My new Krell LAT-1000. Anyone else like these?
Hi everyone. I have just taken delivery of my new speakers, the Krell LAT-1000, and decided to post a review for interested Audiogonners. To bring you up to speed on my system, it now consists of Krell Showcase DVD player (waiting for Evo525), Evo222 pre, Evo600 monoblocks, lat-1000. Cabling is Siltech sq-110 Classic Mk2 xlr interconnects, Krell CAST between pre – amp, and Siltech ls-188 Classic Mk2 speaker cables.
Before beginning, let me point out that as much as possible, I will be attempting to write this review without using the usual and well know descriptive superlatives that have become far too common from overuse in virtually all reviews for many years and as such have lost all real meaning. I will attempt to describe in my own words.
Well, about 9 or 10 months ago I purchased a pair of B&W 803D speakers to go with my Krell kav400xi. I was very impressed with them at the time, being a large step up from the older Jamo 707i that they replaced. However, the little Krell struggled a bit with these at high volume I felt, and so began the biggest upgrade phase that I have done in the past 24 years of my hifi hobby. I eventually, after many auditions of many, many amps, decided to go with the Krell Evo 600 monoblocks, which are worthy of a separate review all of their own…maybe I will touch on them here as well. Then I got the Evo 222 preamp and connected them in CAST. And wow, this combo is amazing. Very detailed and resolution off the scale, or at least I thought! I have had the DVD player for a while, and so am still using this today, whilst waiting for my Evo 525 to arrive next year. Anyway, I digress.
So now the Evo 600s were murdering my B&W803Ds, and it was quite obvious that these amps were outclassing the speakers by a fair bit. So, another speaker upgrade was imminent (to my wife’s absolute horror! I’m very lucky she is so understanding ). Eventually the B&W crossovers were fried, and I had had enough of them. After another bout of soul searching and speaker demoing, I ordered a pair of LAT-1000s.
Bear in mind that, crazily, I had never heard them before! But I was sooooo impressed with magic of the Evo222/600 combo that I just had to give them a go. And, not much I was listening to was giving me a Huge improvement over what I had, including the B&W802D and Wilson watt/puppy, however the prices were not insignificant. I went far afield and found a pair of Wilson Maxx2 to demo, and yes my friends, this is the sound I was after. But they were so big and ugly, I knew my very lovely wife would not be happy living with these things staring down upon her. I also tried the Grand Utopia Be, and found it, to my great surprise, to be a little bass shy! Yes, just a little, but at that price I don’t want to know about ‘just a little’. I want it all!
Knowing the Krell ethos regarding accurate and big bass reproduction, and the fact that the LATs were voiced with the Evo gear, and that they are not voiced to be ruler flat, but to rather be more akin to live music (as is the Maxx2), I decided to take a leap.
And I’m glad I did. They have been in my system for just 3 days now, and I am moved to tears at times, they are so good. The absolute resolution that these things are capable of defies belief, and is obviously far better than my hearing capabilities. The speed of them, well, I was listening the other night and my thoughts were “these things are as fast as an F1 racing car!” Sweetness…well how do I tell you about the tweeter…I thought the B&W diamond tweeter was the best I ever heard, and doubted that it would be bettered, but I was wrong. This tweeter is truly beautiful. If it were a female, she would be a supremely beautiful and lusted after supermodel. And it inspires the same sort of intense human feeling, albeit in a different way. It extends smoothly….way up to where I cannot hear anymore. There is not even a hint of harshness or brittleness to the sound. It is not artificially smooth either, but simply correct.
The midrange is arguably the strongest point. Very forceful but yet deft and dainty when required, fast, beautifully and seamlessly blending with the tweeter and woofers, and belting out vocals that would have you believe that the singer is actually in the room, easily making available all the detail of tiny changes in the voice patterns, spit, throat drying during a long extended note. Things we only really hear when listening very carefully at live performances. Until now.
Do I really need to tell you about the bass? Yeah, of course I do! It is phenomenal. I have, for many years, been acutely aware of the problem facing audio playback in the home. I always know that the live performance has more bass. I would attend live performances, then come home and listen, and immediately notice that the bass wasn’t there. It irritated me for many years, until a few days ago. If you are unsure what I mean, please go and listen to more live music. I could say that the bass is tight and fast, etc, etc, but that’s what all reviewers tell us about every speaker…even on clock radios! I will simply say that when thunder is needed, those aluminum woofers deliver thunder that shakes to the very core of your skeleton. And induced emotion like I have never experienced outside the live event before.
