if I find one here that lasts for more than 5 minutes! But I wonder if it's enough to drive my 805S. I called Joe from Portal Panache, who was incredibly helpful and nice. There's a 12 week wait on the Panache! The Marantz PM15S1 is new and I'd feel more comfortable seeing more reviews online before buying it.

Thanks all!
Good luck with the Classe, they can sound pretty nice with the right speakers and often end up matched with B&Ws because they have the same distributor.

I would not shy away from trying the PimaLuna ProLogue 2 if you can find one used within your budget. Along with the Naim Nait 5i, it is the most memorable listen I have had in the $1500 range. Here is what Ed Kobesky from Positive Feedback said about it:

"When the music started, the ProLogue Two surprised┬Śno, shocked┬Śme by painting a smooth sonic picture that was also controlled and coherent. Many tube amps I've heard are slow in the midrange, dull on top, and loosey-goosey on the bottom. Not the ProLogue Two. It can't compete with solid-state amps in terms of tightness and fastness, but it never sacrifices detail to provide a warm, soothing presentation. It just sounds good, and not in a deliberately tube-like way. Music is presented in its entirety. At moderate to medium-high volumes, it does a remarkable job of sorting out instrumental lines, right down to the individual notes. I'd have no qualms about pairing it with sources and speakers that cost many times its absurdly low price. It also brought out the very best in budget gear. Whether fed the signal from my NAD C521i CD player or a $50 Sony CD Walkman, the results were musical. The ProLogue Two can be alternately forgiving and revealing. That, in a word, is magic."

Yeah, what he said.

Finally, I am intrigued as all get out with Johnyb53's suggestion of the new Denon integrated for $1199 new.
I've got B&W805s paired with McIntosh MA6600 and they sound with plenty of bass. I used to be a bass guitar player and I know how the bass should sound. Of course the B&W805s bass can be extended up to 20-40Hz adding a sub but I don't think I really need it for now. Well, time will tell :)
My previous integrated amp was NAD C350 and I could hear how B&W805s were eating poor thing alive.
Pass Labs x250 is a wonderful amp to use with the 805S. Great Bass,and the imaging is to die for!!!!!Very acurate and addicting to listen to with no fatigue whats so ever!