Krell FPB vs Plinius SA-103 vs Pass Labs XA60.5

Advise needed for power amp upgrade please. Current setup is Modwright 5400ES player; Aesthetix Calypso pre & Krell FPB300c power amp driving Von Schweikert VR-33s. I'm very happy with this setup; only minor gripes is a touch of hardness on a few older CDs, a bit of congestion on complex musical crescendoes and sometimes I can do with a bit more sparkle in the top-end at low volumes. Then the Krell went up in smoke! After repairs, it just wasn't the same.
I've narrowed replacement power amp options within my budget down to:-
1) Used Krell FPB400cx;
2) Plinius SA-103;
3) Or maybe I can stretch to a pair of Pass Labs XA60.5.
Grateful for advise, especially from members who have owned at least 2 of my above options. Many thanks.


You have ( or had ) a Krell FBP300c that put out 300 wpc @ 8 ohms. You say that it got congested on complex passages. The VR-33s are rated at 90DB sensitivity. If it was because it ran out of headroom, you need to know that.

The XA60.5 amps put out 60 wpc and the SA-103 puts out 125 wpc. If the FBP300c wasn't enough, will these be enough?

If it would work, I would try the Plinius first. It's reputation is sparkling, although it's not pushed like the Pass and Krell amps. I'd have one but I'm in a small room and can't take the heat.

My old XA30.5 had me sweating and was congested in complex passages from running out of steam. My KSA-50S was in a larger room, so I didn't notice the heat and I really didn't notice it being congested although it certainly wasn't the amp that the FBP300c is.

Chuck, many thanks for your input.
I really do not think the congestion is due to the amp. running out of steam. The FPB300c is rated at 300 watts steady state but is likely to be a lot more when playing music. And as you said, the VR-33s are 90dB sensitive and while I listen quite loudly, its not at excessive levels - room size is (28 x 23) ft.
I have heard some audiphiles remark that this tendency to congestion with complex music is a trait of Krell amps? Also, Krell does have the reputation for a bright edge to its sound. Having moved onto the FPB300c from a KSA150, I would say the FPB is vastly better in these respects. And I should put into perspective that my comments is really nit picking as I've been very happy with the system until the FPB300c went pop.
One other point, my inclusion of the FPB400cx is probably a case of playing safe as the FPB300c was so good. I suspect the Plinius and Pass options is probably overall better than the FPB400cx (?) though I do not know how they will gel with the VR-33s.
Grateful for your comments & advise. Many thanks.

I know that you didn't ask about any other amps, so just disregard this if you want.

I tried to find a replacement for my Spectron Musician III Mk2 in the Pass XA30.5. Although I loved the bloom of the XA30.5, it didn't work out for two reasons:

1. The heat in my small room
2. The running out of power in complex musical passages.

I went back and bought another Spectron because it's to me, hands down, the best amp that I've had in my system, and I've had Krell, Pass, Karan and Burmester amps over the years.

I run my Wadia S7i directly into the Spectron, but the reviewers all say that adding a tube preamp to the Spectron is the icing on the cake, and you have a tube preamp.

A new Spectron is only $4,000.00, and has a 30 day return policy to be sure they fit your preference. They also say that running a second one so that they're in a monoblock configuration is even much better.

I'm just saying that this might be another option, and at 600 wpc @ 8 ohms ( 1800 wpc @ 8 ohms in the monoblock config. ), they won't run out of steam. The added plus side for me is that it runs cool, it doesn't even get warm. The price of $4k for one or $8k for two is probably not above what you'd be paying for the other amps either.