Best sounding Krell ?

Let's say I had $4k for a power amp. and was looking at used Krell power amps. Which Krell would you consider the best sounding of all the different models in the last 10 years? Of course this is all subjective but based on midrange, bass and all the other attributes we audiophools crave.
The cx series of the Full Power Balanced amplifiers is/was Krell's most advanced state of the art of the FPB series. My other extensive listening experience was to audition at several venues an FPB 600 circa 1997. In my opinion the cx series captures more sweetness akin to a good tube amp while retaining all the great grunt, clarity and quickness Krell has always been renowned for. Since 2003 when I purchased the 400cx, this amp and its partnering KCT preamp have steadily been improving over time.
The 400cx is a classic and want's for nothing! If you desire the krell sound and do not need the absolute grunt of the 400cx you might be wise to get a 400xi...all the hallmarks of the bigger cx amps are present plus an excellent preamp stage as well!
Dave_b is right on as I also am using a 400xi in my second system and it has all the great sonic hallmarks of the cx series, in fact I compared it to the KCT/400cx combo for the first day and a half A/Bing it driving Thiel CS6s, a rather difficult load for any amp. The 400xi rocked just fine and extended into the bass almost as well.
Audiogabby what speakers are you driving? Perhaps you don't need one of the highest powered versions.
I have the Legacy Classic speakers. I like them and i'm not
planning on getting new speakers any time soon. I'm researching for a SS amp to match my new purchase, a DeHavilland UltraVerve pre amp. I really don't have to go with Krell, that was just an idea. I am looking for a good quality SS amplifier though.
Interesting question. OK, my Krell (KSA-250) is more then 10 years old. After a rebuild by Krell, I still think the KSA-250 is one of the (if not the) best power amp I have ever used. Definitely a keeper for me. I am curious though, how does the KSA-250 compare with a 400cx?
The KAV-400xi is a decent Int. Amp., but cannot compare to the FPB-300cx or even the KAV-2250. When in direct comparison to a good Preamp./Amp. combo, the KAV-400xi sounds dead/lifeless/boring. The KAV-280p/KAV-2250 is a decent step-up. The KCT/FPB-300cx is a big step-up, and for comparison purposes, the PASS X1/X250.5 (my current rig) is in another league - as is Krell's own Evolution 202/302. Believe me, the differences were not subtle, there was no need to A/B - no critical listening is needed to discern this entry-level Int. Amp. from top-tier seperates.
The 300cx is a contender as well, if 300 watts/ch is enough for you, as it would be for almost any speaker. I have had it for 6 years and it has all the dynamics and bass for which Krell is famous, plus the sweetness and delicacy for which is previously was not. It's a keeper.

Lihifi, I've owned all of the above Krell gear and then some....the 400xi is exceptional sounding as long as you pair it with the right speakers. For demanding speakers, the higher power is necessary. I'm not sure anyone else has ever heard a 400xi used with a Transparent MM PC, MIT Oracle V2.2 IC's and spkr interfaces, HiFi tuning fuses, Mapleshade triplepoint footers & maple stand and the top casework off however! My krell res2 speakers have special crossovers that work with the amp by storing energy for each of the drivers so it is available as needed. My MIT interfaces also use the same principle, so the net effect is sonic purity (simplest signal path is best) with the sound of a much larger amp. Some reviewers have noted that the 400xi is actually more delicate and pure sounding in the upper registers. Overall, I like the FPB sound over the Evo rig I had. The new amps are overly complicated, have power filtration on board, are not Class A and react poorly with after market PC's. Parts quality is now off the shelf as more custom Motorola QC'd discrete output devices.
Like Mgattmch, I would vote for the Krell KSA 250 as not only one of the best Krells, but one of the best ss amps.

I'm sure a stock one would have to be tuned up after all these years.

