Amp upgrade to power DM 603 S2's. Recommendations please.

wattson

Novice Member
Hi all,

I've been feeding my B&W DM 603 S2 speakers using an Arcam A75 amplifier, through an Arcam r-PAC DAC for the past 7 years and I am now looking to upgrade the amplifier. The reason to upgrade is basically lack of bass and punch, particularly at low-to-mid volumes. Bass comes alive at higher volumes to some extend but then it sounds just too laid back, kinda loose. I guess I am looking for a punchier, tighter and exciting sound.

Problem is, while complaining about lack of grunt, I absolutely love the softness, warmth and clarity of the mids and highs in this setup. What amp would you recommend to achieve a punchier, more exciting sound without too much sacrifice on the smoothness of the mid-range? I've read many people recommending NADs but also others complaining that pairing NAD and B&W results in a harsh sound.

I've a budget around £350-400 and will definitely get a used amplifier. Speakers are located in a pretty large living room which also has an opening to upstairs, no door. Genre-wise it's pretty wide but largely electronic music; lots of chill-out, ambient, dub, techno, some dnb and psytrance and then some rock, ethnic, instrumental and vocal music.

Edit: Might be useful to mention that I will eventually move into a smaller flat and will have to downsize the speakers. So if possible at this budget, I'd like the new amp be future-proof and work well with smaller, better speakers.

Many thanks in advance,

T
 
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RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
Having briefly owned an Arcam A85, I think you'll struggle to find much else with that signature sound. A85/P85 has been a long-time favourite for many so that may be an option. They were both falling price-wise last time I looked so may be achievable for the top end of your budget. Then maybe sell off the power amp when you downsize.

My preference & what I replaced the Arcam with, would be a Rotel RA-1062. It's hugely capable despite only being rated at 60W, but is a much livelier than the Arcam.
 

wattson

Novice Member
Thanks for the reply! A85 is definitely on my list. In fact, I was almost convinced to buy one but then I read a few user reviews that weren't too far from my opinion about the A75 so I thought I'd look around a little bit more, fearing I might end up with a similar sound despite the significant investment. Arcam Alpha 10's are also very highly recommended for their power and clarity but their age is a bit concerning.

Rotel RA-1062 comes up pretty often as well, so I am considering it but I am yet to learn what Rotel sounds like. Perhaps it's time for a change and I should leave Arcam sound and experience something new...
 

RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
but then I read a few user reviews that weren't too far from my opinion about the A75
That's why I'm suggesting adding the P85 so you can bi-amp with a bit more grunt. As I said, it's a popular combo so should be plenty of thoughts out there.
I am yet to learn what Rotel sounds like.
Rotel & B&W are both part of the same group so they should work well together. But whether you like the combo is another matter!
 

paultownsend

Active Member
If looking at the RA 1062, make sure the volume pot works correctly. Mine went back to Rotel twice as the left and right channels were imbalanced. I only noticed it after a year. They couldn’t fix it. It was mostly noticeable at lower listening levels. Their feedback was to use the balance pot to correct it. Poor. It blew the internal fuses every so often as well.
 

wattson

Novice Member
If looking at the RA 1062, make sure the volume pot works correctly. Mine went back to Rotel twice as the left and right channels were imbalanced. I only noticed it after a year. They couldn’t fix it. It was mostly noticeable at lower listening levels. Their feedback was to use the balance pot to correct it. Poor. It blew the internal fuses every so often as well.
Thanks, very useful information! I'm looking around for a fairly priced 1070, 1520 or 1062 while also reading reviews for alternatives as I'm not in a rush... It'd be great to get comparative reviews on these three though... From what I've read so far they aren't too far from each other sound-wise but 1070 packs more power so might be a better driver for my speakers, I think...
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
For about half your budget you could get a p75 and Bi amp the b&w’s.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member

Paul7777x

Well-known Member
It’s difficult to get good bass from passive speakers at low volume.

And that will certainly impact on your music taste.

So I’d add one of these to your amps preouts.


