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Krell has not been the same company since Dan D'Agostino left.
Just like Cary lost their "soul" when Dennis Had left, and Thiel has never been the same since Jim Thiel passed away and Kathy Gornik left.
It's a common theme: the heart and soul of a hifi manufacturing company leaves, the company tends to go for the money, and lives on it's reputation.
Krell used to be all made in USA. Now they have outsourced some of their products to China.
I think the new cosmetics hurt them big time. I actually own a Foundation and Chorus 5200 and they are great high end HT products. Unfortunately Krell has too many big time discounting dealers which is killing the value of the products.
In all fairness their service to me has been excellent. I personally think that the ibias amps sound really good but are hurt by the perception of noisy fans and a sliding bias scheme. I can't think of a better opportunity out there for a high watt class a amp at unreal discounted prices. My 5200 compared very favorably to a Pass 250.8 i demo'd in house for a couple of weeks. The cosmetics aren't that bad in person either. I wish them well as an iconic high end brand.
Krell is made in USA. They had outsourced an integrated and CD player a few years ago, but make everything in the states now. The build quality is excellent and the sound is superb. I prefer the new looks myself...some of the old stuff was fugly! My Digital Vanguard has replaced over $20k worth of gear and cables. I highly recommend Krell for audiophiles who value clarity, warmth and exceptional dynamic swing. Tone color is also spot on:)
I owned a large chunk of Danny Boys work. Sometimes myth replaces fact...they were very robust designs and overbuilt, reflective of the age. I loved my FPB 600, FPB 400cx, KCT, Evolution 400, 202, 505 combo as well! As I said, the Vanguard thrills me today as much as the older designs and in some ways more so. Some of the real brains and engineers are still there as well.
I think Dave b is all over it. As I remember it when Dan was there much Krell bashing was to be suffered. Same as Wilson etc. The products I have are very good. At the discounting occurring on audiogon someone could do themselves a big favor and pick up an ibias amp. Fans are dead silent with high Class A output. Would love someone to have a pass vs Krell shootout.
I thought the same thing Dave_b, the offensive entry was removed apparently.
I just bought a Krell FPB-300, and I love it! Even though the new Krell was within my budget. I have to say cosmetics swayed my decision. That computer case with fans across the rear I did not find appealing. Perhaps I'm just old school? And I knew the FPB to be a proven and well liked design, it is a beautiful amp, solid as a rock! Build quality is beyond reproach, and sonics are excellent. I'm very pleased with my purchase.
But i see this trend in other brands as well, the days of massive metal cases carved from solid blocks with fins of various shapes bristling out the sides, is very attractvie but expensive no doubt. And many manufacturers are hanging onto that formula for success, like Pass. But Krell, Levinson, Theta, Classe', and a few others have moved to this computer case design. I'm sure it has benefits, plenum ventilation systems with slip on covers, technically makes sense. And now days everyone is designing "Green", so the day of the monster amp that heats small houses and requires 20amp dedicated circuits and freight companies to move them has passed. The manufacturers have had to adapt to pressures from the government and competition from D class amp makers, and from reviews I've read, they are doing it well. But, I'm still lost in the past, and I love my 130 lb. monster with its dedicated circuit, with care it should last forever.
I didn't even realize Dennis Had left Cary.
Dennis Had left Cary several years ago. I do not think it was an amicable split.
You can still find Dennis building his own line of preamps and amps called Inspire.
He sells them on Ebay under the moniker "radioman731".
He still ships them out of Cary, North Carolina.
I have to say that regardless of aesthetics and politics the two recent Krell units that I have exude quality with great sound. If you haven't operated and listened to a newer unit a valid comment can't be made. One thing is for sure, the new units would never be criticized for being dry or anything less than musical. People forget that Krell bashing was in full swing during Dan's era also. Some designer(s) are doing good work at Krell except for the controversial styling.
I'm not a dealer for Krell (but I am for Dan D'Agostino), but we did get one of the big iBias monoblocs in trade once, and they were indeed quite good, way, way better than I thought they'd be. For the price, hard to beat!
That pair actually went to a local gentleman who upgraded from Pass XA100 monoblocs. The Krell had more body, more refinement, more everything.
We do have a 2nd traded-in pair of Krell 575 monos, in the boxes, that I'll eventually get around to advertising here on Audiogon :)
Plutos...so many! Levinson 39, 390s, 360s and 37 transport(if memory doesn't fail), Wadia 860, Krell Evo505, SACD STD, Cipher, Sony SCD-1, 777ES, 9000ES AND XA5400ES STOCK AND MODWRIGHTED. BAT VK-D5SE also plus other lesser players from NAD, Yamaha and Denon.
