Krell KPS 20i - What Standard vs a Modern Machine?

My present system (Modified Magnepan 3.6R, SimAudio W10, ARC LS15, Audio Alchemy DDS Pro Transp, Dti Pro32 and MF A3 24 Upsampler DAC) has been put together over a period of less than 18 months and is starting to sound pretty good.

I wanted to add more warmth and depth (tonally) to the sound so I've been looking to switch out the ARC LS15 for something like a CJ Prem 16 Mk2.

Yesterday a buddy brought over a Krell KPS 20i CD player to play with, and I'm amazed by some of what it does.

The Krell sounds very different to my existing rig, but I haven't had a whole lot of time to come to terms with the changes.
The midbass and lower midrange seems much more full and authoratitive....more weight and impact.
I can't get a feel whether the midrange has some masking of detail by the extra fullness of the midbass and low midrange.
The highs seem to be more natural. If felt is if they were not as extended at first, yet there doesn't seem to be anything 'missing' that was there before. But I still get this sense of a lack of clarity...the presentation I'm used to was open and often a little too forward, but never lacking in detail. The Krell brings a fullness yet sounds laid back at some points in the frequency range.
It's a very different presentation and really gives me all of the warmth and depth that I've been missing....but I still have some reservations.

The question is, how does this player stack up against modern digital units? After all, it's over 10yrs old so there must be better players out there in the same price range ($2800 used) right?
How do other modern Krell players compare with the 20i?

Is there a player that gives me the weight and authority of the 20i with a little more clarity and openess through the upper mids and treble?

There doesn't appear to be much posted in the archives on the 20i so any help/opinion would be appreciated.


I'm thinking you may absolutely love a Audio Aero Capitol Mark 2 you wouldn't need a preamp either using the Capitol
I had the 20i in my system for a while and agree with your take on it. It is quite different from most of the players out there in that it has a very gutsy and weighty presentation. I find that it can call a little too much attention to itself in the bass and midrange but this can also make many cds sound more involving by giving them more of a sense of presence.

Eventually I wanted more clarity and switched to a Krell DT10 transport and Ref 64 DAC. This combination still has the 20i's authority but evens things out by slightly de-emphasizing lower bass and increasing the transparency in the mids. The treble is still not as airy and spacious as the newer players. I feel that this is where digital has improved most over the past decade.

I recently spent some time with the Ayre cx7 and Levinson 390s and both players are obviously more tonally neutral and resolving of fine detail but the downside is comparatively an overall leaner sound and laid back soundstage. The Ayre had very focused pinpoint imaging and a narrower soundstage whereas the 390s was more powerful sounding with a larger soundstage existing well behind the speakers. The Ayre would probably work best in a smaller room. To me, these players sounded more alike than different it took some time to differentiate the two. I actually liked both of them, they were both completely non-fatiguing and I could live with either one but I prefer the fuller mids and bass in the Krell versus the extended or possibly exaggerated treble and leaner midrange of the new players.

To me the 20i mimics more of what I hear when listening to live music. Cables and preamp choice will certainly affect this and ultimately is system dependent. In my experience the kps 20i must be used with the balanced output into a balanced pre to get the best out of it. The build quality is also very impressive; you don’t see the same level of craftsmanship in most components nowadays.
Thanks Mejames and Togo.

I'm looking at the Capitole MkII, more expensive than the used 20i but as you say it has the added benefit of the volume control.
I agree Togo with your comment about the 20i being closer to what you hear at a live event, it is very musical. I've also made adjustments for it's more forward perspective by sliding the chair back around 18" or so. I felt as though I was being pinned in my seat by it, but now with the seat back a little it sounds more natural.

I didn't want to be back on the upgrade bandwaggon so soon, but C'est La Vie!

i've had my kps20i - hdcd for a year.

i have put a new masterclock in it, and the improvements were amazing.
i also changed the opamps (op42 I/V and op27 servo) to opa627.....also big improvement.
all caps on the dac board is now black gates.
i have just ordered 4 new vishay resitors for the feedback loop of the I/V opa's....very important tweak too.

the player sounds much much better than the capitol and i also tested it with some accuphase players contest.

if i won a million, i wouldn't change it.....

best regards,
Hi Troels and all,

I've been pondering between the L version of KPS-20i (w/ built-in preamp) and KPS-25SC. The concerns I had was with the laser assembly of 20i/L as it's almost 10 years old, while the KPS-25SC seems to be only at its best in an all-CAST Krell system (from CDP/Pre straight to one or a pair of their monsters). Has anyone compared b/w the 20i/L and 25SC?

Yr44 - > if I recall correctly, KPS-20i uses Philips CDM9 Pro transport mechanism, which is no longer available.
While I don't own a Krell KPS 20i I am very familiar with their sound as I spend a fair amount of time at a local hi fi dealer that sells Krell. They are an awesome player and as others have said they do have a lot of weight in the bass although I personaly don't find them lacking any detail because of it. I also feel that this extra weight or warmth in the bass does tend to give the 20i more of a live sound. IMO they are a real bargain in the used market. The 20i would be my first choice for an upgrade from my current CD player but I am thinking of going the way of a universal player instead. As far as it stacking up against todays machines I think it can hold it's own and then some.
Hi Troels and others, I have a kps20i but is not working so I have decided to try and repair it. It was in storage for a long time. Initially the disc was attempting to spin but soon stops. I had it spinning but the sound was bad with what appeared to be clicks. Now it doesnt spin at all. I am an EE major and have had circuit design experience, but it was a long time ago. Where is the best place to start ?