Anyone heard the Krell KCT Preamp?

I am in the market for a preamp and was wondering if anyone has had a chance to evaluate or audition this unit. Any owners care to comment? Also, there seems to be no reviews published that I can find thus far. I am also particularly interested in its CAST feature for mating with Krell Class A amps (high impedance output into low impedance input. Thanks in advance.
I have had a KCT for a few years and like it very much. It replaced a Klyne 6L - I wanted balanced inputs and outputs and a remote. I tried several preamps, including a lesser Krell, but liked the KCT best. I also tried several amps, including a Krell with cast. That was a very good combination, and I liked the fact that the KCT remote (which is a very solid piece of equipment) also turns on and off the newer Krell amps. I finally bought an Accuphase amp, however, because the KCT-Accuphase combination sounded best through my speakers in a difficult room. I continue to treasure the KCT. It has great resolving power and it is superbly built and very easy to operate. I've never had any trouble with it. I also like Klyne preamps, but at the time I was looking for a new preamp there were no Klynes with a remote.
Stevecham, did you read the review of the Krell CAST system by Wes Phillips:

This is not a review of the KCT, but it's the only review I know of that deals with the CAST feature in detail.
Calanctus, thanks, I have read that review. Stereophile has listed the KCT as a "K" in their recommended components list for close to a year now but still no review. By the way I went ahead and purchased a KCT anyway for my 400cx and couldn't be happier. Still, a review with measurements would at least be entertaining..
Stevecham, if possible could you post your sonic impressions of the KCT...and whatever you were using before.
I had a Bryston BP25MC pre with 7BST monoblocks via balanced interconnects previously. Source components include Meridian 508.24 CDP, Meridian 504 Tuner and VPI Aries/JMW10.5/Koetsu Urushi/Krell KPE Reference phono pre. Harmonic Technology cables connect the whole shebang thoughout. At the time I also had Thiel CS7s (the original model from the first year of production, had some problems with them that could have been 7BST monoblock-related, another story for another time) and, concluded that perhaps it was my preamp that was the limiting component in my system, I spent the past year researching preamps in the hopes of increasing the detail, air, clarity, and depth of soundstage. I listened to cj Premier17 and found it to be very sweet, full of air, extended and rounded relative to the BP25 but I did NOT like the audible clicking of the Vishay resistors in the volume control section. Plus I could not turn that pre down to very quiet listening levels, the minimum volume was way to high for me. Also, lack of balanced interconnects was a big problem for me and I think cj does a great disservice to its customers for the price for not addressing this feature properly. At that time I was considering an all cj pre and amp configuration but the company was in a period of slow production and shipping and I did not want to wait for them to make up their minds about producting a new solid state amp to go with the cj pre. Also the dealer I was working with was very luke-warm about trading the Bryson gear for cj. I had also traded in my CS7s for Dynaudio Contour 3.0s because the Thiel dealer I was working with wouldn't consider taking my CS7s in trade for new CS6s, my wife and I were in the process of downsizing a bit and the 7s were simply too big (not that the 6s are much smaller he, he). Listening to the cj through the Brystons greatly improved the sound but I still wanted the balanced interconnectibility between the pre and the amp. So I concluded correctly that the pre made a big difference in my system. The other major local dealer here in the SF Bay Area was a Krell dealership and I began to explore the Krell KCT as a possible replacement. At the time they also had a 400cx on sale that I bought with trade in for the 7BSTs thinking I would also continue researching the preamp situation and upgrade those Dyns to Thiel CS6s. I settled on the Krell KCT after audtioning the unit in my current system with the CAST interconnects to the 400cx.
The KCT, to my ear, has all the sweetness and depth of the cj premier 17. But, it is cleaer sounding and much more extended on top and bottom. It is absolutely quiet in every way. You do not realize there are electronics in the system now. Clarity and accuracy of the midrange is also established. Soundstage is very wide and there are some recordings with intentional out-of-phase info that create literally a 360o wrap-around surround effect, the separation is wide and superb. Listening to late-night classical or rock recordings with the lights down low and eyes closed brings about hearing of detail I never knew was present in my collection of CDs and LPs. Microdynamic detail and ambience is all there and at no time does anything really call attention to itself. There seems to be no limitation in the system now and since purchasing I have the sense there is no further need to upgrade anything. The bass is extremely fast, deep when called for and neutral, but is very clear and reveals the texture of the tone, and when it is full in the music source, you hear it and feel it, even at low volume settings. Midrange and highs are all there, everything seems very complete and dynamic. The sense I have is that the listening experience is now limited 99% of the time by the quality of the recording and the production. In fact that is what I immediately assess whenever I play something previously unheard in the system. I think the remaining 1% is attributable to my emotional and physical state, and the time of day.
