Mark Levinson No. 20.6 vs. Krell KRS 200 vs. Krell KAS

Hi Everyone:

I am PERHAPS Contemplating Selling My ML No. 20.6's to Purchase a Set of Krell KRS 200's which I have always wanted. I am though Very Satisfied with the Sound of My 20.6's and I am afraid, that although the KRS 200's will undoubtedly improve the Bass Area, that this improvement will come at the expense of Fine Micro-detailing, where I believe, that the 20.'6s are some of the best amps perhaps ever produced.

I am from Europe, so I would like a 220-240V Version of the KRS 200's, Which is also what I have read, gives the best results sound-wise. Regarding though, which Power-Installation I should install, then I would like to ask, that since these Amps have a Power Consumption of 160Watts EACH, what kind of Breakers should I install in my house? I've heard, that if you install too small Breakers, then they will either have the Breakers cut out or they will sound too "Thin" and/or  "Hungered" for more Power. But what are "Too Small" Breakers? Would a Dedicated 20 Amp Breaker for EACH Amp be enough? I could install both 30, 40 or 50 Amp Breakers, but I have to say, that I Very Rarely Hear music at Loud Volumes. I Prefer to sit late at night and hear music at fairly low levels, so the question is, where to stop Breaker-wise? Perhaps both 30 and 40 Amp. Breakers is still Recommendable as well as Wise, but the question is, whether a 50 Amp Breaker for EACH Amp, isn't Overdoing it??? What do you guys say?

What is Your oppinions about this? Have any of you heard both The 20.6's and the KRS 200's either together side by side or with some time-span in between?

Another Question is regarding the KRS 200's in comparison to The KAS's. Some say that The KRS 200's are The Best Pure Class A Amps, Krell has ever made, but how does it compare to the KAS's, which have Sustained Plateau Biasing instead?

Any and Every Comments and Experiences are Very Welcome.

Have a Great Audio Day.

Sincerely Thomas.

You'll want to install the highest capacity breaker that your branch circuit and electric code will allow. If you're at all uncertain about that value, you should consult with an electrician.

Hi cleeds:

Thanks Very Much, But cleeds, would you really be able to hear a difference between for instance a 40 and a 50 Amp Breaker???


would you really be able to hear a difference between for instance a 40 and a 50 Amp Breaker???

Probably not.

The breaker should be pretty high in value, as the KRS draw a lot pf juice out of the wall when they are first powered up--the lights at my dealer dimmed when that happened, and I'm sure that a 15 and maybe even 20 amp breaker would have tripped.  After that, since they are class A in operation, I believe that they will draw the same amount of current from the wall throughout operation, whether you listen loudly or not.  As for the other question, I have only heard the KRS (not the KAS), driving Duntech Sovereigns and original Thiel CS5s, and that remains the best sound I ever heard out of either of those speakers.  I felt the earlier Krell, Class A biased amps easily bested the "S" series that followed, the first with the sustained plateau biasing, but never heard the KAS, which I'm sure was a better, more cost-no-object design than the KSA s units.  Hopefully someone can give you more information about the KAS.
I would not buy a used KRS 200 due to the amps age, and you may not be able to get the amp serviced by Krell, also an amp which is quite old usually needs new caps which would be expensive. 

We have a client that has the Krell MRA Master Reference Amplifiers, the $125,000.00 600 lb ultimate statement by Mr. Dagastino and he has a problem with one of the amps and it is very difficult to service it.

On another note, we brought over a T+A HV 3000 A $19,500.00 300 watt Class A/B amplifier and it smoked the $125,000.00 Krell I kid you not!

Dear rcprince:

Thanks for your knowledge. I BELIEVE that there shouldn't be a problem in getting either 30, 40 or 50 Amp Breakers, but I'm not sure, I'll have to ask the electrician, who built the house, what the maximum Ampage, the installations can take. Regarding the light dimming, when turn on, that is something I already experience, when turrning on my No. 20.6's. Of course we are talking about some serious juice here, but still when you say, that it would probably trigger a 20 Amp Breaker, then it kind of sounds like the KRS doesn't have any circuit to dampen the huge current draw at start-up??? I know my 20.6's do have that, although the lights still do dimm, when turned on, but doesn't the KRS 200 have any such dampening circuitury when turned on???

I don't know either, which is the best, the KRS 200 or The KAS. That's why I really want to know, since again, many have said, that the KRS 200's are the Ultimate Amps, which Krell ever made...

