Almost every time I go to a hifi show there they are. Like peas, and carrots: Classé and Bowers & Wilkins. Now, there’s a reason this pairing has been going on so long, and it’s because they work so well together. It was no exception at the Vancouver Audio Festival being put on by Hifi Centre, but there was a minor plot twist: Classé was showing off their new Delta Series Pre, and Stereo power amplifier.
There’s not much information available on these two new units other than pricing should be under $10,000 USD ($12,900 CAN), and that the Pre (which is a full preamplifier with DAC) will be replacing the Canadian company’s venerable, and well-reviewed CP-800 preamplifier soon.
The Stereo is rated at 250 watts, of which my understanding is that 10 per cent is supposed to be coming at you in pure Class-A. It employs an updated circuit path, with new/refined components, and a new lateral MOSFET output stage – and VU meters. AudioQuest cabling was in use throughout this system, and was juicing the kit with it’s highly regarded Niagara 7000 Line Conditioner.
The 802Ds are part of B&Ws latest foray into the D-series (Diamond) loudspeaker lineup. The new models have been completely refined, redesigned, and tweaked from the ground up. They are a beautiful to behold, are 90dB efficient, and while they are rated for 50-500 watts of power-handling capability at 8 Ohms, it has been my experience over the years with previous Diamond-series models that the more power you have, the happier these speakers will be. I think any of the D-series models I’ve recently heard – or even older models – are incredibly transparent to source/pre/power, but I’ve always experienced them with solid state amplification, so take that for whatever it means to you. I’d love to hear the 802D paired with some big Class-A output-tubed amps to listen to them with a bit of warmth, and valve nuance. But that’s just me.
In my mind this is not a sound for the laid back tubey individuals out there. I found this pairing tends to grab you, and then demand your attention. It’s forward, it’s very precise, and is not about romance or nostalgia like the sound some systems can court. If you crave transparency to source without colouration of any kind, deep accurate bass response, treble extension without attenuation, and get hot, and bothered with flat-frequency response curves, then this will definitely be your cup of tea.