Krell questions and comments

Hi folks:

Krell is one those love it or hate it products. As a longtime tube person they are very far from my favorite form of amplification.

However, I do feel that the company's build quality and committment to making technological strides in solid state is as important as many other firms whose solid state products I feel sound much better. I have always wanted to share with you my views about the solid state jungle even though tubes are clearly superior to my ear.

The best solid state amps I've heard in terms of sonic performance are from Musical Fidelity, Pass, the new iteration of Threshold and Krell last. Each different. Each presenting it's own interpretations of music and the vision of the designers who build them.

Krell is amplifier on steroids. I've always found the sound to be full of energy and speed at everything thrown at them. Each recording is presented like running a 40 yard dash rather than the "marathon" of listening over a long period. To put it another way: Krell presents a sonic picture that is like a jolt of sugar through your body that gives you energy amd enjoyment but only for a short time. When it wears off you are left with a grating and very fatiquing sound that doesn't discriminate, the way that the best tube amplifiers do, between the minut and large differences between recordings harmonics and low level energy, midrange richness and bass that is congruent with the rest of the music and not so energetic as to supersede the rest of the audio band.

Can I tolerate Krell's sound and like it over short periods of listening? Yes! Would I welcome an example as a solid state companion to have within an audio system? Yes to that as well. Which leads to my question; Do the older Krell amplifiers have something over the newer in terms of sound such as the KSA-100 etc? Any views on how the sound has evolved from then? I have only heard recent technology.

As always thanks for reading.

All I can really say is that I have kept my all Krell system for many more years than all my other tube and SS gear. I like the quickness and detail that the Krell has but it has alot to do with cables to. I use a AVS, KSA-300S, ref phono, and Purist Audio Proteous cables with B&W N802's. I used to own Atmashpere and VTL tube amps but when I heard what great SS could sound like in a good accousticaly treated room, I felt why mess with tubes anymore. The vinyl sounds really excellent also so that can help out a little with harshness. I have not been thinking of trading up on the new Krell though since I am plenty happy now and don't want to be sorry like many times before.
This thread is sure to elicit some very polarized comments.

Personally, I think that Krell has shown that it has a fairly good number of supporters and customers. These people bought the products and like them. Krell has a certain sound to it, and some will like it and some won't. However, I do think that it is a quality product that is held in considerable esteem by many audiophiles. Nothing will appeal to everyone, and Krell has a market share that is enviable to many smaller electronics makers. This shows that there is a demand for the Krell products, and it is a pretty strong demand.

As a tube guy myself, I am not going to run out and buy a Krell tomorrow. But there are many people who would. Krell has succeeded in marketing its product to the kinds of listeners who want that sound. It is a successful company. Whether you like the Krell sound or not, you can't argue that Krell has not been a force in the audiophile arena, and has done well. For these Krell customers, this sound may just be exactly what they want. Just because it may not be the exact sound that many tube guys want, does not mean that it isn't a good product.

Krell is filling a market need, and is doing it rather successfully.
I am not a huge fan of Krell amps... But I do think the KRC-HR preamp is one of the most transparent solid state preamplifiers I have yet heard. It really works well with a tube dac feeding it by letting the tubes really shine magically through it sonically. Krells reference phono is also a diamond in the rough of solid state phono. The KRC-HR + Krell's Reference Phono is a killer combo.

Well, I get out and about for a good listen every now and then. I never hear anything that makes my jaw drop and want to sell off my old Ksa-250. Would I trade it in on a new Krell/Pass amp, not the models in it's power range..the price difference does not equal any or at least very little upgrade to my ear. I had mine brought up to spec. about two years ago and was told by Krell that I should be good for another 10 years. Maybe as the new digital amps come into play more in the future things will change for many of us, who knows.

I have owned several big Krell amps over the last dozen years, and the newer ones have ALWAYS surpassed the replace units.

Not only are they built like tanks, and sound fantastic, but the service by the Krell staff is exceptional.

PS. And yes, tok2000, the KRC-HR is one fabulous preamp!
I am listening to a Krell 400cx and a Krell KPS-25sc with CAST cables into JM Lab MIni-Utopias with a JM Lab Sub-Utopia. All with Siltech cables. The living room is open and very well damped. The sound is fantastic even to others who do not love Krell or JM Lab. It is just one of those magic rooms that sound great. i auditioned a Pass X-250 with a Conrad Johnson Premier 16 pre-amp and the sound was not as good. The Pass amp into the KPS with interconnects was very similar sounding to the Krell amp with CAST but not as open or dimensional. The CJ was not a subjective decision at all; it was simply less musical. The decision to go with Krell amp and front end was because of the CAST cable hookup. This is a very substantial upgrade in audio quality. The other reasons are reliability and service. Some people love the real world experience of owning something exotic or high maintenance. But when you simply want great sound for many hours each day, especially on weekends, with perfect reliability then those components that deliver that are valuable. I wish it were easier to audition high end equipment in the home as that is the only way to be sure. If it were easier perhaps I would move thru equipment choices more often.
When you own lazy speakers like my Thiels, you really appreciate the power reserves of the big Krells! The bottom end is amazing and with lesser amps these speakers can sound harsh. Power in general is not always the answer, however quality power is well worth the price.
DrrDiamond - I have a KRC-3 pre amp which I would like to upgrade.Do you (or anybody) know if the KRC-HR is a big step up or would I be better off with a KCT?? I have a FPB 200 C amp.
mrcyn, the KRC II is a big step up, the KRC-HR is huge. KCT is another animal altogether and one with which I have no experience.

You would be very pleased with an HR!
Mrcyn, if you have a Krell CAST amp, you really should consider the KCT.
Unless you have a CAST amp, I'd go with a KRC-HR.

The KRC-HR is a very special solid state amp that retailed for $7k in 1996. Which probably means it would probable retail for over $11k today.

Not that $$$ should mean anything... But the KRC-HR is insanely transparent and accurate. Solid state or preamps in general just do not get a lot better. They can sound different, colored, romantic, warm, etc... But a better sound starts becoming extremely subjective. You run a KRC-HR with a tube DAC and you will let the sound of the tubes in your DAC shine through big time!

Thanks Guys!!!! It appears that CAST would be the way to go.I am also considering upgrading to a 300cx from my 200c.Will Krell do the upgrade even though I am not the original owner (bought my amp on a.g.)??? According to threads I have read, there is a significant improvement in the jump from the 200c to the 300cx.
Krell will do the upgrade but if you are not the original owner, the charge is significantly more.
Sorry that I couldn't respond to your question; I've been out of town for the day.

Actually, the KRC II is not an upgrade of the KRC3 (the 3 is better); but the KRC-HR is not only a big step up from the KRC3, but also a big step up from the KRC.

I agree with the rest of the posts. If not Cast, stick with the KRC-HR. If you do run cast, than go for the KCT, but ONLY if you go Cast.

Thanks Guys!!! Appreciate the very useful advice.I believe Cast would be an upgrade even if it is simply between pre-amp and power amp as I do not have a Krell cd player.This may just be a question of cost.

I don't, can't, use cast. My system is actively biamped with the Krell KBX, which does not support the cast technology.

The krell KSA250 Is laid back not thrown at you like the KSA300S. Ive owned them both. Almost too laid back. Absolut sound did a review on the MDA300. (Ksa150 mono). They reported the amps needed a bit more high frequency energy. Guess what the next amps from krell were more high frequency alright... Still nice amps. Ive went tubes...