Krell KAV-400xi vs. Parasound A21+P3

Hi all,

Which one is better between Krell KAV-400xi and Parasound A21+P3?

I have a pair of NHT classic three with Kimber 8TC.

I am open for other amp that is less than $1,400.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

Thank you
Hey, I like this question. This is an interesting situation that I've asked my self before. Honestly there really is no reason to get the Krell integrated over the Parasound combo. The Parasound combo is a standout bargain compared with the Krell integrated. If you really want an integrated, the Creek Destiny is a great unit, but it will still cost you more than the Parasounds.
There is no reason to get the Krell other than to improve the overall musical experience.
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I just noticed, for some reason I thought you were comparing the P3 and A23! The A21 and P3 will blow away the Krell! It's not even a contest. This will be only a slightly more expensive option. The A21 won't overheat when you dive it hard either, and has buttloads of current for bass control:) No offense to Stevecham, but I don't believe that he's heard the Parasound combo. I've owned it, and compared it to various integrateds including the Krell KAV-400xi. I am obviously partial, but for good reason.
Audiobroke is correct in that I have not heard that particular Parasound combination, but I did own a Parasound PLC1100 preamp and model 1200 - 250 WPC power amp combo (both John Curl designed) several years ago. Krell gear is simply superior for driving my Thiels with superior resolution and detail retreival not to mention a much better current capacity doubling down to 2 Ohms. Parasound gear is not rated at 2 Ohms.

If you don't need this current capability then Parasound may well fit your needs. Also the same goes for Bryston; I had the BP25 preamp and 4BST and later 7BST monoblocks.

Just got a Krell 400xi to replace my Musical Fidelity A5 integrated and have been holding onto the A5 to make sure the Krell is superior for the second system Thiel 2.4 and, after two weeks of A/B comparing, it certainly is. More depth, detail, superior imaging and certainly better extension top and bottom. Sweet and solid, I couldn't ask for more.

I have heard the JC1 monoblocks and these are very impressive pieces.
Stevecham - OK, Halo A21 is not rated on 2 ohms...

Could you tell as something about KAV-400xi behavior on 2 ohms...??? BTW, see J. Atkinson measurments is Stereophile before...

In my opinion KAV-400xi' poor power supply and CDP-sized heating devices are a true shame for mr. D'Agosstino. This model is not Krell, but Krellito...
The Krell is a great int amp......I have had quite
a few. It can be used as a stand alone amp in ht pass through mode with a pre.

The only way to use it is throught the balanced inputs.
Tremendous difference. If you do not want to use balanced,
don't even think of buying one.

I think that is why you get different opinions on here.
It is hard to beat for the price using a good balanced cable from your source. I suggest Analysis Plus XLR's.
I haven't listened too the Parasound at all, and therefore cannot make any comparisons which is usual here at Audiogon. But I do think I can offer some insight none the less. I own the Krell 400XI and love it but I want to clear up a few things.

1. The Krell 400XI has a decent power supply (large) but suffers from inadequate heat sinks. If you actually look inside it's quite sparse. I have driven a pair of Dynaudio 52SE's and Aerial Acoustic 5's with no problems. The Dynaudio's are a fairly easy load impedance wise as it's rather liner, the Aerial's are more difficult but made for a good pairing with the Krell. I haven't found heat to be a problem yet, although I've often wondered.

2. The Balanced 'myth'. I have used this Krell with both the RCA and XLR's and I think most people hear the +6db increase and assume balanced is superior. This is where I get rather annoyed. Matching dB levels between balanced and single ended the differences are there but not as striking. Also, the Krell 400XI isn't fully balanced as some marketing suggests. Sorry Krell owner's this is fact not fiction. It uses Balanced Differential Circuity as opposed to a completely balanced design. While I agree this does improve low level detail (and I prefer it) some would argue that Krell is simply adding a circuit and therefore adding a stage which can be audibly heard.