Functionally, the KCT couldn't be more logical to set up and use. The only niggle I have is that it would have been nice to have a "mono" setting when listening to mono recordings or for hearing in-phase when setting up the speakers. The other very minor feature that would be nice to have would be selecting how long the display stays lighted before shutting off. I noticed in the demo version that the display stayed lighted all the time and I can't seem to override the 30 display off function with the newest version of the software installed. I think the pre it is still "burning in" as each day seems to bring a new level of detail in "heavy rotation" and familiar recordings. Coupled to the 400cx amp provides real synergy, I do not hear the pre/amp/speakers anymore, just the music. The KCT really did complete the " sonic disappearing act" for my system. It runs a bit hot on warm days but is not too hot so that you can't keep your hand on top. The volume control has 150 or so steps and is totally silent. It reproducibly brings the volume back to familiar settings for familiar pieces. I usually listen to it anywhere from "10" to "50" (very loud, about 90dB from 10 ft with a digital meter) I do not listen to music over 90dB for extended periods for fear of permanent ear damage. With the KCT my Thiels disappear, not an easy trick for such large speakers. But if I close my eyes, simply cannot "point" to the speakers from 10 feet listening distance. I feel a large part of this is due to the KCT. Microdynamics, air, surround, truth-of-recording and a feeling that there is no preamp is how I would sum up the KCT. I'm into this system now for the long, long haul. As Krells ONLY preamp I can understand now why Krell would offer only a single Class A pre on the market. This is simply one of the classic greats and there is absolutely no need to improve it sonically. I listen to everything except country and western, with the exception of Alison Krauss and Johnny Cash. In the end I do believe that the KCT/Krell amp synergy is difficult not to lock into and if one were to decide on the KCT it would make no sense to me why that person would choose other than Krell for the amplification as well via the CAST connection. Essentially this creates a separated integrated amp situation that is still connected in the low voltage, high current and balanced domain. I would be interested to hear from other folks how the KCT works in non-Krell systems. Hope this helps!
Great review! I too think the KCT is a great preamp especially when employing the CAST system. And I agree that the listening experience is heavily weighted towards the quality of the recording. Another great thing about the Krell cast amps is that you can run a highly resolving Krell CAST top end through the CAST inputs, and if so inclined, run a tube top end through the balanced inputs. Depending on what kind of listening mood you are in, you can have a choice. Also, the KCT can easily been connected to an HT processor.
Stevecham, thanks for your review!
Stevecham, also a big thanks from this corner of the world. GREAT REVIEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Steve thanks for such a detailed review!! I am the new owner of a 400cx which is currently paired with a KRC-HR!!
I will consider your comments while listening to the KCT.
Ronv, I'm looking for a KRC-HR if you are thinking about upgrading to a KCT for your 400CX. Let me know ASAP.
Just to say going on five years later that the KCT/400cx combo continues to improve sonically with the CS6s. I enjoy this system completely and have had absolutely no problems with it nor do I have any desire to upgrade/degrade or otherwise!

Stevecham, I love the fact that you have offered followed up years later to your early posts and that you are still in love with the system - after 5 years that says a lot about the performance.

Too often one reads a great review and then 6 months later another great review of another piece that replaced the previous great piece.
Have you ever heard the Krell Evo 707 and the other Evo preamps ? How does these new preamps compare with the KCT when teamed with an FPB amp? I am getting a pair of FPB-350MCX, and is mulling over what preamp will be the best. The user review below apparently rave about the 707 improvement over the KCT.

It is really possible to make such vast improvement over the KCT when was touted as "the most transparent" preamp during its time ? I am looking for something that sound as close to "realistic" as possible.

There is of course the issue of amp synergy which is important. Will Krell Evo preamp synergise optimally with the older FPB series ?

