Krell KAV-250a: good? vs. Bryston 4B ST at price?

How is the Krell KAV-250a? In terms of weight, size, and price it seems like "Krell Lite". How would you compare it to the other Krel amps? How is it at it's price point? Recently discontinued, they can be had new for about $2000. Is it worth it? Or for around the same money are you better off with a Bryston 4B ST (which has similar power ratings)? What else around that price and comparable output levels would be better? These would drive a pair of Mirage M-3si speakers, and be feed by a Sonic Frontiers preamp.
I use the KAV-250a to power my fronts (Dynaudio Contour 3.0) and am very pleased with it. I'd consider a brand new one for $2000 an excellent purchase. It is somewhat "Krell Lite", but in a good way IMO - you get 99% of the Krell sound, including spectacular bass, but in a manageable package. It doesn't run as hot as the older class A Krells, one person can move it, it doesn't have the sharp heatsinks, you aren't required to install a dedicated circuit (though it always helps). You can always buy a full-blown Krell later. The KAV-250a was widely reviewed extremely positively.

I have no hands on experience with the Bryston, but you probably wouldn't go wrong with it either - built like a tank, 20 year warranty, etc. -Kirk

It depends on what you are looking for in sound. Krell will kick yer booty, but I find them to be TOOO in your face. Great for rock and roll. Hey these are just my opinions, folks. The Bryston is "warmer" and I would think a much better match up for your tube preamp and M-3si's. I am a fan of Bryston, so I may be a little "prejudiced" and I know that we NEVER have THAT around here, do we :)
Do I own any? no, so I am NOT promoting what I have, just what I would choose over those two. We had Krell in the chain for about 2 days once. I am NOT Krell bashing, just doesn't match up with what my ears want. It's a personal taste thing.
(currently have Rowland Model 1's-matched pair, Classe CA300 in the HT and a pair of Wolcott P220M Presence Mono Block Tube amps in the 2 CH)
What kind of sound are you looking for?
Angela100 - good question.

I am very much interested in firm, solid well controlled bass, as well as an sweet and extended but non-fatiguing treble. I wouldn't want anything too dry and analytical, yet do want a very neutral amp with lots of detail. I listen to all types of music.

I also have a pair of Mirage's excellent BPSS-210 powered, servo-controled subwoofers that match nicely with, and extend the bass (down to 18Hz) of the M-3si's.

I'm sure there are other options outside of the Krell and the Bryston in that price range (new and used), but they are the two identified so far as fairly decent bets. I am open to suggestions. Might even do some vertical bi-amping of the M-3si's...
I would vote definitely for the Bryston 4BST. I owned a Krell a few years back (can't recall the model number, it was made in the early 90's, so I can't comment directly on the 250A). It was a good-looking amp, heavy, lots of slam, but really quite colored (that is, it just didn't sound natural), and extremely unreliable. Had to send it back three different times for major repair and was lucky it didn't blow up my speakers (power supply cap failures and I'm not sure what else...). That gets awful expensive at around 100 lbs, not to mention a pain in the...). Since then I've owned the 4BST and it was a wonderful sounding amp, vastly more neutral than the Krell, and as for reliability, the warranty speaks for itself.
The bottom is falling out of the market on the Krell KAV's. It's definitely "Krell-lite". I'm not bashing either, but I just don't think that the KAV-250 is in the same league as the Bryston. The Bryston is warmer, richer, better-built, etc.

At $2K new, the Krell seems like a good deal (compared to it's original retail), but you've gotta' wonder why they've pulled the plug on such a new product. And now, the market is FLOODED with KAV-150 and KAV-250's which won't help much in the re-sale dept. It appears that Krell over-estimated the success of this product-line. I'm guessing that the perceived value was not quite there, hence necessitating the liquidation of these pieces at a reduced price.