Sincerely Thomas.

Check the fuse size on the amplifier. If it is under 16 amps then you can use a 20-amp circuit breaker and that would be plenty. 1600 watts at 220 volts is less than 8-amps so I would be surprised if the amplifier mains fuses are greater than 10-amps each.

I have had my 20.6's for 25 years and I have yet to hear an amp that can make me retire them. 

Hi audiotroy:

Thanks for your comment. I am not that turned off by, having to recap them. I have just spent $5000USD on Servicing my No. 20.6's at an Authorized Repairshop and from there I got an Certificate of Authenticity and For Correct Service and Repair with Original Parts Authorized from ML Themselves and this has brought me peace of mind as well as a Huge Price Increase if I should decide to sell them. Apart from this, the seller says, that they have both been recapped and so that shouldn't be a problem, but of course, I will run it by my cousin, which has his own repairshop for high end audio, just to be sure.

I Never liked tthe MRA's They are too big and unhandy and are practically unsellable, unless you practically give them away for a price, which is far from thei Original Price. I never understood, why, if Krell Absolutely wanted to make a statement amp, why they didn't just do, what they did with the KAS, with Power-supply and Audio-part Seperate. With the 314 Kilos, which each Monoblock weighs, then at least each part would "ONLY" weigh around 160-170 kilos, which at least is manegable, between 3-4 people, which 314 Kilos, sure as hell ain't.

I don't know much about T+A, other than  they supposedly are german in Origen and High on the hit-list of the german magazine "Audio".

My Ultimate Amps would be a set of Pass Labs XS300's, but they are to far out of reach for me economically and besides, I just always wanted to try out the KRS 200's, but Gotta sell the 20.6's first, which I'm not sure I really wanna do, since they really do sound Amazing...

Sincerely Thomas.

Hi gs5556:

Thanks for your Response. I agree with you in terms of that 20 Amp Breakers, should be enough, but there seems to be something devious about the KRS 200's, so I'm not sure normal Amp and Wattage Calculations apply here, but in theory at least, you should right.

Very Interesting about you No. 20.6's. I'm kind of in the same situation. I've had mine for 2½ years now and I Love Them a Lot. They do things, that in my opinion, no other amp can do, which is why I am so in doubt of whether to go for the KRS's, since, as I say in the beginning of this discussion, that I'm afraid, that I will miss out on Micro-detail and other things, that 20.6's just does so incredibly well, so it warms my heart to hear you say that. I would love for you to give me a comment on my other discussion and tell me your opinion on Pre-amps.

Here it is:

Hope to hear from you here as well as in my other thread.

Sincerely Thomas.

Hi Thomas,

A few years back I had an electrician run two 30 amp dedicated lines and two 20 amp dedicated lines to my listening room. He used a larger gauge romex for the 30 amp lines, but the whole bill was only a few hundred dollars including romex and breakers.

I always use one of the 30 amp lines for my Krell FPB-600c (or for my Powercell with whatever gear including my amp(s) that I am currently using plugged into it) and the 20 amp lines for my REL subs.

Net is that I would recommend you go with 30 amp lines for high-current amplifiers and/or AC enhancers.

Best to you Thomas,

Hi Dave:

Thanks so much for your comment. I will get as large Circuit-Breakers as possible as well as some 3/8 Cables, which is used for Induction Stowes, which usually are connected to 50 Amp Breakers. We already havce this in our house, so the Circuits MUST be able to take it, I just remembered, so it shouldn't be a problem. First though I have to sell my No. 20.6's and I am not sure, I can Emotionally, since they Definately are some ofg the best amps EVER Made and I Love Them To Death and it appears that gs5556 Agrees with me. I would love to try out the KRS 200's, but I must say, it is more curiosity, than it is a conviction, that it will better my sound, 'cus I really don't think it will. Know though I have put my 20.6's for sale, so we'll see, what happens???

Many Thanks Dave and I wish you a Great Audio Day/Evening with your Monster of a FPB600. By the way, I've always wanted the FPB750Mcx's...They Are Awsome...

Hi Thomas,

The big Krell is definitely an amp to be reckoned with when it comes to sheer power and bass control . I bought the FPB-600c to master my Thiel CS-5i’s in the bass and it certainly does so, but, ultimately, I find it lacking in some areas that you seem to value. The Stereophile review of the CS5i’s in 1990 said that they brought the 20.5s to their knees, preferring the KSA-250 at that time.

