I would choose the Krell.
I heard the MC402 with B&W 803S and it was pretty good, but nothing I would buy though.
If you want speed, detail and bass slam, then go for Krell.
Since you're using tubed pre, I think you will be good with the Krell FPB amp and B&Ws.
It sounds like bass is your main priority. In that case, stick with Krell.
Thanks Audphile1....Thats what I think too. It's funny, I read around the forums here and elsewhere, and I can't believe how many Krell haters there are out there. The stuff sounds awesome, and one of the few I have listened to or owned that balances the full spectrum properly. Alot, and I mean alot, of very good products out there roll off on the bass. I am not a bass head, but it makes no sense to me to own something not capable of producing a tight punchy bass note. Bass is obviously interpreted differently among manufacturers I guess.
Would love to hear from more people with experience with this amp. thx!
Since you seem very concerned with bass, you should stick with the Krell. However, if you really want awesome bass, the 804s are not a very good choice to begin with. I have a pair right now and they can't hold a candle to my 926s in bass performance. You would get a bigger bass improvement by changing speakers than by changing amps IMO. Not to mention it could cost you a lot less money too.
The 402 does have rounded bass which I interpret as a 3D sound rather than 2D slam but everyone sees it a bit differently. From what you've said, I think you will be happier with another Krell.
I also agree with Arthur about speakers. N804 by nature don't go low in the bass. Krell will definitely help to bring out some bass impact, but ultimately, if you like B&Ws, you should go hear the 803D. IMO these speakers are a big improvement over the previos series. They have detail, are smooth sounding and with bass performance that is on par with the 802s. But since you are going with Krell, it'll drive most any speaker you will get in the future.
Thanks Arthur, good suggestion. Its not so much that I want so much bass, as it is the type I guess, like you mentioned, 2d and 3d. Good points. I have been listening to alot of gear lately, really good stuff and I just haven't heard anything that produces the type of bass I am used to. I love my speakers though, and I have heard them on all solid state, and they deliver enough bass for me. I think like you said, it is the style I am looking for.
Quite honestly, I do alot more jazz and easy listening than I did when I first got into hi-fi, so bass is not as important as it once was. But I like to know the kind I prefer to hear is there when I spend this kind $$. I also don't mean to completely ignore the other sonic advantages that come in the amps are we are discussing, but Bass can sometimes be where the concern is with some amps, and Krell always seems to deliver in that area.
I guess the question remains are there others out there that compete with the Krell sound? Plinius maybe??
Take a look at Pass Labs amps. I run X250.5 with N803.
I have an MC402 in my trunk to listen to at home, so I will let you know what I think. My local dealer is very close to my work, so I figured what the heck. Now I can really have a basis to compare and judge the MAC sound vs. the Krell KAV sound.
If you want something better than 300cx go with a bigger Krell, either 700cx or older 600C or 350Mc monoblocks. Anything else will be different at best.
I would suggest staying with 300cx and trying a different preamp. KAV is ok but clearly a budget product. Simaudio P-5, Bryston BP26 or Pass X1 are much better and can be found for around 2-2.5k.
I have owned three FPBs and they really show shortcomings of associated gear. Once the rest is up to snuff your Krell will surprise you.
Hey, there you go! Testing the amp out in your system is the only way to get a clear answer. Bear in mind that at this level, there aren't any bad amps - it is just that some will work better or worse with your system and tastes.
Sounds like you know what you like. That is good - many people rely on others' opinions to make their decisions. It is true that my JM Labs have more rounded bass than the 804s but they also have more of it and subjectively deeper too. It is the difference between convex bass drivers like the 804s' and concave ones like the 926s'. It also has to do with the surround design. The larger excursion drivers with the wide and round surrounds will always have more bass (though sometimes less tight) than those with small or pleated surrounds. I have noticed this several times. The latter types have a hard time getting the bass out into the room - this is the part I don't like about my 804s. The 926s on the other hand, have bass that comes out at you and kicks you in the chest with the right amp. That is my preference. Other speakers with tight bass like B&Ws (in my experience) are ProAcs, Monitor Audios and Triangles. You might want to look into the new 804S. It has a very similar style to the N804 but with a bigger sound and smoother top end. There are great chances you would really love this new version.