Alpha...funny, I sold my FPB-300 and preamp after demoing the Vanguard in my system. Couldn't believe it myself but it just sounded better to my ears!
Krell is alive and well. The company certainly survived some dark and challenging days but has rebounded in a significant way. Yes, they'll likely not ever return to making the "muscle machines" on which their reputation rested for so many years. But as a current and original owner of the FPB 300cx, still in possession of the KPS CD player and having enjoyed for years the iconic KCT stereo preamp, I'm happy to say I traded that preamp and sold it in favor of the new Foundation 4K. Without a doubt, having heard many, this is an AMAZING and solidly built machine that delivers absolutely fantastic sound and video and switches like nobody's business. I would challenge anyone to offer up a BETTER sounding prepro at this [reasonsble] price. In fact, one might have to spend 20-25k to get a machine that sounds as good as this glorious machine for about 7.5K
"I personally will never purchase a Krell product after what the current ownership did to Dan."
Some months ago on PBS (Public Broadcasting System) television in the USA, there was a show about start up companies. As they grow they need capital and get it from Venture capitalists. Generally in around 4 years the founder(s) is kicked out. The show highlighted companies like Cisco, Apple, although they did bring Jobs back, and others I can’t remember. One of the founders of the clothing store Banana Republic wrote a book about the early days, the investors, and then literally showing up one day and her access card not opening the gate.
Many of the founders do leave with a bunch of money. The Banana Republic founders got $5 million for a company that at the time was making many many times that amount each year-ad a zero and multiply by something.
It is not always a clear cut situation. Many of the founders, Tycho for example, go public but the founders still think all the assets are in their own checking account, and many founders do not know how to run a large company, or even behave like an adult--I will not mention a certain ride sharing company. The Tycho founder went to jail.
The Venture capitalist strategy is to invest in a lot of companies, loose on most and hope to make a killing on a few. Sometimes this means another option: killing the company to cut the their losses. There have been more than a few audio companies that that has happened to.
It is also true that founders tend to have a lot more heart, soul and creativity than capitalists. I remember when the change occurred at Banana Republic. Before most of their clothing was military surplus from around the world, odd quirky wonderful things with odd quirky wonderful store layouts. After the change the stores looked like any other clothing store with the usual racks and new clothing that was undistinguished from any other other store. Within a few years they were moribund. A decade or more later they were resurrected as a sort of high-end Gap (same owner).
End of rant.
Being friends with some of the guys at Krell, I was told there wasn't much choice but to get rid of Dan. When the financial crises hit it hurt Krell badly and Dan had sold his controlling interest in the company. Dan spent lots of money and was sort of out of control from what I gleaned. I was told Dan didn't do much anymore when it came to designing and hadn't for a while.
A friend at the company said he had known and worked with Dan for over ten years and considered him a friend. He was fired by Dan. He says he would have understood if Dan had told himself but he sent a co-worker to tell him he was out. And Dan never spoke to him again. He was rehired when Dan left.
I've owned lot's of Krell products over the years and enjoyed them. My last was the 700C which I sold. I still have an old amp and a few other pieces. They still work and sound great. I still think they are one of the best High end products available. I've gotten more into vintage audio and mostly use a pair of rebuilt Citation IIs. But whenever I hook up the old Krell KSA 250S, I'm never disappointed.
It's sad Dan had to leave but he seems to be doing well. Hopefully it was a good move for both he and Krell but only time will tell.
I've been a Krell dealer since the mid-1990s. The current Krell Vanguard integrated all the way up to their top Illusion preamp and Solo 575 monos is the best sounding/performing Krell gear to date. At the price points Krell offers a highly detailed, open/large soundstage, legendary Krell bass, and a non-fatiguing, realness that is better than ever. Listen and compare.
There is a lot of misinformation in this thread. Allow me to clear it up as both companies are clients of HomeTheaterReview.com
First, with Krell - a few years ago outside money was brought in from a private equity firm who within months got rid of Dan. The company ultimately went downhill. A few years later and after the exit of their long-time president (who left to work at Dan's new company) one of Krell's automotive partners bought out the ex-Goldman Sach private equity people and Dan leaving Dan's Ex-wife Rondi, running the company as she does today. They are a smaller company today but are very much in business and supporting their clients and dealers.
Jim Thiel died years ago (don't smoke people) and his wife was an early pioneer of selling high end gear into new channels like catalogs such as Crutchfield. That experiment didn't go well nor did post-Jim sales. The company was sold to a private investor who today has invested significantly in the company. They are based in Nashville now and partnered with a 4K streaming company called Aurora which is pretty neat stuff. They've got a number of 5-star reviews of their new, easier to drive speakers. They are adding dealers nationally as is prudent. They had a big presence at CES 2017.
