Is there Really a difference between a Krell 400xi intergrated amp and the newer Vandgard?

I currently own a Krell 400xi intergrated amp. It has 200 watts a 750k toroidal, balanced inputs, etc. Its very similar to the current vanguard intergrated amp in terms of similar spec's. I would like to know if anyone upgraded and if it was worth it? Is the sound different does it go lower, deeper, more of an open sound stage or should I just consider another route to improve what I already have.



I would be interested in this matter as well. I am contemplating an integrated amp for my system.
In that price range, I would suspect that the Wells Audio Majestic would easily beat either Krell model amp.
Do a little research and you may find a gem.
dave_b is who you want to hear from.  He is very knowledgable about the Krell integrated amps as well as MIT cables.  Based on my experience with Thiels, Krell and MIT, he is spot on.  Hopefully he'll post here soon.  Regards.


I am interested in Wells Audio, can you suggest a dealer/retailer that has models in their showroom for audition?

Hopefully, dave_b will chime in as well- carmenc.

I love Thiel speakers, and would be interested in reading more about MIT and Krell joining the party. Happy Listening!

Jafant......yes, Krell and MIT have a long history with Thiels.  I've read that the Vandguard integrated is the real deal; resolution, warmth, not sterile, powerful at 200 w/channel ( 400 @ 4 ohms ) and harmonically accurate.  I would think this amp and the best MITs or Transparent cables would synergize quite well with your Thiel CS2.4se.  Another integrated to research is the Belles Soloist 1.  I had one and it was full and rich sounding with lots of power.  Enjoy your journey.

......clarification, the best MIT or Transparent cables you can afford.  Good luck.

Post removed 
Thanks! for sharing carmenc-

I am most familiar Transparent cabling- very good to outstanding based upon your budget.

I have always wanted to audition MIT. Where would be a good place to start?  Happy Listening!
The newer krell stuff reminds me cosmetically of monster power racks.  Is there a particular reason for wanting to change?
Research dave_b and his take on the difference between the Krell 400xi and the Vanguard.  I don't believe we're off topic here.  Research, research and listen for yourself.  Why regurgitate all of this when there is great insight that exists within these forums?  Best regards.

What's the difference between the two amps?

Power seems to be the same.
Ok, so the question is whether or not the Krell Vanguard is superior to the 400xi.  Well, yes in absolute terms and no if you are strapped for cash.  Overall the Vanguard is clearer, more dynamic and slightly warmer.  It also will not overheat and produces a more fleshed out soundstage.  Bass has more texture and sounds natural as compared to the 400xi's taughter, leaner presentation.  Both are great values and outperform the competition by a wide margin, IMO.  FYI, Audiophileliquidaters have the Vanguard priced well below msrp!  
I'm going to pick up a used 400xi and do a shootout in my system!!  Stay tuned...the looser gets posted on Agon:()
Should have the 400xi tomorrow!  I'm going to find out if my recollections are accurate or not regarding the two Krell integrateds.

Drum roll please....The Vanguard is the winner by a huge margin!  I intended to keep the 400xi for a second system but it had a low level him in one channel and a higher noise floor than I remembered.  That said, the Vanguard immediately strikes me as far more dynamic, open and refined.  Very much like a cleaner FPB300CX amp.  The 400xi seems anemic and flat comparatively.  Clean and clear but lighter in it's presentation.  Bass is phenomenal through the Vanguard and delivers better solidity to images.  So, for integrated bliss, the Krell Vanguard delivers one sweet sonic treat!

FYI, getting a Krell Cipher next week...I will post.  May pick up a pair of cherry Krell Resolution 2 speakers as well.  Had a pair a few years ago and miss their full bodied take on my CD collection.  Stay tuned!

I have a close friend who has been using a Krell integrated amp for about 15 years, and he recently decided to replace it. He asked for my input about which integrated amps might best suit his needs (MartinLogan speakers; large, high ceiling room with mostly hard surfaces; etc.). I spent a couple of days of research and put together a list of possible choices in the $5k-$10k range. After my friend evaluated the units on the list (which included Krell, Pass Labs, Bryston, Classe, and several others), he chose the Hegel H360 integrated. I think his choice was a good one, and you might want to place it on your audition list.
@dave_b Just wondering if the 400xi, which is obviously a much older amp, had low level hum and a high noise floor perhaps it needed to be recapped? Or at least gone over by a tech? I realize you got it just for the shootout and might not care to go to the trouble, but sounds like it wasn't performing up to spec possibly.
That hum in the 400 is interesting.  I agree that the Vanguard is the better of the two, but I don't remember having much hum or noise in any of the 400's I had/sold (I'm a Krell dealer).
Sdcampbell, I had the Hegel home and I found it hard and flat sounding.  A bit cold as well!
FYI music direct has a better deal on vanguard as a demo with 60 day return policy 

** Krell dealer disclaimer **
The Krell Vanguard is the best sounding integrated amp they've ever made.  I've spend lots of time with the KAV-300i, KAV-400xi, F.B.I., S-300i, and S-550i.  The Vanguard wallops them all.  The detail, the lack of distortion and smear is SO much better than all of the others.  It's also a serious work horse, I've run it in situations it was not designed for, and I was amazed at how it put up with it.  Krell rules!  :-)
I agree Brian, I tried them all as well!  