What is your opinion of the FPB-350MCX ?
Many Thanks

Compare the pre amp section to the Krell KCT(my previous preamp), it is no contest. The 707 improvement over the KCT is immediately evident and obvious
Carz, I have had the FPB-350mcx monoblocks for a while. You will love them. About 18 months ago I purchased an EVO-222 preamp. This was a definite step up from the Krell Showcase pre-pro that it replaced. I ran CAST between the EVO222 and the FPB monoblocks. After a few months of heavy listening, I decided to sell the preamp and replace it with a KCT. The main reason was that while the detail was mesmerizing with the EVO, it was also very dry and "clinical" for lack of a better word. The KCT is a different animal, and while it is a step down from the EVO preamp in the Krell lineup, I am very pleased with the synergy created along with the Krell FPB amps. Stevecham is a hundred times better at describing the KCT than I could ever be, but he hits the nail on the head squarely. His initial review is exactly how I feel about my KCT. It disappears. The music is pure liquid, it no longer is about the components but about the artist and the performance. I've had the KCT for about a year now and as I already said, I couldn't be happier.
The Krell KCT is still one of the top preamps (don't let anybody tell you different or fill you with dry, shrill, warm descriptions). Get one and move on. Just listening to all of this --- one is better than the other tube versus solid state is all a bunch of bull -- The trick is to know you are getting a great preamp and now you can concentrate on another great source or speaker and of course your music.
At this level of performance/cost if you can afford it -- You know you are getting ONE of the best (everybody arguing about what sounds better at this level -- Don't listen to them--- That goes with most components of other manufactures also -- There top of the line products are usually great.
I can afford anything and I love my Krell system with CAST.
KCT, KPS-28c, FPB amps... CAST cables, LAT-2 speakers.
Great SYSTEM -- oh and I enjoy the music not wondering if Mcintosh, or CJ, or other very very good products are better.
I have had other products by the above and have enjoyed them all - no bad experiences -- I will not put them down or say stupid stuff like it blows away each other (childish). At this level and with my money who cares. (Remember My Krell cast is a system not a bunch of different company products wired together with different cords and then different speakers -- nobody seems to tell you that -- stick with a good company and go for it -- The real trick is spend your money on some really good speakers -- that is another topic -- go with krell, Martin Logan, Wilsons,....etc speakers and you can be confident your sound is really close to the best out there -- Really -- and please I am not talking about 100 decibal producing wall-size speakers in a 40' x 40' size room -- I'am talking about an average room 11' - 15' x 18' - 24' with decent normal everyday acoustics (no sound Treatments).
I have had KSA series to the Evo series and loved every minute. People who say they sound shrill or warm is a bunch of noise -- This type of equipment is best used with other great pieces usually very expensive.
One more thing if you are looking for discounted items or think something is way over priced -- go with a great dennon, or sony ~ something you can afford -- Regardless of what they say you can still get a great sound from some of there products at there price point (I love my Sony Es receiver and also have a dennon system).
Just to let you know I also have (had) CJ, Mark Levinson, MBL (love their speakers), Martin Logan, Focal, Sony and Yamaha -- All of them sounded great for their price points.
Once you get to the expensive companies your at a 90% level of what can be heard (Love this area)-- the rest is whether its raining outside or full sunshine.
This idea of one company blows another company away is crap.
By the way I am not a Krell Salesman -- People who slam krell, or any of the high-end products usually can't afford them -- made in china, runs hott, 3 dimensional, my sony sounds as good as a krell -- Think what is being said.
Krell KCT is a great preamp and if you buy one you will have selected one of the best in the WORLD -- Period.

My Krell All Cast System: KCT Preamp; KPS-28c CD; FPB-200c ~ age 6 yrs old -- Krell Lat-2 Speakers and a JL subwoofer. Krell EVo 300 -- can't tell a lot of difference but it does sound great (treated room); Lamm amps nice but tube upkeep -- all of my equipment gets me to the 90% and above realm...

Sounds as good as my Large system.

Just An opinion
That's the problem when one has tons of money and can bounce from one most expensive system to another most expensive system - you are never forced to really learn (like how to test a tube) more than names of mega priced gear. That may be exactly what they want you to do and part of the reason prices have gone parabolic.
Thanks As350_b3 and Scoutdog for your response.

