KSA-250,might need a tune up,maybe not.
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I haven't owned many Krell units in my time but I think the last of the best ends with the KAV-XXX yr2001-2 or so. The AVS was the most absolute definition of quality in AV sector. The HTS-1 &2 are also more wanted IMO. The amps and sources are in the same boat and time frame.
Also, I think astetics play a factor in what appears to be a quality unit. With companies trying to cut costs, increase efficiency and increase profits, it may be obvious to some that they have changed and I personally think that change started with current line up of light silver KAV-xxx.
Now the Class a stuff is still top notch and always will be, but how many consumers are willing to get that quality with a set-up costing 80K+. The quality will always be there with them.
No comment on the reference line.
You can not go wrong with one of the KSA/KMA's..or the newer FPB's. Check various threads here on Audiogon, for specifics. It all depends on how much money you want to spend, and how much power you require.
The Original KSA/KMA's and the MKII series of amps along with the 80 and the 200B were class "A" rated. After that Krell did not rate the amps up to full class "A" power. You can find am awfull lot of info here in the forums.
I would like to take exception on the mis-information that seems to be rampant here on Audiogon, that a capacitor will only last 10 years. This is total bull! There are several factors that determine Capacitor life:
1) amount of heat it has been exposed to.
2) material used in the manufacture (this typically drives price)
3) amount of use
4) when it was manufactured
It is like a tube, you need to have it tested to know if it is bad.
The Caps that Krell has been using since the mid 80's are not cheap caps. These are caps that the Military used, not what you would find in a tv from the 60's, or a cheaply built reciever from the same era.
Buying an older amp is similar to purchasing a used car. It's not the Caps in a unit, You are completely at the mercy of how well the previous owner cared for it, stored it, and used it.
I tried the MD300's in my system for a while and they sound very good. They are warmer sounding than the newer FPB's - a little less 'neutral'.
I was also concerned about the cost of a future re-cap with a near 20 yr old amp. These things generate a lot of heat, even when they are standing idle with power on. Assuming that the previous owner(s) let the amps stay powered-up mostly, that's a lot of heat for a lot of years, and enough reason to justify concern/caution.
I've owned the FPB200 and it was a very good amp but didn't quite have the grunt that I needed for a pair of Magnepans. I've briefly heard the newer FPB700 and that sounded very good, very neutral. Incidentally, neutrality might be the holy grail for many audiphiles, but it doesn't always work in the real world.
Be sure to listen before you buy, if you are not familiar with Krell amps.
"neutrality might be the holy grail for many audiphiles, but it doesn't always work in the real world" might very well be the case. I once sold my KSA 300S for a FPB300 (all Krell w/B&W 801 III) and it seemed to loose "soul". I sold it and bought another 300S but I have also owned a KSA250 and I would say that as newer Krell amps came out the less grain they had which might be closer to neutral for which everyone is hearing also. I just like the character of the 300S but Krell has informed me to keep in mind the size of transformer for bass slam. I also tried a 200S which didn't have the slam I was used to from the KSA250. I think a FPB600 would have to be my next choice but can't afford it now so I am content with the 300S. I agree with Rooze to listen first if you can't afford to buy and try!!!
Concerning neutrality, it's an over-used descriptive and generally intended as a positive attribute of a component or system. Yet many people prefer the musicality of tubes, which in most cases are not considered particularly neutral. I've heard people talk about Krell amps being neutral, like it's a really good thing. Yes it's neutral, but is it musical?. I found the less neutral MD series more musical than the more neutral FPB series. The added warmth through the midrange effected a tonal balance that suited my ears.
There really isn't a lot to think about, so don't strain yourself on my behalf. You want neutral?... go knock yourself out.
I just purchased a vintage KSA-50 over one of the newer Krells. I love it! Several of the responses to this initial question imply that the newer Krell amps are more neutral than the older ones like mine. My experience is that this is true. However, I like the older, warmer Krell sound. And I think that the type of music one prefers also should be taken into consideration.
Personally I like the KAS2. To my ears, they have both positives of FPB and KSA S Series. It is definitely better than KSA300S I have heard in every aspect, yet it has treble trasnparency character that FPB cx series has but in a lesser extent. For all new or old series Krell amps, I strongly recommend to give them a dedicated 20A line per amp. If you haven't done so, give it shot for a great treat. You may also conclude that it doens't sound anything like the anemic Krell sound that many have been complained about.