From Krell to McIntosh - Anyone?


i am currently using Krell FPB 600c and Krell KPS 25sc, since i lean towards system synergy, i am looking at a complete/only McIntosh rig.
Mainly because my speakers sounds at their best with power amps with low damping factor.
The MC 501 and MC 1201 seems nice, but what are the trade and/ or trade offs - if dumping the Krell system?
Krell's sense of drama and viceral impact is something special, i wonder what happens if i am going McIntosh.

The MCD 201 seems to eliminate the need of a dedicated (stand alone) pre amp. It also does both cd and sacd (mp3) and is equiped with an analog volume control.
MCD 201 and the MC 501 or 1201.
Anyone done a compairson of these brands, able to explain?

If I may, I have the Krell 650m and the kps20i, I have hade the Kas 2 and the Krs 200'sALONG WITH A FEW OTHER KRELL Pieces. I am selling the rest of my Krell equipment except the 650m's. I am only keeping them because I paid almost 30,000 dollars and I can hardly ket 40% of my money back even though they are mint and I used them less than 100 hours. The minute I bought them the value plummeted. Krell is a very bad invest as like most high end equipment. I had sold my Mac before to go with krell and mark Levinson and Plinius and a few others. I have now resoted back to Mac and I have purcheased the 1201's. The sound is not quite as finessed as some other brands but it is the best value in audio. You will always be able to get a big portion of your hard earned dollars back. they are beautiful to look at.You can see your controls in the dark.
You don't have to worry about blowing your speakers up. You amp is also protected by real safety devices. And Mac is not going to try to make your investment obsolete next week. I hate Krell company because of their greed, selfishness and disloyalty to their customers. Mac is the way to go
Testsp pretty much summed it all up. You can't go wrong with McIntosh.
Krell and McIntosh take different approaches. Thus, many people like one and not the other. If you feel like a change, give McIntosh a try. If you buy them used, Testsp is right - you can get nearly all your money back so there isn't much financial risk involved. Personally, I find the new McIntosh gear to be fantastic but I have heard some Krell tha I liked as well. Finding the right amp has a lot to do with your speakers. Good luck! Arthur
ive owned both krell & mac gear,they have huge sonic difference's between them but both make excellent gear,it really boils down to what type sound you prefer.
Krell for sonics. Mc for resale tho a $ mkt. acct. will have a better yield.
Testsp, i am very sorry for the inconvenience you experienced with the second hand value of your equiptment.
I know the deal, sadly! The downward spiral could come fast. In this moment i am not looking for any brands particular value for the money (i hope you understand what i mean?). I am just trying to understand/ learn, what differ the Mac's from the Krell's in some key areas.
Krell has the immpecable control, clarity, viceral grip, impact and more, but occasionally missing some warmth, emotion/ romanticism and bloom. But yes, the Mcintosh is very beautiful with it's retro-futuristic look
I wonder if anyone could make me boil for the Mac's?
Krell is still a diamond, unpollished to some and clearly overpriced to most.

Thanks for sharing,.. everyone!
i'm a mac person, but your krell stuff is really nice...keep it.....should drive any loudspeaker into audio heaven.
Unfortunately I think you are asking a question that only your own ears can answer.

I am at a lower end from you, but I went from a MC-352 to a FPB-300c (pre 400cx amp). I am very happy with the improvement when I changed. I had the Mac for not quite a year. I bought and sold it here on Agon for no loss, but lots of enjoyment while I had it. It drove my current hungry speakers better than anything I had before.

Nevertheless, I like the improved clarity and precision of the Krell. It too has no problem driving my speakers. The Krell does seem to take more time to warm-up though...that is something I didn't notice with the Mac.

See if you can demo. At this level, it is the only way to truly know.

Good luck-
I don't own either Mac or Krell, but I've heard nearly everything both make, at length, on equipment I'm familiar with. Now, to be honest, from the very first Krell product to the latest, I have considered that company's sound to be an appalling step backwards that undermines the credibility of "high-end" audio as an idea itself. Really, Krell's acceptance and longevity in the market is positive proof to me that high-end audio criteria are essentially divorced from any notion of music fidelity in reproduction. I haven't heard Krell get anything right, so far.

