The Golden age


Why isn’t Krell building real power amps anymore?The Krell FPB-700cx cost $14,000 when it was available a decade ago. This 180-pound monster had two 4kVA transformers, and a fully regulated output stage with banks of transistors. There is no conceivable speaker this powerhouse could not drive into oblivion. Its 700Wpc-into-8-ohms output doubled down all the way to 2 ohms, at which it reportedly could produce over 6000W before it quit. The top Krell amp now, the Duo 300 ($8500), produces 300Wpc into 8 ohms, weighs 70 pounds, and has fans to cool it instead of the massive heatsinks that all Krells used to have. The transformer is 750VA. What gives? Am I the only one who sees the new Duo models as “home theater” amps designed for custom installers? They’re not what founder Dan D’Agostino once envisioned, and what built the company: audiophile powerhouses, a man’s amp, the baddest dudes on the block. If you’re listening up there in Connecticut, please rethink this and tell us that there’s a second line of amplifiers coming that will be the real deal. To the Krell management, remember what Stephen Covey said: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” What happened to the Mark Levinson brand? There was a time, not so long ago, when the name Mark Levinson was revered. Whether amplifier, preamplifier, or digital component, when the classic ML logo preceded a model number, you just knew that it would be a contender for the state of the art. Remember the No.30 digital-to-analog converter? How about the epic No.20 and No.20.5 monoblocks? These products were icons, and represented the aspirations of many audiophiles. Lately, not so much. While the Levinson brand still lives, no one I know speaks of it in reverent tones. The No.53 amplifiers have gotten pretty good reviews, but these days I hear nothing of their digital products -- like Krell, ML now seems to make more “home theater” amplifiers than anything else. Maybe the company’s products stillare up there with the best, but ML’s messaging isn’t that good -- it often happens in a too-corporate environment. Or maybe the team of engineers Levinson had back in the Madrigal Audio Labs days are long gone, and there’s no one left at the Harman Luxury Audio Group who can design really great stereo components. I wish I knew what the deal was, because I miss this iconic brand, and often wonder if it’s ever coming back.
 if you can shed light on any of this, let ’er rip.
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&rotate=exif&w=128audiolabyrinth
You want the new "old" Krell, check out the amps from Bully Sound Company.
Keith-
I have my eyes on the new ML No. 585 integrated. Hopefully, I can get a demo later this year and report back.  Accuphase, Pass Labs and Conrad Johnson makes the cut as well.  Happy Listening!
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Audiolabyrinth, I too lament the direction you've outlined. The founders of the above mentioned companies have moved on, leaving the direction of their companies to profiteers'.
 Like many things in life, fashion is cyclical. I imagine that when the economy improves we might see more big iron, though the future of big power might come more from Class D.

In the interim, smaller, lighter amps have the advantage of economy of scale (materials, case work, packaging, shipping, etc.) with corresponding higher profit margins. Smaller, lighter amps with the added feature(?) of adjustability (tube rolling) lends itself to hobbyists who like to tinker for the sake of it, and/or who are more likely to buy if it's more convenient to do so. To be honest, even as one who appreciates big iron, I don't look forward to the expense and inconvenience and shipping(!) of swapping out these heavy pieces.

Those that can afford such gear are often times now buying for multi-channel HT systems that makes big iron even more challenging to deal with.

I don't agree with the notion that there is a ceiling on the amount available power that can't be exceeded without compromising quality.

