Review: Krell KAV 400xi Amplifier
My musical tastes primarily center around acoustic jazz, 20th century classical and some classic folk/rock. The aspects of sound that are most important to me are tonal accuracy, timbre, dynamics and transparency..soundstaging is of course integral as well for an involving listening experience. The worst thing a system could do is offer incorrect tone and be overly analytical/cold sounding. I have owned a 400xi at several of my homes over the years (4 If memory serves)along with various components and it has always served the music well. My current purchase was to be temporary (again) until I decide on a new direction...what happened on the way to the audio forum was startling!! I had picked up a Krell SACD standard on the cheap a few months before and had also swung a great deal on a pair of Resolution 2 speakers. When I lashed up the system with my newly upgraded MIT V2.2 cables and Transparent MM power cords I new I was on to something I had never quite experienced before. Music emerged in the most pure, unhyped, transparent and dynamic way as I have EVER HEARD BEFORE...ANYWHERE!!! This stuff replaced my Krell EVO 505, 202, 402 combo; an ARC ref3, HD220 combo most recently. I am completely addicted and unable to stop buying and digging out music...some stuff I thought I would never be able to enjoy again, but now could! At low volume levels the dynamic shadings and rich tonal color are imbued with an ease and sense of transparency that befuddles all who hear it...it should not sound this good...or should it? I revisited the manual to find out what is so special about this combo..what is it that this gear does that none of my other (100K+ systems couldn't deliver).
OK, the 400xi has power and a good transformer with a direct coupled output stage..great, but so do alot of other brands. It uses a class A input stage..Hmmm, and it handles the fully balanced signal in the current domain...now were talkin. Signal path and parts count are low of course in an integrated, but it also uses surface mount technology for quicker signal transfer and has a bandwidth out to 300Khz!! Lack of capacitors allows more low level impact and greater transparency as well. The volume control responds gradually without over shooting the signal (too loud too fast effect). Couple these attributes (which no ther component has)with the fact that the SACD standard feeds the 24bit/196khz signal directly from the DAC's to the 400xi in the current domain, bypassing the voltage conversion stage of other front ends, and I began to understand. The simplicity and engineering involved was so synergistic and pure that it could allow the music on the discs to come through unscathed. The sound is huge, dynamic like crazy, utterly transparent, effortless, smooth, richly colored and extended from DC to beyond hearing. It sounds like all the best attributes of tubes and solid state combines...it sounds like music played live!!! The only weakness would be if your speakers are just too inefficient or way too efficient....the krell likes a challenge but not a cake walk! I am crying and emotional again about my music and that syas it all...I am keeping this system for along time!!!!
Krell SACD Standard V2
Krell Resolution 2 speakers
MIT Oracle V2.2 spkr and IC
Transparent MM power cords
Seperates from BAT, ARC, Levinson, Mcintosh, Classe, Musical fidelity.