Krell or Mark Levinson with Revel Ultima2's???


I know the ML amps and Revel speakers make a solid match, but given the recent changes in ML, I have some issues with buying their amps right now. I would also like a SLIGHTLY more forward presentation than the ML/Revel combo does, though I could easily live with it and be quite happy.

I am considering either 5 ML 436's or Krell Evo 403/402 to power Revel Ultima2 Salons front Studio surrounds and Voice center. Pre/pro is a Meridian 861v4 and several sources exist including Esoteric DV-50s, Meridian G98DH, Toshiba HD XA2, Samsung BDP-1200.... you get the main idea. Cables are Transparent reference for the front so far and likely will be reference for the surrounds when all is said and done.

I can't find any one nearby who sells Krell, Levinson and Revel to compare them so am seeking anyone with experience of these combo's to chime in with your thought and opinions.

All help is appreciated!

I can't say for Ultima2 because i own original Salons but in my experience it was tough to make Salons sound a bit forward.After numerous experiments Pass amplifiers with pre 1987 conrad-johnson tube preamps (Premier 10,14)did the trick.Now i feel the musicians are in my room as opposed to peeking in thru the back door of a concert hall as it was with other amps and preamps.
I powered the original Salons with a ML 333 and before that a Krell FPB 300. They were soon taken to task on just the bottom end of the speaker where they did a splendid job. An ARC VT100(1 thru 3) was provided for the lower mids to highs and the Salons began to sing. I went to an ARC VTM 200 and then a Conrad-Johnson Premier 12. Overhang is correct in praising the C-Js. Full and robust with great center-fill.

I've always enjoyed Audio Research, but the Salon needed a "thicker' sounding amp. As much as I enjoyed the C-J, a little more power was needed. The 200 wpc Moscode 401HR now powers my Salon2, and has the strengths of both ARC and C-J. Pass Labs X600 will soon provide the bass.

I haven't heard the newer designs of ML or Krell, but my suggestion is to try a well watted tube amp on top, with a solid, solid state on the bottom. As long as their voltage gain match up to at least 1 db, there should be no descrepancies in volume. Talk about presence!

all the best
KennyT, both are decent choices, but the Krell EVO would be my choice between the two as I've never been a big ML fan or Krell for that matter. However, I am a new fan of the EVO's.

As a Dynaudio dealer myself, I had a recent customer purchase the Dynaudio Temptations from us and he was dead set on using Krell and the EVO 402 was his choice. After setup and dialing the EVO's in with the Temptations, I was pleasently surprized how well it sounded. Now mind you the Krells were powering one of the very best speakers in the world....And, they did a very nice job in doing so. Was it the best I've heard with the Dyn's?....NO....The Simaudio Evolution W-8 is the best I've heard to date. The Simaudios just have that magical uncolored sound to them. I've yet to hear anything I like better. The Simaudio would also be an excellent choice for your Revels. Do give them a listen if you have the opportunity.

I do think the Krell EVO is their best amp to date.
Thanks for all the input guys. I am obviously trying to get some first hand experience with the combo, that might take some driving but that is OK. Part of the fun of this hobby actually!

I am a Levinson dealer and I can say that the speakers will not sound better with any other solid state products. They are a perfect match as one would expect. I am glad to help in any way.
Pull the trigger already!!! Jeez!! You know what to do!

You know me well enough to know I have no problems buying things!!! I just am so damn on the fence on this one it's killing me!!

You know what I'd go with... if you buy them and don't like them I'll buy them from you! :)
I've also heard good thing about krell and sim audio matched with upper end dnyaudio and revels. Not to make anything more confusing but I can second what Sanibelteve mentioned about the levinson/dynaudio's together. Absolutely outstanding combo and is the reason why i started to love this hobby.
Well, I ordered the five ML 436's last night.

