Review: Krell Showcase (new) Surround Pre

Category: Preamps

Krell Showcase Home Theater Processor / Preamp

Like many people, I had long toyed with the idea of getting a Krell Home Theater preamp/processor. But for one reason or another I didn’t. There were quirks in the programming. The price was too high. It didn’t have the latest bells and whistles. It didn’t have enough balanced outputs. It didn’t have 5.1 inputs. And on and on. Well, the Krell Showacase finally answered all those objections. At 4 Grand retail, it ain’t cheap. But I think it offers good value.

The Krell replaces my trusty Lexicon DC-1 that I’ve had for 5 years. Ancillary equipment includes a 60 inch Sony non-HDTV projection TV. Amplication is handled by a Krell KSA 200 and a Krell KAV 500. Speakers include Thiel CS 3.6’s up front, CS 2.2’s in the rear, a single SCS as center and a pair of NHT Super Zeroes as side surrounds. Sub is a Velodyne ULD 15. Inputs include Philips combo Directv/Tivo, General Instruments 4DTV, Pioneer DVL – 919 Laserdisk / DVD, Technics DV-A10 DVD-A, and JVC HRS9800 SVHS.

The first thing you notice when you take it out of the box is the weight, or lack thereof. I’m used to Krells that are heavy as ton of bricks. The Showcase isn’t a lightweight, but it doesn’t have the heft of the usual Krell dreadnaughts. The next thing you notice is the incredible array of inputs and outputs. And they are all configurable to the owner’s delight. The remote control is small and lightweight, but intuitive to use once you get used to it. As a matter of fact, the whole process is fairly intuitive. Which is a good thing considering the incredible complexity of this bad boy. (And I thought the Lexicon was bad.) The manual is well organized and fairly easy to read for some one who doesn’t have an engineering degree. The on screen display is very good.

The sound. Ah yes. The sound. Straight out of the box, this baby sounded rough as a cob. There was a lot of “What were you thinking?” going through my mind. Then after 2 or 3 days, the sound began to sweeten more and more. Especially on music. The same could said for video. I’ve had it a week now and have become more and more impressed. Once I discovered the joys of what Dolby Pro Logic II Music mode does for concerts, I began pulling out concert disc after concert disc. Elton John never sounded so good. It’s so realistic you can almost smell the … never mind.

I don’t know that it does car crashes or explosion any better than the Lexicon did. But the soundtracks are oh so much sweeter. Can’t wait for the new cables to get here. Highly recommended.

Associated gear
see review

Similar products
Lexicon DC-1
Krell Audio Video Standard
I currently own a B&K avr202 receiver and have considered upgrading to seperates, with the Krell Showcase in my site.

Kinsekd, would this upgrade be a good idea? Or am I throwing out lots of money for very little improvement in movie watching experience? I am a pretty finicky viewer, and do notice the difference between the audio quality of sound tracks. But then again, this would be a significant outlay.
While I have never auditioned the particular receiver you refer to, I have owned B&K components. B&K does make a very good product. But, IMHO, they simply are not in the same league with Krell. Which is what one would expect, given the price differential. I recently upgraded from a Sony 60 inch rptv to a high def front projection system. The relative attributes of the Krell Showcase came into even sharper focus. I have been nothing but pleased with both the picture and the sound quality. And oh yes, my growing selection of dvd music videos attests to the absolute joy of watching concerts through the Krell.

The only word of caution I would give you if you want to go with the Showcase is to make sure your other upstream and downstream components are up to the task. Or you may not realize all the improvements you're hoping for.
I have a Bryston SP1.7 preamp processor and I am thinking about switching to Krell Showcase. Someone told me to stick with the Bryston and some Krellians would tell to switch and ditch the Bryston.