Keep us posted on your experience with the MC402. Be careful not to make snap judgements based on first impressions - it will be a very different type of sound than what you are used to.
I had an MC-352 before going to a FBP-300C. The MC-352 was the predecessor to the MC-402, and the FPB-300C was the predecessor to the FPB-400CX, so it is bigger than the 300CX that you have.
I loved the 352, and it had loads of bass with my Legacy Focus 20/20s. The Krell too has tons of bass, but it seems a bit tighter to me. The Krell added a lot of detail without loosing the music IMHO - contrary to many Krell "haters" around here. With the Mac, I found myself listening mostly to small Jazz groups, but with the Krell, I found myself listening to all kinds of music, not just small groups. It isnt nearly as soft sounding, but then I wouldnt call my Krell hard either.
One nice thing that I noticed about the Mac though, it took little or no time to warm-up. The Krell is a different story. It takes at least 1/2 to really come around for me.
Either one is quite nice, but my preference is with the Krell. Since you have the Mac for demo, you are doing the right thing. Perception is reality here, and only you know what youll like. Be aware though, the Krell needs to be warmed up by playing music through it
just being turned on isnt enough from my experience.
Best of luck!
First impressions...Not much time to post, sorry..Will catch up later.
Surprising Bass, exactly what I like. Much better than my current krell amp actually.
Mids are smooth and velvety.
Highs are detailed and airy.
I like this amp so far. More to come....
Mac better in every way in my system over the Krell so far. I am picking up more detail in my music, much more. Very nice sound stage, a little wider, and deeper, but much quieter, or darker if you will. Bass is taut (sp?) and punchy, appropriately so, no overly punchy, no boomy at all, balanced.
Voicing and mid range is very noticable. If I were going to label this amp with one strong point it would be in the mid range, very voicy and pronounced-which I prefer. Some may not though. The highs are nice, although a little more tsss, tsss, tsss than I am used to. I like it, just wonder if it can become fatiguing over time.
Here is a small issue for me...Lets say I do decide to go for this amp..It does not fit on my current salamader amp stand under my pre! Thing is a beast.
Obviously I have to live with this amp for a few days more, which they are allowing me. Wife is going away tomorrow, so I will really spend some time tomorrow night as well. By the way, she hates the needles and blue lights etc. No surprise there.
A friend of mine has an FPB 200 and it is one of the best amps I have heard. It is so musical and smooth. Just has a non-fatiguing dynamic sound. I have heard a MC602 and while it is a great amp, it did not sound as musical as the Krell IMO.
keep the amp powered up.
No surprise this one is better than Krell KAV.
FPB series is a different matter though and would be an interesting comparison with the MC402.
I am still very much interested in hearing an FPB series Krell. Just not many around is the problem.
Also, one other point to be made between these two amps...The MAC is a Class a/b circuit and the Krell FPB is a Class A. So quite honestly, the comparison may not be completely fair in that respect.
Where are you located? There's got to be someone with a Krell FPB around. Preferably one bigger than the 300CX.
Like I said above, I never thought the MC-352 was lacking in the bass department and expect no less from the 402. Furthermore, my speakers at that time demanded a ton of current to really get up and go. Both the Mac and Krell fulfill this need in spades. With many speakers, its all about current [amps] not power [watts].
Regarding the whole class A and class A/B issue, all that matters is how the sound reaches your ears. Who care about the circuit design [tongue-in-cheek]? I think a direct comparison is absolutely fair...it's your money and your system after all!
I am in MA, and there are one or (worthy) dealers up here. I have checked with just about everyone on MA, CT and no one has anything. There a couple of FPB 400cx on AG, but wouldn't be able to listen. Dealers also don't probably have any in stock since these aren't made anymore either. So I would have to find a demo, or a customer trade. So far, nothing on that front.
