Amp for B&W 705 Signature, approx. 2-4,5 K GBP/EUR

postup_crni

Well-known member
Nov 7, 2012
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Hello.

Long-time lurker here, but not much in terms of posting.
Recently acquired a pair B&W 705 Signature speakers (in fabulous datuk finish) and am looking for an amplifier that would bring the most out of them. Purchased partly on price (I know, I know), previously briefly heard them (with a Rotel) and assumed a good match with my Marantz PM11S2. They were anyway on my short audition list to replace Martin Logan ESL (problems with terrible room acoustics, cannot change). Sources are Marantz SA11S2 and Marantz N7004 streamer, no issues there.

No doubt, good results over last month, definitely did not want to return the B&W's, but all the time felt something was missing. Then borrowed a Unison Research Unico, which brought cohesion, fullness and bass that Marantz lacked (but was better on details and space, airer perhaps). That was the kind of sound I wanted.

Would prefer to keep the B&W (and change my amp, which is also 10 years old), I like their detail, precision, tonality, also because they have no acoustic issues (placed in the closed end of an L-shaped room, cca 3,8 m wide x 5 m deep - base of a large "L"). So the acoustics issue solved.

My audition plan includes, among others and mostly from reviews: Exposure, NAIM Supernait3/Nait XS3, Audio Analogue, Rotel top models, maybe MICHI X3 if available at discount, Marantz PM 12SE, Denon top models, NAD C399, MOON Neo 250/340, Atoll, Unison Research Unico series ... Would consider buying ex-demo (with a dealer's guarantee), based in Bruxelles, so Belgium, the Netherlands and NW Germany.
Have seen some (older and newer) posts here, Naim, Atoll, also Marantz were suggested as a good match for B&W 700s bookshelf models.

Looking for a cohesive, fuller sound which would retain most of Marantz's good sides (space, detail, musicality).

Thanks for suggestions!
 
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Zakhele

Well-known member
Feb 21, 2015
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Hello.

Long-time lurker here, but not much in terms of posting.
Recently acquired a pair B&W 705 Signature speakers (in fabulous datuk finish) and am looking for an amplifier that would bring the most out of them. Purchased partly on price (I know, I know), previously briefly heard them (with a Rotel) and assumed a good match with my Marantz PM11S2. They were anyway on my short audition list to replace Martin Logan ESL (problems with terrible room acoustics, cannot change). Sources are Marantz SA11S2 and Marantz N7004 streamer, no issues there.

No doubt, good results over last month, definitely did not want to return the B&W's, but all the time felt something was missing. Then borrowed a Unison Research Unico, which brought cohesion, fullness and bass that Marantz lacked (but was better on details and space, airer perhaps). That was the kind of sound I wanted.

Would prefer to keep the B&W (and change my amp, which is also 10 years old), I like their detail, precision, tonality, also because they have no acoustic issues (placed in the closed end of an L-shaped room, cca 3,8 m wide x 5 m deep - base of a large "L"). So the acoustics issue solved.

My audition plan includes, among others and mostly from reviews: Exposure, NAIM Supernait3/Nait XS3, Audio Analogue, Rotel top models, maybe MICHI X3 if available at discount, Marantz PM 12SE, Denon top models, NAD C399, MOON Neo 250/340, Atoll, Unison Research Unico series ... Would consider buying ex-demo (with a dealer's guarantee), based in Bruxelles, so Belgium, the Netherlands and NW Germany.
Have seen some (older and newer) posts here, Naim, Atoll, also Marantz were suggested as a good match for B&W 700s bookshelf models.

Looking for a cohesive, fuller sound which would retain most of Marantz's good sides (space, detail, musicality).

Thanks for suggestions!
Hegel H120 or Hegel H190 Amplifier ( best choice of the lot below )
Arcam SA30
Rotel RA1592
Rotel RA 6000
Denon PMA a110 Anniversary
 

TrevC

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2013
510
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B&W recommend 30 - 120wpc so the Yamaha might just manage the minimum 3.7ohm load.
However if you want to drive £3000 speakers with a £300 amp then go ahead.....
The price is irrelevant and the amp will easily cope as it can power two sets of speakers.
I use a budget Sony on my 706 S2. Sounds just as good as the MF that I used previously.
 
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twinkletoes

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Nov 16, 2021
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Look for an amp that can drive a 2ohm load for long periods of time. Most naims for example can do this.

I would be looking at the very least the 200dr with with a 202 or a supernait weather the A good match I don’t know.

id have hegal, peach tree , rotel/michi on the list couldn’t tell you what any of those sound like with your speakers

personally I come from the camp where speakers should be cheaper than the amp. I’d be looking to double the budget you’re looking at but that’s just me. Others like Trev can’t hear a difference and won’t have you waste your money each point is valid but not really what you asked.