So combine all these drivers, with a masterpiece of electronics in the crossover, and the result is stunning. My friend has a super-system, consisting of modified jbl project K2s, modded Meridian transport, DEQX active crossover, a bank of high end amps….and was the best system I had ever heard, particularly for playing amplified music. However, pure acoustic instruments revealed it’s tiny flaws. It was just too brutal. But the benefits of eliminating the passive crossover and all it’s distortion are plain to hear and the effect is well worth the trade off. So imagine my surprise, and feelings of joy, when I heard my new LATs sounding just as articulate, resolving, and (almost) distortion free! I know the crossover is a monster spanning the entire height of the tall LAT, and I don’t know why Krell did it or how they did it, and honestly I don’t care…I’m just glad they did it!
Do you know how in your favourite pieces of music there is often a passage you really love most? And you turn it up a little louder just for that passage? For me it’s often the intro to a rock song, with the drums beating and the guitars coming in, then the singer begins…and now it’s just too loud! The singer is overbearing and the lovely drum slams seem lost in the haze….
That is no more with the LATs. The overpowering loudness of the upper mids and treble are not there. Everything is as it should be. Just set the loudest volume you want and no need to adjust. I think this is the result of the intentional non-flat frequency response in this region. The extreme energy is gone, thank goodness.
I must confess, however, that this effect was noted somewhat with the B&W803D when the Evo600s came along. So this total overall effect is certainly a combination effect of amp and speakers. I doubted whether this effect would be as great as with another amp, so to test I got my friend to bring over his McIntosh and yes, the effect was there, but somewhat reduced. I would suggest that if you buy the LATs, you have to buy Evo amps to get the most out of them. Of course, I assume that Krell designed it that way…so would I if I were them. There has been much critisicm of Krell (and others) taking a ‘systems approach’, but it seems to me a good commercial strategy, and when the overall sum adds up to near perfection, then why not? I’m not complaining!
Let me tell you another train of my thoughts inspired by the LATs. For years I have grizzled about the poor quality of commercial recordings, that they were mixed oddly, were lacking in dynamics, were lacking in resolution or information. I stumbled around mixing and matching components to try and achieve an improvement in the playback of such recordings, and succeeded somewhat. But not as well as Krell have succeded wih the LAT. Discs I used to dislike due to what I term hazyness; for example Eskimo Joe’s ‘black fingernails red wine’ track has a chorus where the instruments, particularly the guitars, seem to just muddle together and sound hazy. The same chorus through the LATs reveal clearly separated guitars, amongst an ambience of drums, and flanking the lead singer. I have now tried over 40 tracks I know well because I dislike the recording of them but like the music. Including Jazz, Classical and pop. I have yet to find one that is truly poorly recorded.
It is somewhat saddening that I have wasted so much time in the past pursuing a goal and blaming others, when in fact, my speakers have always been the culprits. In fact, I would go so far as to say the speaker crossovers have been the culprits. In any case, the recording engineers were not to blame, my speakers were!
The LATs have an insanely inert cabinet, beautiful tweeter, great midrange drivers and woofers that belie their size, but I feel that the real magic comes from the crossover. At any volume, the drivers are integrated beautifully. I cranked it up for a while and expected even a tiny amount of distortion to show, and was overjoyed, because there was none. Nor is there any compression of the sound at high volume.
The soundstage, is of course, huge, as we expect from any good loudspeaker these days. Why drone on more about the depth and stability of it? I won’t. You know as well as I do, even without listening to it, that its great. As we do about most high end speakers.
I was listening to Revel, and was moved by the subtleness of background supporting the dynamics that were clearly designed to be the focus. But I coundn’t help but focus on the background. The soft flutes (I think they are flutes…) and other percussion instruments were just so interesting. In the past I hardly even noticed them. I listened to ac/dc and was riveted by the clarity of Brian’s voice, the gravelly, coarse tone had an articulation and emotion to it that surprised me. I previously though that he just yelled a lot! Hahaha. And the drums rocked me to my core when playing a high volume, which I like to do with rock music. Jazz has a realism imparted on it due to the bass, and is not unlike the bass reinforcement employed at most jazz clubs I have frequented.
I’m listening to opera tonight, and I can’t wait!
The overall listening experience with the LAT-1000 surpases all my expectations and desires. I think they are a bargain. I don’t think they are cheap, in fact far from it, but they are worth every cent…and then some. The range of human emotion they command to surface cannot be bought, and it provides a shock and surprise at times which reminds me of why I love hifi…because I love music.
I wonder can it get any better? It’s hard for me to image it getting much better at the moment, but with the Evo525 on the way, I hope I’m wrong. In the meantime I’ll get back to listening and enjoying the music. I love this hobby! Always something to do, and always something new to listen to.
Thanks for reading my excited rambles.