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I was in the exact same situation a while back. I've only had very limited exposure to the krc-hr from the dealer when it was 'new'. But from the reviews and memory it appreared to be the next step up from my 500i. But I ended up with 280p mostly due the to full 5 year warranty and I have a conscience (I am pretty loyal to the local dealer). I have no complaints or remorse with the 280p and I don't plan on replacing it. Can't say which is 'better' but for a krell system you can't go wrong with the 280p. FWIW,I can say: it is in every way better then the 250p.
This is just my opinion, and others here on audiogon (and that of an unnamed friend/dealer):
The question is not weather the KRC-HR is bettered by the KAV 280p, but whether the KCT is better than the KRC-HR.
Most of the people that I have talked with feel that unless you can utilize the CAST technology, stick with the KRC-HR.
Here is another example of: If you buy the KRC-HR on the used market, borrow the 280p from the dealer, and if I am wrong and you like the 280p better, you should easily be able to get back all the money for the KRC-HR.
>>Disclaimer>>..I own the KRC-HR
Thanks JB and Dr. Rich,
I didn't want my post to be too long so I didn't list my gear but I think I should.Mirage M3si speakers,Aragon 8008MKll amp,Krell MD10 transport,Krell Studio DAC,Music Hall MMF7 turntable,Rega Fono turntable preamp(soon to be upgraded),Transparent Audio Music Wave Plus speaker cables and interconnects.
Just to add to this very old thread, for people looking for info on the 280p. I have just compared it to the KRC-3. Both are excellent pre-amps. The 280p is more detailed and slightly analytical sounding; especially voices are very life-like; lots of deep bass; somewhat "dry". The KRC-3 is rounder and warmer, with less detailed bass, but a truly excellent pre-amp as well, with a great coherence between instruments and voices. It's really a matter of preference; the 280p is more "real," the KRC-3 sounds nicer and more "cozy". Not really a day and night difference either, but still quite noticeable.
Another interesting comparison I did is between the HTS 7.1 pre-pro and the KRC-3. They were virtually identical, underlining the great stereo performance of the HTS 7.1. Imaging and detail may have been ever so slightly better in the KRC-3, but I'm not even sure. One advantage the KRC-3 has is a very detailed level/volume adjustment; the 280p seems to move in bigger steps, and the HTS 7.1 definitely has larger steps (still, quiet listening volume would be around step 6-8 on the HTS 7.1, so it's fine enough for most purposes). All preamps were tested with my Krell KAV 3250 power amp through B&W 803s speakers.
For those wondering: I'm likely keeping the 280p, but partly because of the visual match with the 3250, and because I need theatre bypass, which the HTS 7.1, itself being a prepro, doesn't have.