Done, off the fence....... for now!
You won't regret it!
I just did the Evo 402e for my Studio 2's, replacing a No432. It's in a different league, sorry ML does buy perfection. DEEEEP bass, open and airy, and so quiet in the background, it's almost eery!!
Sanibelsteve is dead-on correct. Really great amps like Krell and Levinson sound identical, within their power envelopes. To get a solid state amp of that quality to sound different it has to be engineered with a non-flat frequency response, or a higher than necessary and fluctuating output impedance. Bob Carver used to do exactly that in the '80s to get his solid state amps to sound as flawed as tube amps, thinking it would give people the colored but pleasing sound he thought they wanted. Carver called it "modifying the transfer function". I call it preying on the uneducated. ;-)
Well, I never got the 5x436's as they were backordered so I took a 433 for a while but have had the Krell Evo 403 for a few years now, you just can't beat the bottom end on the Krells and the new Evo line (esp the 'e' models) are insanely good!
Personally I would go with either a Clayton M200 or M300--or a McCormack DNA-500. The all are superior to the Krells and the Levinsons.
I also a loving/loyal owner of Revel Salon 2 speakers. I used to power them with a ML 433 amp, then upgraded to the Krell Evo 400s , and now use a pair of the Krell Evo 600e. The difference in sound quality upon each of these upgrades was large. The Evo 400s really hooked me on the Krell sound. The 600e took it to yet another level. I realize comparing a Levinson 433 to more expensive Mono Amps is not a fair comparison. I have also heard also heard Levinson mono amps in dealers showrooms. No doubt, ML makes great amps. My point is simply that the Krell Evolution amp line is absolutely amazing with Revel speakers. Match made in heaven IMHO.

I never went with the Salon 2's, now running Wilson Sasha W/P's and the Center 2 with a Krell Evo 403 and thinking about going to the 600e mono's. Also added the Classe' SSP-800 and ARC 40th Anniversary preamp (still burning in now!) pre for 2 channel.

LOVE the Krell evo amps and the newer 'e' models are even a bit clearer than mine! Just not sure where I want to go with this.....
Also replaced the Esoteric DV-50s with TOTL EMM Labs separates.
Hey Kenny- Wilson Sashas - nice!... can't go wrong with those. I have now had my Krell Evo 600e monos for about a month...and all I can say is wow! For power hungry full-range spakers, I don't think there is much better than these beasts..... I am still waiting on delivery of the Krell/Nordost CAST MMF cables....right now I am running balance xlr pre-amp to amp. I am very eager to see if the CAST cables make as big of difference as advertised. The other recent upgrade was a Krell 202 pre-amp. I was very interested in the ARC 40th Anniv pre-amp.....but never got a chance to audition it. The Krell 202 is a great pre-amp..and seems to mate well with the Krell mono amps......that being said, I remain very curious how Krell mono amps behave with high-end tube pre-amps (like the Arc 40). Perfect blend of precision and warmth?
No one mentioned Ayre??
Kenny - how are you liking the Arc Ref 40 and Emm labs purchases? Any initial impressions? Either one create a quantum leap in sound quality versus the equipment they replaced?

I am awaiting delivery of an ARC DAC-8...I am anxious to hear how that slight touch of ARC warmth jells with my krell evo gear.
Bruce: I'm anxious to hear how you like the MMF CAST cables.
I have a EVO202/402e system which tomorrow will be powering a new pair of Salon 2's. Right now I am using the origional CAST cables but have wanted to upgrade for a while.
I have delayed because i keep reading how the MMF (Nordost) cables sound lean.
Looking forward to your thoughts......

I had the ARC Ref 5 for over a year and have only a few hundred hours on the AE so not yet fully burned in (my Ref 5 improved to ~650 hours!) The EMM Labs combo made my Esoteric DV-50s sound harsh and cheap, I tried to just buy the DAC2 SE and use the Esoteric as a transport but the EMM TSD1 was SO much more musical I bought both pieces.

The Ref 5 and even a bit more so the AE have amazing control and detail of the bottom end, as do the Krell Evo amps and the Wilson Sasha's can do some serious bottom end as well, so the bass is exceptional and the rest is detailed and smooth so totally not fatiguing. I really like this combo and it is the best set up I have had to date. Sounds awesome for HT as well!
I tried some CAST cables (original ones I think) and they were nothing when compared to Transparent Reference, much less the Ref XL.

