You chose to open this post titled "KRELL KSA i400 Stereo Power Amplifier" and posted it on the Amp-preamps forum. It seems that you have made up your mind!🙂
I do want to hear the amp before I make a decision even though I have prior experience with the lower model.
I am leaning towards the PlayBack Designs DAC. I should have mentioned that I have an optical streamer that ONLY works via optical on PBD DACs. That was not cheap either, so I like to leverage that. I use the streamer today via SPDIF on the Benchmark DAC3B.
In an ideal world I can hear both components on the same system, but that is not happening in the real world.
Juicy pre’s are out for me. I had a year with a ’tube-like’ pre that cost almost 3x more than my current pre’s and I could not live with it, the latest model CODA 07x preamp.
I need to figure out what is a more substantial upgrade the CODA to the KRELL or the Benchmark DAC3B/Scitt Yggi+ to the PlayBack Designs DAC.
I put the CODA amp and Yggi+ LIM DAC together again today, and wow was that a nice pairing. If I do make a purchase, it will be for 1 component.
The purpose of this thread is to get some feedback on the KRELL. The 2 reviews I linked above were useless to me. The amp "upgrade" may not even be an upgrade. The DAC "upgrade" should be an upgrade.
I have the new Krell KSA i400, running it with Wilson Alexia II, EVO202 front end and DCS Bartok. Full loom of Nordost Valhalla 2.
The amp is frankly amazing. The bass is super rich and full, the highs are magical and notes tend to float in the air. I feel like the amp is just more powerful overall. For orchestra, i almost can hear the different areas…. Vocals and single instruments, i think may stand out even more. Bruce Springsteen vocals, with single instrument sound large, wholesome, musical. Real.
Soundstage is wider and deeper
I really have no criticisms of the amp… Was going to go with the D’ag m400s, but so many people i trust told me to try the i400 - and i was sold. My thoughts on the differences between these amps are the m400 has less bass and is more analytical… The i400 has bit more musical warmth to it.
For reference, i am upgrading from a recapped Krell FPB-300. Which comparing the two is that the bass is much better on the i400 (if you can believe that) and there is NO COMPARISON in the highs/single instruments/vocals. It’s just “more”
Hope this helps!
@rcg412 I appreciate your feedback. The new KRELL XD lineup has a very inviting top end. I had 2 of them in the recent past so that is why I am considering the i400.
What do you think is the better choice for you, a killer DAC with another amp or the i400 with a very good DAC?
Can you lift the amp by the handles or is the form factor too big for 1 person?
I think I400 with a very good DAC.
But then it depends on DAC right… I think for what you have I would go i400… but not super familiar with your DAC. When I went from Aurender a10 to Bartok, it was a positive change but not ridiculous. Amp was bigger.
yes you can lift and carry it by the rear handles. But it’s HEAVY. Like 180-190lbs.
@yyzsantabarbara, I wouldn't underestimate the difference (in audiophile relative terms :)) that a top tier DAC can make in a system. Over the last few years I've tried different amps in my system (ranged from AHB2 to Pass X250.8) and DACs (Topping D90 to Meitner MA3). I personally found the DAC difference to equal the amplifier differences in my system. Obviously this is my personal tastes, but for me the differences/preferences were there in both lists. I did own the Yggy LIM and really liked it, but the MA3 was another level to my ears and easily equaled the 'differences' I heard between my favorite amps on the list. If you have power and current delivery requirements for the amp, then that is different of course...
e.g. I would prefer to have the MA3+AHB2 vs the Topping+X250.8 combo with the rest of my system, as an example.
In absolute terms I find the differences between the good components (unrelated to price) to be small. In relative terms though vs cost the MA3 was amazing if you like a zero fatigue, super smooth sound, a non-lean presence/mass to the presentation, and very good (but not ultra detail retrieval). I've never heard the PlayBack Design DACs, but presumably it would be at or above the MA3 level.
Thanks for the great feedback.
I owned the AHB2 and loved it though it was not powerful enough for my then hard to drive speakers. One of the reasons I am so happy with the CODA #16 is that it has a very clean sound on top, almost as good as the AHB2 on top, but with massive grunt. The lower end KRELL that I owned is similar in some ways, such as the bass, but the top end is even smoother.
I also owned the top Topping DAC and it was not that great.
My prior best DAC was the Lumin X1, I did a side-by-side comparison of the latest model Yggi+ LIM with the Lumin X1 and preferred the top end of the Yggi+ a bit more. It was rather evident when I used my RAAL SR1a earphones, the most revealing gear I own.
The streamer section of the X1 is something I miss, especially with the Leedh volume control, which works on even the SPDIF output. I used that with a modded Peachtree GAN1 "amp". The X1 is a great streamer, and it natively supports fibre optic too.
I guess the answer to my question about DAC vs amp is that it depends on the gear. It is a bit cheaper for me to get the KRELL i400 (with CODA #16 trade-in) vs the PBD DAC.
BTW - The MA3 was created by Ed Mietner's company. Ed was a partner or protégé of Andreas Koch from PBD. One of the reasons I am high on the DAC upgrade is that these guys likely know more about DACs than most companies. Bartok, Schitt, Rockna are other companies that I think are DAC pioneers.