So after a night of listening to this amp (MC 402) I am very impressed. Although, the more I listen and discover positive, the more I learn about the negative. For me there is something just a tad bit sterile (for lack of a better word) about this amp. I don't feel as involved as with my Krell. Further listening will clarify that for me, but I am wondering if that has to width of the soundstage or depth, not sure. Will listen more. : )
System matching is very important so you either have to hear the pieces in your system or in a system the same as yours. Bringing the amp home is obviously the safest bet, the results others have with it with different gear may not be duplicated in your system. As Arthur stated, you are ahead of the game because you know what you like. Not only will you garner thoughts of the Mac while using it, you will learn more after you switch back to your own amp for a couple days.
Soooo true Brian, well said. I find auditioning equipment is well worth the effort, for more reasons than just finding out if the piece you are auditioning is for you. You learn about sonic differences for one thing, and what they are, so then you can understand what the heck people here are talking about when they describe 150 pound piece of metal and lead as "emotional". : )
Tonight is the true test for me to see if this is the right amp. I think alot of what I like about it at first is the power delivery, there is obviously better control over the drivers since it is 400watts.
But here is a point that I made earlier regarding the class a/b delivery of the MAC and Class A, which would validate why the Krell might show weakness in a system. Since the Krell is Class A it would make sense that it would show weakness in a given system, although I personally think my Preamp is first rate. A Class A circuit can be described as a piece of wire with gain, the output is basically an exact (100%) replica of the input, just larger. So, 100% of the input signal is used, whereas in an A/B circuit there is a range of usage, more than 50% but less than 100%. This has to be why we might hear tonal differences in the two types of circuits.
Splitting hairs of course...But good to be aware of in a process of auditioning in my opinion.
I think that the move from your present class A amp to the Class A/B amp would be akin to someone moving from tubes to SS . There are plenty of threads here about people looking for a SS amp that sounds like tubes .
Good luck and keep us posted .
Jc51373, that's the way I felt when I listened to MC402, that it sounded nice but was not really involving in absolute terms.
You are expecting the Krell to show the weakness of which component in your system?
Keep in mind that MC402 provides equal amounts of power into 8, 4 and 2 ohm loads - 400w/ch. But MC402 doesn't really get hot....it runs cool.
Krell doubles the power into 4 and doubles again into 2 ohms. This would be an advantage with the B&Ws.
Disadvantages with the big Krell - it's heavy, gets hot and draws a lot of power. You'll most likely need an amp stand.
Thanks guys...Actually my current Krell is a Class A/B circuit..They don't give you Class A until you get into their Full Power Balanced line-up. And yes, Class A is part of what makes these amps very inefficient and A/B more efficient.
I think I figured out what it is that I am missing with the MAC as opposed to anything in the Krell line-speed. The MAC amp is sort of slow, which is what I think contributes to it being somewhat less uninvolving than the Krell. When and amp is slow, you lose a little of the rhythm of the music, and in turn some of the emotion. Anyone have any thoughts on that guess?
I think in the long run I would be very happy with the MAC, especially since I would be getting a killer deal. But I would always wonder what the Krell would have sounded like in my system. Darnit! this is a tough call.
I think in the long run I would be very happy with the MAC, especially since I would be getting a killer deal. But I would always wonder what the Krell would have sounded like in my system.
Welcome to the never ending "tail chasing" of audio!
Just a thought - can you try single-ended input vs balanced. This is not from my own experience, but I have heard of others who comment on differences/improvements for some reason [going single-ended of all things!?].
IMHO go with the MC-402. I currently own one. I am driving a pair of Duntech Sovereigns that I have owned for 20 years. I still think it can compete with speakers that cost many times more. I have driven the Duntech's with a Krell FBP 200, which to my ear not nearly as musical soundng as the Mac. I have also had an Edge M8M, Spectral DMA 200, NRG amp, Luminous Audio KST=150. Of all the amps that I have owned, the MAC is the most satisfying musically speaking of all the bunch. I used to have a lot of the old Mac tube amps and I got away from them. I guess I listened to too many people that sneered when you mention MAC. Don't you believe it. I really think the current generation of MAC gear can hold it's own with anything out there. You should try it before you jump on the Krell bandwagon. Just my opinion FWIW. I've only had 45 years experience as an audiophile, so what do I know?
The McIntoshes take a very long time to break in. There are a lot of windings in there! You may never get to hear what it is really like since you'll only have it a few days. The treble will loosen up with some more time, so I am told.