As350_b3: What is your source components and speaker model ?
6550c - Why would I need to test a tube -- Thats my point "Learn" -- Enjoy the music without wondering about - do I hear something/how many hours have I listen to these tubes -- If I install this tube will it sound better? -- is it time to change the tubes or am I getting the best sound -- If I want to tinker with tubes or bias -- I'd "DO" what the tube guys "DO".
I Do state that I have sony's and dennon and Yamahas -- even had pioneer -- No bad comments for any of the equipment/or who made them -- Good equipment - Good companies and I bounce from one to the next - good to great, thats how you "learn" whats good and whats a step above and in my experience (what I learned -- I do have a lot of degrees) -- it usually cost to get to the great sound.
But my point was not to focus on money (usually wealthy people are very smart -- They usually don't DO what other people want you to DO -- my case in point) -- But the KCT is still one of the best (notice I didn't say "The Best in all the world")-- and I can afford the best -- I like the best but being smart - I tried to let him know that he should try to get in the upper margin with whatever kind or equipment/company - Tubes or solid state -- will get him to the 90% range of great sound (If that is what he is shooting for)-- the KCT will do that for him - an All Cast system will move it up a notch -- and nothing out there will "Blow it away" -- why? because its a great system -- Mine still looks good too.
So 6550c - I was trying to tell him to "Be smart" wade through the bias -- if you (6550c) fall in that category so be it. By the way I only have half-ton of money -- the other half I spent on great audio gear from all the different companies and I have no bad - put down comments for doing it, I learned from hearing some of the best audio equipment in the world and the KCT is a great preamp.
Thanks guys I just picked up one to replace my KRC-3 which I also like even though I know it's not the best...

I also have FPB750MCX amps, one of the amps has failed so I'm sending them in and getting them tuned up too. I have had a ton of Krell equipment and love it except for what they did to Dan of course. I love his new amps too and he says the new preamp is going to be a stunner.

Looking forward to my first CAST system. Thanks for all the help on here!

Well, after almost 8 trouble-free years I am happy to report that my KCT (and 400cx) is still making music trouble free and sounding simply fantastic. I am still using the same CAST cable with the 400cx. I have only had to change the batteries in the remote once in all this time. Along with my Aries 2 turntable, these components are by far the longest I have held onto any and I have absolutely no desire to swap them out for something else. There is truly a synergy with this system that shall not be disrupted. Everytime I fire it up and start playing music I still experience that "ahhh" factor.
..AMEN preach the truth..and I can't agree more.
I for one have owned a lot of Krell equipment and must say I do love it. Do I think it is the best out their. NO but pretty dam close. All I can say is buy what you can afford. Cause let's face it, Krell equipment does not come cheap. Nor does any of those other brands out their. This is why I buy second hand Krell equipment. It may not be brand new when I buy it, but I save thousands of dollars and still have one beautiful sounding stero equipment for half the price. I just picked up a FPB 400 CX and now I am looking for the KCT pre-amp to go with it. I'm sure it's going to sound fantastic like all my other Krell equipment in the past.
Dancer: the combination of the KCY and 400cx is an optimal one and you will be pleased with the results. Please let us know how this turns out when you have the system in place.
I sold my FPB-250ms and my KRC-HR and I must say It was a good set up. I hope the FPB 400cx with the KCT will sound Better. We will see. I did love My 250ms tho.
I'm a fan of the MONO FPB amps, I have owned several stereo and MONO versions but never the 250m's in particular. To me the MONO amps are easily superior to the stereo amps, you can hear the difference right away back to back. Then again the "X" amps are another step forward too, I own the 750MCX amps now but the sweetheart of the group to me is the 450MCX amps, bang for the buck they are awesome. I think it is very hard to hear much difference between my 750's and the 450's and running them on 220Volts is a whole elevation in itself. Dan said all his amps where built and voiced on 220V and that is where they sound the best. Don't get me wrong I was very happy with my stereo amps, I wasn't complaining about anything but the MONO's were a step up, be it an expensive one.
I've had 3 Krell amps and last was a FPB600 but never like their preamps. Haven't demoed the EVO series so how do they compare to the FPBs?