Now, McIntosh has had its slumps, but not lately. If you opt for MC501 or 1201 monoblocks, or a 402 or 602 stereo amp, I am certain you will be recognize that move as an unconditional upgrade over Krell. Of course you have many other options too. But a pair of MC501s can make you "done" for quite a long time, if music is your chief concern.

"Really, Krell's acceptance and longevity in the market is positive proof to me that high-end audio criteria are essentially divorced from any notion of music fidelity in reproduction. I haven't heard Krell get anything right, so far."

Gimme a break, that's so full of horse hockey I can only chuckle at the insubstantial inanity of such a statement. It amazes me to no end the tactics taken by those who bash Krell for no REAL reason at all. I suppose all those high end speaker manufacturers who use Krell equipment to evaluate their designs are also devoid of any sense of hi-fi.
Uh...yeah, could be. Or maybe not. I've been giving Krell a chance over and over again since their debut. Haven't heard music from Krell gear yet. Sound yes; music, no. You have to understand that speaker manufacturers often use associated gear that they believe will not be questioned in demo use. It's the path of least resistance for acceptance, not necessarily an endorsement. But look -- lots of people buy Krell gear and say they like it. My experience is vastly different and I recommomend it to no one, on the merits. The original poster wanted to know whether Mac's upper end amps would be an upgrade. I am sure they will be if he tries them. And I make that recommendation putting my own negative perceptions of Krell on the table, so nothing is hidden. Krell is the sharpest wrong turn of many made by high-end hi-fi in the 1980s, IMO, and the industry in general is still paying for it.

I'm with Stevecham...and from my own ownership experience -
213cobra: come over my place anytime and I'll play you music on my Krell-based system. And I have a second tube-based system to compare it to, unless of course Rogue and Vandersteen also don't make music, which I have to assume, is also a possibility.
Back to McIntosh vs Krell equipment. Yes both are wonderful but I have never enjoyed music as much as I do through my McIntosh system. I am using an MC352 and couldn't be happier with it (Unless I had the MC501's). I will be getting the MCD201 as soon as my dealer gets one in (After I listen to it of course and deem it a worthy investment). As soon as I do I'll let you you how it sounds. My advice to you is to follow your heart on this one as I don't think you can go wrong with either one. Why does everyone bash other manufactures, I am a loyal McIntosh devotee but I realize that there are plenty of other wonderful makers of electronics. What sounds great to one person may not to another and thats okay. I prefer to listen to music and not to my electronics unlike so many people who call themselves audiophiles do. All I know is that when I kick on my Mac gear and listen to music it brings me to another world. Have you ever felt like you were floating while listening to your gear? Been drawn into the performance and have tingles run up your spine? Because this is what I get everytime. A euphoric experience.
I'm pretty happy with my Mc 602. It is musical, non fatiguing and has this effortless quality.
I don't know what kind of speakers you are using but if they are on the detailed side (Theil, JM Labs etc..) then I think a Mac would be great… conversely with the Krell. Although I am curious about the Krell, the Mac is more flexible, better value and the better choice for me. I also think the Krell would influence the music I would choose to listen to. For example, I listen to live music recorded off the soundboards which wouldn't be as listenable on the less forgiving Krell. I also listen to allot of music off my computer fed through a dac which sounds great through the Mac.
In my opinion, the Krell is like driving a 911 Turbo Porsche to work everyday. At first it would be great, but after a while, a BMW makes more sense and is more satisfying in the long run. BTW, I also drive a BMW.
It boils down to personal taste. Both are excellent. Anyone says that one is "better" than the other is a bit naive at best.
Lokie - while I respect your opinion, I have found that after I switched from the MC-352 to the FPB-300C, I started listening to much more diverse selections of music. With the Mac I tended to only listen to smaller acoustic groups. But now with the Krell, I listen to that, and a whole lot more. Once I realized the Krell needed some warm-up time where the Mac was good (at least reasonably good) right away at start-up, I found the Krell to be "clearer" without being more fatiguing like many seem to think.