It is true that the McIntosh amps can sound a tad bit slow. I don't think they are per se, but their weighty bass comes at a price. Everything is always a compromise. But with the right source, it is perfect. It boils down to system synergy. Even changing cables can make a real difference in pace and timing.
Glad to hear you are enjoying it so much. I have heard it in several systems now and feel it is one of the finest amplifiers around.
Dbld- I have heard this too. I think the reason people might say this is because the Mac is truly a 'balanced' connection. Meaning very simply, each pin breaks off into it's own path, they are not combined inside. So....If you have a preamp that is not truly balanced, it makes no sense to use Balanced, and you would most likely get better results with the RCA connection. I have a 5.5, and it is truly balanced.
So I took this one step further tonight and put the Mac in the place my Krell is currently in. Last night I had it just sitting out in the middle of the room, and it was an eyesore. So it is in the place it would live in my system now...I have to say, I like the way it looks ALOT better this way, I was a little skeptical before since this thing looks a little Spartan. I can see why people match up all Mac stuff, looks great. Kind of a status symbol ehh??
Anway, I am listening, listening and listening this eve...Allison Kraus (Union Station) right now, very nice. Amp is alot slower than Krell though, no doubt.
There is something a little harsh in the mid range with this amp, in my system....It's a little annoying actually. I am trying soooo much different music and finding whether I like it or not is dependant on the recordning, and the type of music. This amp seems to do better with Jazz in my system, once I get to a recording with more musical information, the mid range sounds like it runs together more. This may be to the 'slowness' of the amp, not being able to keep up like my Krell.
Lastly, I am reading through the owners manual of the Krell stuff and it has a disclaimer in there about using Tube Preamps with FPB equipment. Says it needs to be configured to accept the DC signal. Anyone have any experience with this?
This amp seems to do better with Jazz in my system
This is EXACTLY what I observed when I had the MC-352. I honestly just thought I had lost appreciation for other types of music because all I wanted to listen to was quieter or simpler jazz tracks. They sounded fantastic though.
Then when I got the Krell, Everything I was listening to sounded great, with more detail and emotion, plus I went back to listening to everything else again...almost immediately. It was then that I became suspicious of what was going on.
Screw this thing....I don't want to be pigeon-holed in one type of music. I am listening to Diana Krall right now and she sounds great, but then I move to something else and I get aggravated. Fatigues me quickly.
Krell kills this thing, even at the KAV level. Sorry guys...More time I spend listening critically to this thing the more I want to throw it off my deck...If only it weren't so obease. : )
Jc51373, go for Krell FPB. Don't MAKE yourself like this amp. If it's not for you, then that is it.
Does your dealer have anything else aside from the MAC he can let you listen to? Classe, Pass, Audio Research, Levinson?
Audphile1, thats exactly what I feel like I am doing....Making myself like this thing, it's obviously not for me. They do have Levinson, and I may snag a 432 just so I can listen to on my system. I had a 36 DAC from ML a while back and I loved the sound, although it was a little dark, but nice overall presentation. Great for critical listening.
I honestly think in the end I will come full circle and go with Krell, seems like my heart lies there. I can honestly say, I am trying to move away from Krell and finding it VERY difficult. And this has little to do with being used to the sound of Krell. I am thrilled at the opportunity to listen to other amps and discover new things, but none of them stack up. I will try the Levinson and see if the buck stops there...If not it is FPB all the way baby!
I can honestly say in the end, I am not impressed at all with MAC other than in very relaxed presentations.
I hear you man. That is my impression also. I've heard these amps with exact same speakers as I have. Good, but I always walked away. Never bought the amp.
Ended up with Pass Labs X250.5 and love the way this thing sounds with my B&Ws. Very fine amp. Dynamic, smooth and detailed. No fatigue. Class A bias to 35w/ch after which it switches to A/B and still manages to sound awesome. Also a beast though.....around 100lbs.
I always loved the way Krell FPB amps sounded and wanted to get the Krell, but couldn't resist the Pass Labs amp when I heard it. Especially at the price.
