Total upgrade, denon, sunfire, nad... B&W803D


New member
Username: Turner73

Post Number: 5
Registered: Sep-07
I am in the process of an overhaul, and I might have started in the wrong end (started with speakers), but now I am here:

- Speakers: B&W 803D,B&W HTM3,B&W CDM(surround)
- HT Reciever Denon 4306
- AMPs:
(NAD S200 and S100 for my front, preout denon to s100 to s200)
(NAD 216 mono for HTM3)
(use the denon for my Surrounds)
- Denon 3910 DVD

---- what i would like ---
- Goals: Better HT AND better 2-channel sound for hifi.
- Less mess and not having to change on the S100 for listening to good 2 channel, but rather everything collected. (FYI) I have no problem with more units if it gets me better sound.
- I need in my HT part (reciever or HT preamp:
hdmi 1.3 in and out (at least 1 out and 3 in)
new formats of HD-DD, DTS-HD etc
1080p scaling out to HDMI
- being able to drive my 803D and other speakers very well

---- My ideas --
I am thinking of buying a good HT pre-amp which I can use for both HT and 2ch.
**Candidate: denon AVP-A1HD (preamp only)
It has everything i need in HT, but as a 2ch preamp I am not capable of comparing it to a good 2ch preamp or other HT alternative that I can use for 2ch too. My hypothesis is that it is only a pre-amp ht (no amp with current messing things up for sound etc) and it has balanced out.

For an AMP I am thinking about a Sunfire TGA-7400, 7ch 400W, 8ohm. I use 5.1, but thought I could biamp my front with the two extra channels.
I have also looked at e.g. the Cinenova Grande 7-Channel (earthquake) but to tell you the truth in this price bracket I have no clue.

An alternative total is a Classe setup w. pre-amp and their 5200 amp, but its a lot more expensive AND the pre-amp from classe isnt even close in features. The amp itself is very expensive in comparison to e.g. the sunfire.

If you want to gauge my budget say about 12000USD.

Now I know many people post questions, but I really need help and would greatly appreciate help.

Thank you.

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 9666
Registered: Dec-04

TG, if you wonder why Classe is so expensive, owning it will explain that.
See my profile.

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2405
Registered: May-05
I don't think you'll have too dificult of a time finding something good for about $12k. Most features you find on surround pre-amps are unnecessary. Furthermore, a better sounding unit will generally have less features due to trying to keep the signal more pure.

Some very good brands (that I prefer) that'll probably fit into your budget, have enough power to drive your B&Ws (they're pretty power hungry) and should sound very good with your speakers-

Classe (as previously mentioned)
SimAudio (not sure about pricing)

They've all got different charecteristics and price points. I wouldn't go below the Parasound Halo line personally.

Also, make sure you have a very good source. None of these will be worth the investment if you have a weak source. Think seperate CD player for music, and DVD player for movies. There's a huge difference.

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2406
Registered: May-05
Also, these brands won't need a seperate 2 channel amp to do justice to music. They sound very close if not identicle to their two channel gear with music.

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 9675
Registered: Dec-04
TG, the 803D's are going to suck every watt, every potential amount of energy, and every note out of a set of amplifiers.
I kid you not.

These are usually paired with Classe mono amps in the big buck range, by course of company linkage.
If you want to make them move you with music, think big heavy and expensive amps.


These are all Canadian, and not the end of the list by any means, but the type of stuffthat they demand to do what they were designed for.

Mark Levinson

All in mono block. This is what the speaker designers at Bowers had in mind.

New member
Username: Turner73

Post Number: 6
Registered: Sep-07
Hello, thanks for the input. I am looking and reading. Nuck, I hear you, but reading about the different amps for instance the earthquake i mentioned kicks classes as*s (pardon my swedish ;)= with regards to power. Why is then Classe better? Is it because it has *better* stuff in it or what?

New member
Username: Turner73

Post Number: 7
Registered: Sep-07
The ATI AT3000 series

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 6039
Registered: Feb-05
Oh my!

