Krell KCT/FPB-300cx vs. Pass Labs X1/X250.0

I'm looking to upgrade my Pre-Amp./Amp. to one of these two Systems. The Pass Labs models are current and come highly recommended, but there is no local Dealer to demo. I'm well familier with the Krell pair, which I have heard many times, and have been mighty impressed every time.

My SACD/CD Player is Non-Cast, so I will connect via Balanced (XLRs).

Any experiences with this gear into Wilson Audio Speakers?
Do not have those speakers or the Krell pre, but I do have the 300cx and it is a superb, musical -- yes, musical -- amp with tons of power for full range speakers.

Don't listen to what some of the carpers say about Krell until you listen to it. Mine is dead reliable, a pleasure to listen to and as musical as any amp I have listened to in 35+ years of this mania.

Neal said:

"Don't listen to what some of the carpers say about Krell until you listen to it. Mine is dead reliable, a pleasure to listen to and as musical as any amp I have listened to in 35+ years of this mania."

I've been a Krell supporter for decades (not an owner, but when friends asked me about Krell I always suggested giving them a try). However, lately I've been reading about lots of problems with one of their CD/SACD players and extremely slow warranty response and similar disturbing things. Has there been a management or ownership change that I missed?

What is there reliability and customer service really like these days? BTW, the troubles that read about seem to be related to newer units, not the good ole legacy products.

The Krell is a magical solid state peace. It really does NOT get any better.

I do not know what Krell service is like currently (no pun intended) as I thankfully have not needed service. But the problems I have read about seem to involve products with moving parts, e.g., CD, SACD players, where some of the components, e.g., transports, are sourced from OEM's. I have not heard about any problems with their amps or pres, current or legacy.


The Krell SACD standard units are suspect and plagued with transport problems. They have gone through three versions of the SACD standard and many of the first two series owners had to deal with major problems - some without adequate service from Krell. This is very un-Krell like. I have owned several of their amps (mostly FPB series). Never had a problem, but have contacted them several times with questions. Always have gotten straight up and fast responses. Never had any issues with their amps, so knock on wood.
As for the initial posed question? I would recommend the Krell Combo you have listed over the Pass combo you have listed. I think a better comparison is the X-1 with the 250.5 or much better yet, the XP-20 or XP-10 with the 250.5. The prior Pass amps (150, 250 etc. . . prior to the .5 versions) are no where near as good as the ,5 versions. This is based on my ownership.

I think the comparions between the Pass XP-20 (or 10) with the Pass 250.5 versus the Krell KCT/FPB300CX is going to come down to a matter of taste more than one being better than the other.

I know two places where you can get a Pass X-10 preamp for about $900 off the list price (one is new and the other is almost new). Neither are mine, but both were offered to me for sale.

I presently have the Krell FPB 300 C (no X) and Wilson W/P 5.1 speakers. I have gone through many preamps and to me this is my toughest component. I am looking for a new preamp at the moment (in the meantime I am running my Krell HTS 7.1 (new from dealer 1.5 years ago, for direct 2-channel operations, this unit uses a preamp based on the KCT and is supposed to be very close (90%) to the KCT, which I did compare at the dealership and agree with - both run balanced vs. with cast) until I find something else. I am surprised by how good the HTS 7.1 does as a preamp (better than many of the dedicated 2-channel preamps I have tried/owned).

Since you have been mighty impressed by what you have heard with the Krell equipment in the past and the Pass is unknown, I would go with the Krell equipment. The sound between the two is not better vs. worse, but a little bit different - a matter of personal preference.
Don't fault Krell for the troubles with their SACD player. Krell was one of several vendors, including Krell and Cary, to get burned with a faulty drive unit sourced from Phillips. Phillips hung the vendors out to dry and discontinued it without ever really fixing it. Lesson learned is to shop for a CDP with a reliable drive unit, like the VRDS-Neo available in Esoteric's CDP's and OEM'd out to others, and Marantz's in-house built units for their CDP's.
Good Topic,
Go with the Krell. If you get the KCT/300cx combo make sure to get either the KPS28c cd player or the Evo player with cast (since your already almost there! -- Don't stop) If you go balanced I guarantee you will always wonder about a full cast system (audiophile Disease). I have owned my system for 6 years and know I still have a great system (currently enjoying the ride versus what ride to get on). I won't put down the Pass system but if you go with krell -- believe everything eveyone so far has said -- It's just great stuff!! -- There will always be problems with the best equipment in the world -- but I have had no bad experiences with their customer service. I was quite surprised the first time I called them to inquire about upgrading/refurbishing my KSA-100s amp -- the vice-president answered the phone and talked to me about my different options (go figure). Since then I have sent my KCT/KPS28c in to look them over and replace a Light out on the KCT. Turn around was 3 weeks (they told me it would take about that long so it didn't bother me). They did replace parts in my KPS28c player and upgraded the software in my KCT (~$500.00). I have not had any problems with any of my Krell gear -- All the work done was initiated by me. Another good thing about krell amps is they will recap/upgrade your amps (It does cost alot but if you buy this kind of equipment you should expect the high cost and as heavy as their amps are -- Yes it does cost to ship) Like any expensive car it cost to fix and maintain.
My sysytem
Krell KPS 28c/KCT Preamp/Krell fbp-200c or Evo 302/Krell Lat-2 speakers - Hard to beat by anyone to this day.
Note: I love my KSA-100S amp -- even though back in the day it got a "B" on its review (They compared it to their other amps in the Krell Line )(hey nothing else on the market could compare except other krells)-- It rocks -- no it kicks ass - upgraded ($1100.00)and ready for another 20yrs!

