To Doug Schneider,

I am planning to build a hi-fi stereo system. My speaker of choice is the B&W 802D. I listen mostly to rock, alternative, and pop music. I would like to ask for your advice/opinion on what brand of preamplifier and amplifier is best suited to the B&W 802D. My options are: Krell, Mark Levinson, and Classé.

Thank you,
Egbert

I’ve never owned, used, or reviewed the 802D, but I am pretty well-versed with B&W speakers because I’m well aware of their current line-up and have owned a few of their speakers in the past. Typically, B&W works best with high-current, solid-state amplification, so Krell, Levinson, and Classé all qualify as potential candidates. Of those brands you’ve mentioned, I’ve personally reviewed a couple of Classé’s amplifiers and thought very highly of their sound. Classé and B&W also usually show together at hi-fi shows and are sold at the same stores because they’re owned by the same parent company. I don’t have any experience with the latest-model Krells and Levinsons, so I can’t really comment on them. All three brands make preamplifiers and I have no doubt they’re optimized to work well with their amps. 

If those are the only three brands you’re considering (or have access to), I’d obviously suggest you try suitable models from all three to find out for yourself what works best. Look at the models that are rated to deliver at least 150Wpc into 8 ohms. If you want suggestions for other brands to consider, I’d personally recommend looking at the latest SST2 models from Bryston (the 4B SST2 I have in my listening room right now is killer and is rated to deliver 300Wpc into 8 ohms) and the various Moon amps from Simaudio -- I reviewed the Evolution W-7 in the past and found it to be outstanding, and I’m in the process of reviewing the 400M mono amplifiers and can tell you that my initial impressions of the pair are very positive (the 400M is rated to deliver 400Wpc into 8 ohms). Bryston and Simaudio make very good preamplifiers too. . . . Doug Schneider

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