Krell HTS 7.1 vs Denon AVR-X4300H


Trying to build a home theater system which can double as audiophile stereo, either 2 channel or 5 channel. 
Sound is more important for me than picture. 

ordered epson 5040ube
already got krell KAV500 amp
just placed an order for oppo 205 blue ray
have rel S5 sub
considering vienna acoustics 4 ohm speakers, mozart for front and haydn for rears, with center maestro

Need a home theater processor. Have a good offer on Krell HTS 7.1. (1000$) vs. Denon avr x4300h
What would be better for my setup. What are pros and cons of either preamp? I would use the devon as preamp for sound only as it doesn't have anything modern in terms of video. As I mentioned, music is very important to me. What would be a logical choice here? Any other suggestions for preamp and spearers are welcome, I'm new to this home theater stuff. Also, Dolby atoms is not important to me, my amp only has 5 channels, unless i can use denons amp in addition to my krell amp to add more speakers, not sure if this is possible. 

My current 2 channel audio system is Mcintosh ma6600 with mcd550 and vienna acoustics mozart, and I love the sound. 
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If your priority is 2 channel, buy a good stereo preamp with a HT bypass. Then just use a cheap HT preamp.
How would those two compare, if you've had experience with either? 

First question, are you intending on replacing your current 2 channel system (McIntosh MA6600 and MCD550)?  Or do you just want to build a home theater and still keep your 2 channel system?  If you are intending on replacing the 2 channel system, you are not likely to get the type of sound or quality of sound with the budget you have.  I would recommend looking at the higher end McIntosh processors (for example, there's a couple of really good condition MX150s on audiogon for $3500).

To answer your question, the two options you have are really different.  The Krell is going to be very fast and high bandwidth.  This means you will have a lot of attack and clarity in the sound.  This is great for home theater and movies, but some people don't like it for music.  I love the Krell sound personally. Some people feel that the Krell is too forward and "in your face".  But in movies, I think it's important to be able to hear every single subtle sound.  That being said, the HTS 7.1 is going to be 15 years old.  If you can get a nice one where everything works, that's great.  You might want to have the power supply board re-capped as the caps have aged and dried out by now.  Also, I have seen both the digital input sections fail as well as some of the analog sections after all this time.  And, of course, you will need to use the COAX or toslink digital inputs.  You will be limited to compressed Dolby Digital and DTS audio.  Also, the HTS 7.1 will down-convert any hi-res audio to 48Khz (i.e. a 24/96 track will be down-converted to 24/48).

The Denon receiver is not going to be able to produce the quality of sound.  I think the Denon may be a warmer sound than the Krell (not as forward or in your face).  I wouldn't use the Denon in this situation (unless you already have it and just want to put together a home theater). 

The McIntosh sonic signature is very laid back and warm (many people love this for music).  Based on your budget of around $1000, I would recommend looking at a used Marantz AV7702 processor (they are going from $800-1200).  The Marantz sound is going to be on the warm side of neutral, but still very detailed.  This may be a good match for you, based on your music tastes and still be a nice processor for home theater.  Since the Marantz has HDMI, you will be able to take advantage of the uncompressed bluray sound formats (DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD).  Also, you can play hi-res audio through the HDMI cable as well.

Appreciate your input.
To answer your question, I'm keeping my 2 channel Mcintosh system in my living room. Building home theater in basement. 

HTS 7.1 was an 8000 preamp, so I assumed the sound would be better than anything else that I would get for 1000$. 
The MX150s are a bit outdated as well I thought. 

I can certainly spend more, but not sure what I need. What I ultimately want is a processor with current audio decoders with good quality for home theater. Why wouldn't Denon be good for this ? How is marantz better? 

also considering krell krc 3 preamp, is there a good way to integrate this into home theater ? Would this pre amp be better for 2 channel than HTS7.1 and denon? Any thoughts on this preamp? 

What Im trying to accomplish is home theater which can be used for both 2 channel and 5.1 channel audio for SACDs. Is this even possible ? 
" HTS 7.1 was an 8000 preamp, so I assumed the sound would be better than anything else that I would get for 1000$. "

I would definitely not assume that. I recommended a 2 channel preamp just for this reason.