Yeah, it has better stuff in it.

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 1080
Registered: Jun-07
Tony, how about sound quality? Fines? Pace and Timing? Pardon my english, but the Classe would Hot Smash the Earthquake. And would have all the power the b&w's need.

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 9683
Registered: Dec-04
Tony, power is not everything. Classe amps are rated in real world power and underrated at that.
They use milspec componants and largely North American sourced hand tested parts for compliance.

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2409
Registered: May-05
I was under the impression that the Cinenova Grand (Earthquake) was a very good amplifier. Their website sucks, but I've heard a lot of good things about their amps. I haven't personally heard one though.

New member
Username: Turner73

Post Number: 8
Registered: Sep-07
Didnt mean to get you angry ;)= but you hear a lot about real power, and real watts etc. If I ask the question in another way, what is the closest I can get to a Classe, but paying for a Sunfire?

That is my real question as my budget does not allow a classe. A classe in sweden is about 15000 dollars. Then the denon about 8500 dollars. Thus I have to choose. I wish I lived in hifi heaven USA wrt this.

BTW, any tips on where Classe and other high end amps are sold at a good price?

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 9689
Registered: Dec-04
No anger here, TG. I gave it up for lent a few years back.
Classe is exceptionally good as well as overpriced.
I would rather pay for a Macintosh than a Classe setup.
A good price? Shop in quality audio shops. Wait for the rich guy to get tired of his setup(happens a lot) and snatch it up used and fast. That's the way I did it.

However I have no experience with the Earthquake, just the Classe, so that's all I have commented on.
I like the way the Earthquake is designed, it is very logical and mono channel.
Only, presumably, one will pop at a time if there is a fault.
The blocks are interchangeable for troubleshoting and modding.
This looks like a very good design.
As for SQ, that part is up to you.
I guarantee the SQ of my Classe stuff, c'mon back with info on the Quake.


Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 9690
Registered: Dec-04
Yes the site is awful.
Any more links to specs?
The thing looks to just EAT power, and shite it out in gobs, but no specs.
I wonder what the power consumption is and how you would wire it in?

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 2660
Registered: Sep-04

As I read your initial post, I thought you should have what I have - an Arcam FMJ AV9/P7 combination. Using 4 channels to drive the 803Ds it should have enough power (just) to drive them sufficiently well, and certainly better than the NAD amps. Then you said HDMI 1.3 and things went haywire since Arcam still haven't got an upgrade for the AV9 to that yet. So...what to do?

As mentioned elsewhere the natural combination for the B&Ws is the Classe line since Classe and B&W are very closely linked. Another option would be to search out some European brand that can do the job for you. If music is important to you, I would recommend the separate 2-channel solution since this will allow you to improve that aspect over the less important HT performance. If HT is more important to you, then it becomes more difficult since you should really match up all the channels and have a homogeneous solution which usually means things like the Parasound Halo, the Arcam FMJ, or some other (expensive) solution.

The Denon 3910 is a fine DVD player and good enough in my view, but it is not a CD player, and at this level you really should be looking at a good CD player - something like a Naim CDX2, Ayre, or for something different a Chord DAC64 with the Denon as the transport (it works reasonably well).

Sweden? How about Primare amplifiers? Or T+A? If you're interested in serious power there's Musical Fidelity's 550K Superchargers to consider. I'm not a fan of MF, but I accept that they are very powerful, and that B&W's 800 series is not easy to drive.

Honestly speaking, I would find it difficult to match 803Ds with a system on 'just' $12000. I know it's a huge amount of money, but the B&Ws are in the price bracket which screams money I'm afraid. The speaker is quoted as 90db with an 8-ohm impedance but in fact it dips to 3-ohms and stays there between 50hz and 1khz (source HiFi+ review) which makes life pretty difficult for an amplifier. You really want some good clean watts to make sense of things and you need to drive the amplifier with good quality signal to do the job properly.

Good luck!

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