You don’t say what speakers that you are using (or I missed it), but I would recommend that you audition the KRS-200s or similar-vintage Krell amps before selling your 20.6s. There are several amplifiers that I feel to be more musical and your 20.6s could well be one (two) of them, unless your speakers are too much for them. JMHO.

Best to you Thomas,

The Krell MRA was the best amp Dan could make and a $19k T+A amp beat the stuffings out of it. I agree with your point about the MRA they were too big and too impractable.

T+A  is the largest high end company in Germany with 120 full time employees, they are huge about 10 times the size of Burmester and MBL, bigger than Krell, and Levinson. 

Their HV series integrated amp $19k was compared to $120k worth of CH Precision gear, and Allen Taffel couldn't hear much difference when he compared them.

Build quallity, parts quality, and technolgy are top notch, the brand compares to the world's finest gear yet is priced at a fraction of the price. 

Check em out will beat Pass as well, the products are amazing!
Hi audiotroy,

Years ago, I heard a T&A amp with some Focals in the system at Synergistic Research’s sound lab and the rig sounded fantastic.

There are always better amps or whatever, but IME it is not necessary to spend $19k to get a great sounding amplifier.

Best to you audiotroy,

Hi Dave:

Again Thanks So Much for your Wonderful Comment. The Krell FPB600 Has Gotten a Very Very Good Review I Believe it was in Stereophile, where they basically couldn’t imagine a Better Amplifier, The ML No. 33 (Which I BTW Never Liked for Many Reasons) Aligned it soundwise they said, which they had never thought would happen, THAT’S how good the FPB600 Apparently was. Funny Enough, The Only Krell I’ve EVER Heard, was a couple of FPB450Mcx’s, when I was in Hong Kong in 2006, picking up my at the time Dream Amplifiers, namely The Stax DMA-X2 Monoblocks (It’s a long story!!!). The Krell 450Mcx's Played in a Sea of highend audio, some guitar-music, but I don’t know what speakers they were playing on and they weren’t set up for listening seriously, but I do remember, that the sound was Crystal Clear.

Nop, you didn’t miss my mentioning my speakers, because I didn’t. I run the 20.6's through My ULTRA RARE Stax ELS-F83X Electrostatic Speakers, which I bought in 2007 and there hasn’t been a Speaker, which in my opinion has beat it since. They are fairly ineffective, I believe at 89db’s and I believe they run at 4 Ohms, at least Average, so they are a fairly difficult load, but not excessively. The two, ML and Stax are a Match made in heaven. I had a pair of Pass XA160.5’s attached to them before and thus when I later bought the 20.6’s, you wouldn’t believe it, but the Bass Bettered Significantly. The 20.’6s have a Very Very Special Precise and "Golden" Sound, which no other amp, that I have ever heard has had. That is why, I don’t believe, that the KRS’s will better the sound in the areas, where I feel, the ML sound is so strong. Only the Bass, I am sure they will, but still I would just love to be able to have the KRS’s in my livingroom, although I’ll probably regret it, if it means, that i have to sell my 20.6’s.

Lot’s of Audio Grettings to you Dave.

Sincerely Thomas.

Hi Audiotroy:

I will Certainly Give The T+A a listen, before I decide.

Thanks a Lot.

Sincerely Thomas.

Hi Thomas,

If you want ’em, you want ’em. I might recommend that you start another thread on "Best amps for Stax" or similar before you move forward.

Best to you Thomas,

Hi Dave:

You may be right about that. I'll certainly consider it, Thanks Dave.

Best to you yourself.

BTW: If you feel, that you are missing some aspects with the FPB600c, have YOU then thought about changing out in that department and if so, then what?

Hi Thomas,

I am currently using a Classe’ Audio DR-9, Dave Reich’s first A/B design. I bought two, each from two different sellers, with the intention to run them dual bridged mono and still plan to do so. As usual, this did not turn out to be so simple. The first DR-9 had been fitted with a refurb kit from Classe’ a few years ago and sounds ridiculous. One of the best sounding SS amps I ever heard. Open, dynamic, detailed, with beautiful timbre and a strong & tuneful bass. The second DR-9 is an original box stocker. It sounds nice, but much less open and dynamic than the first. So much so that whichever channel I use the "refurbed" unit on draws the imaging way to that side. So, for now i am using the one DR-9 in stereo. I need to contact Classe’ and see if they can make the second DR-9 sound like the first. If so, I honestly think that I will be set for life running these two dual bridged mono with the Thiels.