" I can certainly spend more, but not sure what I need. What I ultimately want is a processor with current audio decoders with good quality for home theater. Why wouldn't Denon be good for this ? How is marantz better?"

For movies, either one is fine. I would pick the Marantz but only if it didn't lower the amount I could spend on a 2 channel preamp.

" also considering krell krc 3 preamp, is there a good way to integrate this into home theater ? Would this pre amp be better for 2 channel than HTS7.1 and denon? Any thoughts on this preamp? "

I had a krc3. Yes, I would take it over the HTS, but preamps have come a long way. I'm pretty sure it doesn't have a HT passthrough.

Here's an article that explains this issue far better than I can.

http://vandersteen.com/media/files/APJ%20Files/APJ_4r.pdf

The HTS 7.1 was a $8000 processor, and I think it was an extremely good processor. I had it for a long time. It makes a good 2-channel analog preamp, though I would say that it’s slightly soft for a 2-channel preamp because of its analog input stage. It can sound very good when used as a digital DAC/processor, but it is getting very old at this point.

The McIntosh MX150 aren’t that old. They are only 2 generations old and MX150 does support HDMI and bluray formats. Though, it is not new enough to support 4K (it’s only HDMI 1.3). I suggested it because you liked your 2-channel McIntosh setup.

In reference to your Denon, it is a receiver, which means a good portion of the unit cost has to go into the amplifier section. It may sound okay, but you’ll get much better sound quality with a dedicated processor. I recommended the Marantz because it does have an excellent design for a processor at that level. Good power supply (2 x 10,000uf capacitors) and discrete balanced output stages. Sonic signature is a little on the warm side, so it will not be as fast on the attack as the Krell stuff (or other processors such as Anthem or Arcam). I wouldn’t go for a KRC3 since you already have such an excellent 2 channel system. I think the Marantz will do a good 2-channel representation as well as provide for a good theater experience. The KRC-3 is on the warm side and others have had better experience with something newer like the Parasound P7.

Trying to make an awesome sounding 2-channel plus home theater system is going to cost a whole lot of money.  The best you can you can do with that budget is something decent.  It's not going to compete with your McIntosh 2-channel system, but it should sound pretty good anyways.

You said HTS 7.1 will limit me to the compressed formats, DTS etc. But what if I connect my OPPO with analog out to HTS 7.1 analog inputs. Will the HTS screw with uncompressed high def sound from the OPPO? How would this work? Do the benefits of HTS apply in this set up? 

Also, would it be possible to integrate krc3 into HTS home theater system? Would this make sense? Would KRC3 improve the preamp section for my 2 channel audio? 

Im thinking of directly connecting my OPPO video to my Epson projector via HDMI. Would I lose anything by doing that? What would be an advantage of using 4k processor in this situation? 

My vision is to have a home theater with Krell KAV500 amp, OPPO 205, Epson 5040ube, vienna acoustics speakers. I need to decide which pre-amp/processor to get. Krell krc3 is very visually appealing to me, and I would prefer to somehow integrate it into my home theater, whether I need it or not. It looks very nice with a matching amp. 

appreciate everyone's input 

The Oppo does have excellent video processing, so you would not lose anything by going directly to the projector.  I don't think any 4K processor/receiver would be better in this case.  The only thing that could be better than Oppo video processing is if you put in a Lumagen before the projector to do the processing and color correction.

You could certainly connect the 7.1 analog output from the Oppo to the 7.1 input on the HTS 7.1.  At this point, the Krell becomes a pure analog preamp (it won't mess with any analog-to-digital-to-analog conversion and you'd get the full resolution of any hi-res audio from the Oppo).  This would give you pretty good resolution.  Just make sure the 7.1 is in full working condition.  And keep in mind that the reliability of this older product may not be long.

The resolution of the KRC 3 is not going to be as good as the HTS 7.1.  If you went this choice, I would highly recommend having the KRC 3 recapped - using best quality capacitors available.  The KRC series was warmer with generally less resolution, as well as the KAV 500 amp.

The only reason to use a 2-channel preamp is if you didn't care about the quality of HT at all (in other words, HT is just something to watch movies on and takes much lower priority for sound quality).  In this case, you could use the left/right out of your Denon receiver to use on an input to the KRC 3 in pass-through mode.  Then use Denon receiver to power all other channels. 