I went through the same thing you are going through but I did that with a cd player. I always wanted the ARC CD3MkII since the day it was released. Tried to find the alternative. Tried different players, spent $ and was never happy until I saw that CD3MkII on top of my audio rack.
Don't waste time and money. You know what you want. Nothing else will suffice.
I guess the question remains are there others out there that compete with the Krell sound? Plinius maybe??
If you find Mac very relaxed in its presentation, you would find Plinius even more relaxed. Seems like the Krell FPB will suit your listening preferences in driving your B&W's. Great combination in your case.
Jc51373, you judge too quickly. The 402 takes weeks to brake in properly, and is in no way slow, harsh in the mids or shrill in the highs, or only enjoyable with jazz. My own 402 disappointed me in exactly the same way that you describe now, however I was told to stick to it, and everything would come out fine. Which is exactly what happened. I listen to AC/DC, Sonny Rollins, and Mahler, and the Mac is involving and lively with all kinds of music.
So strange you find the 402 aggravating and harsh at the same time as relaxed and weighty. I have never heard any amp that was that way. The Mcs I have heard are silky in the midrange and highs - almost too much so for some systems.
But also, you have to overcome familiarity. It is very hard for anyone to wrap their mind around that. I have dismissed equipment before and looking back, I am pretty sure it was simply because it wasn't like what I was used to. But if that is good enough for you, stick with my original suggestion - get a Krell.
Hassel-this is a dealer demo, not a new piece so no need for break in.
I hear different responses for different types of music....I feel overall this would be a compromise for my tastes. There is no doubt to me though, that there is just an emptiness in the sound for me with this amp. It handles the full spectrum of sound fairly equally, with some semblence of balance. But overall I am find it sterile and uninvolving. Not for me..Glad I was able to do this though, otherwise I would never have known all these details. This amp is definately not for me...And in further researching someone needs to explain to me why McIntosh uses an output transformer ("Autoformer) with their power supply??? Kind of an odd design no?
I can honestly say after hearing this piece I would never buy anything McIntosh. I have auditioned other pieces I would love to buy (levinson), but McIntosh is not for me. Krell will be the next thing I listen too.
Jc51373, I commend you for knowing what you like, on the other hand I cannot agree with your brutal assessment of McIntosh as a whole. I mentioned above the imporatnce of system synergy and you agreed, I suspect there may be a lack of this in your system with this amp. I am not trying to make excuses for the amp, but rather own it myself, with totally different gear, and "sterile and uninvolving" is not a problem for me.
Others can explain the autoformer better than I, but in a nut shell it allows you to best match your amp to speaker impedance.
Sorry to be harsh on em, and I don't mean to offend..I just think this thing is overpriced for what one would get. But you make a good point on system synergy, maybe it doesn't sound good with B&W or VTL. Only thing I would say to that is that my dealer recommends them with B&W.
Who knows, bottom line it is not for me, and quite honestly I wish it were, because I don't want to continue the arduous process of auditioning. Nor do I want to pick this thing up again...I am listening to Cassandra Wilson right now, and when I get up to a moderate volume the Mid range becomes sharp, hissy, and overly pronounced. Don't get me wrong, there are some very nice qualities to this amp, just the sound is imcomplete to me.
We all are entitled to our own opinion. I agree with your dealer about the B&W and Mac matching, so if there is a mis-match it is elsewhere, in my opinion.
Again, the issues you describe such as those with Cassandra are simply not issues for me.
I just went back to my Krell, and WOW. It feels good to be home. Sounds better in everyway, no harshness at the same volume level. Maybe I just keep this amp, the Mac gave me a new found respect for it.
So now that I am back to my Krell I can make a better more accurate comparison in what I heard in comparing my Krell (KAV) and the MC402.
MC402- very detailed, quiet, nice bass, not overly tight, but not boomy either. Full spectrum of the music represented with the Mac, whereas some amps are weak in one area or another. Mid-range however, at moderate volumes sounded harsh and etched in my system. Highs (and this is where I noticed a big difference) sounded grainy compared to my Krell.
All around the Krell is just smoother, very much smmooooooooother, more refined...More dynamic and more balanced and emotional. Dynamic peaks came from a darker soundstage with the Krell, as opposed to the MC402, I knew the tones were coming since it was so much slower. The Krell places instruments/performers better than the Mac as well.