Think of it as the hi-fi equivalent of the BMW 318ti; a four-cylinder, hatchback Bimmer. Seemed like a good idea - "BMW Lite" you might say. Unfortunately, the buying public decided that if they couldn't afford a "REAL" BMW, then why bother?
Two points that have been raised on the Krell. First, it is often cited that the older Krells were a bit more strident sounding than the current (or at least more recent crop), so I'm not sure I'd base my opinion of the KAV-250a on one of the older KSA models. I've never owned one of the older models, so I can't make the comparison, but I don't find the KAV-250a to be harsh. Many of the reviews I read on it also commented on how it didn't share some of the harsh characteristics of earlier Krell amps.

Second, the KAV-250a isn't that new a product, at least for Krell (who seems to specialize in rolling their product line every 2-3 years). I think the reason it's being discontinued is because they've come out with upgraded versions of both the 2-channel and 3-channel 250 w/ch amps that also have the new cosmetics. I believe it's been a very successful product for Krell and, as with many other Krell products, good prices are to be had with the model rollover. I agree that it won't help with the used prices, but if you're buying and take it into account, a Krell will definitely retain a fair amount of value over time.

I agree with Angela that the Krell is an excellent choice if you like rock music - I listen to a lot of rock music and watch a lot of movies, both of which naturally have a lot of in-your-face sound to them. I listen to a lot of jazz and vocals as well, and I think it does a great job with them as well, but I haven't compared a bunch of amps so I may really be missing out. I'm sure that at $2K, there's a LOT to choose from and many models that would be excellent choices. I also don't know how difficult a load the Mirages are - the Dynaudios really like their current which is one of Krell's major strong points. -Kirk

There always seems to be a lot of "Krell bashers" out there...I just bought a KAV 250a that sounds great with
my BAT pre-amp and really brings out the best in my Hales,
which seem to really like all the power. Great bass and
doesn't sound harsh. I listen to a lot of different
music, but so far, I'm happy with the Krell. I'll now 'fess
up and say that I do have my Krell listed for sale, but only
because I've listed about everything I own at one time or
another! If your speakers like power, the Krell might be
the ticket. I've always wanted to try a BAT amp, but can't
bring myself to pay the going rate for a nice used one!
At what the used 250a's are selling for, they're a bargain
for 250 watts of Krell power!
shameless, Dave....
Check the warranty on the Krell KAV. I've seen Krell dealers state in their recent KAV ads that the "5 year transferrable Krell KAV Series Warranty" was eliminated in January of 2001, unless you buy from an authorized dealer. The rumor here in Phoenix is this happened because of so many internet sales..
The Bryston has a 20 year warranty, and they sell based on their reputation, I'd go with the 4BST.
I've heard the KAV 250a, it sounds good too, but the warranty question is very important to me, 20 years makes the Bryston much easier to sell, now & later.

Both feedbacks from Kthomas are deadon. I have a 250A powering a pair of Martin Logan Quest Zs which are a difficult load to say the least & the Krell has no problem with them.My preamp is a Sonic Frontiers Line 3. This combination gives me deep tight bass,a wonderful midrange with natural sounding highs. The soundstage has breadth & depth. At 2k the Krell is a bargain.If you do purchase one plan on relacing the power cord. The P.S. Lab cable brings out the best in this amp. Have a happy New Year. Larry W
I've dealt with all these pieces for years. Off the bat, I'd say for sure the Krell for those Mirages! The Mirages are a bit warm sounding, and the krell matches better. The Bryston is in the similar league, but wawmer, more body, and slightly more rubust base line. I think you'll get more sparkle on top with the Krell, and the Mirages need all the help in the detail department they can get!!...and the krell get's the edge here. Good luck
totally agree with dave43 -
i have kav 250a power b&w n804s through a lex pre and i absolutely love the sound. perfect for audio, and since you mentioned bass slam, WOW, in movies its phenomenal. i have a jm labs sw38a sub that enhances just the very low freq, and this setup is a smash. matrix, jp, - sound unbelieveable! imho. b
What can I say...I sell cars for a living! Shameless?
Yes I am!
Danielk makes a good (and accurate) point - Krell changed their warranty policy such that it's not transferable unless you purchase through an authorized Krell dealer. The original post mentioned buying new and I assumed that meant from a Krell dealer, in which case you're fine. I see a lot of Krell gear advertised used that do not reflect this new policy. Having any piece of gear under warranty is worth some $$$. -Kirk