I have heard the Hovland tube preamp mated with the Krell power amps more then enough. That is the combination that I would go with if I had a Krell power amp.
Been there and done the KCT with the Krell 600 and 750. I might also suggest you pick up a Transparent Pixl to plug your amp into to fix the analytic/dry/thin sound you are describing. It takes the 600 to another level entirely more refined, rounded, warmer and more liquid. Reeds and wood instruments have more body and roundedness. It calms down the slightly aggressive sound of the Krell to make it sound like a 600 watt triode amp. very very nice.
Also, as I did try the KCT with the FPB750 mcx I would suggest that with the sound your are complaining about it would be the absolute wrong preamp. I'd go for a VTL 7.5 or 5.5 (maybe a little noisy) and never look back which has balanced outputs unlike some other preamps that run tubes. I don't know if the Hovland outputs balanced but the use of an adapter would interfere with the purity of the signal.
At least try to pixl first. I believe you can find them used for around $1k. I'd reckon a comment that anyone who has a 600 and hasn't had one on it has not heard what the big Krell can do.
I would strongly suggest a tubed preamp also for the sound you're looking for as well. I have heard the BAT pres which are extremely good and have balanced outs but think the VTL would be more of what you're looking for based on your comments. The BAT's which use supertubes can lean towards a very solid state sound themselves.
InPieces, I am going to audition the BAT 51SE and the Conrad Johnson ACT2 in a couple of weeks. The preamp would eventually be connected to a Teac Esoteric X-01 that I am planning to acquire early in the new year. I will report findings on this thread. I have listened to the VTL 7.5, but found it far to soft. It made a Steinway piano sound like a Blutner with the lid closed and covered by a heavy blanket.
Well, Guidocorona. I guess i will wait and see what Your experience is, also which amp You'll find to be the better matching one of the two!?
Perhaps You could tell a little more of what Your system looks like!?
Such as speakers and what kind of power amp You are using?
Have You experienced the Esoteric P-70 & D-70?
If yes, maybe You could tell me what differ the X-01 from the combo!
Thanks to all who shared experiences and opinions in this matter!
Inpieces, my current system is as follows: EAD T1000, with C-Core Glass AT&T-type wire to EAD DSP7000 Mk3. Audio Research LS2B, Jeff Rowland 7M series 2 with trans-impedence modules, MagnePan IIIA.
I have heard Esoteric X-01, but not P70, D70. X-01 sounded amazing. My complete findings are in an Esoteric thread. If you do not find it I will paste the URL the next time around. I have heard reports that P70, D70 may be slightly better, but you have to deal with 3 interconnects between the two boxes, and no SACD. By the way, SACD on X-01 was in fact stunning.
I will likely upgrade front end to X-01. And I might be able also to upg either pre or amp, but not both.
Interested to know the circumstances and equipment with your VTL session. I agree it can be a little soft with the stock tubes, but with Telefunken 12ax7's and some other little tweaks it's tough to beat, especially paired with the Krell. A professional musician and I both ended up purchasing this preamp after extensive auditioning and direct head to head comparisons with ARC Ref2 Mk II preamp, and Krell KCT. Yes, it was softer sounding with the stock tubes, but interestingly, and the deciding track for both of us was a piano piece by Chopin! The VTL doesn't impress with HIFI attributes but communicates subtle musical cues with aplomb that other world class pre's miss entirely. The synergy of VTL preamp with Krell amps is the important thing here in my opinion, as all the gear being discussed is good on it's own. If you haven't heard it, beg borrow or steal a unit to hear on your amp at all costs!
Audiogoon, I heard VTL 7.5 at Sound by Singer in N.y. Front end was DCS Verdi, Elgar, Purcell with Firewire interconnects. Power amps were BAT monoblocks--sorry do not remember model. Speakers wereJM Labs Utopia Altos. I suspect suspect tubes on VTL were stock. One concern I have about VTL 7.5 is reliability and service. Vibs I get about VTL in this arena are mixed.
For what it's worth. I have had two brands of power amps in my system over the past four years. A Krell 200 FPB and VTL 300 Deluxe Mono Blocks and both have needed repairs and returned to the factory. Each company was easy to deal with and customer service minded. Both companies went out of there way to make sure I was happy with their product. Over the years I have dealings with many audio related firms regarding repairs and Krell and VTL have been the best in every way.
Last beep from me!??
It took some long long time, but i found an answer for my search (and question)!
The Esoteric (P-70 and D-70) units had some very attractive characters, but failed at one specific factor (atleast when used without dedicated pre amp). That was the sonic character, which i found lacking in "flesh and blood". I bought the KPS 25sc and now drive this in CAST mode together with my FPB 600c.
I have never heard such a rewarding combination.
Oki, some systems may have an even higher resolution (they are few and absurdely expensive) or some may want a more romantic view/ colour (to describe sound/ sonic character.) But for natural lifelike reproduction of recorded material. This combo is superb no matter musical preferences and it truely excel at one of the most important factors of all....(which is..?)
The overall cheer excitement and sense of drama, dynamical contrast. To feel the power in every tiny cell. It's like an open window to the emotions the music expresses.
This combo does IT and proves to me what HighFi really is and why i am here.
And more, that it does not need to be of the absolutelly newest or latest model. Quite often we are too fast to always look at latest dac/ decoder, model or brand.
I can see the manufacturers and dealers liking it anyway!
But fellow friends, think twice.
Recommendable before many many other expensive gears.
I also have a special CAST cable which is better than any XLR/ balanced cable i've heard (again in this system).
This all silver CAST cable is rather cheap, but still very exclusive, anyone interested may ask me for a link.
Thanks and to all of You, good luck in Your quest for HighFi Nirvana.
Inpieces, regarding your comment of "flesh and blood" lack when driving your power amplifier directly from the esoteric combo, I have to say that i don't experience this lack when driving the esoteric combo to my Gryphon Antileon amp and Sonus Faber Amati Homage speakers. I just disconnected my Gryphon Line amplifier (Bel Canto)