I like my Krell don't get me wrong. It's done nothing but given me good music. But as much as I get irritated by the anti-Krell 'they make statistical amplifier's not musical components' crowd I find a lot of mis-information gets thrown about by both sides. At the end of the day it's a nice Integrated for a fair price which looks appealing to the eye and measurements that help sell the product. Some of these measurements are taken out of context (Balanced Design) or sometimes exaggerated (4 Ohm rating). I still plan on keeping mine.
I thought that there was a conclusion on an earlier
thread that the Krell was balanced. I DO know what you mean
by matching the db levels but I have used Mcintosh, Esoteric and Musical Fidelity sources with my Krell. Note that the MF does not have XLR outputs. I noticed a difference in detail, imaging and bass with the balancd inputs. I do admit my XLR cables are far superior to any RCA cable I have.
Yes this thing gets hot. But I never have had to turn the volume to anywhere near where it can go. I do run it at low listening levels most of the time.
It is great for listening to music.

I knew nothing of this amp from any thread when I bought it.
I listened to it and thought it was a good buy at the asking price point. I do run it with 4 ohm speakers.
I am not arguing about being a true balanced player. They do advertise that for what it is worth.

For what they go for used on this site...GRAB ONE.

It sounds darn good with my stuff. It will only be as good as the rest of the system. We all know that.
I read that Stereophile review several times before I decided to take a chance on the 400xi because I too had concerns. According to John Atkinson's measurements taken of the Thiel 2.4: "Not only does its impedance drop to 2.73 ohms at 600Hz, but it stays significantly below 4 ohms from 100Hz to 50kHz, and there is a difficult combination of 4.5 ohms magnitude and –45° electrical phase angle at 80Hz."

After two weeks of serious listening in the evenings, sometimes at SPLs from 8 feet from the Thiels up around 85 to 90 dB, the 400xi gets hot, but not so hot that I cannot keep my hand on top of the amp. So it seems that even 2.73 Ohms minimum and a nominal less than 4 Ohms is OK for the Krell 400xi.

Also, according to the Krell's measurements and for other amps, Atkinson's test regimen puts amplifiers through some quite serious stress; music is a very different source signal than pink noise or 1kHz/10kHz square wave tones. And look what he did to thermally stress this amp so that it was cranking 500 Watts before he got the fuse to blow into 2 Ohms! Also, Atkinson points out that, "Concerned about the temperature-dependent nature of the amplifier's linearity, I measured the manner in which the KAV-400xi's THD+noise percentage varied with frequency at a moderately high level (16V) into 2, 4, and 8 ohms. The results are shown in fig.5: the audioband distortion is nicely below 0.1% into 8 ohms, with the right channel a little more linear than the left. A rise in THD above the audioband gets more severe into the lower impedances, but this is nothing to be concerned about."

The other thing too is that he thermally stresses the amp and does the waveform analysis when maximally thermally stessing the amp, something he does not routinely do for other products. That seems a bit unfair and I wonder if he has some chip about Krell that we don't know about.

He concludes that one should not partner the amp with speakers less than 4 Ohms (I conclude nominal impedance) but in my experience all is well.

Music does not stress an amplifier the same way as Atkinson does in the lab. And while I admire some of the punishing tests he puts SOME, NOT ALL amps through, readers will also remember that he admits that some of the tests he performs requires that he stand well away from any amp he puts them through some of these tortuous experiments. Gee I wonder why and what does that tell you?

I'll bet Atkinson has seen his share of dazzling fireworks.

The 400xi could probably use a bit more heat sinking, but under "normal" listening conditions (I mean are you guys risking your hearing in excess of 90 dB routinely???) and even a tougher load, this amp seems to have no issues. I'm not gonna lose sleep over this but instead enjoy how great it sounds. And great it does sound!

Hi Steve,

I never heard the A21 or the A23 Parasound .. but I own the Thiel 2.4 and two Parasound Halo JC1 and believe me these amps are one of the best amps to drive these Thiels
I should give thanks everyday to Audiobroke and some other guys here that suggested me to buy the JC1s!

My cent!
Stevecham - high appreciations for your input and further clarifications of JA measurments...

However, I could not live with amp proclamed at 200/400Wpc (8/4 ohms) with a smallish 750VA transformer. Cooling devices aside...

If I were asked, I would create a Krell integrated between heavily compromised KAV-400xi and absolutely non-compromised (and insanely priced) FBI... At some 5-6k dollars, this one may be the killer...
Zormi, I agree with what you say. However, depending on the size room to be filled and the dynamic needs of the listener, design considerations aside, sonically and muscially the 400xi is a value winner. As I said it compares favorably with my KCT/400cx combo and certainly that combo isn't lacking in power capabilities.
Stevecham< "not to mention a much better current capacity doubling down to 2 Ohms. Parasound gear is not rated at 2 Ohms. If you don't need this current capability then Parasound may well fit your needs."