Class D has pretty much done in big iron monster amps of days past.  Some still linger but fewer than ever will find a need or want.   It is undeniably progress to be able to make similar power amps smaller way more efficient and in many cases cheaper as well.    
Great post everyone,  but I do not agree that big powerful amplifiers are dinosaur's,, I'm really speaking about why is krell,  Mark Levinson and some others are doing what they are today,  anyway,  here is proof that amplifiers of this type is here to stay,   PROGRESSION MONO AMPLIFIER
The Progression mono amplifier is the largest and most powerful Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems has made to date, delivering 800 watts into 8 ohms, doubling to 1,600 watts into 4 ohms and doubling again to 3,200 watts into 2 ohms. It employs a fully complementary driver stage, beefed up with 84 output transistors, a 4000 VA power supply transformer and 400,000 microfarads of power supply storage capacitance.
The iconic look of the Momentum amplifiers’ power meters, inspired by the elegant faces of classic Swiss watches, continues with the Progression series. The Progression mono amplifier features a new meter design with a 270-degree needle swing, driven by a high-speed ballistic circuit that enhances the meter’s responsiveness. The longer swing allows the needle to cover the amplifier’s entire output range.
The venturi heatsink design premiered in the Momentum amplifiers has been adapted to the cooling needs of the Progression mono amplifier by adding a second row of venturis to each heatsink. Each heatsink is milled from a single, 48.5-pound (22-kilogram) aluminum billet.
The Momentum series amplifiers focused on combining high power output with a relatively small form factor. The Progression mono delivers extraordinary power in a larger package with the ability to drive speakers to lifelike levels. The Progression circuitry borrows greatly from the flagship Momentum to be a perfect match for virtually any speaker. The audio signal path throughout is discrete, balanced, and direct coupled. Advanced protection techniques shield the amplifier and associated components from any unexpected anomaly. Like the Momentum amplifier, the Progression circuit boards are executed with through-hole construction for the best sound quality and durability. Like all our products, the Progression series components will be built by hand in our Arizona factory.
The Progression mono amplifier is projected to ship in the first quarter of 2016 and will be available in silver or black finish.
* Preliminary Specifications Power800 watts @ 8Ω 1,600 watts @ 4Ω 3,200 watts @ 2ΩFrequency Response1 Hz to 200 kHz, -1 dB 20Hz to 20 kHz, ±0.1 dBDistortion800 watts @ 8Ω0.15% @ 1 kHzSignal-to-Noise Ratio105 dB, unweightedInputs1 balanced XLRInput Impedance100 KΩOutput Impedance0.15ΩDimensions18 x 20 x 7.5 in.Weight150 lbs.Year-2016
Jeff Rowland currently makes a "beast" of an amp. I think the retail is around $40K.  Clearly, some of the legacy companies have not slowed production. The big question- whom is buying these mega-buck products?
Here is a bit of news that was shocking to me,  because bill Mckeagan is in my opinion the reason for a lot that went on and on going at krell,  for Dan D’Agostino to hire bill Mckeagan is a mistake! , what is your opinion? , here is the press release-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Petra D’Agostino 203-644-8743 petra@dandagostino.comAudio Industry Veteran Bill McKiegan Joins Dan D’AgostinoMaster Audio SystemsWell-known industry executive rejoins past colleagues to become President of world-renown high-end audio manufacturerCAVE CREEK, AZ, OCTOBER 1, 2015 — Leading high-end audio manufacturer Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems announced today that Bill McKiegan will be joining the company as President, effective immediately.McKiegan joins Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems after five years as President of Krell Industries, the company Dan D’Agostino co-founded in 1980. McKiegan also worked at Krell as Vice President of Sales and Marketing 1994 to 2006.“We’re honored that Bill decided to work with us again,” D’Agostino said. “I’ve worked with him for about a dozen years and known him for more than 20. Bill is easily one of the most talented, resourceful and effective executives in the audio industry, and for him to want to work with us again is the biggest vote of confidence we could imagine.”“Dan and I are very much on the same page when it comes to what a high-end audio company should be,” McKiegan said. “It’s been inspiring to watch him build Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems from just a few product drawings five years ago to being the most acclaimed brand in high-end audio electronics in 2015. I look forward to many great years with this company. We have a lot of great ideas and products in the works, so stay tuned.”For more information on Dan D’Agostino Master Audio Systems, please visit dandagostino.com.
Here is a bit of news that was shocking to me, because bill Mckeagan is in my opinion the reason for a lot that went on and on going at krell, for Dan D’Agostino to hire bill Mckeagan is a mistake!
audiolabyrinth, in this thread you are the only one to know that re-hiring Bill McKiegan is a mistake. until you mentioned his name, i never heard of this dude (not that i know everyone in the audio industry; far from that but one would have seen/heard of him since i’ve attended a few audio shows & seen/met quite a few industry insiders). without slandering any person can you elaborate more on why re-hiring this person is a mistake?? Dan D’A seems to like him quite a bit (even tho’ maybe Dan D’A doesn’t know what’s allegedly instore for him....).

Hi bombaywalla, I have been involved with knowledge of krell history for the past 25 year's, I own krell products now,  I'm not sure you know the fiasco story of how Dan D’Agostino got kicked out of his own company that he co-founded with his wife,  part of the story is krell was going bankrupt because of the lack of sales of the Evolution E product's,  to assure this not to happen,  Dan acquired kp enterprise as an investor,  and in doing so they installed their own executive there at krell, in all this process bill Mckeagan is the person responsible for the many products there at krell and the direction the company was going that resulted in poor marketing of the products,  Dan attempted to go in another direction,  and was met with a dispute with the kp enterprise executive,  Dan tried to fire the executive,  the result was being escorted off the property by the police! , an avid point here is bill Mckeagan was backing kp enterprise,  then after Dan was no longer at krell,  Bill again took krell in the direction it is in now as recent president. 
thanks for this info audiolabyrinth. I had read there was a fiasco at Krell where Dan D’A was ousted but did not have any idea about the dirty laundry. There are a few instances in the audio industry where a similar thing happened - Roger Sanders at Innersound, Dennis Had at Cary Audio, Ralph Karsten at Atma-sphere, Mark Levinson at Levinson are a few that come to mind. Ralph was lucky - he got Atma-sphere back. I don’t know the details.
Yes, if the recent history of Krell is as you wrote it then it’s quite amazing that Dan D’A has re-hired Bill McK.
Dan D’A seems to be a pretty smart fellow founding Krell & producing good products (atleast early on) - no matter how bad the products, it takes a certain smart person to run a successful business. i can’t believe that if Dan D’A felt he was double-crossed that he go back to re-hiring Bill McK. Maybe there’s an inside story that we don’t know?? just saying....

Hi bombaywalla, I know Ralph Karsten, yes he was lucky, I also know Gale sanders that use to own Martin logan back when I use to give seminars on resonance tuning of components, I agree with you, there has to be an inside story we don’t know about with Bill Mckeagan, but as you said, you never heard of this guy, mmm, lol!, he was supposed to be doing shows and promoting krell, a president garnishes recognition and makes business decisions to benefit a company.