What cables do you guys use with your Krells? I found MIT worked best but not so with my current gear.
I use Transparent cables right know and like the way they sound. I just got my system put up which consists of FPB 400CX and my KCT pre-amp. I must say very impressed!! In the market of buying a CD player to go with it. Been looking at the 28C and have not made up my mind yet. The 450 MCX's are nice amps no questioned about it. I feel I really didn't need that kind of power. Speakers I am running are the good old Epic CF 4's by Klipsch & I must so I do love them! I have more then enough head room with these speakers.
I also find Transparent IC a good match for my Krells but the SC is too dark. MIT has a more open and detailed sound which I much preferred.

All my friends with Krells at the time all use either MIT or Transparent. I like to hear what cables owners of the current EVO series use.

Have you compared the newer Krell series such as the Evo 400e to the FPB series? I have the FPB 450 MCX and I wonder if the 400e is a significant improvement.
Just stumbled on this great forum. Have the KCT & 350 MCX combo and enjoy very much. Do not understand why 6055c attacked scoutdog. Scoutdog has no reason to apologize for his success, opinions or purchases. Don't know scoutdog but glad we have people like him that probably pay a lot of taxes, contribute to charity, employ others and help keep the hi-end going.

Again, enjoy the excellent input and opinions.
I agree completely I really enjoy and admire Scoutdog's input.

I have not heard the FPB compared to the EVO 400 yet back to back but have spoken with several people I trust including Dan himself. One difference Dan explained to me was through hole construction compared to surface mount, Dan is convinced the through holes sounds better and is more reliable by a large factor over time. I have also heard the EVO 400 does not compare well against the FPB450MCX but the EVO400E does do ok. Dan told me the the KCT is the warmest preamp he ever produced. One thing I thought was interesting is that Dan never suggested that I upgrade from the KCT? The phantom was also Dan's last design before he left and again that is supposed to be very good but I'm not clear on the improvements and have not heard one yet. He also designed a EVO1800E (!!!) but never built it, yes you read that right. A couple things have become clear talking with Dan and others. One there is a synergy with the KCT - FPB combo and the "FPB X" amps sound the best of all those. The EVO series and FPB-KCT series seem to sound best when mated with their series partners. The improvement I describe from the stereo to MONO FPB is really not about power at all, I have compared them side by side and the MONO amps have a bigger soundstage that is immediately obvious and it is definitely clearer like cleaning a window. The soundstage difference is the first thing you notice 5 seconds into it the clarity takes a couple minutes to sink in, the FPB "X" amps Stereo and Mono seem to reduce this gap over the earlier models. I don't think there is anything wrong with the Stereo amps don't get me wrong, but I was surprised how big the difference was going MONO, keep in mind I was comparing them using MBL 111 speakers which have a massive soundstage to begin with and are extremely difficult to drive by any amp. Currently I am using the Transparent CAST cable and love it but have not compared it to the other CAST cables myself or asked Dan about it, some I trust have said it was the best?

I am now upgrading or trying a different speaker set-up now over the next few months. I'm going to sell my B&W 801N speakers and move to apogee DIVA speakers and into some updated Apogee Full Range speakers when they are done probably running them with 4 FPB750MCX amps. I don't think any speaker on earth is more revealing than the Apogee Full Range, they are really the jaw dropping Mac Daddy of transparency, I'm sacrificing everything here to afford this upgrade but I think it's going to be absolutely stunning? I personally think the KCT-FPB sound (warm and full for Krell) was created from some of the Krell criticism from the earlier Apogee grand-Krell combo and I think the modified Full Range will be more transparent than the Grand? I know bad recordings are going to be worse and the room effects the sound a lot for Apogees but I think I can make it work well in my room. If it does work well, it should approach the upper limit of possible transparency. The transparency I'm looking for is what I hear with my Krell KSA 5 with the AKG701 or Sennheiser 800 combo, on vinyl or with High def (very high bit rate) digital, The transparency is just awesome and effortless from top to bottom and that's what I want out of the speakers with the soundstage and depth only speakers can give you. I'm listening to Seal's High def version of "Get it together" from HDTRACKS right now as I write this through the headphones and KSA-5.