YMMV but CAST didn't work well for me when I ran the Evo 707 to the 403.
Kennyt...nice system dude.
I got close to buying the Sashas but they were exactly twice the price of the Salons and I just couldn't step up to the plate...just bought a new SME 20/12A and Strain Gauge cartridge!
The Sashas were very impressive!
So what did CAST do to your system you didn't like?
Aloha Mauidji - I am still waiting on delivery of the MMF CAST cables. It's been a month now! I needed 10m I guess that entails a custom order at the Nordost plant. Anyway, dealer tells me I should have them in a couple weeks.

Some on Agon rave about the MMF and others seem to simply have an aversion to anything Nordost. However, I have not found anyone who has really listened to the latest MMF CAST cables and not been a fan. As you would imagine, Krell claims the MMF cable is far superior to their prior CAST offerings. The story is actually kinda interesting. I will paraphrase below ....

With the original CAST cables, Dan D (former head of Krell) believed that he had invented a new cable paradigm (current vs voltage) that would serve as a bit of an "FU" to the high end audiophile cable industry. Nordost and several other manufactures were qualified to make the first two versions of CAST cables. Then, several years later, Nordost approached Krell with a prototype of the current "MMF" CAST cable....and upon listening, Krell decided that it was indeed superior to their prior CAST offerings.

For me, the proof will be in the pudding. I'll let you know my own detailed thoughts on the MMF cables in a couple weeks. Stay tuned.
Bruce328i...many mahalos!
I await your review with much anticipation.
I believe an upgrade from the original CAST cables will be well worth while but I have been confused by the love it or hate it reviews.
As you said...there are many out there who have a natural aversion to Nordost cables in general.
Meanwhile I don't want to get into the whole custom CAST thing as some have done with Transparent, Synergistic etc.
My breath is baited ;-)
I did not try the Nordost or Transparent CAST, but for me the original Krell CAST cables sounded a bit anemic and thin compared to my balance Transparent Ref and Ref XL.

I might even still have a pair of 10m runs if you want them..... (can't now remember if I sold them or not!)
Hi Kenny,

I have the Sasha's and Maxx 3's at home with Evo 600's and Ayre mx-r's. The ayre are used with Sasha (because of size constraints), but I have done some in-home a/b tests and I prefer the Ayre amps. I actually agree very much with what was written in the stereophile mx-r review comparing them to the Krells. The 600's do have a bit better bass/ grunt but the Ayre's are so musical and make bad recordings sound much better. The Ayre's are less fatiguing as well- I could listen to them all day long. CAST narrows the gap somewhat but you have excellent interconnects and lack a CAST preamp so that doesnt't come into play for you. If you have any questions let me know. I recommend trying the Ayre's. I have not heard the 600e's and am hesitant to upgrade.
How do you know that Ayre sounds so much better and are less fatiguing when you admit to not having heard Krell?

I just don't get it. This is nonsense.

He said he had not heard the 600e's. The 'e' model is a significant improvement over the original Evo amp line.

Steve, The Ayre are very good amps, but in my rig their is nothing fatiguing about the Sasha so I too have no need to 'upgrade' besides I think the smaller Sasha's could benefit from the bass of the Krell amp so will likely stay their for now.
I've had my Ultima 2's for a week now and all I can say is..... wow!
I auditioned them originally with McIntosh gear and liked them enough to make the purchase.
But getting them home and powered by my EVO202/402e combo was and is a revelation.
As hackneyed as it sounds...I am hearing stuff I've never heard before on albums I know intimately. My EVO505 has never sounded so good...even with Red Book Cd's.
I haven't even tried to critically dial in the placement yet as the sound is so damn good it just isn't a pressing need right now.
Can't wait for my new SME 20/12 to arrive and hear these babies with vinyl.
3 thumbs up!!!