"When in direct comparison to a good Preamp./Amp. combo, the KAV-400xi sounds dead/lifeless/boring"

This is simply untrue. The 400xi is an exceptional integrated and is anything but dead/lifeless/boring when compared to a good preamp/amp combo, unless you personally consider the KCT/400cx to be a poor preamp/amp combo, in which case this whole point becomes silly and not worth discussing.
Stevecham: Comparing the KAV-400xi to the KCT/FPB-400cx is silly...come on now...the Krell Employees and Dealers that I know, wouldn't even go there. The KAV-400xi is an OK Int. Amp., it does not represent the current "state-of-the-art for solid state amplification, and it is simply not in the same league as Krell's previous Class A and current Evolution Series Components. Anybody who doubts that, could simply walk into any Krell Dealer in the Country and hear it for themselves (every Dealer has a 400xi somewhere in the building). The KAV-400xi sounds good on its own, but when you run it against tier-one seperates, including Krell's own, it sounds like a step above a Receiver. I also ran it against another popular Int. Amp. - BAT's VK-300xSE, and again no A/B comparison was needed, the BAT was sonically a step away from the Krell in all areas, except maybe for power - which in any case, was close.

This is a ridiculous apples to oranges comparison, and it is not fair to our fellow Audiogoneers, that do not have access to a Krell Dealer to Demo. the 400xi for themselves, to see exactly where it lies sonically in the HiFi Food Chain, which is clearly; "entry-level". It's threads like this that contribute to so many people ending-up disappointed, after purchasing the 400xi, thinking that they were buying a bookshelf version of Krell's Evolution seperates.

Again, for the record, the KAV-400xi is a nice-sounding and fairly-powerful Int. Amp., but it is not a giant killer, or a replacement for high-powered seperates, believe me, I had one in my Home for years, as an inexpensive back-up while I was auditioning Preamps. & Amps. - with that said, for less then $3K new, I do feel that the KAV-400xi is among the best in "its" class.
I never stated nor implied it was a giant killer, and yes I can tell the difference sonically in a heartbeat when compared directly to the higher end electronics of my main system, but it is not that huge a leap downscale as you have indicated in the quote. But it ain't dead; certianly those words were a bit over the top.

And it is not merely a step above a receiver (I have owned several so-called high power units through the years) but instead provides some very real musical magic in terms of imaging, soundstage and naturalness of timbre. It is a fine piece of equipment, regardless of price point. Sure the KCT/400cx is clearly in another league, and I never implied otherwise, nor do I plan to ever part with that fine combo, but the 400xi is clearly cut from the same cloth and kudos to DanD for retaining the sonic attributes of his higher level gear at a relatively afforable price. Plus it is certainly a better integrated amp than the Musical Fidelity A5 that it replaces, and I say that at my own peril as I prepare to offer that unit for sale on the 'gon.
In a properly set up system the 400xi is a giant killer...period! Not with the stock PC or average cables or a mismatched front end, but with the SACD standard V3 and the tweaks I mentioned, it is far more engaging than almost anything alse I've owned. The 400xi is essentially the purest version of Danny Boys best efforts...simplify my friend and it will set you free. Component matching, room acoustics and extensive set up are required for best results, regardless of the gear! What I'm saying is that if you want a simple and purely musical sound without the added dollars and headaches involved with making various seperates work with each other, get the 400xi and build something wonderfull. Other than that, get a used KCT and a don't get any better in krell land!
I would vote the 400cx. I dont own this amp but I am seriously considering . I am shopping for a krell in this price range and have done extensive research and the 400cx is the amp that I am gravitating towards. I am thinking cast system eventual and this would start me down that road. This brings me to my question. I want to know if in a bi amp system (vertical bi-amp) WITH IDENTICAL AMPS COULD LEFT CHANNEL FROM EITHER AMP BE CONNECTED DIRECTLY TO THE BASS WOOFER OF AN APOGEE SPKR AND THE RIGHT CHANNEL FROM EITHER AMP CONNECTED TO MRTW BY WAY OF THE TRANSFORMER? This may sound like a no brainer, but I am not knowledgeable enough to know the answer. thanks
I would consult with Krell's technical division if you are seriously thinking about this idea. The Krell amps are push/pull - (neg/pos)...sending one channel to half of a speaker and the other channel to the other half would make no sense and be playing two different signals i.e..woofers playing right ch. info and mrtw's playing left ch. information! Makes no sense...maybe one amp for the bass/L/R and another for the mrtw sections L/R, but a 400cx will drive just about anything out there. Remember, Krell amps sound their best when being driven hard..even Jonathan Valin from absolute sound noticed this when reviewing the Krell KCT and 750mcx's.
I'd go back more than 10 years. I had a KSA 50s (50 w/ch, one pair of output devices)that was as good sounding a ss amp as I've ever heard. Probably among the least expensive krell amps as well.