I hope this helps clear up some of the comments above.
With all of the new Krell
offerings, how does the older stuff stand up against it? I am really considerimg picking up a Used Krell TAS amplifier. (5 X 200) for
my music and HT needs. (Used with Aerial Acoustics 7b's. Do you think those are still one of the best multichannels amps? Does it even compare to the newer lines?
I have a Krell Chorus 5 channel amp that I think is awesome. I'm a die hard audiophile and find that it measures up. It gets criticized for the fans which I personally am a big proponent of because it allows more installation options and they are whisper quiet. You won't think corners have been cut once you open the box. Just my opinion of course.
The reviews are pretty consistent (available online), that the new Krell is good by most standards - but not all & certainly not as good or as detailed as the old Krell. Also that it is clearly not a Class A sound in the way that has previously existed at Krell or with other top competitors. Sterophile for example in their review said, "I was also well aware that the Krells’ sound was less refined overall. What I expect from class-A amplification—textural richness, suppleness, delicacy of attack, generous sustain, and far-as-the-ear-can-hear decays—never materialized."
Krell isn’t trying to be SOA, have no vision or intention of pushing any envelopes, but if they can be perceived as competent enough products that ride on their founders legacy while disowning him (most importantly while remaining profitable to please the private equity firm that pushed Dan out) - they call that success.
As always listen for yourself ; criticism without knowledge is pointless. I've been caught in high end audio madness for decades and I can tell you that Krell's current amps sound very 'high end'. It still kills me hearing how great it used to be but is no more. I remember tons of criticism of the older amps claiming they were bleached and analytical sounding in particular the high frequencies. Those criticisms of course also came from people with bias issues either one way or another. I've had several older units and truly can't say that they were any more musical than the current amps. I like them both.
I have been a Krell fan and owner for 20 years, they make great sounding gear. That said, Fpb was slightly withdrawn in the treble with an emphasis on the deepest bass, overshadowing the middle bass. The treble got better in Fpb c and cx but the mid bass articulation/speed did not improve until the Evolution series, a lot of the current gear is Evo in new casing. Krell' bigest problem has always been heat, they run very hot ! My big Fpb700 Cx has had all capacitors changed and had 2 burned out transistors. My Kps 25sc
has had all capacitors changed, 2 burned out laser heads and 3 out of 4 BurBrown pcm1704 k dac chips killed by heat ! My brother has the same machine and his older 20bit dac board is impossible to repair, his capacitors have also been replaced. The lasers where hard to get for a while until The Chinese started making copies, the dac chipsets are almost all gone. I wish my Kps 25sc had electric fans like the new Krell gear, the inclusion of fans in the new gear will make buyers and service department at Krell much happier!
The Stereophile review I quoted from was from later 2015 by Michael Fremer > http://www.stereophile.com/content/krell-solo-575-monoblock-power-amplifier-page-2
The reviews of Krell ibias amps mostly agree if you google them online. To most directly answer this forum topic, "Whatever happened to Krell", looking at Kell’s business & R&D history gives a pretty definitive answer. The first thing they did (after firing Dan D’agostino, removing all trace of him from their website while championing their history of quality he was responsible for) was scrapping their most prestigious & advanced line (the evolution series) in it’s entirety. The decontenting was then aggressively pursued everywhere else with no replacements even contemplated. All the speaker lines were consolidated into one model only designed by Dan & eventually that one was scrapped as well. All well reviewed digital sources then went, replaced by a DAC less then 1/2 the cost & indisputably a fraction of the quality. The ibias is the only new R&D invested in since Dan left & that has never received more then luke warm praise. It helps the amps draw less electricity which appeals to the overtly penny pinching (who are the customers they’re now aiming for & not quite the customer that made them successful). Tons of good for what it is comments but a certain kind of sound not for everyone kind of remarks. Their one well reviewed integrated, the S550 they discontinued & replaced with something less ambitious & respected - but cheaper. Unsurprisingly they’re a smaller co. with fewer dealers as a result of this kind of relentless cost cutting - so they had a brainstorm to salvage their reputation. Bring back Dan’s first wife who still has a D’Agosatino last name (& is technically a co-founder) & make her the titular, figurehead, last year. A marketing triumph. They’re mostly a home theater company now with a sprinkling of midfi components everywhere else. Their amps are goodish but as for the rest........
Basically a textbook recitation of what happens when an uncaring, private equity firm buys a prestige firm & cuts all costs relentlessly, invests as close to nothing as humanly possible, while draining the firm of all possible cash. A greater purity of cynicism displayed is hard to imagine.