Looking for upgrade of Accuphase E-480


I have an Accuphase E-480 with B&W 803D3 speakers and Lumin T2 streamer/DAC. I spent many hours during the last year tuning my system with cables and placement. Although I am very happy with listening to well recorded/mixed tracks, I have got a problem listening to all the other tracks, that don't show an optimal sound image. The high frequencies often are still too present.

Since I have checked everything else (power supply, cables, placement, room etc.) I went to a store comparing the E-480 with other Accuphase Amps on the 803D4 speakers (I brought my cables and streamer). The E-5000 was wider in the mids and a bit smoother in the treble, but still too forward for me. I tried this one at home too.

The E-800 class A integrated amp was very smooth and soft compared to the E-480, but also less clear and detailed what I was missing. It was clear, that my ears wanted more, than my E-480 could bring, but also more than the E-800 and E-5000 could bring. It crossed the border of the integrated amps to the separates.

So I listened to the C-2850 with the A-75 class A amp. It was smooth and detailed, emotional and precise. The sound in the way I was looking for. A whole different league.

Since this is a very heavy, expensive and power consuming solution I want to get sure, if it is the right thing. I can only afford this when I buy used.

So did anybody compare different separate combos for the 803D3, that go in the direction of the C-2850/A-75? And how would you compare different options to the Accuphase? Is there something else I should try?

Please only comment, when you really heard other options on these speakers. The 803D3 are quite difficult to drive.

Thanks for your ideas! :)




The B&W 803D is a forward sounding loudspeaker due to (D) iamond tweeter. 

The Accuphase is a very fine match, although, an E-480 is not powerful enough.

Stick with the C-2850/A-75 combo. Which cables/cords are you currently enjoying?


Happy Listening!

I would look into a better pre like a 3850 and a A70 amp. The better the signal feeding the amp the better. The A75 is the current top stereo amp while the 2850 is not there top offering and a better pre will give you a better sound. Let us know what you end up with.

Thank you for your comments.

Good point to consider the C-3850. I have never compared alle the preamps. And I have time, I can wait until there is a good offer in my region.

I use a Shunyata Alpha v2 for main power to the Isotek Sigmas and the rest are Kharma power cables I got very cheap and which are very good though. For signal I use a Refine Audio Ultima Musica XLR. Refine make the best signal cables I have ever tested in my region. For ethernet streaming I use Ansuz cables, also the best I have ever tested.

Does anyone have compared class A versus class A/B poweramps? Is it the same, as with the integrated, that A/B is a bit more detailed, but edgy and cooler and class A are smoother, warmer and rounder?


About the speakers: I know of course that the D series of B&W have diamond tweeters. :)

The 803D3 can sound harsh with the wrong electronic such as Rotel or Classé or T&A etc. I heard them with a Michi Rotel X5 which was very thin sounding and harsh, compared to the E-480. On a hifi exhibition i heard the 801D4 with Classé Delta amps. It almost hurt my ears, so harsh was the treble. But I also know, how beautiful the B&W can sound, when they fit with the electronic. And as I wrote, with the class A Accuphases (E-800, 2850/A75) it was far away from forward. It’s always the combo speaker <> electronic that makes the sound. The 803D3 are difficult to drive, when you buy just anything. But with the right match, they are wonderful.

I don't think your B&W speakers will sound good with bad recordings with anything but the very warmest amplifier. Your Accuphase will sound great on most recordings with Proac or Sonus Faber speakers, and they are still quite revealing.

Thanks. I know the Sonus Faber kind of speaker sound. This is not, what I am looking for. Too much "wooden" sound, too little resolution and 3D imaging for my taste.

I know, that a smoother sounding speaker will work smoother with the E-480. But I am looking for a high resolution, warm and smooth sound, as with the class A Accuphase combos and the B&W's. Did you hear that once?

I have read that with Accuphase , Tannoy speakers are the best.

And their aestetics are nice.

Thanks, but my question was more like:

Who has audibly compared different separates on the 803D3 (like Accuphase or Pass Labs etc.)

I am not in love with your speakers but I went from some very expensive separates to a Boulder 866 and can not believe how musical it is.  I have been a tube guy for the past 40+ years and the Boulder just gives me a huge smile on every listen.  Find a way to demo the Boulder 866.  I think it's what your looking for.

Yes the Boulders are very nice. I also want to check out the Vitus SIA 25 mk2.

I had a chance to listen to 803D3 on McIntosh rig at my dealers place and it sounded faboulose, therefore I would suggest pairing them with macs. Also while I didn't heard them with Pass Labs I'm somehow sure that will be beautiful combination, I would look at pair of XA60.8 monoblocks.

On the other side. if you like the resolution, dimensionality and everything about your speakers a step up would be looking at the Marten speakers, i.e Marten parker trio. They will preserve everything from B&Ws improve many things without being harsh on bad recordings 

I auditioned several Accuphase (class AB / class A) but they all have the Accuphase signature sound. B&W seems to be a good match in general , so my suggestion is to try other amplifier brands. Or some of the recordings are just the way it is , not a problem with the equipment unless you are willing to tone down your system to accommodate your specific preference because of certain recordings.
a high current tube amp may give you the warmth and tonality but beware of the power that’s necessary to drive 803 (depends on your room size)  or Gryphon 


I can tell you that I listened to the 803d3’s with all Macintosh  equipment. Listened for close to an hour. Simple music like the Bill Evans Trio sounded great, but the more complicated the recording, the worse the system sounded and the high end was a bit sharp and that was with MAC.

Thanks for your ideas. As I said, with the C-2850 and A-75 it was a very musical, smooth and refined sound with lots of details. I will observe the market for a used combo. If there is a C-3800 or C-3850 I consider that too. I just wanted too see, if anyone has compared different options on the same speakers that go in that direction.

McIntosh is not an option for me. I heard the MA8900 when I bought my E-480. It was warm and present, but it lacked details an it was too colored. The guy at the store who deal with Accuphase and McIntosh doesn't recommend Macs for me, because he knows what i like and Accuphase pretty topped everything on the 803D3 so far.

If anybody drops in, that knows the 803D3 well and tried different options, your thoughts are welcome. :)

Hi again

I wanted to let you know, that I have got a simple solution.

I got a new version of the XLR cable I already had and that brings such a warm and soft color to the sound image. I listened to all the tracks that were too bright with the old one. Problem solved, crazy. The newer version of the cable should deal better with distortions that come from the system.

To all B&W critics out there, you don't believe how a 803D3 can sound. :)

Nevertheless, if there comes an opportunity for a used separate combo of class A Accuphase, that will be the next step.



Which brand Cables/Cords are you enjoying? I have been saying it for years, Cabling, is the forgotten component.


Happy Listening!