I agree with Marty and Chris.

Years ago when Krell was a relevant high end player in the audio industry, some of the amplifiers were quite good.
Audiofeil is right. In fact, I believe the original Victrola captured the essence of the original performance best, no matter what the musical genre! Ah, the good old days:)
"Years ago when Krell was a relevant high end player in the audio industry, some of the amplifiers were quite good."

Aww c'mon you can do better than that! Go ahead Krellbash away, you'll feel much better.
Facts are facts.

Krell is not relevant in the context of all the choices available to the knowledgable buyer today. I talk to dozens of customers and potential customers every week and virtually nobody mentions Krell.

Sorry to burst your bubble.

No doubt you're a Krell owner huh?
Choices ARE more than ever, but that snould not detract from another compamies offerings. Krell has been a major force in the industry and has offered High End performance to many audiophiles over the years. I get the feeling that most major brands are looked down upon by Audiofeil. I really don't understand why he feels so special about himself and his views. There are many seasoned audiophiles and reviewers who would disagree strongly with many of his statements. Can we not all just like what we like and "chearlead" for what we enjoy and just get along? Just IMAGINE bashing commentary from a man who obviously holds John Lennon dear...think of all us Audiogoners, living in peace as one! Now let's hold hands:)
Let’s stick to the issue and not go with the John Lennon, Imagine, and personal stuff. None of that is relevant at all but when you have nothing substantive to contribute I guess the diversion is worth a shot.

What we have here is another Krell owner shooting the messenger and not dealing with the subject and reality of the situation which is the presentation of an industry perspective not that of an owner.

At one time Krell was an important name in the high end audio arena. In much the same way that Lincoln, Mercedes, and Cadillac dominated the luxury automobile market, today Lexus, Acura, BMW, Infinity, and Audi rule. Why? Performance, quality, and VALUE.

In the context of other brands offering similar power/performance/VALUE available today i.e. Classe, Bryston, Pass, Chord, Rowland, Marantz, Ayre, McIntosh, Bel Canto, Halcro, Mark Levinson, Edge, Plinius, Moscode, Goldmund, Theta, Parasound, Linn, Burmester, Spectron, etc., Krell is simply a square peg in a round hole. That is, an overpriced and therefore low demand product. As I said in a previous post, years ago the company did make some very nice products. That is irrefutable. Times change, life goes on. Even the Oldsmobiles of the world fade to black.

Believe what you wish but it doesn’t jibe with the majority of today’s buyers. I talk to them everyday and once again, nobody’s asking about Krell. To be fair, I don’t solicit the home theater customer so that might contribute to the lack of interest. You mentioned reviewers? Yeah, they are to be believed with all of the money, dinners, vacations, freebies, and goodies involved. Keep reading that stuff. Renew that subscription to People as well.

More bad news Dave. There are more and better products coming from new and innovative designers all over the world.

Disclaimer: I sell some of the brands mentioned.
"I talk to dozens of customers and potential customers every week and virtually nobody mentions Krell."

No doubt you don't sell Krell, HUH??

No wonder store sales in this business have dwindled.....
I'm going to ask Dan D'Agostino what he thinks of this sentiment Audiofeil and see if I can get him to chime in here, one of those Woody Allen moments, you know? Stay tuned...

