Hegel. Very difficult to beat at its price point.
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i have not heard the newest krell stuff
earlier krell integrateds were poor sounding to my ear, classic solid state sizzle boom with little subtlely or tact... hegel h390 would clearly and significantly outperform, it is one of the best sounding units in its price category and successfully takes on many 2-3x its price with its substantial power and sonic completeness
There was a review by HifiCritic pitting the H390 against the Krell K-300i and the Mark Levinson 5805. Both are much more expensive than the Hegel, but in the review the Hegel easily came out on top.
Disclosure: we're a Canadian Hegel dealer and I don't have experience with either the Krell or the Levinson in the review, but just relaying the info from the review.
Scratch the Vanguard.
Then see these threads.
https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/best-or-most-interesting-speakers/post?highlight=krell%2Bcoda&postid=2112460#2112460 go to end of thread
I own the Krell K-300i. It is a very smooth sounding unit with a bit of bass thump. I own the CODA CSiB (again) and it is not as smooth sounding as the Krell but an overall superb sounding unit. I would not say 1 is better than the other. It is hard for me to describe the CODA other than a lot of listening pleasure.
I have the Krell with the digital board. It is only OK. My $750 Matrix Mini-i 3 Pro seems a bit better to me. However, I would always get the Krell with the digital board for the HDMI features.
I was considering the Hegel 390 because I have heard several Hegel's extensively (such as the 360) and liked them. The Hegel's also have features that I value. I think they are very good gear but I like the Coda and Krell better because they have some additional warmth. Maybe it is the 90 watts in Class A for the Krell and the 18 watts in Class A for the CODA. The Hegel reminds me of a smoother or slightly warmer Bryston.
I thought the Mark Levinson 585 (the old one for $12K) was a excellent integrated. Better than the Hegel and in the same class as the CODA and Krell.
Now if you want to try something totally different. I have 2 Benchmark units that combined are the same physical volume of the Krell or the CODA. They are the HPA4 (or LA4) preamp and AHB2 amp. Put those 2 together and you have the cleanest sounding most neutral sound I have ever heard. The Hegel is trying to be neutral, unlike the CODA or Krell, however, the Benchmark pair are the kings of neutral.
I think I lean on Krell K300i digital version over Hegel H390.I have a chance to audiences Hegel h390 at friends house and I loved the sound crispy clear ,tight bass but not 3D and little bit darker sounds ...compare to my McIntosh MA252...I am confused now because many good amps for me to choose like I saw one brand new Mark levenson 585 for $6500 cash....which is a steal...Accuphase E650 brand new for $9 K.... hard to make decision...?
I want to thank you yyzsantabarbara for helping me very detail post above.it is very helpful for me Audio fan a lot.
yyzsantabarbara Help me one more time.I forgot to let people’s know that mine Quad Z2 speakers is 84-87 dB can handle power up to 200 watts.my speakers is not hign dB like other branch.so what type of integrate amps good for low dB ? I do like AHB2 that you recommended but it’s only 100 watts and I don’t like biamps due to tight space.I am eyeing on these amps below:
1-Krell K300i (digital).
2- Mcintosh Ma352 ( I do love mine MA252 even it’s not neutral and little color sound).compare with Hegel H390 .
3.Mark Levenson 585 or 5805
4-Accuphase E480 —E650.
@luckyrainbow63 I own the K-300i and played it with my incredibly power hunger Thiel CS3.7 over the past week and a half. It sounded great. I think the K-300i was tested by a British mag to have over 400 watts at 2 Ohm. The Thiel goes down to 2.5 Ohm a lot. Unfortunately, I cannot find a link to the measurements that mag did. If I do I will post a link on this thread. Your Quads seem to be an 8 Ohm speaker and 150 watts should be perfect for it.
I am listening to the K-300i as I type this but this time with an Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE DAC and into the RAAL SR1a headphones. I had a shootout with the CODA CSiB | Krell K-300i | all Benchmark stack, to find the best pairing for my tastes for both the Thiel CS3.7 and my RAAL SR1a "earphones".
I sold the CODA this afternoon though I loved that integrated with the AMT3SE and my SR1a. I initially did not like the all Benchmark stack with the SR1a but I today I tried it with the AMT3SE DAC. I believe the AMT3SE was now burned-in properly because today for the first time I liked the HPA4 + AHB2 + AMT3SE as much as I like the Krell 300i + AMT3SE with the SR1a. I am not 100% so I will give it another weeks worth of listening.
My K-300i sounds great with the power hungry Thiel CS3.7 and also with the power hungry SR1a. It has the most bass of the 3 units I have mentioned. It is also the smoothest of the 3. It is also a very relaxing sound but with great detail. The AHB2 monos sounds a bit crisper but that is lessened a bit today with the AMT3SE on the Thiel CS3.7.
So the winner of my shootout for duty with the Thiel was the Benchmark stack with the AMT3SE. The Krell 300i is now setup to only play with the RAAL SR1a earphones. A lot of money for that single purpose. So I may sell the Krell and get the dedicated RAAL HSA-1b headphone amp for the RAAL SR1a. It is half the price. I was thinking of switching amps every other week but the Krell is too big to do that easily.
Today I also played the K-300i DAC's HDMI ARC output with my TV and the sound was top notch. I heard this only via the SR1a because I do not want a TV in-between my speakers in my office. The Krell was initially bought for another room but my wife did not like that idea :).