Don’t get me wrong please – if I still had the Mac, I wouldn’t be disappointed, but I do like the Krell more. I could live with either though.
Dbld... If the audio ferry showed up and said Im trading your 602 for a FPB 400CX, I certainly wouldn't be sad... I would be one smilin SOB. I think they would sound great with my Eggleston's.
Since I have not heard a Krell in my system, I apologize for sounding so definitive. My sentiments are more theory than experience.
I hear you Lokie. Aaaah...the problems we face in high-end audio...Krell or McIntosh? Either way, it is better than the old Technics Receiver I had in high school.

I am sure I am not the only one here who's wife thinks (is convinced) I'm nuts.

Just yesterday..."Honey, what the heck are those things on the windows downstairs?"

"I put them on because they are supposed to help dampen the vibration and keep the glass from resonating, and that will help improve the sound from my stereo..."

I answer in some detail all the time now in hopes of someday she'll know not to ask in the first place.

Fortunately, even though I told her (i.e. got permission) she never noticed when I changed the Mac to the Krell... [I know what you all are thinking...see what I mean].

BTW - those things on the windows didn't do squat.
I don't get the attraction to Krell. I have owned a number of Krell products including their SACD Standard, 400xi Integrated and have demo-ed the Krell Resolution 1. I understand and respect that music equipment is like art and different people hear differently. But I find the Krell sound detailed but boring. Not to mention their SACD Standard had quality issues with their transport. McIntosh, I find quite the opposite, I can listen to McIntosh stuff for hours, not to mention their good looks, build quality and they dont really lose their value. You asked specifically about the MCD-201. The player has gotten mixed reviews but I have seen a few of these here on Audiogon for $2300-, it's hard to go wrong with these prices and of course the 501's/1201's are state of the art.
I have not heard either Krell or McIntosh in a good while now, but I do care about music reproduction in the home. I do not post much because I seem to identify very little with the majority of descriptions I read here (or on the Asylum). Mine does not not necessarily hold merit over anyone elses, but my position would be that the amplifier which imposes the least amount of its own character on the signal is the better amp.

To compare, remember some of the characteristics of live performances that were captured in memory. We may not have tremendous aural memory, but we should remember character (sights, sounds tastes, etc.) I may not exactly remember the sound of a bass, but I do remember the character of that sound, even as I struggle to describe it. I have never heard live music sound, whether vocals in a great chapel, symphonies in an auditorium, blues in a club, or rock in an arena, anything like some of the descriptions I read about the sonics of audio components.

Another help might be to understand something of the recordings. I am not a recording engineer or any expert, but I have performed for live audiences and been recorded. Also, when I assisted someone recording symphony concerts, the placement of the mics made it rather impossible to have a mid-hall perspective (or even 3rd row) from any system approaching neutrality. The mics were placed above and just forward of the stage, well before the first row. When sitting in the audience, I noted the bite and edge of the orchestra when it reached musical climax. I also heard that bite and edge (and somewhat close perspective) while listening to the mic feed though headphones.

Of course in reality I can be flawed, but I really enjoy good performances of various kinds of music. Not all performances are good (many just suck) because it takes a real connection to lyrics/melody, or to a violin [for instance] to be able to communicate the message. And that's what I want to hear - the real message. I do not want to anger or offend anyone. Believe me, I am a nobody, but I want to encourage equipment manufacturers to strive for honest neutrality. Not every recording can sound like a live performance, they are, after all, a recording. But they should come close to capturing the intent of the music (the artist's intent). Oh, and manufacturers should bring your prices down.

I appologize for the semi-rant and length.
Hmmm.... Kinda seems like we're discussing right wing vs left wing politics here. Obviously, these are personal preferences and tend to bring out the fanatics on both sides. Too bad nobody seems to be able to find something in the middle that combines the best attributes of both.

At the price of the gear that we are talking about here, things shouldn't be quite so polarized. It either sounds good, makes music, performs reliably OR it doesn't. Since everyone seems to agree that there are relatively HUGE differences in presentation between these brands of gear, at least one, if not both of them, must have major design flaws. After all, if you can put identical signals into both brands and get COMPLETELY different presentations, they are obviously doing something VERY different internally.