I much prefer the sound of this "special" DR-9 to the Krell up to venue-correct volume, but put SRV "Tin Pan Alley" on my TNT or some big tympani/gongs SACD cuts on with the Krell, crank it up, and you will look like that guy in the old Maxell ads, even after the music stops!

Actually, more like this:

I found a forum discussion on the KRS-200s that might be of interest to/entertainment for you:

Best to you Thomas,

Informative discussion guys.  Happy Listening!

The preamp I use with the 20.6 is a CAT SL-1 Signature, which I had for almost 20 years  I did audition a 38 or a 380 (can't remember) many years ago to see if balanced worked better than single ended and I did not buy it because I thought it was a little on the dark sounding side with string instruments. The cat and the 20.6's are an absolutely superb combination and saw no reason to change.
One thing I'll note, at least from the reviewers at the time your 20.6s were made, was that the ML gear was always described by them as slightly "darker" sounding than Krell amplifiers.  I've always interpreted that to mean that the ML amps had a tonally richer midrange, with perhaps a little less top-end frequency extension and a little less tight bass.  Given how much you like your ML amps, which are superb amplifiers, you might not find the Krells to be as much to your liking.
^Perfectly stated and also true of Classe'.

Hi Dave:

Sounds Very Interesting with those DR-9's. I hope that you will be able to get that Upgrade-kit for the other one as well, so that you can drive them Bridged. What are their watts as Stereo Amps??? 50W? 100W? I suppose, that if they are for instance 100W, then you should be able to Quadruple the Amount of Watts to about 400W when bridged, Correct Dave??? I at least remember this from my early hi-fi days back in the late 80'es and early 90'es, where I had a couple of 100 Watt NAD 2200PE's, which nominally were 100Watts in Stereo, but a Whopping 400 Watts Bridged. Together with a couple CW D-9E, They Definately Rocked The Interior Pants off Your Grandmother, jijiji!!!

A guy I know in the states, which I have talked to about His  and Mine No. 20.6's, has TWO Pairs of No. 20.6's. One pair he bought around 20 years ago and they have been stored in their boxes for all this time. He wanted to sell them at first for $10.000USD, but retracted the add, since he would rather try to bridge them, so as to get more Power to his B&W 801N's. I haven't heard if he has done it yet, but one of these days, I'll drop him a line or two, to see how THAT project is going.

I would love to hear, how and when you are coming along with 1) Finding the up-grade kit (Have you seached on ebay??? Sometimes you can find some pretty odd and rare things there!!!??? 2) Getting them into Bridge Mode (Is it just a switch on the back of it or is it more complicated than that???

Yeah its fine, to crank up the volume on the Krells, but I Cherish More The Silent Nights at 9-10 O'Clock in The Evening or Later still, where everybody has gone to bed, including my wife and then Gently and Fluently raise the volume JUST ENOUGH, so that you can hear all details. That is why I have invested heavily in cables, so as to hear the finest details at LOW Volumes. That is in MY opinion, what separates a High-End Stereo from a Normal Hi-fi or Low-end Stereo, that you falsely believe, that if you crank up the volume, you'll hear more low level detail...WRONGGGG!!! You'll hear more of EVERYTHING and thus the sound that obscured the low level detail before at LOW volume levels, will ALSO obscure these same low level details, when you crank up the volume...

Lot's o' Luck, with finding that kit, but until then, you can still enjoy the stereo version at low volume levels, where it counts...

Have a Great Audio Day.

Sincerely Thomas.

Hi jafant:

Thanks, we think so too, I believe I speak for everyone. Please join the conversation. What gear do YOU have???

Have a Great Audio Day, jafant.

Sincerely Thomas.

Hi gs5556:

Thanks for your feed-back. I don't know the CAT Pre-amp. Have got to search on it.