Your very smart looking at products from the same company -- stick with that logic and you can't go wrong. Hey pass Makes great thing too -- absolutly nothing to snuff at by a long shot. Lets here some Pass Guys....
Having owned all of these products at some point in time, with the exception of the KCT, I would say the Krell (no surprise) has that iron-fisted bass like no other. Pass is very close, but not the same. The Pass has a slightly more organic character that I have not heard in Krell, but the Krell has better bass.

I own all Pass now. Sometimes I have a hankering for a Krell amp, who knows, maybe I will try another.

>>>>If you get the KCT/300cx combo make sure to get either the KPS28c cd player or the Evo player with cast (since your already almost there! -- Don't stop) If you go balanced I guarantee you will always wonder about a full cast system (audiophile Disease).

What is it like between using CAST and Balanced interconnect on the Krell CD Players ? Is there a lot of difference to justify the upgrade ?
Hey Carz,
Yes it is worth the upgrade.

Well I do feel you get a better overall sound( not a huge difference) between Cast and Balanced connections.-- You do have to listen for obvious differences between the two but after you realize what is different -- you find it is for the better. Note: I have never used really expensive balanced connections ($$1,000's of dollar interconnects) -- I guess it could sound just as good as CAST......but

Off-Track a little but...
I recently listened to a EVO 505 CD player through my system (KCT, evo302/or FBP 200c and LAT 2 speakers) and it sounded "MUCH" better than my KPS28c (Like it should), both CAST and Balanced and I even used single ended -- matter of fact it sounded better than anything I have ever heard using the CAST. The overall sound was more complete (if thats possible) - better audio balance overall (bass to highs)and detail (tightness and clarity)and you get really out of this world SACD playback. I will eventually get me one of these players. I think CAST especially the refined EVO series (Preamps, Players, and amps)is a worthy investment if you have the other Krell electronics (You are there CARZ - I imagine (know) your system sounds fantastic with balanced connections but cast will give you a little improvement - justifiable).
I'll be the first to admit -- Sometimes when I am using my older KSA-100s/or even my 200c with my setup and use balanced connections I forget I have the amp in my system until I visually look and go oh yea KSA-100s or fbp-200C -- so go figure -- I guess good electronics is good electronics! I tell myself "it still sounds great" until I get that blood vessel in my forehead pumping and start comparing the sound and CAST seems to win everytime!
(I will be looking at the EVO preamps because of your info)

I do feel the EVO gear is a big step above the KPS and FBP series of gear -- I will eventually move toward a all evo system (getting the bug after 6 yrs) but once your at this system level I think the speakers are the Key. My speakers are great (really good - don't plan on replacing them anytime soon they work for my space) but they do not compete with the big stand alones at moving air and sheer chest pounding clear integrated impact, so if you have a Krell CAST System you won't be worried about the electronic connections anymore and can concentrate on some really good speakers whether their Great bookshelf speakers or full Range move some air articulate stand alones (In your case you are already there).

Note: You can hook up a Krell CAST CD player and also hook up the same player with Balanced connections and switch between the two to really get a good bead on the differences (If you can notice)-- without ever having to get up and that is how I decided CAST was better.

Hey CARZ -- I would like your take on the (if you go CAST) difference between your big EVO amps and the new s series of amps (balanced connection) -- (I saw and heard the s-150's monos and the s-275 stereo amps in Dallas - They of course sounded great -- like you have stated in a previous post - very accurate info) I think with all the top of the line eletronics you have -- you would have a better Idea (Newer Killer Krell Gear) of comparision than me -- Make the jump -- your already on top so go on over get that extra 10% or more betterment of audio sound -- Thats what makes us all crazy audio Men!
on a lighter note -- Well Carz -- if you make the jump -- your finished! there is nothing left out there to beat - you have everything so retire for a little while and let us catch up to you!!! so relax, smile (huge gratifying smile)and enjoy -- until the next guy comes up with something a whole lot better and I don't see that happening in the very near future.
I appreciate the info you provide on your system -- thats why I like this forum -- good straight forward info without hacking anybody and it seems lately people have some great systems out there using some form of Krell electronics and are communicating their experiences very well (good or bad)-- good info!.
Thanks for asking -- Yea a little wordy I'am a wordy Man -- but OK...