I would go with Krell. Replaced a classic Forte F45 preamp with the KCT-3 and everything opened up. I was totally surprised . Always thought that preamp does not matter , but it does. Soundstage or midrange or treble was similar between different preamps. However, with the Krell preamp , drum just hit so much harder. It's amazing. Also, the Krell was so good that when I connected it to an old Sony integrated amplifier, it even made the Sony sound good ( when I bypassed the Sony internal preamp). Krell , I think , is neither dark nor bright. It just depends on your source and speaker.
Halo there, I have Krell KSA-150 with Krell KBL Preamp. I use DENON DCD-3500RG CD Player. All with ballance XLR support. I connected them with full ballance (XLR) for 1 full day, the sound stage is not as good as single ended (RCA) connection. I also have a Spectral MS One (old) preamp, I connected the Spectral preamp with Krell KSA-150, wow.. a lot of improvement. My sugestion is find a Spectral preamp, it sounds very good & your Krell will be more powerful. Just FYI Krell KSA-150 & KSA-250 is not fully balanced power amplifier. That's why Krell produced MDA-500, which is KSA-250 fully balance Power Amplifier. For full balance (XLR) connection KSA-250 will be a mono amplifier. If you have just one Krell KSA-250, single ended (RCA) connection will sound better, more focus, more resolution.
Heriman, I disagree. I owned a Krell KSA 250 for many years using balanced interconnects. The sound was much fuller and louder through the balanced compared to the RCA. Perhaps your cables were not fully balanced.
Using a Krell preamp from the same vintage as the KSA 250 makes sense to me. They were probably voiced together at that time.
I agree Ozzy. Sounds like his interconnects were not the same when he compared RCA to XLR. Balanced should sound better or be quieter. Something doesn't add up???
"...I am considering a AR LS-26 or less expensive AYRE K-3 or K-1 but don’t want to lose any punchy bass"
The best bass belongs to Jouole-Elctra LA-150 preamplifier. Go to their web site and read Harry Pearson review.
Plus - long life tubes : 5-10 years.
Most interesting: at CES 2009, they deputed $15k flagship LA-300ME but a few weeks ago they introduced LA-150 Signature which has a lot of LA-300 technology but only about three times cheaper. Propably the best performance/value preamplifier today.
Disclaimer: I got recently LA-300ME and I think its the best in the world preamp - do search for owners review - and I owned and/or auditioned CAT, BAT (REX), ARC (Ref3) etc
All The Best
A direct quote from page 3 in the KSA-150/250 owners manual.
"Krell is committed to balanced operation in all products. Balanced systems have
long been standard in professional audio applications and the same advantages
apply to home audio equipment. There is a 6dB increase in gain without an
increase in noise and there is a decrease in overall system noise caused by stray
AC and RF fields. Sonic performance is drastically improved, particularly in
dynamic and soundstage presentation."
That being said, my two most favorite pre's with these amps where the KSP-7b (sorry I sold it) and the KBL but neither fit your criteria as they did not have remote. The next best and similar performer was the KRC-3....ahh, with remote now.
The old Audio Research LS2 was a fantastic match with the KSA250 - tube sound with solid state balanced drive!
I heard this system several times with Sonus Faber Extremas and it sounded much better than it should!
Ozzy, Samzx12, Bryhifi
Thanks to you all, may be my balance XLR cable are not fully balance, let me check with my vendor. I will install my KBL with XLR balance again. Or may be the cable are not break in yet..
HEY THANKS FOR ALL THE SUGGESTIONS!!
More and more PRE amplifiers are becoming part of my decision. What about a BAT 31?
Microstrip, I like the LS2 idea and used to own that and a ls7. Heriman, I can attest to what Bryhidi is saying about page 3 on the manual as though I have the original manual right here. Everyone makes a mistake here and there. Dob, the Jouole-Elctra LA-150 is going to have to enter my list of pre-amps to research.
1. What do you all think of my Meridian 506 20Bit, Should I change this player before the pre-amp? It's resolution is good but seems a bit bright on sounds like cymbal crashes.
2. I am leaning towards trying to stay solid state and Brand specific. I was about to buy a krell KRC-HR but then figured I should try to save for the KCT. Would I hear much difference between the two?
3. What about the Levinson 380s?
I am selling my B&W CDM's 2xpairs for a set of 802's.
The CDM 7 are listed here, If anyone of you are interested I can give u a special deal..
Answer any of these questions if you have time...
Thanks for your help
I forgot to mention that I am serious considering the AYRE k1xe and MAC C2300 along with the Levinson 380s AR ls-26 or ReF 2 and Krell KCT or KRC.
I know I must narrow things down here. I'm leaning on the krell or Ayre K1.
Here are the main features I need in a Pre.
2.2x XLR inputs
3.1x XLR output
Again, Any info in comparison or on just one model mentioned would help.
If you are leaning towards Krell preamplifiers look for the KRC - it is much better than the KCT - bass was fuller, much better controlled. The KCT sounded sterile compared with the KRC. Although I prefer tube preamplifiers (DarTZeel is my exception) the KRC was exceptional for a solid state preamplifier. I owned the HR version. The phone section was also really good.
However, be prepared to change all the electrolytic capacitors in a used KRC. These preamplifiers run hot and the capacitors should be defective nowadays.
Microstrip, thanks for the info. You know, everybody that I have talked to, 8x+ people, have said they prefer the KCT vs. the KRC's, including the HR model
I am curious, what kind of dynamics made you lean to the less expensive KRC.
A Denon DCD 3500RG ? One of the less annoying CD Player on earth. So smooth and liquid and....25,6kgs. Acchh yes, this is the reason why in fact ;-)
Any reason nobody mentioned the KRC-2??
Not sure about the krc-2. My understanding was that the KCT and KRC-hr were far better