Krell Digital Vanguard or Parasound Halo integrated?


Looking for actual owner/user opinions on either of this pair of integrated amps.

There maybe other contenders but this is where I am down too right now.

Needs..
Xlr, rca analog inputs
Digital spdif, toslink, usb inputs.
Headphone amp if possible.( not a major).
Fairly compact, modern, reliable., great factory USA based support.

Will be going into my second home in North Carolina. Sources will be a music server of some description and a tt.
Speakers to be determined but likely small form factor floorstanders or decent stand mounts.

Thank you.
6db47fb2 f8db 415d a4f7 49a7b6ed12b0Ag insider logo xs@2xuberwaltz
Slowly
Would really prefer to sell some of the gear I have up listed before I spend any more money...lol
I too considered these 2 integrateds a year ago and decided on the Krell Vanguard Digital. I had not heard either unit but I was still using the original Krell KAV 300i integrated, which is still going strong after 20 years of service (!) and I mostly loved it. I wanted digital inputs, thus I decided to upgrade to the new Krell. 

I can say the new Krell sounds very similar to the original. It sounds nothing like some of the units which came in between, those with a softer, rounder, smoother sound. This one has the same powerful command, yet refinement (but not smoothness) of the original. It is not forward; it layers the soundstage back nicely and possesses a rich acoustic, full of color. But it is also robust and quite fulsome in the bass regions, perhaps a touch lose.

That being said, it is by far the most finicky, persnickety piece of audio equipment I've ever used - from power cords, to digital cables, to power conditioning and, most importantly to incoming digital data streams. This Krell tells you everything about the cables feeding it. In the most revealing way. And if it doesn't like something, it sounds like crap. I have had many enlightening experiments with power conditioners. The Krell is not fond of most of them. I have settled on an AudioPrism Foundation .05. Very minimal, clean, high current outlet power strip. The Krell seems happy.

However, I have had nothing but trouble with its digital inputs. Beginning with the Coax (RCA) out from DirecTV, it would not accept it. It crackles and pops and hisses. Switching to the Toslink and everything is fine. Suspecting a problem with the satellite receiver, I had DirecTV replace it with a new unit. Same result with the coaxial connection. The coax connection, however, works perfectly on my CD player. 

Next I tried the HDMI input from my Cambridge Audio universal player. It was very inconsistent with this connection. Sometimes it would lock onto a PCM signal from a CD just fine. Other times it crackles and spit for few seconds before settling onto it. However, trying to get it to recognize a DSD datastream was almost impossible. Cracks and pops and then switching back to PCM. Occasionally it would suddenly lock onto the DSD stream, and it played beautifully! Gorgeous sound! But wen you stop the disc and press play again, it's right back to cracks and pops and spitting at me. Same with simply advancing track to track. Once you stop the player, the Krell had to reacquire the signal and has difficulty doing s every time. 

These problems are not unique to this unit. I sent the first unit back to Krell and they sent me a different unit. Both units behaved identically. I feel this is a real problem with this integrated. I notice Krell is coming out with a new integrated this fall - the K300i (at $8,000 with the digital module). I presume Vanguard is being discontinued. I can't be the only customer upset with all these problems with it.

In the end, I like the sound. But these constant issues with the digital inputs make it most exasperating and frustrating to deal with. I'm ready to cut my losses and buy the newly upgraded Parasound HINT 6. 
As a dealer for both Krell and Parasound, these are both great options.  But,the HINT6 is really the best deal/bang for the buck b/t the two as it's basically half the price of the Krell.
To the OP, I'm in NC and would love to help you out if I can since this is going in to your NC home!
@uberwaltz I’ve owned thr Krell Integrated Vanguard with Digital Module for almost a year now and have been very happy with the decision. 

The Krell is a Class A pre-amp and Sliding Bias Class A amp so the sound has a refinement and power expected in that circuit topology.

I have tried these amps with Sonus Faber Amati’s, Dynaudio Countor 20s and Magico M3s and they made those speakers sing. Great soundstage, imaging, dynamics, presence, resolution, micro details...its all there. 

I use it now for my Verity Audio Parsifal Anniversary’s wired with MIT Matrix 28 speaker cables and again it makes the speakers play beauifully.

My favorite feature is that the Krell with Digital Module has a good DAC/Streamer. I stream Tidal and also use Roon but I find that Tidal through Mconnect App sounds better than Tidal through Roon. It plays MQA as well.

With this feature, the Krell really comes to its own and takes full controll of the music in the entire chain. I’ll even venture to say that it probably is one of the best sounding all-in-ones in this price category.

I also use the balance inputs to play vinyl from my Avid Sequel Sp TT with Ikeda Kai Cart and Moon by Simaudio 610lp Phonostage. Krell does a great job for articulating good front end/source as well. 

For my needs, I am having a diffucult time upgrading to separate components 2-3 times the Krell’s price as I have been richly rewarded by this amp at such a reasonable cost. It is actually the cheapest component in the my system but is a good “mind/heart” for it and does not sound inferior or left behind. It can hold its own with the bigger guys as it comes from a good family after all. 

Yes they are cable and power sensitive so you need to pair well but will be rewarded greatly when you get it right. 

I changed the fuse as well to Synergistic Research Blue Fuse to good effect. 

Lastly, it is a pretty good looking piece of equipment. It’s got a minimalist Bauhaus form factor and hefty solid Remote Control. The newer Krell Integrated looks like a cheap china imitation compared to this unit.

So all in all, I can’t find fault for this unit. Im suprised how underrated it is but from owners you can get a good sense of what it can really do.  

Hope this helps.
goldprintaudio

Happy Holidays to you in NC.