I posted elsewhere my thoughts on the DAC module of the K-300i. I said that the RJ45 streaming is OK with my cheap CAT5 Ethernet wire. However, when I put my Fibre Optical streaming gears to the USB of the K-300i the sound was transformed to the level of the AMT3SE. That is a big deal. Especially for a one box solution.
I demoed the ML 585 with Magico A3 and the ML 5805 with some Wilson $16k speaker. The ML 585 for me is the better unit though I am told the internal DAC on the 5805 is a bit better. However, the Krell K-300i is still the one I would get even if they were both the same price. The Krell is about 1/2 the MSRP of the ML 585.
Keep an eye out for a FOR SALE on the Krell in a week or so. My 2 week old unit may go for sale depending on how the AMT3SE test with the Benchmark stack and the SR1a goes. Or I become sane and just get the RAAL HSA-1b for the SR1a.
BTW - if you post on A'gon to someone and use the @ symbol, such as @luckyrainbow63, the @ user will get an email notification that someone asked the recipient a question.
@yyzsantabarbara after reading your’s review on yours’ Krell K300i .I am so exited with k300i and decided to get it.when will you will post yours K300i on sales? Is this black color which I preferred.I have a very good offer for brand new k300i (digital version)on sale for 7,200 is this good price? Did yours”s Unit plan to sell about that price range or below? I will follow your path way...do I need to buy AMT3SE for External DAC or just used internal dac from Krell is good enough? Which dac perfect pairs with K300i? AMT3SE or DAC3 (Benchmark)?
@yyzsantabarbara Would you do me a favor by please Test your 2 external Dac AMT3SE + Dac3 dgl side by side with yours’ Thiel CS3.7 speakers íntead of RaalHsa-1b head phones to see which Dac is good pairs with Krell K300i amps? I only trusted on yours review because you have own many physical hign end sources to test and do a review.much appreciate for yours efforts Yysantabarbara..
First mistake you made is listening to me not many people who know me do. However, here are my thoughts. The price you are getting for the new KRELL seems good. I paid $7K for a demo unit but I was not going to haggle on this one for a few private reasons. I am pretty sure most dealers will give you about the price you are getting.
Today, after doing some tests, I am now not going to sell the KRELL because I found the KRELL + AMT3SE was better than the AMT3SE + Benchmark stack for the SR1a. I say this however after I bought a new AHB2 amp for my downstairs system last week. I will also buy a Benchmark LA4 preamp for that same downstairs soon. I just do not love the BM stack with the SR1a. So now I have a $7K KRELL headphone amp. I am a bit of a head case to spend so much. Hopefully in the future I forget how much I spent.
I do not think you should buy the AMT3SE yet. The internal DAC is pretty good when I used it a particular way. First of all the gain on the DAC is a bit too high so that is a bummer (just lower the volume). I found that streaming to the KRELL DAC using Fibre Optic cable directly from my $199 network switch to a $999 OpticalRendu -> USB input on KRELL was very close to the AMT3SE using XLR. The AMT3SE was also streamed the same way in the comparison.
The beauty of the KRELL is that it is an all in one unit that is done at a very high level of excellence. So using the internal DAC is something to try first.
My next test will be to compare the AMT3SE vs the KRELL DAC’s USB using the same OpticalRendu. I have 2 of these OpticalRendu’s so I can do some meaningful tests. I may sell the AMT3SE if the difference is not that great. I will try to follow the same advice I gave in the previous paragraph to you.
BTW - I added my 50" TV to the system in the office. It is rather nice to hear the KRELL HDMI DAC input with the SR1a. The TV brought about other room acoustic issues but I am likely on the way to solving them.
I did test my 2 external DACs with the KRELL and the Thiel CS3.7. I always preferred the AMT3SE with Class A power such as the CODA and the KRELL. However, I prefer the all Benchmark stack on the Thiel CS3.7 overall but when I had the KRELL on the CS3.7 I liked it with the AMT3SE over the DAC3B. It was a bit better synergy.
In a post before I was saying that the Benchmark stack sounded very good now with the AMT3SE (likely after AMT3SE burn-in) . After more listening the last few days I take that back a little and say while it does sound great, the all BM stack (with the DAC3B) is still better for my tastes.
This review sums up exactly how I hear the BM stack. Not everyone likes this type of sound. I do.
I should add that I thought the RJ45 Network streaming on the KRELL internal DAC was not as good as my other streaming options. The optical Rendu was easily better. I forgot if I compared it with my mircoRendu.
If you have not heard Fibre then maybe the RJ45 is sufficient but after hearing the Fibre I totally dismissed the RJ45 streaming. That is a shame because the ROON Endpoint for the KRELL RJ45 has a volume control for the ROON client. All other Endpoints I use to the KRELL do not have volume adjustment. This adjustment is done inside the KRELL, not the client software.
@luckrainbow63 I tested the AMT3SE using XLR to the KRELL K-300i vs the USB on the KRELL. Both of them were streaming using Fibre with the only difference being slightly different USB cables to the DAC and the Linear Power Supply were not the same. The last 2 factors are not that big because I have flipped them around in other tests and I did not notice a difference.
The AMT3SE was preferred by me over the USB on the internal KRELL DAC. It was not a huge difference but enough that I will always use the AMT3SE with the KRELL from now on. I am wasting the internal DAC since I am now only using it for HDMI sources. Maybe also TOSLINK with YouTube but those are not sources I care about for the best sound. I guess the internal DAC will be a good backup DAC if anything goes bad with the AMT3SE.
The AMT3SE with the 2 Class A amps that I had in house has been magic.