Audio Research Ref 3...& Krell Showcase 5 poweramp

Hi, I have Krell Showcase Processor and Amp which sounds superb for movies but never been convinced when it comes to music, which is really my passion. So I've just bought an ARC Ref 3 as it can take a pass through from the processor. So I can play all my music (turntable, CD, FLAC & radio) through the ARC and the Krell will pass through it for the front two speakers for movies.

My question is - am I seriously limiting the potential of the ARC for music by using two of the Showcase amp channels? Is the Krell good enough or should I get a separate amp for the ARC and somehow run two separate systems? Be great to hear people's views. Thanks
In my experience with an LS26 and Anthem Statement D2v, that I benefit from having a separate McIntosh MC402 for 2 channel and use 3 of 5 channels on a McIntosh MC205 amp. This allows me to just leave all HT related components off when listening to music.
I agree with Theo. Back when I was running stereo/HT, I had the separate stereo preamp and stereo amp, using an additional 3 channel amp for HT purposes. I never found a 5 channel amp that I liked for music.
Thanks guys. I listened last night to my new set up and although the ARC ref 3 made an incredible difference I think I can already hear that the Krell Showcase amp is holding it back. The Ref 3 sounds so effortless and musical with a big soundstage and accurate voices.....but something slightly indefinable is missing. It's as if it's being pushed through a funnel and everything is there is is being slightly compressed, as if it's gone through a funnel.

I thought this would work but I don't think the Krell multi-channel amps are up to it.
That is the "problem" with higher resolution gear, it tends to show the weakness of associated gear. Happy amp hunting. ;^)
Just a thought, but before investing in a new amp it might be worthwhile to try changing the connections between the Ref3 and the Krell amp from unbalanced to balanced or vice versa.

Also, I would be hesitant to conclude that the "missing something" is being caused by the amp unless there are grounds for confidence in the condition of the tubes in the Ref3.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al
Thanks Al. Why would the balanced/unbalanced cables make a difference? I currently use balanced connections between the two but don't really understand the difference between the two.
MW, see my two posts and the one by Magicmarksy (with which I partially disagreed, but which provides good background) near the end of this thread.

While going from balanced connections to unbalanced connections in this particular case is most likely a long-shot with respect to the possibility that it will restore the "missing something," as I said it might be worth trying before making a major investment in a new high quality amplifier that would do justice to the Ref3. And if the length of the cables would not be particularly long, for purposes of the experiment I would expect that inexpensive RCA cables would do fine.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al

There are many issues which need to be addressed before coming to a decision of buying a new amplifier.

Your system is used for both music and theater. Is it set up for theater or is it set up for music? The 2 set ups are usually very different - I've never experienced a system that was able to be optimized for both.

While a sound system can be only as strong as the weakest component - this assumes the components are set up to perform their best.

I've personally visited many audiophiles who invested more than $40k in their system and helped them re-set and adjust their system to improve it's performance dramatically. And I'm no one special.

Also, no mention of the other components in your system were made. Speakers, cables, power conditioners, etc. all make a significant difference.

Let us know what your system is set up for - theater or music, what your speakers and cables are, if you're using a power conditioner - and any significant accessories you may be using.

The ARC Ref 3 is a great pre-amplifier. While I'm not a Krell fan, Dan D started the Krell company by building amplifiers (just like he started his current company with his Momentum amplifiers) - so your Showcase amplifier may not be the weak link. Your set up, speakers, wires, power conditioner may offer more significant improvements.

And, after considering (and making changes / adjustments to) these points - if you want to upgrade your amplifier - you'll have a better understanding of how things are working in your system.

Only good wishes to you.

Life is too short not to listen to music that stirs our senses and moves our souls, TJF
Hi Tjassoc, really grateful for your thoughts/help. I'm slightly embarrassed by my system as it isn't as high end or we'll put together as most of the other systems on this and other forums...but I'd like to get to the right place in the end!

Music is my passion and I originally thought that the Krell showcase processor and amp would suit movies and music as the processor has a pre-amp pass CD, turntable etc can bypasse the processor entirely. But as I was starting to suspect (& the ARC Ref 3 proves) that the preamp part of the Krell Shocase is not good enough...which makes me doubt the Showcase amp too.

The rest of my system is Sonus Faber original Cremona speakers with Transparent Music Super (?) cables. My source components aren't great - Rega Planar 3 TT, Pioneer N50 music server fed through a Chord Hugo DAC.

Not sure where to go next. Any thoughts would be great. Thanks. Matt

You have a nice system, for a long time our system wasn't as nice. What matters is enjoying music.

While I'm not familiar with your components, there's a few things we can start with that should yield positive results.

I'll presume you have your system set up and optimized for a priority on music. Set up is arguably most important, so please give this it's due consideration. I recommend "Get Better Sound" by Jim Smith. The information provided is priceless (I am not affiliated with Jim or stand to gain financially in any way by this recommendation).

If your set up is not optimized, work on that first. You may be surprised at the improvements you gain and the understanding you develop about your system.

We integrated our stereo system with our theater system, and our system is set up with a priority on music first and theater second.

Before we go any further - we use live performances as our reference (both orchestral concerts and jazz performances performed within a small venue). If live performances are not used as a reference, than a system is usually tuned to the owners preferences - which is not a bad thing so long as the owner enjoys their music.

The following efforts allow a person to become familiar with their system and bring it towards reproducing the recorded performance as accurately as possible.

First, find out how transparent your Krell pre-amp/processor is. Physically remove it from your system. Is there a significant difference in the sound from removing it as opposed to it being in the system in bypass mode? The additional interconnect involved will make a contribution but you'll still get an idea of how transparent it is.

There's quite a few other areas to discuss - for another post. Power conditioning being a big one. But system set up if a good first step.

For my own curiosity, are your cables on the floor? Try lifting them - you can use inverted styrofoam cups to determine if noise is reduced. Sounds silly, I know - but try it. "Audiophile" cable carriers / lifters can always be purchased after confirming things.

To pick up on earlier posts, we use balanced interconnects for multiple reasons. Lifting single ended (rca) interconnects off the floor can have a significant effect. We found speaker cables and even power cables being lifted makes improvements. Our experience has shown the improvements to be cable and system dependent, so give it a try.

This is a good start. Let us know your progress.

I'll be happy to continue to share our humble experiences if you would like.

Life is too short not to listen to music that stirs our senses and moves our souls, TJF