Is it my amp or my speakers?


I've been dissatisfied with my system of late--wanting a little more brightness and color--and can't decide if it's the amp or the speakers, or both. Here's the set-up:
  • Krell KAV-300i integrated
  • Cyrus CD-T
  • Schiit Gungnir DAC
  • Tekton Lore speakers
The Krell was a hand-me-down (!); everything else was purchased new. The amp had some overpriced work done to it a few years back and I'm wondering if the workmanship is starting to show, or possibly its age (~25 years, I'm guessing). Or, are the amp and speakers mismatched?I can afford to invest about $3K in the system, but am unsure where best to put it.Any thoughts/advice would be much appreciated.
danto


Looking at the way he balances his speakers I would suspect them. This model has a rising bottom end and a falling top end, both together will make it sound tilted in the favour of a darker sound.
https://www.stereophile.com/images/718TekIMfig3.jpg

Nevertheless, throughout the measuring, the Tekton’s low frequencies sounded rather exaggerated. The tweeter array becomes gradually more directional as the frequency increases, but in a well-controlled manner up to 15kHz, above which the speaker’s output drops very rapidly to the sides of the central tweeter axis.
Here’s another frequency graph done on another model, as you can see again, falling HF this time starting at 1.5khz!!
https://i.imgur.com/CvgtJLsh.jpg

Cheers George
THE SPEAKERS! Nothing wrong with the Krell amp - don't sell it!
Sell those Tektons and get something like Dynaudio's or Proac's with a more extended and accurate top end!
Nothing wrong with the Krell amp

Nothing, except it sounds like a Krell. Other than that, thumbs up!
If you could borrow an amp or speakers that would let you know.
A buddy bought a used Krell Integrated (I don't recall the model) but it sounded awful, really flat, slow, small, unlike the Krell amp Im familiar with
Most definitely the speakers. 
I owned a Krell KAV-300i for a while.  It had a grainy edge that made it hard to listen to.  I think A Vincent SV-237 would give you more of what you're looking and you have the option of rolling tubes in the preamp section.  Simaudio makes some really nice integrateds, but they are going to be more neutral (are you sure you want "bright"?), but lots of detail and definition.
I had the Tekton M-Lore, and I thought they sort of smoothed everything over.  So, in my opinion, you'd be best served by finding different speakers.  Also keep in mind that speakers will have a much more significant impact on the overall sound of your system than an amp change.  The Krell should drive most speakers without issue, so I'd suggest reading up on speaker reviews and trying to demo (if possible) a speaker or two that seems like it has the sound profile you're looking for.  Places like Crutchfield and Music Direct have trial periods that will allow you to hear the speakers at home with your system.    

Good luck and have fun!
Scott   
ignoring your speakers for a minute, i see the other gear you have i would say the sound is bright, a little harsh in the treble, a little recessed in the mids, strong in the bass

so if you seek brightness, it has gotta be the speakers - i don’t know the tektons, much less your tektons... they make so many models covering the waterfront, no idea what is the sound character of yours... tekton’s better speakers certainly are known for their impact, neutrality and clarity - your specific model, maybe not... other poster below says they are smeared/smoothed over ... that may well be spot on...
Assuming all units of model X sound the same is not a safe assumption. Some may operate better than others. Especially older gear and even if work was done on it.
Not saying it’s the amp but not possible to rule that out with the limited facts on hand.
If not happy then try something different and see what happens. The Bel Canto c5i is an integrated that is never inherently bright and can drive most any speaker to modest volume well and would not cost much to try used.

But assuming the amp is working well I like that Krell very much and would hesitate to part with it if it has served me well over the years.

The Tekton Lore would be more special were you using a modest powered tube amp. With the Krell in good operating condition or with other similar quality beefier SS amps, you have unlimited speaker choices that will match up well.
Thanks all for the v. insightful analysis. Got what I had hoped for from the community. Majority verdict: the speakers. I like the Tekton business model, but the array of speakers is way overwhelming (there were many fewer options when I purchased mine, 8-1/2 years ago). Back to the endless task that is research! Thanks to @smrex13 for the very good suggestion of "Places like Crutchfield and Music Direct have trial periods that will allow you to hear the speakers at home with your system. "
New speaker time

Add Audio Advisor to that list; some independent B&W shops also allow for at home auditions (e.g. Audio Connection NJ).
These speakers will sound best when you are on the woofer axis.  If you are far above it you'll lose quite a bit of treble.

