Help me make sense of this - Midfi system sounding better hifi.

   I have a few systems but recently I changed the setup and pleasantly accidentally I came up with a really enjoyable system from midfi gears like Onkyo M-306 power amp, acurus pre, Klipsch kg 1.2 speakers, Topping E-30 DAC, and Ixos cables. 

   My main hifi system consists of Krell pre/power, B&W 802 D speakers, Firestone upstreaming DAC, and Transparent cables.

   The former system is considrably more dynamic and exciting to listen to - why?

   Is the Onkyo power amp M-306 that good? It's 300 watts per ch compared to Krell 200 watts - is that why the difference in dynamic exciting quaility?


   Any insight will be greatly appreciated as I am not enjoying my Uber system that costs as much as a luxury car, and getting me upset - I enjoy the midfi system that can be assembled for 1/30th of the cost...alas!


I did a little reading about the two speakers; from what I can see from the Stereophile measurements, the B&W are hard to drive; you seem to have enough power for them, but my best guess is that the synergy with the older Klipsch is superior to what you've set up with the B&W. 


"The B&W's impedance plot (fig.1) reveals the speaker to be moderately difficult to drive, with a magnitude that drops to 3 ohms throughout the upper bass and an awkward combination of 4 ohms and –50° electrical phase angle at 60Hz"

The Klipsch is more dynamic than the B&W?  Who would of thought.

Why do you call the system mid-fi?  High end is more a frame of mind coupled with a methodology.

If it was me I wouldn't feed the 802s with a Krell, I'd want something much warmer sounding. 

I think folks often overlook component synergy and often assume putting together several expensive components - amp, preamp, speakers….has to result in great sound quality.   I had a fairly costly system (from my point of view).  Well over 10k years back and it was well matched and sounded good (as per several of my audiophile friends and myself).  Sold it all.   Years later decided to jump back in on a shoe string budget.   I bought a used Rega Brio integrated, a pair of Tekton Lore speakers, and a Schiit Dac, older NAD dvd as a transport.  I spent about $1200 total and I could not be happier.   The components match really well and honestly I don’t miss my prior system at all.   

If you want to find the weak link in your expensive system, why don’t you start swapping gears one by one, from the cheaper system to the expensive one, starting with the speakers then the amp and so forth. If that’s not conclusive, try swapping from the expensive system to the cheaper one. I am hoping that only one thing is at fault but it could be more. Now, keep in mind that your thesis that an expensive system should sound better than a cheap one might not be right. Please keep us in the loop. 

Heartfelt thanks to all who helped me out here...If I can get my main system to sound better, I would be a happy camper indeed! 


Please keep the suggestions coming if you can add something - surely appreciate your expertise.

Is it a newer krell amp or an older model? If older has it been serviced? The advice given above about changing one piece at a time is good advice.

As a owner of the 802D, those speakers start to come alive with a higher watt amp… I recommend a high current amp of min 400 watts…


@gonglee3 I sometimes wonder how much my listening preferences change - this combined with the sonic signature difference in your speakers reignites my curiosity of difference in sound versus quality of sound. 

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Invalid, Its a newer Krell 200 watts per ch amp with only about 50 hours on it, although it was made around 2010. 

 Wow, 400 watts for 802D...

Thank you for that suggestion!

Overthemoon, you are right about quality of sound - I do prefer the smooth class A Krell better, but as someone mentioned, 802s are hard to drive, so not as dynamic and satisfying. 


I will try swapping gears and see where that leads me - Thank you sincerely to all who is helping me out over here, because I never really enjoyed my main system as much as I want to or should, considering the hefty investment - perhaps its the synergy issue that someone brought up...

I'd suggest bring the Klipsch into your main system and see what you think.

Could bi-amp with a class A/B amp on the woofers that can handle your impedance dip, leaving the class A to work its magic on the mid/tops.

