I would be interested in this matter as well. I am contemplating an integrated amp for my system.
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In that price range, I would suspect that the Wells Audio Majestic would easily beat either Krell model amp.
Do a little research and you may find a gem.
Jafant......yes, Krell and MIT have a long history with Thiels. I've read that the Vandguard integrated is the real deal; resolution, warmth, not sterile, powerful at 200 w/channel ( 400 @ 4 ohms ) and harmonically accurate. I would think this amp and the best MITs or Transparent cables would synergize quite well with your Thiel CS2.4se. Another integrated to research is the Belles Soloist 1. I had one and it was full and rich sounding with lots of power. Enjoy your journey.
Ok, so the question is whether or not the Krell Vanguard is superior to the 400xi. Well, yes in absolute terms and no if you are strapped for cash. Overall the Vanguard is clearer, more dynamic and slightly warmer. It also will not overheat and produces a more fleshed out soundstage. Bass has more texture and sounds natural as compared to the 400xi's taughter, leaner presentation. Both are great values and outperform the competition by a wide margin, IMO. FYI, Audiophileliquidaters have the Vanguard priced well below msrp!
Drum roll please....The Vanguard is the winner by a huge margin! I intended to keep the 400xi for a second system but it had a low level him in one channel and a higher noise floor than I remembered. That said, the Vanguard immediately strikes me as far more dynamic, open and refined. Very much like a cleaner FPB300CX amp. The 400xi seems anemic and flat comparatively. Clean and clear but lighter in it's presentation. Bass is phenomenal through the Vanguard and delivers better solidity to images. So, for integrated bliss, the Krell Vanguard delivers one sweet sonic treat!
I have a close friend who has been using a Krell integrated amp for about 15 years, and he recently decided to replace it. He asked for my input about which integrated amps might best suit his needs (MartinLogan speakers; large, high ceiling room with mostly hard surfaces; etc.). I spent a couple of days of research and put together a list of possible choices in the $5k-$10k range. After my friend evaluated the units on the list (which included Krell, Pass Labs, Bryston, Classe, and several others), he chose the Hegel H360 integrated. I think his choice was a good one, and you might want to place it on your audition list.
@dave_b Just wondering if the 400xi, which is obviously a much older amp, had low level hum and a high noise floor perhaps it needed to be recapped? Or at least gone over by a tech? I realize you got it just for the shootout and might not care to go to the trouble, but sounds like it wasn't performing up to spec possibly.
** Krell dealer disclaimer **
The Krell Vanguard is the best sounding integrated amp they've ever made. I've spend lots of time with the KAV-300i, KAV-400xi, F.B.I., S-300i, and S-550i. The Vanguard wallops them all. The detail, the lack of distortion and smear is SO much better than all of the others. It's also a serious work horse, I've run it in situations it was not designed for, and I was amazed at how it put up with it. Krell rules! :-)
I have owned several stacks of Krell gear dating back to 1994. This goes back to an original KSA-150, KSA-300S, a beautiful pair of KAS-2's, 450MCX's with KCT and Cipher. As far as integrated amps go, I have owned the 300i, 400xi, and FBI. I used a Vanguard for six weeks that belongs to a friend of mine. It is head and shoulders a much more refined product than the 300i and 400xi. It is definitely voiced differently from what the original Krell "house sound" once was. I know that herndonb indicated that the Vanguard "wallops them all". Perhaps is does wallop the 300i and the 400xi! Does it wallop the FBI? Absolutely not. I'm not sure what kind of speakers or other ancillary equipment was used, but the Vanguard is by no stretch of the imagination in line with the FBI. I've played both amps through Eggleston Works Andra III's, Martin Logan Summit X's, and Wilson Audio Duettes. As good as the Vanguard is, just how good it is depends upon what context you are using it!
dave_b1,550 posts02-11-2016 8:12pmSdcampbell, I had the Hegel home and I found it hard and flat sounding. A bit cold as well!
I've had 3 Krell amps, last a FPB600. Familiar with 300i that I find 2D and hard. I have a Hegel H30 and it's light years ahead of the Krells I had. All Hegel I've heard is far from hard and flat sounding especially compare to 300i.
Krellman is right. I have been pretty much a Krell user most of my time with this hobby (although not having the illustrious models Krellman has used) and the current Krell gear is very differently voiced from the older Krell gear. The Vanguard is in this new vein - more musical and forgiving, less visceral. Most importantly, the traditional bass slam that Krell is known for is no longer there. In the place of that is a more textured bass. Highs are slightly rolled off (not such a bad thing with some recordings), PRAT is no longer as good and the sharp transients and leading edge is much diminished. I am referring to the older main Krell line (and not the KAV line which sounded lighter and leaner). The FBI would still have the older sound. It really depends on what you like.
Just my 2 cents.
I finally talked to Patrick Bresnahan at krell, he said the departed x president bill Mckeagan is what happened to the vanguard, no pre-amp out, no tape loop, and ahh, the terrible voicing! , Bill did all this to attempt to save money and bill had the vanguard made in China! , my opinion, what a way to shoot your self in the foot, didn't save money, promoted a lack of sales, and more than any thing, no long term ownership! , have all of you seen the vanguard on the used market? , LOL!, there is no modification available!