Oh yes, I do indeed own Krell gear for the simple reason of quality and value. I am a very satisfied owner of their very fine electronics, and yes, in the past I have also owned top of the line Bryston, Parasound and conrad johnson pre and power amps.
Oh and Burmester, Mark Levinson (now owned by a huge impersonal corporation that can't even spec an amp into 2 Ohms anymore!) and about VALUE?!?!?!?

Have you looked at the prices of those manufacturers recently? And you call that VALUE? Yikes you have to be kidding if you think for a moment we will swallow that one.
Audiofeil, I have owned some of the other companies products you have mentioned and enjoyed them. I don't just like krell, but I do respect alot of their work...plain and simple. I did not attack you, I was reaching out to suggest that we all like what we like, so live and let buy!! I gathered you were a Lennon fan and it seemed strange to me that someone who regards him enough to use an imagine memorial logo on his website would be such a thick headed ..well you get the idea. You have now chosen to make it personal with the condescending remarks and blanket statements about the industry. You run an alternative shop to some extent, and I wish you luck. I think you sell some interesting gear and would possibly be interested in buying something from you at some future time. My problem is with your arrogance. Let people champion their own gear and you champion yours. Don't give us the George Carlin "THE MAN" is running things speech, trying to paint the entire industry as working in concert to mislead the people. Talk about conspiracy nuts!! I'm sorry, but Jonathan Valin and Robert Harley are worthy of genuine respect, as are many others who would disagree with your view on the High End.
>>Don't give us the George Carlin "THE MAN" is running things speech, trying to paint the entire industry as working in concert to mislead the people.<<

Those are your words not mine first of all.

Second, I have a much clearer understanding of the audio business and how it works than you Dave. Don't kid yourself. This business is not unlike any other business i.e. it is not squeaky clean if you will.

My point was not to believe all you read and hear whether it be in the audio mags, New York Times, CNN, etc.

You know Dave, everybody has a right to misunderstand the issues but you abuse the privelege.
Anyway, I was just listening to one of my Ondine SACD recordings of the Philadelphia Symphony on my "Desoto" aka 400xi. I was in the audience for some of these recording sessionans and man O man does my Krell and MIT system sound like the Kimmel center:) Tommorrow I will try an MIT Oracle AC2 PC on my 400xi ($3995)...yeah, you may say I'm a dreamer...but I'm not the only one! Or am I???
Audiofeil the man who re-invented the two channel business and is wise to the industry via his customer's and attention to keeping up with the times.

Audiofeil, you've been in this business long enough I would have thought you would know by now that perception is reality and lines go through up's and down's even if the engineering is solid.

Btw, some of the manufactures you've listed are outright LAUGHABLE when talking in terms of value. This is not based on conversations with consumers...they read magazines...this is based on many dealers perceptions across North America. God might have blessed you with golden ears but I suspect you've worked in the industry either to long or too hard. Relax a little, this is the internet and we're talking in the contest of mechanical devices that make music. No need to inflict one's will with such vigor. The personal emails are rather amusing.

Best regards.
To be honest Audiofeil, I respect you and your opinion. I just don't think you give any quarter to those who dissent from your views. As you have said to many of us, read the threads...I'm the only one grasping for common ground here. All of this comes down to allowing people the latitude to make and have their own opinions. You are not the hub of the audio wheel, but merely a very loud bump in the road. My olive branch has fallen to the ground, and with it any hope of ever peeling back that irritating elitist wall you have worked on for so long. Good luck and good night.
This thread is about the best sounding Krell. Some of us might see that as an opportunity to name the tallest midget.
Personally, I have only owned a couple of Krell pieces and I found them to be rather disappointing. One was an integrated that had received glowing reviews and turned out to be cheesy construction and mediocre sound.
And the looks of their amps -- Jeez, if the Pentagon was to design power amps I think they would look just like Krell.

I have to agree that the times have changed and Krell hasn't.
IMO people like Audiofeil serve a purpose...that is, their "egocentric" platitudes and condescending responses more often then not destroy the energy and the good natured spirit of a good thread!
"Cheesy construction and mediocre sound?"