Very small footprint and a very good sub. And lots of finishes.
 

wattson

Novice Member
For about half your budget you could get a p75 and Bi amp the b&w’s.
Apparently A75+P75 combination doesn't give the punchy result like the A85+P85 (says user reviews). I guess this is due to the softer nature of A75 which would be in charge of the sound even when combined with the power amp. I'm however looking around for a good priced A85 or P85, whichever comes on first...


It’s difficult to get good bass from passive speakers at low volume.

And that will certainly impact on your music taste.

So I’d add one of these to your amps preouts.


Very small footprint and a very good sub. And lots of finishes.
Effective and cheap solution for sure, but I really want to keep the system stereo and simple :)

I've also been looking into Roksen K2's today... They're well recommended for their energetic yet musical sound so could also be a good option, I guess?

The more I read about other amps to more I open up to the idea of trying another brand / signature sound. Not that Arcam is bad (would be missed in many ways) but just to experience something new...
 

wattson

Novice Member
Had a 2 hour session at 2.5 o'clock [correction: Player was not at 100% so probably around 1 o'clock] with my system and fell in love with it again, so more confusion!

I think all I need is punchier, more controlled bass. One just can not give up on those mids! :)

Any experience with A85+P85 combo with big speakers, similar to my DM 603's would be very appreciated. To detail the problem: Unless it's a really bass driven track, it sounds (to my ears) as if the bass knob is at -5/10 and I want it at 0.

Many thanks.
 
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Zoea

Active Member
Had a 2 hour session at 2.5 o'clock with my system and fell in love with it again, so more confusion!

I think all I need is punchier, more controlled bass. One just can not give up on those mids! :)

Any experience with A85+P85 combo with big speakers, similar to my DM 603's would be very appreciated. To detail the problem: Unless it's a really bass driven track, it sounds (to my ears) as if the bass knob is at -5/10 and I want it at 0.

Many thanks.
I feel you - I spent some time With a BK XLS 200 sub (Gemini big brother), excellent kit just couldn't get one to match my stereo fronts nor quite adjust it enough to sound controlled. I also live in a basement rented flat with neighbours and the decibel levels were quite an issue. I fondly remember a day of watching my kitchen double glazing rattle (the sub was in the front room... a good 20m).

My amp recommendation would be my amp - Primare A30.1. Remote control included, and can be picked up cheap if you get reasonably lucky, I would just caution previous first owner of mine had to send it back to Primare for a single channel fix and service. Sometimes the LCD volume display (though not the sound) was sporadic on mine after purchase. Still, £250 I picked mine up for locally (thank you Wammer), absolutely beautiful sonically.

As a bonus, it has 2 sets of XLR inputs if you should expand your horizons to XLR interconnecting in the future. As I have done with the M-DAC, Electrosound PSU - and pure silver wire.
 

wattson

Novice Member
Well that escalated quickly... Picked a Primare A30.1 on Thursday night and had a long session listening them on Friday evening. Result is incredible! Speakers are now banging with power, playing at club levels, capable of playing anything with ease, not a hint of breaking, never giving up! Impossible to complain about lack of bass or power, sound is much better separated and clear compared to the A75 and trebles are not too bright like before. One drawback is they don't sound special at all until it is very loud so neighbours will be an issue :)
 

Zoea

Active Member
Well that escalated quickly... Picked a Primare A30.1 on Thursday night and had a long session listening them on Friday evening. Result is incredible! Speakers are now banging with power, playing at club levels, capable of playing anything with ease, not a hint of breaking, never giving up! Impossible to complain about lack of bass or power, sound is much better separated and clear compared to the A75 and trebles are not too bright like before. One drawback is they don't sound special at all until it is very loud so neighbours will be an issue :)
Yes I love my Primare A30.1 version 1 too. To the extent that I now have 2 pairs of pure silver XLR cables. The second pair was much better.

I do buy almost everything second hand nowadays though. Even food.
 

GinjaGTS

Novice Member
Not that I have a huge base of experience to draw from but I also have the B&W 603 floorstanders and drive them with a Musical Fidelity A3.2 amp that I bought off ebay many years ago. After a few (many) years being ignored I'm really enjoying the setup now using my Amazon HD trial. I'm sure it could be a better setup but it sounds great to me.
 

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