I agree with @russ69 . My experience is that B&W speakers, while extremely highly resolving, tend to err on the side of brightness. Many people pair them with high powered tube amps for that reason, McIntosh being the classic pairing. The Krell, while it's giving you tons of detail, is probabky just not a good match because now it's all detail but the "music" the "feeling" is all gone. You're getting all of that on spades with the high sensitivity Klipsch being run with lots of power. Listen close and I bet a lot of the clarity and detail is gone though. Find yourself some nice big tube amps and you'll be a happy man I suspect. 


Are you using the same room for both systems? If not that could be your answer why the midfi sounds better than the Hifi. The room is the most important component. 

I agree, the room is the most important component. But after that, the speakers. B&W (and KEF) are known for their tonal balance and imaging, not so much their dynamics - Pace Rhythm and Timing (PRaT, as the Brits call it) and slam, certainly not the way Klipsch and some other brands like JBL are. These are subjective qualities yet instantly identifiable when heard. Maybe some kind of dynamic compression. Finding a speaker that combines dynamics, imaging and tonality can be tough.

After that, the ability of the amp to handle the impedance (deliver current) and control the drivers especially their back EMF is a key part of amp-speaker matching. Back in the 'receiver wars'  era the 100w/Ch and up mainstream receivers all sounded horrible with demanding loads, like Double Advents, or big JBLs and Altecs due to budget-compromised power supplies and heavy current limiting that allowed admirable numbers on the bench, but poor performance with demanding speaker loads. To a lesser extent it still happens today, as amp designs have improved. But it remains - some otherwise excellent amp designs presuppose certain speaker behaviors, and just don't sound 'right' with others. 

Beyond those items, the rest is all front end and source, a whole ' nother set of topics.

I think the real difference here is that the Klipsch are hornloaded that creates better dynamics plus two way monitors are much easier to place than big floorstanders.

My bad - Onkyo M-506rs is the right model no.

Thanks for all those who posted for me...You guys are a great source of Hifi info!

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System synergy is the culprit. You have multiple pieces that are bright sounding (krell and B&W) and both together will make things much worse. Your Onkyo is much warmer sounding than the krell and why did B&W buy Classe? Because Classe produced warm sounding gear which works well with B&W speakers. You also see a lot of McIntosh gear teamed up with B&W speakers for the same reason. 
Try using your Onkyo with your B&W speakers to see if they sound better

First the two speakers have a different sound and you may have determined that the less expensive one’s sound you favor. Another possibility is the rooms are different in configuration and the one in which you have the preferred speaker works better and therefore is producing the better sound and lastly synergy between components is extremely important and within the preferred system the synergy is just spot on. Experiment by swapping things around but in the end my feeling is you prefer one speakers voiced sound better than the other. In that case sell the less liked speaker and replace it with one that is designed more similar to the one you prefer.

802 speakers want a lot of current to perform well and can present a difficult load for some amplifiers.  I tried several amplifiers with my 802s and finally found one that will deliver the current required. 

You can easily tell when the amplifier is not providing enough current to drive the speakers properly.  Use a piece of music you're familiar with that has a lot of instruments with passages where the music has a series of crescendos. 

An example would be the Andre Previn version of "Rhapsody in Blue."  What you will notice is the sound stage collapse and the crescendos becoming less and less dynamic.  The power supply cannot provide the current needed in the output section of the amplifier to sustain the repeated demands of the music.

I'm not familiar with the Krell amplifier you have so I cannot make any judgment on its ability to drive the 802s.  The amplifier I use has completely separate amplifiers and power supplies for each channel in single chassis.  In this configuration, a channel cannot rob the other channel of the current needed to sustain the musical demands.

The 802s are very good speakers and will provide accurate and dynamic music reproduction once paired with an amplifier capable of meeting the current demands and Ohm loads presented by the speakers.

If the Krell only has 50 hours it probably needs more break in time maybe another 100 hours 

Class A or not, break-in or not, I'm not sure a Krell would be a good match for B&W either. I barely tolerated the big B&Ws with the big warmer Classes when last auditioned. Stick the M-506 in and take a listen. Don't be hung up on cost.

(For fun, teach your sig-o to change amp connections without you looking... :-)

Gotta believe someone would love those Krells driving warmer, more musical speakers in another system if necessary. All good stuff but maybe not the best synergy as others have suggested.