One note on the EVO, I heard the Max combo is the EVO900E with the EVO2 preamp, that is supposed to be as neutral as neutral gets. I think with the KCT-FPB combo the the KCT is sweeter and warmer of the two, with the EVO I think it's the opposite, the EVO900E is a little sweeter and warmer than the EVO2.In both cases one side is almost rigidly neutral and the other side adds some slight character. I'd be very curious what the KCT-EVO900E combo sounds like? Keep in mind the KCT needs a cap replacement and tuneup at 10 years to sounds it's best and this should be fully considered when comparing it to a fresh EVO preamp. Sorry for the long post...
Well my KCT is ten years young and there is no need for a cap replacement. Just keeps sounded better and better as time goes on...

I really enjoyed reading the posts here. I currently have a pair of Sonus Faber Elipsa speakers driven by Krell FPB 250mc mono blocks, which replaced the Parasound JC1s recently. I think the FPBs are sweeter and warmer than the JC1s. I am not so happy with my BAT 51SE pre. It sounds a little too dark to me. It seems that the KCT is the way to go. I wish to have a preamp that is a little sweeter/more musical than the BAT. I wonder if the KCT is a good match for my system or should I look into tube preamps like CJ or Cary SLP-05? Thanks.
I think the KCT would be an excellent choice for your system. I also dropped this preamp into my friend's JC1 /Vandersteen 5A based system a couple of years ago while he was searching for a preamp and it sounded wonderfully sweet, warm and dynamic. Also, you have the CAST connection on your 250mc and this will be an improvement to non-CAST connections.
Thanks, Steve. Will try to find a used one on Audiogon.
If you want to try tubes I would go with Audio Research. I have a KCT and it is exceptionally good the only thing that has turned me on more is the AR 5 SE, it's an amazing preamp. I've always liked the Sonus Faber Elipsa and always thought it would sound great with FPB's. I heard it with some big mac's but the bottom end was horrible with those and the midrange and treble were nothing special but I could tell it wasn't the speaker. The speakers sounded like they had great potential.

Thanks for the suggestion. I listened to the same speakers in a local store driven by big macs and, as you said, did not sound very good. Also listened to them in the store driven by a REF 5 (not the SE) but with Mac amps, I was not impressed either. Sounds like a REF 5SE and Krell FPB could be a good combo.
I would try a pass Labs amp too either X350.5 or the X600.5 mono's.
Hi Ronyund, curious with the sound of Elipsa with Fpb. What is ur pre and cable? Thank
Dancer, what preamp do you like better?
The Krell KRC-HR or the Krell KCT.
I've used a KCR-3...not bad with my FPB750mcx's,I tried the KCT is the same set-up, WAY better,and EVEN better in CAST.but still prefer the EVO 222 (in CAST).Just my 2 cents
Hi, I read this whole thread, great forum!, I have a completly renewed 700cx amp done by Krell, just got it back in october, krell put up to date caps in it versus what was available in 2005, Krell says that this is the first and only Krell 700cx of its kind, that this amp will out perform other 700cx amps, the renewel consisted of more than a cap job, eany way, I have always run source direct to amp with astounding results with a tube cd-player, I have not owned a pre-amp since the early 90s!, I am considering getting a Krell Kct pre-amp and then sending it in to krell to get the latest soft ware and recaped to last with my new 700cx amp, I see rave reviews here concerning using cast, The thing is I own Taralabs zero gold interconnects, I do not believe cast can out perform this $15,000.00 a meter interconnect so I would use this i/c likly from source to pre-amp and give the cast from pre-amp to amp a spinn, Taralabs makes cast cables, nordost, transparent, who knows who else will make a customer cast cables?, after reading this thread, It appears that the Krell KCt pre-amp is a great match for the 700cx amp, so all of you have read what I have said here, what are your thoughts here?, Thankyou in advance.
Hi, Man was I supprised, I talked to krell this morning, out of the blue Ray munchler said that in his opinion, the Krell current tunnel was one of the best pre-amps they ever made!, that with the current 1.8 software for 2013-2014 year available they can install it when I buy a used kct pre-amp, Ray also said, the software did start at 1.0, of course If I get one of these pre-amps, I will likly renew it like my amp whether it needs it or not so it will be new as the krell 700cx amp I own, Please give me some thoughts and opinions here audiogon members, I am thinking for what the kct goes for on the used market, it will be a very good bang for the buck?, do any of you believe this krell kct pre-amp will surpass direct connection like I do and wadia owners do?, Happy listening.
@ stevecham, Hi, If you are out there, give me some feed back, I look forward to your opinions, cheers.