1. Work behind the scenes continues. AK may go offline again for additional database and or Xenforo fixes.
    Dismiss Notice

New to me Krell KAV-250a - now what? Your opinions

Discussion in 'New Gear - Performance' started by JLange2010, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. JLange2010

    JLange2010 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Seattle
    OK, so I've been happily listening to my primary home system for a few years now. It consists of Arcam components (A19 integrated, and the CD player and tuner that more or less match). Speakers are Focal 814v. Then, a friend had the above-mentioned beast he offered at a price that was too good to resist...

    My current dilemma is to sort out an idea of what direction I want to head. The Krell is a step up the food chain, at least in terms of original cost. So the question is what to do about a preamp. For the near term, the Arcam has pre outs so I'll just use that. But what would make a great match for the Krell down the road? I've read that the amp can be a bit bright and I've read that it pairs well with a tube pre. But, as you can tell from my current system, I love matching components, so the Krell KAV-250p is a temptation. I can get over that, though, if it makes for better sound.

    Then there's the speakers. One thought would be to use the Arcam and Krell together and biamp, but my Focals are single terminals, so they would not work for that set up. While I love the Focals, maybe it is time to start thinking about the next step.

    In short, I'm in that entertaining mode of puzzling out "what next", as so often seems to be the case around here. I'm not overly familiar with the Krell amp and I'm still trying to wrap my head around what I have here. Is it the piece to begin building an upgraded system around? If so, what direction should I go?

    So I'm just asking people's thoughts. I'm not in any rush (budget having been somewhat used up short term). Let me know what you think. Also, one caveat, having read postings like this in the past: yes, I know I need to listen and trust my own ears, pick what I like, etc. What I'm looking for is opinions on what direction that search should take.
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  2. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    Messages:
    29,310
    Location:
    In FLUX currently......
    I have never heard any difference from single wire to biwire. Why not just listen a while and then decide?
     
  3. nyhifihead

    nyhifihead Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    763
    Location:
    long island NY
    I own a kav-250 which I added to my system after significant preamp and digital source chain upgrade, it added to the resolution of the system without taking anything away. A unique experience for me since it seems theres always a trade off.

    I have not found the amp to be bright at all with mixing & matching of components and speakers, it produces true coherent music

    I wouldn't be concerned about having matching components. Krell makes great power amps but many are not big fans of their preamps, they kind of take a step to the side when other manufacturers are mentioned.

    The arcam should be fine for short term but you'll want a capable preamp on the same playing field as the krell, tube preamps from audio research, primaluna, audible illusions have been recommended for me personally to mate with the kav-250

    btw you can bridge the kav 250 to do 1k @ 8 ohm, stable with dips to 4 ohm. I plan on getting another kav 250 to do 1kw monoblocks!!
     
    unfairlane likes this.
  4. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    Messages:
    29,310
    Location:
    In FLUX currently......
    It will not sound the same as you will be cutting the amp output in half (amp-wise :) ). Also the dynamics will not be the same and the sound signature will be different. I got this info from Dan D'Agostino.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
    nyhifihead and KeninDC like this.
  5. KeninDC

    KeninDC Speedfreak Jive Subscriber

    Messages:
    12,078
    Location:
    Virginia
    A tube linestage like a ModWright 9.0 SE that outputs Class A into your Krell is worth a listen.

    Bi-amping in your situation is introducing too much variation into your system if you ask me.
     
    unfairlane and stoutblock like this.
  6. JLange2010

    JLange2010 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Seattle
    Some eye opening input so far, thanks! Referring randomly to some of the comments: I wasn't thinking of bi-wiring, rather bi-amping. Of course, that would require different speakers. Incidentally, I'm surprised no one has suggested a need for a speaker upgrade so far, but maybe that's because the preamp question probably comes first. It seems like tube preamps keep coming up as a suggested good match. I've never run tube gear before and I'm a bit wary of the possible complications, but I've heard some tube gear that sounds fantastic. Having been living happily with 50wpc I'm uncertain about a real "need" for 250, but I'm sure that I'll fry my electrical panel if I were to go monoblocks at 1k per! But then, my poor 90db Focals would disappear in a puff of smoke long before the house burnt down. Which is good since I would not be able to hear the fire trucks coming after listening at that kind of volume.
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  7. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    Messages:
    29,310
    Location:
    In FLUX currently......
    Bi-amping wont do anything either, unless you are doing active biamping (that is more complex).
     