Octet11, I highly recommend Music Direct...they are a class act and you can return anything you don't like after a thorough listen.
No cast connections on the Vanguard.

Also something of note, there are no pre-outs so if you want to run subs via rca, it's a no go.
I use an REL SUB with my Vanguard...the Speakon connection is actually superior to an RCA line level connection.

I'm considering getting a vanguard to build a second system around,  does the vanguard come with tape loop like the kav 300 I?
Does the digital module model have cast connections? , or maybe I can get my friends at krell to make a cast model for me. 
Really! , there is no tape loop or any thing like a tape loop on the vanguard when all past krell integrated's  had one,  I'm a huge krell fan, I  own krell now,  if the vanguard doesn't  have what's mentioned here,  than I may not be willing to use a vanguard,  to bad! 
I  believe I  will call my personal friend Patrick Bresnahan's personal cell phone and talk with him about this vanguard,  and see what modds are possible that can be done with the vanguard.
if vanguard so great,why there is for sale some used ones?:) And not so much krell fbi?I actually can’t find krell FBI for sale. I have krell kav500i.quite a good amp,indentical sounding like krell 250A and 250p combo,bass and soundstaging,espcially vocals are spot on
Very few FBI's were sold.  The FBI was an FPB 300 and a KCT in one chassis!  Quite a few Vanguards were sold and at any given time many great pieces of Krell and or other top brands are listed.  That said, Krell could have put line level outs.
I have owned several stacks of Krell gear dating back to 1994.  This goes back to an original KSA-150, KSA-300S, a beautiful pair of KAS-2's, 450MCX's with KCT and Cipher.  As far as integrated amps go, I have owned the 300i, 400xi, and FBI.  I used a Vanguard for six weeks that belongs to a friend of mine.  It is head and shoulders a much more refined product than the 300i and 400xi.  It is definitely voiced differently from what the original Krell "house sound" once was.  I know that herndonb indicated that the Vanguard "wallops them all".  Perhaps is does wallop the 300i and the 400xi! Does it wallop the FBI?  Absolutely not.  I'm not sure what kind of speakers or other ancillary equipment was used, but the Vanguard is by no stretch of the imagination in line with the FBI.  I've played both amps through Eggleston Works Andra III's, Martin Logan Summit X's, and Wilson Audio Duettes.  As good as the Vanguard is, just how good it is depends upon what context you are using it!  
I know that herndonb indicated that the Vanguard "wallops them all".  Perhaps is does wallop the 300i and the 400xi! Does it wallop the FBI?  Absolutely not.

You have to take any dealer's word with a large grain of salt. ;^)
dave_b1,550 posts02-11-2016 8:12pmSdcampbell, I had the Hegel home and I found it hard and flat sounding.  A bit cold as well!

I've had 3 Krell amps, last a FPB600.  Familiar with 300i that I find 2D and hard.   I have a Hegel H30 and it's light years ahead of the Krells I had.   All Hegel I've heard is far from hard and flat sounding especially compare to 300i.  
Krellman is right. I have been pretty much a Krell user most of my time with this hobby (although not having the illustrious models Krellman has used) and the current Krell gear is very differently voiced from the older Krell gear. The Vanguard is in this new vein - more musical and forgiving, less visceral. Most importantly, the traditional bass slam that Krell is known for is no longer there. In the place of that is a more textured bass. Highs are slightly rolled off (not such a bad thing with some recordings), PRAT is no longer as good and the sharp transients and leading edge is much diminished. I am referring to the older main Krell line (and not the KAV line which sounded lighter and leaner). The FBI would still have the older sound. It really depends on what you like.

Just my 2 cents.
Excellent point- mikey8811
some of the newer Krell is made in china as well.
I finally talked to Patrick Bresnahan at krell,  he said the departed x president bill Mckeagan is what happened to the vanguard,  no pre-amp out,  no tape loop,  and ahh, the terrible voicing! , Bill did all this to attempt to save money and bill had the vanguard made in China! , my opinion,  what a way to shoot your self in the foot,  didn't save money,  promoted a lack of sales, and more than any thing,  no long term ownership! , have all of you seen the vanguard on the used market? , LOL!, there is no modification available!