Stellar M700 With B&W Nautilus 803

Greetings all,

Long time member of this community, finally got around to re-joining the forums after the past forum upgrades.

I’m thinking about upgrading my amplifier, looking for the best fit/compatibility/synergy with my very hard to please B&W 803 speakers. Just wondering if the M700s are up to the task and what I might expect from this configuration.

For now, I plan on trying to keep my current preamp (PCA-2 with HCPS), so I’m looking for thoughts on this pairing also.

Maybe of value- I have some fairly hard to drive speakers as well- 4ohm, dipping to 2.5 and consuming some fairly high energy at various points. The 700s performed flawlessly and well into high SPLs.

Thanks for that info. Even though the 803s are presented as 8 ohm speakers, I’ve found through research that they are closer to 4 ohms and can go as low as 2 ohms. Not only do they need a lot of power for the low end, but also need some ‘sweetness’ to tame that sometimes over the top tweeter.

I don’t believe you’ll get any sweetness from the M700. I find they dead nuts neutral, what goes in comes out amplified, no coloration.

I’ve experienced these speakers with high power/high dollar amplification (McIntosh/Levinson/Krell) and they sound amazing (to me). The whole speaker (ten foot tweeter included) just vanish. So I don’t know if those amps were adding coloration or if they were simply more compatible with their needs…

I’m looking more for compatibility/synergy vs coloration.

I agree with Brett 100%. I had one pair of speakers that broke up pretty bad with 700s as I ended up with a very edgy sound (and they were bookshelves.) While they drove most everything wonderfully, “sweetness” is not a term I would use to describe them attribute wise. Hence my system now sports a tube pre. The system did not sound bad prior, but it sounds better with the pre.

The times I’ve heard them really sing have all been with solid state. I have considered (and may still consider) a tube pre as a solution here, however, I still want/need to upgrade the amplification also.

Thanks for your input

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Understood. I guess to answer your question specifically “Are the M700s up to the task”, the answer would be; Yes, I would believe so based on my experience w/ two very different speakers, one rather hard to drive. The 700s sounded good and never even hinted at an issue. Best of luck with your decision.

I’m using the SGCD to M700’s to power Aerial Acoustics 7B’s - which are demanding speakers. When I drove them with a BAT 10-tube VK5i to an Ayre V3 (200 wpc), I realized everything sounded the same – musical bass (but all sounding similar), sweet guitar (but times a little too sweet for the rest of the mix). Since moving up to 700 wpc M700’s, all of my recordings sound… DIFFERENT. Everything now has its own sound! So very neutral, very revealing, but still musical!


Ahhh. Yes. That’s what we like to hear. I’ve never been happy with the miss mash sound where everything’s pleasant but without extremes.

Boy, what a dilemma! When I read your experience with the M700s, I get encouraged. Then I read this from a different thread in the loudspeaker section from DarrenMyers:

"I’ve owned the 805D2 and 805D3 and I would not describe them as relaxed. IMO they are forward in the upper mid-range and tend to highlight detail and speed rather than top to bottom balance. They are very revealing, however.

My concern is that you liked the synergy between the Macs slow, warmer sound and the B&Ws analytical traits. A more transparent and revealing amplifier like the M700 may not be as good of a match."

I’ve heard the 805 D series and they certainly have that “B&W sound” that I sometimes struggle with on my older 803s.
Maybe I need to start thinking about selling/trading my 803s for something a little less top end forward instead of focusing on getting a more synergistic relationship with the electronics.

Thanks for your thoughts.

That reply was to me, and I didn’t go the B&W way, it would have been a mistake. The SVS Ultra Towers settled phenomenally after running the SGCD and 700s for around 40 hours. Instead of the B&W sound, I was rewarded with music and almost no coloration at all.

I stream flac with an Allo Digione player vía coax spdif and Radio Paradise, and even Spotify is improved via that little dac. Either Stellar will “open” the portals of music to your ears, including any weak links in the chain.

Thanks! I’ll add those to my list to audition as I continue to investigate replacement of the electronics and/or speakers.

I am hoping that someone has tried these new pieces from PS with a similar speaker and will share their results.

I would like to clarify that I don’t necessarily believe bad sound will be a product of the B&W/M700 combo. I was saying that I didn’t think the combination would be relaxed or the last word in top to bottom balance. It would be up to the listener and what he/she prefers.

If you are worried about an overly detailed sound, I would add that I think the Nautilus series are a bit more tame in the upper midrange compared to the D2/D3 series.

Hope this helps!

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I don’t want to offend B&W owners, but as you mentioned you possibly think about switching speakers anyway, I must say, when I heard them, the gear they didn’t sound unbalanced with, made them sound really boring imo, without bite, color, shine and dynamics. Although this seems to be a famous match, I‘m not amused by a Mc/B&W combo at all.

I’m sure, building a setup upon revealing sources/amps and balanced, homogeneous, uncritical speakers will give you a much better result.

Thanks, Darren for that clarification. I will agree that my N803s are not near as offensive in the top end as the D series that I’ve heard.

I do think that my current amp exaggerates that top end imbalance, especially when the bottom drops to or below 2 ohms. As I stated earlier, these speakers are completely different with high power/high dollar amps. The M700s are in fact high power amps, and therefore one of the directions I’m considering. I don’t know if it will apply with the N803’s, but reading the description of these amps on the PSA website keeps my interest alive:
_(“From the deepest bass to the warmest, sweetest highs, the Stellar M700 takes control and makes any loudspeaker sing”)

What amp do you currently have? I thought for a second you had a HCA-2 but you just have the preamp, correct?

Yes, you are correct. I have the HCA-2 as well as the PCA-2 with HCPS.

I was just re-reading John Atkinson’s test results from when the amp was first available, and now see some of what I feel like I’ve been hearing, especially when a demanding/revealing speaker is in the equation. While the amp has always sounded good, I knew the 803’s were capable of so much more. I’m just now beginning to realize why. When I inquired about the HCA-2’s compatibility with the N803s, I was assured it was a great match.

The HCA-2 was a great Class D amp in its day but current tech is in a different league. I think you would hear large improvements moving to M700s. You will hear a lot less grain and glare due to large improvements in linearity and listenable headroom.