If such is the case, and neither can be shown to be verifiably superior to the other in consistent fashion, it all boils down to choosing the lesser of the two evils. At this price point, "evils" shouldn't even have to be thought about in the field of audio reproduction.

At the kind of prices we are talking about for a system full of these brands of gear, the band REALLY should be in your room. This would allow you to ask them just how it really should sound. My guess is that it would be neither Krell or Mac like, but something more in the middle of the two. Sean
Hi Sean,

I personally do not think there is a middle ground in audio equipment. It's like what you said (right wing or left wing), either you like it or don't. With me, when I demo equipment, I usually hear two things. Detail and Presentation. Detail, I have usually been impressed and that includes McIntosh and Krell. On presentation (I believe this is the main attribute that seperates each audio equipment), I found Krell always presented the music like here it is direct and to the point, where as McIntosh presented with almost like a calming and smoother presentation. I personally like McIntosh and would not trade it in for something that has Krell features just because I don't like the Krell sound. Why would I if I already love the sound of a Mc. Having said that, I have not demo-ed every audio piece out there, I have not heard Sim Audio (which is suppose to be dark and neutral)
Shucks, did not intend to imply which of the MAC or Krell was actually more correct or better. As I wrote above, I havent't heard the latest Krell stuff, or any McIntosh in too long. But if I choose (when comparing) based on my criteria (which is real accuracy), I should choose the one that's actually the better design. Now, if my criteria were a specific "sound" and presentation, then I might choose differently. Sure, I think that the original event should be the criteria. But even my methods for identifying which is more correct is bound to be somewhat flawed - it is possible that due to recordings, nothing can be accurate and still recreate the original event...I don't really know. And there are probably other reasons too. But I have to have some basis to start with.

Another criteria I use is to determine audible differences between various recordings - if every recording I use in auditioning sounds too similar, it is wrong and I move on. True, during classical concerts, I did not hear any significant "layers" of sound, or a floating in space 3-D rendering of individual instruments, or great amounts of "air" around performers. Just wasn't there. However, the sound was smooth, timbres were full (though not necessarily rich or thick), not screechy or grainy, and very coherent. Also, the thwacks on tympani were quite dynamic, but very quick too. I could zero in on more prominant (or louder) performers if I wanted, but certainly not each and every instrument. This was somewhat easier to do via the mic feeds though (mics were just fwd and above the stage).

I do not know which I would prefer between a MAC or Krell. Hopefully, I would like niether because of the cost. Most of my system is solid-state, but my phono pre, though very modest, does have a tube. I made sure my wife saw it, "hey honey, come look at my tube!" (nothing dirty). Whatever works and I can afford.

I am going to shut up now. Cheers everyone.