Assuming your seat/speaker are aligned if you still have issues,sit 2’ from the speakers. If they still sound colorless, it’s the speaker, otherwise it’s the room. :)
Its not that hard. Your budget is $3k. The choice is clear. https://www.tektondesign.com/double-impact.html
@millercarbon the reviews on those are great, but, man, 118#! and 54" high! there is the wife factor to consider...
@erik_squires it is a big, open room...
I have Moabs. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367 Wife likes em a lot. I let her pick the color. 

The thing about Tekton, Eric has come up with a technology and design approach so superior to others he is able to offer speakers that out-perform anything in their class, price-wise. That's guaranteed to trigger, especially seeing a name nearby who totally does not get it. And he is not alone. They can stay clueless for all I care. Whatever, the point is the magic in his low mass/low stiction approach really only comes to full fruition in his MTM array designs. This is where the superiority of the tweeter array over a conventional midrange driver really shows. Double Impacts, are a little less than half an array, yet look at the reviews. I've never heard them but talking to those who have, and have heard others like Moabs, I have a pretty good idea what to expect.  

Your Lores are really good speakers, but they are made for the guy with a few tube watts who listens very near field to violins and stuff and wants that nice warm glow sound. Bet they are just beautiful for that. You probably were quite happy with them, until enough things got better and you're in a position to want and have more. Makes perfect sense. 

Just get em in a nice neutral dark gray, or whatever the wife prefers, you will be fine. Mine felt like monsters at first, but only at first, and then there's the sound, when you hear that you know its totally worth it. 

Whatever you do, the last thing you want to do is overreact. Worst thing you could do is go out looking for speakers with a bright top end. Double Impacts, Moabs, do not have a bright top end. They have a right top end. That's what you want. Do it right, you will be happy for another 8 years, at least. 
Having too few reflections can be a problem too. :)  If you get close and it sounds better, you may need some partially reflecting panels, or perhaps more bass.

See how they sound very close up.  If they still sound lifeless, yeah, get new speakers.

The amp is 25 years old and the speakers are 8 1/2 years old. The amp/speaker match should be ok. Has this combo always sounded this way or is this something recent? Before you start spending money, try to pinpoint the problem. Try someone else’s amp in your system or try your amp in someone else’s system. Or borrow an amp from your local dealer. The Krell is a nice integrated but they wear out like anything else. The bottom line is we don't know if the issue is with your amp or your speakers, but you should find out before you spend your money.
I had Tekton Lore reference speakers. I was at a tipping point, as I’d initially heard Tektons with a tube amp...but had always favored solid state. Moving to/investing in a quality tube rig was just not in the budget, nor doable with our house setup (needed to keep things simple) plus I’d gotten a really decent solid state integrated. I sold my Tektons and got some Totems - which I think are better for me and sound so great with my amp - and never looked back. Point being, pairing is a big deal. As stated above, try and try your Tektons with other amps (tubes and solid state) and your Krell with other speakers if possible. Now wish I had tried mine with tubes and/or could have kept those Tektons...better to exhaust a good portion of that curiosity with trial and error. 
I think it could be your speaker wires and interconnects. If you go to OCC single Crystal copper you will hear a big difference. Cuz all your other equipment looks pretty good.
Trying out returnable cables may be cheapest fix shipping wise.  

+1 Tekton especially the double impact, but their speakers are rather large

GoldenEar Tritons - another great price/performance speakers with many positive reviews

You could look for used speakers to get better price/performance, but it'll add much more complexity to your research.
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That krell integrated is garbage and I own krell amps. It is cheaply made and sounds nothing like a krell. It’s fatiguing and bright and makes you want to pull your hair out. I’d dump it. Good luck. 
That krell integrated is garbage and I own krell amps. It is cheaply made and sounds nothing like a krell. It’s fatiguing and bright and makes you want to pull your hair out. I’d dump it. Good luck.