The current ability of the Parasound and heat dissapation is one of the main reasons to get the Parasound.

You also certainly can't compare the old lower tier Parasound designs to the new Halo stuff. They are completely different animals.

Krell: 750va Transformer
Parasound: 1.2 kva Transformer

Krell: 55,000 UF power supply filter capacitance
Parasound: 100,000 UF power supply filter capacitance

Krell: weight 36lbs
Parasound: combined weight 75lbs (The power transformer alone weighs as much as the Krell integrated)

Krell: Current ?
Parasound: 60 peak amperes per channel

Krell: Get's hot under normal listening conditions
Parasound: Runs relatively cool even when driven hard

The Krell is not rated for 2 ohm use either, not on their website, and not in the manual (and it certainly won't "double" it's current capacity at 2ohms, if it could it would weigh about 100+lbs), but I'd be willing to bet money in a 2 ohm torture test that the Krell would give up the ghost MUCH sooner. It's just physics. A much larger power supply, and much larger heatsinks will deliver more power (current)and dissapate more heat under any given load.

I'm not saying that the Krell isn't a great product. It is very attractive, has a good build quality and performs reasonably well for a $2500 integrated, but it still is just a somewhat compact integrated amp. I'm sure it is very enjoyable to listen to. This is still just the lowest model in the Krell line though.

In the back of my mind sometimes I think that all this crazy system with all it's complexity, variables, and cost might just be simpler and better served with just an integrated such as the Krell or Creek Destiny, and a player and pair of speakers... Then I sit down a listen to a new CD I picked up and realise why I do all this. It's probably the single most enjoyable thing I have in my life to be able to hear music like I'm in the studio with the artists. There isn't an integrated that can yet do that.
I would go for the Parasound combo. here, unless you could squeeze into Krell's KAV-280p/2250 seperates, which should be a step-up sonically from the Parasound pair. The KAV-400xi and Parasound seperates are inexpensive enough to buy all 3 and A/B them in your Home & System - which is what I would suggest.
Tusa, good point regarding the KAV-2250...

KAV-400xi: 750VA transformer for 200Wpc, 14 kilos overall.
KAV-2250: 2000VA transformer for 250Wpc, 31 kilos overall.

If 750VA can handle 200/400Wpc, why waste so much bigger transformer (2000VA..!!) for ONLY 50W additional power...???
>If 750VA can handle 200/400Wpc, why waste so much bigger transformer (2000VA..!!) for ONLY 50W additional power...???

Current my man. Wattage really isn't the most important aspect of power, unfortunately it is the spec that is most often published though. Think of wattage as the speed of water coming out of a hose, and current as the hoses diameter. For instance a garden hose flowing at lets say 15 ft. persecond, or a fire hose flowing at that same speed. The fire hose will deliver well over ten times the amount of water even they are flowing at the same speed. If you stand in front of each hose, the garden hose will get you wet, the fire hose takes three guys to hold and will knock you over! Plus the bigger the transformer, the more likely the amp will perfectly double wattage and current as the ohms drop. A bigger transformer is almost never a waste. Power in reserve creates effortlessness. Just like people that have 400wpc and rarely listen to more than 50w of actual power. The 50w that they do use is a lot cleaner because they have so much power in reserve. Hopefully this helps.

Do we agree that Thiels require current to drive them properly? Yes, I thought so. Then if the 400xi doesn't have the current capability due to an inadequate power supply, why am I hearing such great air-moving, deep and extended bass from Donald Fagen's Morph the Cat on vinyl and I'm only running the amp on "35"? Oh yeah, and through rather current-demanding speakers. Sounds pretty freakin' effortless to me.

But then I'm proably wrong and don't know what I'm talking about, correct?
Audiobroke, thanx for the input - even if you somewhat overlooked that my question was kinda rhetoric... My main point was that there's obviously something heavily compromised in KAV-400xi power supply. Some "empty" watts, with no current enough, as you'd say...

Someone, on another forum, pointed out the whole thing with a very colorful comparison, refering to powerful output transistors and poor power supply to feed them, something like "...a big enough male organ, but with no blood enough to lift it up..."
>>why am I hearing such great air-moving, deep and extended bass from Donald Fagen's Morph the Cat on vinyl<<

The vinyl release of Morph the Cat is a flawed recording.