Go to the dealers and pick some options that cover the price spectrum and go from there. You have some fine examples on you to hear list.
 
Look for an amp that can drive a 2ohm load for long periods of time. Most naims for example can do this.

I would be looking at the very least the 200dr with with a 202 or a supernait weather the A good match I don’t know.

id have hegal, peach tree , rotel/michi on the list couldn’t tell you what any of those sound like with your speakers

personally I come from the camp where speakers should be cheaper than the amp. I’d be looking to double the budget you’re looking at but that’s just me. Others like Trev can’t hear a difference and won’t have you waste your money each point is valid but not really what you asked.

Go to the dealers and pick some options that cover the price spectrum and go from there. You have some fine examples on you to hear list.
why would he need to find an amp that can drive a 2 ohm load?
 
The price is irrelevant and the amp will easily cope as it can power two sets of speakers.
I use a budget Sony on my 706 S2. Sounds just as good as the MF that I used previously.
The price is not irrelevant.
Most people with this much money to spend on speakers would tend to budget the breakdown of their system differently.
I think, although it will drive these speakers, the Yamaha might struggle to drive them to the best of their ability, unlike a Rotel for instance.
That's not to say the OP shouldn't try it.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Hegel H120 or Hegel H190 Amplifier ( best choice of the lot below )
Arcam SA30
Rotel RA1592
Rotel RA 6000
Denon PMA a110 Anniversary
I’d be happy with any of those, although I’d try the Rotels first. The Michi X3 pretty much donates the amplifier section to the latest RA pair, if I remember recent reviews correctly - only the DACs differ.
 
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nopiano

Well-known member
Yes my choice would be the RA1592
The mk11 is a stonking bargain, isn’t it? Here’s a great review of this 40 amp monster for those who may not have seen it.

 
The mk11 is a stonking bargain, isn’t it? Here’s a great review of this 40 amp monster for those who may not have seen it.

Almost bought one instead of the amp I currently have but managed to find a Parasound open-box at a very good price.
Saying that have noted Peter Tyson have the Rotel at £2195.......
 
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postup_crni

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Nov 7, 2012
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Thanks everybody on really useful advice. In the meantime, I did some auditioning.
  • Dealer 1, Exposure 3510 preamp with monoblocks. Came for the 3510 integrated, but this combo was available right away. Source Qobuz via Innuous (don't know the model).
Very impressive, space and details audibly better than at home with the Marantz, no significant lack of bass, precision, attack and tonally correct. So, based on that I would consider change (will return to the dealer, he said 3510 integrated should give more finesse & delicatesse, and is cheaper, so we'll see, still tempted to go 3510 preamp + stereo power or mono blocks)
  • Dealer 2, Advance Paris X-i1100 (2x220W), Audio Note Cobra (tubes, 2x28W, dealer's suggestion) and Michi X3 (2x200W). Source Musical Fidelity CD, via switch for seamless A/B comparison (2 amps at a time), matched loudness.
  • Not used to A/B switching, or the amps were properly selected and matched BW 705Ss well, but right away, I could not tell a great difference between amps or their key features (detail, space, imaging). Advance Paris was rather fast and detailed, with warmer sound, very good, but would not swap it for the Marantz.
  • Full, detailed sound on Audio Note and always more air and presence, but not night and day. Eventually, Audio Note was matched to Michi X3 and I came to a similar conclusion. At one point decided to quickly switch amp several times (so could not identify which is which), and every time recognised AN as more airy, detailed, open. Not much, but it was there.
  • The dealer then set up the AN direct to speakers, with AN cables and interconnect (lower price segment) and - that was fabulous. Presence, imaging, detail, power … it was all there.
  • AN sounded better, but will give the Michi another try.
Conclusions and next steps
  • Audio Note brought another dilemma, should I go into tubes? I’m very much tempted, but have NO experience and have to weigh practicalities as well. If so, will also listen to Prima Luna (supposedly very good and practical as well, widely available in BE and NL).
  • As it stands now, Exposure and Audio Note are my top contenders.
  • Next week will try to audition Audio Analogue (Puccini/AA Cento), Supernait 3, top Denons and Marantz (PM12SE) and maybe a basic Accuphase (all at one dealer).
  • After that, another dealer in NL (Michi again vs top Rotels, Moon, NAD (C399 or separates)).
  • In the meantime, research and audition Prima Luna and should find a dealer with Hegel.
  • Some suggestions are not doable or too expensive (Parasound Hint 6 is too expensive – approx. 6,000 – 6,700 EUR … I did listen to it, with Acoustic Energy A500s and it was very good, but much cheaper).
I think I will try to audition amplifiers directly for some time (3-4 songs) and rely on memory for comparison and decision, on top of A/B switching (if available). Also, keep an opened mind as I did not want to go into tubes, and here we are, the best sound so far and within budget (barely) was – tubes.
Will report on other amplifiers and audition last 2 or 3 at home. All audition rooms were significantly wider and bigger than mine, certainly that may have contributed.
And, yes, I am VERY happy I purchased B&W 705S.
 

RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
640
362
1,270
Even if I can't share your enthusiasm for B&W speakers I enjoyed your comparison and look forward to more and your final decision.
 
Don't go anywhere near a valve amplifier would be my advice. Expensive to run, unreliable and high distortion.
I would agree with some of your points however that doesn't mean to say a valve amp cannot sound brilliant with the right speakers. Not that I am saying the B&W's are mind you.
Not too sure where you get unreliable from unless you are referring to cheap Chinese efforts.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Hello.

Long-time lurker here, but not much in terms of posting.
Recently acquired a pair B&W 705 Signature speakers (in fabulous datuk finish) and am looking for an amplifier that would bring the most out of them. Purchased partly on price (I know, I know), previously briefly heard them (with a Rotel) and assumed a good match with my Marantz PM11S2. They were anyway on my short audition list to replace Martin Logan ESL (problems with terrible room acoustics, cannot change). Sources are Marantz SA11S2 and Marantz N7004 streamer, no issues there.

No doubt, good results over last month, definitely did not want to return the B&W's, but all the time felt something was missing. Then borrowed a Unison Research Unico, which brought cohesion, fullness and bass that Marantz lacked (but was better on details and space, airer perhaps). That was the kind of sound I wanted.

Would prefer to keep the B&W (and change my amp, which is also 10 years old), I like their detail, precision, tonality, also because they have no acoustic issues (placed in the closed end of an L-shaped room, cca 3,8 m wide x 5 m deep - base of a large "L"). So the acoustics issue solved.

My audition plan includes, among others and mostly from reviews: Exposure, NAIM Supernait3/Nait XS3, Audio Analogue, Rotel top models, maybe MICHI X3 if available at discount, Marantz PM 12SE, Denon top models, NAD C399, MOON Neo 250/340, Atoll, Unison Research Unico series ... Would consider buying ex-demo (with a dealer's guarantee), based in Bruxelles, so Belgium, the Netherlands and NW Germany.
Have seen some (older and newer) posts here, Naim, Atoll, also Marantz were suggested as a good match for B&W 700s bookshelf models.

Looking for a cohesive, fuller sound which would retain most of Marantz's good sides (space, detail, musicality).

Thanks for suggestions!
Hi.

I know this sounds like a cop out, but it might be worth contacting Bowers and Wilkins direct (email or phone) and ask what amp they'd recommend or test these 705s with?

The Rotel Michi could well be ideal match as B&W are the UK distributor for Rotel and usually voice their speakers to match. That said, they may well suggest other brands. I know many years ago B&W tested their speakers with Arcam amplification, if I remember correctly.
 

TrevC

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2013
510
229
19,270
I would agree with some of your points however that doesn't mean to say a valve amp cannot sound brilliant with the right speakers. Not that I am saying the B&W's are mind you.
Not too sure where you get unreliable from unless you are referring to cheap Chinese efforts.
Unreliable compared to SS. Valves that wear out for example. They don't make sense sound quality wise either. The dips in impedance of the 705 will cause a null in the response of a valve amp due to the relatively high output impedance.
 

TrevC

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2013
510
229
19,270
Hi.

I know this sounds like a cop out, but it might be worth contacting Bowers and Wilkins direct (email or phone) and ask what amp they'd recommend or test these 705s with?

The Rotel Michi could well be ideal match as B&W are the UK distributor for Rotel and usually voice their speakers to match. That said, they may well suggest other brands. I know many years ago B&W tested their speakers with Arcam amplification, if I remember correctly.
There's no such animal as an amplifier that 'matches' speakers.
 
Unreliable compared to SS. Valves that wear out for example. They don't make sense sound quality wise either. The dips in impedance of the 705 will cause a null in the response of a valve amp due to the relatively high output impedance.
I did say that the B&Ws might not be the right speakers.
Of course valves wear out, everyone that wants a valve amp is well aware of that, its a bit like light bulbs.
This doesn't mean that the amp is unreliable unless you have a completely different meaning of the word to hand.....
 

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