  8. stoutblock

    stoutblock If it sounds good, it is good... Subscriber

    Messages:
    9,461
    Location:
    Northwest USA
    I like the sound of a tube pre in front of good SS amps like yours. Top of my semi affordable list would be a new Modwright SWL 9.0 Anniversary edition or a used 9.0 SE.
     
    NJAudioGuy likes this.
  9. JLange2010

    JLange2010 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Seattle
    That's two votes for the Modwright! Might need to look into those. Botrytis, I am sure you are correct. I had thought about playing with active biamping, but only in the hypothetical sense. Arcam promotes the idea of doing so with the A19 like mine in conjunction with one of their power amps like the P38. I suspect that the Krell, being so much more powerful, would require some real work to sort out how to make it sound good. More trouble than I am likely to put up with.
     
  10. JLange2010

    JLange2010 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Seattle
    NYHiFi, have you experimented much with using the balanced versus rca inputs and, if so, do you find any significant differences? It sounds like Krell is fairly committed to the idea of balanced inputs but I don't know enough about it to understand the degree of importance. It would influence the choice of preamps if it was an advantage.
     
  11. Frank Sol

    Frank Sol Addicted Member

    Messages:
    7,903
    Location:
    SoCal
    I ran a tube pre with a Krell KSA-150 for years

    loved them - the pair out grew me :naughty: -- I needed to downgrade

    The Pre was a Sonic Frontiers SFL-2
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  12. nyhifihead

    nyhifihead Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    763
    Location:
    long island NY
    I have not tried the single ended outputs. My pre is balanced so I just used what I already had, from the manual-

    Krell recommends using balanced interconnect cables. Balanced interconnect cables not only can minimize sonic loss but are also immune to induced noise, especially with installations using long cables. Balanced connections have 6 dB more gain than singleended connections. When level matching is critical, keep this gain value in mind.
     
  13. twiiii

    twiiii Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,767
    Location:
    west Texas
    Krell's can be a little zippy and adding a Krell pre-amp can add even more. Depending on the speaker Krell is a perfect solution, but if you have speakers with tweeter resonances a Krell is not the answer. If you have a great source and complementary speakers you'll be very happy. If not you'll wish you hadn't. For instance I would never use Krell with a Tannoy or KEF speakers.
     
    unfairlane likes this.
  14. JLange2010

    JLange2010 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Seattle
    It does seem like generally opinions lean toward other preamps, and tubes seem to come up a lot. My current speakers in my main system are Focal 814v's and I've heard opinions that they are toward the bright side. I've listened to them long enough now that they are my "normal" and I have not had the opportunity to listen to enough stuff (in my own home anyway) to really have a firm opinion as to the truth of that. But I like them. I'm thinking that the Krell may be the gateway to a new future system. But at this point I'm just harvesting ideas about what that system might look like. I'd be interested to know what speakers you might pair with the amp?
     
  15. Mamrak1

    Mamrak1 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    988
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Without recommending a particular brand, over the years I like the synergy of using the manufacturer for both preamplifier and amplifier. It makes sense that a particular company would make compatible components. Currently I own a McIntosh preamp and power amp.
     
  16. RGA

    RGA Super Member

    Messages:
    1,118
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    The first thing I would do with any Krell amp is make sure the amp was returned to Krell and repaired under their fire hazard recall.

    https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2009/a...-krell-industries-recalled-due-to-fire-hazard

    Once that has been done then consider sound. I personally would not choose speakers to cater to Krell. The other way around but not a Solid State center focus. But if you must just look at audio shows and see what speakers were being run with Krell to give you a good start. But make sure the amp has been fixed first - people miss recalls.
     

     

    Please register to disable this ad.