I myself have a No. 28, which in MY opinion is The Best Pre-amp I Personally have ever heard and as I say in the other thread I sent you, I've had both the Audio Research LS26 (The one JUST below the renowned Reference 3) as well as the Pass XP20, which supposedly should be one of the best pre-amps in the world at the time of around 2009-2013 and in my opinion the No. 28, although it has more than 20 years on its back, beat BOTH of them in terms of Preciseness, Goldenness and Passion for the music in general. Yes There exists both the No. 26S, 326S and The No. 32, but another guy I talked to, which has had all of the above, said he loved his No. 28 and did NOT think, that none of the above were an approvement over the No. 28. They may have been different in their respective sound, but all in all NOT an improvement. the only one who in his opinion significantly beat the No. 28, was his new No. 52, but here we are also talking about a $30.000USD investment or MORE, if you buy it in Europe, where it is around 30.000 Euros. The No. 52 is my ULTIMATE Dream Pre-amp, but that won't be for a while...Say 20 years or more!!!???

Have a Great Audio Day gs5556.

Sincerely Thomas.

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Hi rcprince:

Thanks for your comment. It may be, that the 20.6's are a little on the dark side, although I certainly don't feel that way. In comparison to my Stax DMA-X2's, which I has between 2006-2009, they were a Significant Improvement in casting light on the soundstage. The Stax's were MUCH Darker in this Discipline.I feel the 20.6's cast exactly the amount of light onto the soundstage as they are supposed to and I don't feel, that I miss out on anything there. They have the exact same brightness as my Pass XA160.5's I had between the Stax's and my 20.6's, so I feel they are very correct in this aspect.

I don't think the KRS's will do much in that direction either, but it'd still be an experience of proportions, to have them standing in my livingroom, but I believe, that it should NOT be at the expense of my 20.6's as they are and I believe that they will be for a Very Long Time, My Ultimate References at which I Judge Other Amps.

Have a Great Audio Day rcprince.

Sincerely Thomas.

I bought the k'RS 100s some years ago. Comparing them to other amps I own they are definetely better sounding than the KRELL KSA 300S the ML 333 and 335 and even the 33H. The only amp from the ones I own that can compete with them is the Krell FPB 600 but only after caps replacemennt (I believe 128 of them...) with nichicon gold. I am now having the caps and bridges replaced of the KRS 100. If you are interested I will let you know of the outcome.
No matter the brand, I too, enjoy a high current power amp.
There is no substitute.

Hi panprot19,

Who did the work on your Krell?


Hi panprot19:

Sounds Very Interesting with your KRS 100's I've heard, that they should sound sweeter than the 200's. Do you know how much they weigh??? It's something around 80 kilos if I'm not mistaken.

That they should beat the 33H's is certainly something. I've seen a pair on youtube, I believe the owner is from Finland and he drives a set of Apogee's (I Believe They are Scintillas, but I'm not sure) and it sound pretty good on the recording.

Yes Please let me know, when you get the caps and bridges changed, but what it "nichicon gold"???

Have a Great Audio Day.

Sincerely Thomas.

Good Day Thomas- OP-

I am in a period of building my reference system. Check out my thread here on the 'Gon, Thiel Owners.

I am building my reference system around a very sweet pair of Thiel CS 2.4SE loudspeakers.  Brands of interest, some I have auditioned and others not as of date;
Audio Research (ARC)
Conrad Johnson
Mark Levinson
Pass Labs
Pioneer Elite
Silent Source
Sony ES
Stage III Concepts
...just to mention a few...

Hi jafant:

Wow, that's quite a list. But all of the different brands you mention, make different gear. Pass Labs is mostly amplifiers, together with Krell, Where Sony ES can by almost anything, from amps to CD-Players to Vinyl, so what are gonna put where and what do you have as of now??

Sincerely Thomas.

Hi Dave and Thomas,
The work on the amps is carried out by a very good technician in Athens/Greece were I live. 
I  don't know the weight of the 100's as I do not have the manual and could not find any info on the net about them. "Gold" are the audio grade electrolytic caps by nichicon with affordable prices. They have really transformed the fpb 600 (which is one of the worst amps krell produced - slow and "muddy") to a really super fast analytical amp. As I have read the KRS's were built specificaly for Apogee's, that should explain the need for sweet sound. There is german guy who drives the huge apogees "The Apogee" wth 4 KRS 200 only for the bass and lamp amps for mids and highs.
In any case as the amps are old I believe a caps replacement is a must.
Sincerely Panos
OP -

Unless you want to change for the fun of it, just keep the 20.6s.  They are, as you already know, amongst the very best sounding amps ever made, and if you're happy with how everything sounds, changing them seems a recipe for disappointment. 

I had a 23.5 for a time (a long time ago!), and thought it superb.  If you're a Levinson fan, it's unlikely you'll find anything as satisfying - so just stay with them.