The bass is totally out of balance and the production team did a terrible job on this record.

Never ever evaluate any system's performance with this record.

Unless of course you want to impress somebody who knows nothing about audio and this recording.
Wow, I'm outta here, too much negativity. Back to listening where it's positive.
Zormi, ahh I didn't pick up on that. So we agree then.

Stevecham, nobody is saying that your stereo doesn't sound good. We are just comparing the A21's power to the Krell 400xi's. You are the one that brought up the "superior" current capability of the Krell piece vs a Parasound piece that you know nothing about. We are just correcting you. If you like your combination then great. I have had the Thiel 2.4's in my system for almost a month, so I am very familiar with them as well. They certainly performed better when the A21 was hooked up to them although I would never characterize the bass as "deep and extended". For an almost $5000 speaker the bass was lacking. The more current heavy an amp that I gave the Thiels the tighter the bass became. They actually had deeper bass in a more underpowered arangment. This is due to the amps inability to control driver excursion resulting in a heavier bass presentation although less accurate. The Thiels had excess brightness, and a metallic midrange which is why I ultimately didn't choose them. They are a sexy speaker though and fit and finish is first rate. They may find a certain synergy with the Krell piece though. If you have them and are happy, than just enjoy them!
Thank you for all comments. I had no idea that I would have so many responses on my thread.

I decided to buy Krell KAV 400xi along with Krell SACD MKIII about a week ago. Since I don't have NHT Classic Three's with me right now (I lent them to my friend a couple weeks ago), I have been using Krell with JBL L65 Jubal, and I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed with the bass, not quite tight and no punchy even though L65 has 12" woofer each.

I haven't tried to use balanced cables with my setup yet since I'm not sure whether I'd like to keep them or not.

I really want to try Parasound but it's kind of hard to find Parasound combo (A21+P3) at a good price. I know someone is selling Parasound HCA-2200 MKII. Is this a good amp? I have also read that Classe (CA-200 or something with its preamp) is very good as well. Can someone give comments on this brand?

I'm quite value the bass quality more than anything. I would be great if you could recommend which amp would be best fit to my preference.

Thank you very much.
I would try running it through GOOD balanced cables.
I also had a power cord made for mine.
Could not believe the improvement in overall sound quality!

In my system BASS is not an issue.
The detail, clarity and bass are much better in my system
with balanced. (KRELL, ESOTERIC and SALK)
I've heard both setups: I used to own the parasound stack with some mission speakers, and I auditioned the krell with proacs next to the plinius 9200 the art sam2, and pathos logos. The lrell was actually quite impressive, and was def punchy in the bass, but the proacs are punchy speakers. I actually went into the listening session with anti-krell prejudice but came out liking it nearly as much as the pathos. The parasound is nice gear too, but I preferred the krell, much to my own surprise. FWIW
May I ask you : Why would you connect superior equipment like Krell to NHT Three speakers? NHT Three model has been regularly retailed at 400.00 new (799 MSRP) and I am not sure they worth even that little, now connecting them to $5000 worth of electronics will accomplish what exactly?
From my expirience, and I own 400xi among other gear (Primare stack, ARC Reference stack), the bass is def one of the Krell's strong points. It actually outperforms my $20k ARC pre/pwr combo in that department !

I def would try it with different speakers first.
To Dkzzzz

NHT Three is about $650 pair new. I just like the sound of NHT and even plan to buy the 2.9s or 3.3s in the future.

About Krell, I need an amp with at least 200wpc in order to drive my NHTs. Besides NAD, either good preamp+amp combo or integrated amp would cost about $1,400 used. I bought Krell SACD because the seller who sold KAV 400Xi to me was a very kind person, and the price was reasonable. I think only SACD made the setup superior. I'm actually not stick to any brand. If Rotel, Classe or other is fit in my $1,400 budget and works best with my speakers, I will buy it.

Please give me some more comments on what is the best combo for $1,500.

Thank you.
I would have to agree that the bass problem probably isn't the krells fault--that's one of it's strong points. I would say see if you can swap in a different pair of speakers and see how the krell sounds. Poor bass could also be a room issue: how are your speakers placed int the room and what's near them?
Trinnatee: By all means go with with Parasound combination for your threes. It is outstanding! I had the same combo with the threes and it was heavenly! You really do need a fat amp for those tiny speakers!
Good luck!