The KRC was a superior preamp to the KRC3. I preferred the KRC to the HR in my system as it was slightly warmer.
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Yeah goes to show that newer ain't necessarily better and that it is all system and taste dependent. I actually preferred it to a KCT as well which was more revealing of bad recordings. The KRC is the warmer sounding of the 3. Haven't heard the new Evolution ones but they cost a bomb and I fear diminishing marginal returns tend to set in here.
Never heard the "KCT" or "Evolution" preamps since the upgrade. The "KRC" replaced my "KBL", and feeds an older "KSA-250". Still need to retain that amp for driving 1 ohm Apogee Scintillas. Just the idea of not having to lift my ass off the couch (remote), almost made the sale, itself!
I, too, acknowledge the dimishing return limits, but it's a constant battle fighting the upgrade temptation.
Auditioned the KRC, and KRC-HR in my system and also preferred the KRC, though at the time I assumed the HR was just more neutral and revealing flaws in my setup. Regardless, I ended up purchasing the KRC-3 because it far excelled over anything else I auditioned around its price or less and, unlike the others, the KRC-3 was good enough.
IMO, compared to the KRC, the KRC-3 is not as smooth, and does not image or soundstage as well.