  17. JLange2010

    JLange2010 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Seattle
    ^^^ I've been in touch with Krell about that, but thanks. No fun having a system that literally burns the house down! Regarding speakers, my thinking was only that if this amp eventually leads to full upgrade-itis that my speakers may become the weak link. But as I mentioned, it will be a slow process in any case. Your suggestions inspire some good ideas.
     
  18. RGA

    RGA Super Member

    Messages:
    1,118
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    You said it in your very first post that you should trust your ears and you should. The best suggestion I usually make is to listen to as many different "types" of systems that you can regardless of price and find the ones that give you the most musical satisfaction and then try and buy that system. Even if you can only afford one at a time or you have to buy the lower end system from the same maker. Like buying the Focal Micro Utopia after being amazed by the Grand Utopia. You still get sound in the ballpark for much of the frequency range but not the bass obviously.

    I've spent 15 years trying to get a system that I absolutely loved back then but it is out of reach financially for me. I have found my desert island speaker and now it's a matter of saving for the components to get the most from it. In my case I only need about 5 watts to pelt me and that's my second piece of advice in general.

    Get a high efficiency speaker. There are several good reasons for this - the main one is that you can buy amplifiers based on sound quality not sound quantity. Good HE speakers cost a fair bit of money BUT you can spend less on the amplifiers because you can get amplifiers that don't require 1000 watts and thus you don't need 100lb transformers.

    High efficiency speakers don't have to be horns - people have problems with what's called the horn shout and while there are excellent horns without this issue they tend to be prohibitive.

    What I find in audio is there are several "camps" of sound. A Focal/Krell, or Bryston/PMC or systems like this tend to lean to the Hi-Fi side of the spectrum giving you a sort of exacting quality. Nothing wrong with that but you may find that moving toward the middle or other end of the spectrum which leans to the "beauty" end of the spectrum may be more appealing - people find this to sound more ambient, richer, warmer and usually involves tubes. Somewhere in the middle of the two where I can give up some neutrality but enjoy the music more. And if I can't enjoy the music then it doesn't matter how accurate or how well it measures if I prefer the stereo in the off position.

    Here is why you have to listen - everything in the industry gets good reviews by someone. Before I was a reviewer I read reviews and bought some of the most well reviewed audio gear in existence. I bought an Arcam integrated that at the time was the least expensive Stereophile Class B component made and the number one selling integrated in Britain. I didn't trust my ears that told me that the Sugden A21a sounded a lot better. But back then the internet didn't really exist and the brand was relatively unknown. But today you'd be hard pressed to find anyone (including those Arcam reviewers) who would not take the A21a in a heartbeat over the Arcam!

    Moral of the story - the reviewers can't choose the best item if they haven't heard the best item - they can only tout the unit that is best out of the ones they happen to audition. Even then you may not share the same taste at all. You look at Stereophile - Michael Fremer loves 1000 watt SS amps - Art Dudley on the other hand greatly prefers low watt tube amps. Their systems don't sound alike - they both can't be right when their systems are complete polar opposites.

    The other thing I have learned is that too many audiophiles are trying to build a system with a bunch of big name gear but you will never get the approval of all. So stop yourself if any part of you is thinking you need to buy X to prove your system is good in the eyes of others. Especially the measurements crowd.

    I tell you 15 years ago when i was on boards telling people that I liked what I like I took a drubbing because the measurements are frankly appalling versus most of the rest of the industry - so I wound up coming off as a bit of religious nutwing. Fortunately, I was redeemed 15 years later when so many people including reviewers, composers, concert pianists/violinists/cellists recording and mastering engineers came on board. So I rarely take the snipes I did.

    So find what you like. You are the one that has to live with it. But definitely try the stuff that perhaps is less mainstream - it can be a real ear-opener and often times less expensive.
     
    musichal likes this.
  19. rxonmymind

    rxonmymind AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,091
    Location:
    California
    Only advice I can give is not to change to many variables at once. Stay with your current speakers for a minute with the Krell amp. Get to really know it. Small steps.
     
  20. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Super Member

    Messages:
    3,469
    Location:
    Iowa
    Listen first, with current speaks and pre. Listen more, then think about next steps..........
     
    unfairlane likes this.

Share This Page