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! :)


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. :)