stated too strongly, but i would have to agree with the gist, esp. on bright/harsh sound quality - i was not impressed with this unit when i had it... NOT Krell’s finest hour for sure
I would agree that the Krell is bright and harsh.
From everything I have heard, the Tektons are probably good.
I would suggest looking on AG or USAmart for a used tube integrated. And roll the tubes to NOS. For $3k you can get a very nice one. And sell the Krell maybe increasing the $3k to $4k+.
I would agree that the Krell is bright and harsh.
From everything I have heard, the Tektons are probably good.
I would suggest looking on AG or USAmart for a used tube integrated. And roll the tubes to NOS. For $3k you can get a very nice one. And sell the Krell maybe increasing the $3k to $4k+.
I build speakers and amps. Recently I acquired the Purifi Audio EVAL1 power amp modules. These use the output modules used in the NAD 33 which is getting rave reviews. It is amazing how a great amp can make good speakers perform their best. Starke Sound has its AD4.320 on a "Black Friday" special. The best buy in power amps. It sounds as good as the Purifi unit and is a complete unit, ready to go out of the box. These amps have made every speaker I have connected them to sound wonderful. They are better than anything I ever built. They make my Golden Ear Triton 1s come alive. I'd say no speaker can do its best with a poor amp. If your Krell has preamp outputs, the Starke amp will amaze you. Emotiva has inexpensive preamps that sound fine if the Krell's preamps don't do the job for you..
I skipped over the other suggestions so if someone said this already please ignore this. $3k to spend. Used okay? If not you just cut your
performance in half. Know nothing of your CD player. I would buy a Cambridge Audio Integrated. Or a ChiFi Tube Integrated if you like that sound better. Upgrade the speakers to something pleasant sounding. So many choices. Assume you have $2k of the $3k left. Shop used Focal
as you like more forward sound. Borrow a better CD player somewhere
after you have the other gear. You will likely replace it too.
Finally had a chance to employ the very good advice and swapped out the amp to see if that was the problem. The only other amp I have is a Marantz AV receiver that’s been configured for 3.1 setup and a very different room dynamic, but I gave it a go anyway. The verdict: it *is* the amp. Even with the biases, the Marantz showed more detail than the Krell which, in comparison, sounded... muddy. So, now, I’m in the market for an amp: integrated, solid state, type A or A/B, not made in China, price <$3000. Any suggestions, please let me know. Otherwise, thanks again for the assistance.  P.S. I may still change out the speakers.
Audiophile rule #1: You will never find what's right for you by asking others what's right for them.

Find a way to listen to quality systems yourself until you get that aha moment. 
Krell in general is bright. Not shocked it is the amp.  At 25 years old, all sorts of things could be deteriorating including the caps in the power supply.  You could take the Krell in for a good refurbishing and that might solve your problem.  Alternatively, a new amp will work.  

Lots of choices.  If the Marantz sounded good, Marantz has a series of very good integrated amps that are modestly priced that will likely deliver on what you want/need.  

The new Marantz Model 30 is $2500.  Alternatively, a used PM 14s1 would be wonderful.  I would have to check if the Model 30 is made in China, the PM14s1 was made in Japan.  

If the Marantz was better but you still wanted more in terms of brightness, I would look at Musical Fidelity if made in Taiwan (not part of China, sort of) is Okay.  The M6si is a brilliant integrated amp.  

For made in the USA, the PS Audio Stellar Strata would likely be a good option and PS Audio will take your Krell as is on trade vs. it.  

I am sure there are others that will work wonderfully.  Good luck
I had an old Mark Levinson amp that I bought new and re capped after 20 years and thought it sounded OK until I replaced it and realized it didn't sound OK.  It was dull and muffled and slow,  I went to a class D amp which was energetic and a bit bright but ran circles around the ML and now replaced that with a class A, and now it's just right.

SPEAKERS!! Some brands and dealers can let you try for certain days. I would try speakers first. Happy listening!! :) 
Clean the contacts on your speaker cable ,interconnects and power cable. I had the same problem . It worked for me . Testing your hearing is another option. No offense intended 
Get ROON and use the parametric equalizer and the speaker set up tools to make some adjustments 
@alfa100 cleaning the contacts is a good idea. I know that the hearing in my left year is somewhat diminished (many years of driving convertibles), but my wife confirmed the audio issues and, I promise, she is not one to humor me. 
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Danto. Please let us know if cleaning the contacts helped 
@alfa100 Sorry to report that cleaning the contacts made no difference (they really weren't dirty). Thanks for the idea, though.
I wouldn't go so far as to call your Krell "garbage", but it's not very good.  You could easily find something better.  You could get a really nice integrated for what you have budgeted.