I can say with confidence, and this might not please those with this amp, that it is NOT a weakness or difference in my system. The reason I say this is because I have had other amps in my system and they did very well. If for some reason however, the Mac can not work with something I have, that adds to the weaknesses of this amp IMO.
It is my belief McIntosh and Krell are in two completely diffent classes, even at the KAV level of Krell. One of the things I would use as an example is the parent company of McIntosh, and the fact they have piece where they slap their own faceplace on a crappy Escient product-weak. I don't mean to slam this amp, but I guess I am. If it were worth it's salt IMO, I would rave about it. I basically think the Mac is a tier below what I thought it would be, nice entry-level amp, but not for someone looking to move up from a Krell piece.
Sorry if I offended any Mac owners, but I would suggest going to audition a Kav and see for yourself. The difference is jaw-dropping.
That's why there's vanilla & chocolate!
I have a 'dog in the fight' as I own a MC402 amp. Sharp, rasspy and overly pronounced are not adjectives I would ever use to describe this amp. I too have been through some amps (none were Krell) and while not the last word in detail, the MC-402 I have in a very good system is worlds apart from you have experienced.
Vanilla & Chocolate...........Krell works with your gear!
to everybody his opinion. However, I do not think it makes sense to say a company would make a better product any time, nor does it make sense to say that McIntosh and Krell are in two completely different classes. They are different amps in the same class. People change from Krell to Mac, or the other way round.
The German magazine Audio, in its December 2006 issue, ran the McIntosh C1000 preamp and 2KW amps against Krell´s new top of the line Evolution preamp and amps. A six-editors-panel gave the nod to the 40,000 S Krell Evolution Two preamp as being a slight touch more honest than the 17,000 S C 1000 McIntosh preamp, but all preferred the 60,000 $ Mac-amps over the 50,000 Krell amps.
Also, I find it somewhat strange that you get a 402 and first write
"Mac better in every way in my system over the Krell so far. I am picking up more detail in my music, much more. Very nice sound stage, a little wider, and deeper, but much quieter, or darker if you will. Bass is taut (sp?) and punchy, appropriately so, no overly punchy, no boomy at all, balanced."
and then trash the Mac again. This makes me think that you may lack the experience necessary to judge components on their own merit.
Lack experience? I lugged this crappy amp home, listened critically for days and hours, and I lack experience? Hey Florian newsflash, you sound like an offended Mac owner. Rather than arguing and stooping to your level I will simply say, that quote was from my "First Impressions". So take what you want from whatever I wrote, where ever you want to, I could care less. The Mac is totally inferior in my system, and in comparing an FPB to the Mac is in FACT not completely accurate. One is Class A and the other Class A/B, case closed. There is a major difference in sonics.
Let me sum this up for you so people don't get the wrong message here on what I am and have been trying to say. The sound signature of the Mac amp is simply not for me. And any Krell, or Levinson amp I have EVER listened to in all my many years of experience in this hobby (not matter what the peripherals were) sounded better and more natural than the Mac. Which leads me to say the Mac is inferior in it's presentation of music in comparison to the amps I am considering.
One other point I would make here Florian...Have you listened to Krell and Mac, and literally A/B'd the two? If you have please forgive, but it seems you lack the experience and only have printed reviews to give you ANY insight into the Krell sound. I have put all these products in my system and listened, and take reviews at face value.
Jc51373, So are you keeping the Krell? I love my Krell and would never sell it. Well, maybe for a Pass Labs amp ;-)
You are certainly entitled to your opinions and I think the reason many Mac users here are having a hard time with your observations is that they are exactly opposite of all other Mac users. I don't think I have ever heard anyone, either in a professional review, this site or AA, describe a Mac amp as harsh in the mid-range, or sharp or raspy. This leads me to think there may have been a problem with the unit you had at home. I am familiar with your Krell, having auditioned one in my system. It is indeed a very good amp but to call the Mac a tier below it and an entry level piece is certainly not my experience at all, which again leads me to believe there was some serious issues with that particular Mac amp or synergy in your system. Anyway, good luck and enjoy your amp!