" The only reason to use a 2-channel preamp is if you didn't care about the quality of HT at all (in other words, HT is just something to watch movies on and takes much lower priority for sound quality). "

I don't know if I would go that far. Generally speaking, 2 channel audio is much more demanding than HT audio. You can get away with lesser equipment for HT.
Can this be done: 

connect OPPO to KRC3 and HTS7.1 and then to krell KAV500? 
If so, how exactly would it work? Im having difficulty visualizing this. Would I need an extra amp for 2 channels? Extra speakers? Does this even make sense? 

I would really like to integrate KRC3 into my system. By the way, I do not have the Denon. I have to pick either denon or HTS7.1 or like some suggested marantz processor. 

On a separate note, what about really old Mcintosh processors, mx-119, mx132? etc. Are those any good for my use as Home theater and preamp for stereo? If I use oppo analog output into an old mx, would that be better than krell HTS7.1? I think prices are pretty close for those two. 
@sfall - yeah, totally understand.  My answer was under the assumption that he wanted to use both a 2-channel preamp with a HT Processor/Receiver.
Can this be done:

connect OPPO to KRC3 and HTS7.1 and then to krell KAV500?


I would not do this at all.  You are running the audio signal through two preamps, first a very low resolution KRC3 and then a nice but soft HTS 7.1.  Trying to merge both a 2-channel system and an HT system together with both 2-channel and multi-channel preamps is not a good approach.  Like I said, you really can't have both worlds unless you spend a lot of money.  If you're looking at the really old Krell stuff, I would just get an HTS 7.1 and use it as a 7.1 preamp with the Oppo.  The preamp quality of the HTS 7.1 is much better than the KRC 3.  I know you like the asthetics, but this will not actually improve the sound quality if you have both of this in the signal line.

Exactly the answer I was looking for. Thank you. 

Now, the question about old Mcintosh MX processors, 119 and 132 I think are around 1000$. How would those compare to HTS? Pros and Cons. 
I have an Oppo 105 connected to a Krell HTS 7.1 plus Krell TAS in my HT system. 5.1 audio processing is done in the Oppo, consequently the Krell HTS 7.1 is just being used as a glorified volume control. I use the same system for regular 2C stereo; CD, SACD and computer audio. All I can say is the sound to me is excellent for HT and 2C stereo. In fact, regular cinema sound, and video, is noticeably far inferior to my own HT system. Don’t know if I am being delusional here, I just much prefer watching Blu-Ray movies at home versus a good cinema. Overall, I am very happy with the Krell HTS 7.1, owned it for over 10 years now and have no plans to change it for something "better". No idea how it compares with the Denon AVR-X4300H; I doubt there would be much difference in sound quality.

The MX119 and MX132 are likely going to have similar characteristics to your 2-channel McIntosh system. Mac is typically warm, smooth and laid back sound. Krell is more forward with attack and clarity. Personally, I would go the Krell route if you were putting together a home theater, unless you are after the McIntosh asthetics and sound character.

The MX119 and MX132 are very old. Yes, you can use them as pure analog preamps, but they are only single ended internally. If you are after a pure analog preamp, look into the Parasound P7. It is a much newer device, fully balanced internally, and is only a 7-channel pure analog preamp. There is no digital processing or video capability. It is likely going to have better resolution than either the McIntosh or Krell devices you are currently looking at. If you want to know more about the McIntosh stuff, go over to the audioaficionado.org forum. There’s a McIntosh subforum with a large following. You could post questions there.

However, I will say that there is a "magic" in the Krell Class-A circuits that started with the HTS 7.1 generation which adds something to the sound (the core sound from the Oppo doesn’t have this magic character). The older KRC3 doesn’t have this "magic" character (though I don’t know what would happen if you re-capped / upgraded the KRC3). The soft input stage of the HTS 7.1 will give it somewhat of a laid back sound, but it will keep the clarity and magic of the Krell output stage.

"Exactly the answer I was looking for. Thank you."

I agree with that as well, with the exception of trying both preamps. I never had the 2 Krells side by side, so I just can't say.