Since I have never owned either, take this with the appropriate amount of salt. First of all, I don't think either of these manufacturer's gear necessarily conforms to a house sound. Mac works with both tubes and solid state. I will grant you that perhaps Mac's rather unique use of output transformers on some of their ss gear may negate what might otherwise be percieved as an automatic presumed difference. IMHO, Krell's gear has not maintained a house sound either. To my ears their home theatre, intergrated and class AB gear is significantly inferior to their pure class A stuff, and some of their gear, even in within their class A range, have obvious differences. FWIW, the better Krell stuff is amongst the best I've ever heard and I find the sound of most Macs neither attractive nor repulsive (most of the Mac gear certainly has a classic visual beauty though) .
I think it is very hard to pick one or the other unless you have owned both.I now have McIntosh amps both ss&Tube and love both.The Krell that I deoed was with Martin Logan Speakers,The sound was detailed but what I would call bright or harsh.Who is to say with other speakers and in another room I would have loved it.When I demed Mac I liked what I heard and bought a MC275 IV and latter a very nice used MC2500.Krell has been around for awhile but not near as long as McIntosh.Then there is the resale value as the origianl poster stated.Also customer service,McIntosh has parts for products that are long out of production.I called Mac customer service just the other day and even though it was five minuets till quitting time,the girl talked to me for half an hour and was so nice.Try that with any other big name brand and report your findings.This is one reason I will always own Mcintosh.But I won't say that Krell is a bad brand just because I like Mac.I do know if you live by a good mac dealer they will do a home demo.You can call or email the factory and they will help set one up.
I've recently owned the Mc 501's wt the C46 into my Dyn C4's...almost tubelike in the sense it had haze galore. It was also sterile sounding. My Krell mono's and KCT with the EVO 505 front end is quite exciting and full of color and dynamics! The Oracle cabling doesn't hurt either.
can't say i've heard krell in my system, but dave_b seems to have nailed the mac sound (though i'd disagree about "sterile"). see my review on for more on the 501s, but i can only imagine the krell will do far more at the extremes and has the potential for greater absolute performance, but will sound inferior w/ poor sources or speakers.
Well I read your review Rhyno and try as I may I can find no haze in my playback system, analog or digital with the 501's in my system. I can't speak for the rest of Dave b's chain or yours for that matter, I assume your virtual system is what you used in your review. In my system which includes Meridian, Basis/rega/blackbird, ARC ph 5, cj premier 14, Thiel 3.6 and MIT 350 EVO and 350 reference, there is no haze to be least to my ears.
w/ all due respect, change your speaker cables from the MIT and you might notice the 501 characteristics more, particularly when you compare w/ a more linear amp.

i do like the 501 amp. but much like my car, which i like, i recognize there's a lot of things i don't like. it hardly helps me to be dishonest w/ myself, or you (dear reader) if my reviews aren't accurate.

Sterile and hazy at the same time!? That is hilarious. I would be worried about my hearing if that was the case.

But I agree that with C4s, you definately need more forwardness and treble energy than McIntosh amps will give you. Now, if you had some Watt/Puppy 6s like Rhyno does, McIntosh would work great. Or Thiel 3.6 would be great too. It is all about synergy, don't forget. There is no absolute.
Dear Aball, I've owned Watt/puppy 6's along with a list of other equipment and speakers that would make a reviewer blush..all reference level and solid state! The Mcintosh sound has a fog present not unlike my ARC stuff had..probably the autoformers and the transformer combo. By sterile I mean lacking in tonal color..almost bleached out! The Krell's..after having almost everything else I could get my hands on from the local more things right than anything else I've heard; as in putting me in the concert hall. The other night I went to the Kimmel center for Shostakovich' 5th..when I returned home I fired up the Krell rig and had a was actually better at home..same character of sound but more present!! As for MIT..I have owned just about every cable one would consider high end and some budget stuff as well. No cable does what properly setup MIT cables can do..they simply allow all the beauty of a performance to come through. This applies only to their recent impedance matching cables. By the way, I use MIT power cables as well! The Dynaudios are actually more amazing than my Wilsons were..not as exaggerated, more musical and coherent with amazing dynamic contrasts, plus the bass is more lifelike..not as boomy or over done. I have never found myself in a position to justify my reasoning due to a large expenditure..I have always dumped the bad stuff quickly if it was not up to snuff..few people have the pocket book or the intellectual honesty to do so..IMHO!!!
Synergy also includes the listener, the ear of the beholder. It is why there is no absolute.

I too use MIT cables. I have yet to find something I like better although some of the vdHs give them a run for the money.! Enjoy this fine madness.
I would like to take back my earlier comment on Krell equipment. I had my first very enjoyable Krell experience. I listend too a pair of Krell Resolution 3 Monitors, Krell 400XI, and a Krell 300CD player. I thought the combo was very good. 2 very different sounds. McIntosh is very laid back and Krell is very forward sounding. But this was the first time, I actually thought it was very good. The one thing I will say why McIntosh might be better, is McIntosh tends to be more universal in terms of what equipment you hook up to it. I am convinced that Krell sounds best with a all Krell Gear set-up. Thanks!
Musicaudio, High End requires alot of time and thought..just one wrong power cord can completely change your perspective on a system..tread carefully!!