Hah, that's a good try but I'm afraid it's a rather lame flame.

And what is it that is not, in your estimation, MACROJACK?

C'mon, bait the hook, you know you can.
As promised, I asked Dan D'Agostino if he could comment as to some of the sentiment expressed here. He kindly responded:

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. It always amazes me how some people can talk, with such authority, about subjects they know so little about. Most of the other companies mentioned are companies that out source their engineering. In many cases the designs are op-amp based. Both op-amp based and out-sourced designs are not bad things unto themselves, but when implementing these methods it actually defines the brand. At KRELL we design all of the products we produce. All of our designs are discrete and proprietary to KRELL. The performance of our products is superior in every way to that of other products in our industry. I speak with authority because we look at other products, and know what they offer. When you buy a Krell product you get my 29 years of experience in its sonic pedigree. You may not like it’s sound, but it is all KRELL. Perhaps KRELL is not asked for in this context because we have such a good dealer network around the world, where most other brands have very little distribution. It is sometimes laughable when I look at some of the names mentioned. We invest countless dollars pushing the envelope in terms of design and engineering, at the very least it is worth a listen. Perhaps when the ears are used instead of the eyes, the secrets of the KRELL can truly be realized.
Thank you for your support,
Daniel D'Agostino
Perhaps when the ears are used instead of the eyes, the secrets of the KRELL can truly be realized.

"But the Krell forgot one thing! Monsters! Monsters from the id!" Subconscious minds acting out their darkest urges, fueled by the machine's power. The audiophile machine/merry-go-round fuels the subconscious mind to a point where the machine's power amplifies everything. Amplified by the machine, a mere "magic pebble" causes huge impact to the soundstage. One piece of wire sounds radically different from another! A farting flea can be heard across the continent.

And the amplified hubris of grown men inevitably draws them into heated arguments to defend the machines they worship!

"Don't you see, despite being civilized, this is what ended up destroying the Krell! All we have now are their machines"
Very poetic Shadorne, even if it is a useless metaphor. Anyway, I have a major update to report...I am listening to my all Krell system with my new MIT Oracle AC2 power cord. I was in the audience for the Ondine SACD recording of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, performed live by the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra at the Kimmel center. All I can say is that with the new PC on my 400xi, I am 5th row center again...absolutely jaw dropping, goosebump makin' sound. MIT cables are so vastly superior to anything I've ever experienced that it is imperitive that any audiophile in pursuit of the dream acoustic should demo a full set as soon as possible:) You decide...I trust your response will be likewise.
Shadorne: Very interesting, and when I close my ears and use only my eyes what I envision is you on a stage performing to this script wearing a type of costume not unlike that found on two particular fellows found in a standard deck of Bicycle playing cards. Just be sure to wear your armored codpiece.

LOL. Yes - glad you get the picture! It does me good not to be taken too seriously.

More seriously - is it true that the Krell do not use Op-amps? Wow that is some serious cost - most line level devices (pre-amps and input stages of power amps) would all use op amps even if they were mounted discretely (no chip packages). That would explain serious cost of a product built that way...Krell build quality! Anyway I doubt they could do this except on their top of the line...
My favorite Krell's were/are the KMA 160's and the KMA 400's. They may be considered old by some, but IMHO they are the epitome of classic Krell's and are still competitive. With all due respect to Mr. D'agostino, I don't believe the intergrateds and KAV series deserve to wear the Krell logo.
To respectfully counter Unsound's assertion, and as a happy owner of both FPB and KAV series components, I do believe, no, correct that, I am certain that the KAV series deserves to wear the Krell logo. The KAV series underscores how Krell HAS kept apace with current trends in the industry while maintaining integrity and audible "vision" to the current and future needs of its customers.

And I know an op-amp when I see one, and I don't see them here.

So Audiogabby: how are you doing with all this discussion? Are you any closer to the answers you seek?