And it more than hints at new directions for the doyen of powerhouse amp builders. We should have seen it coming. Were there not clues in the move toward a comprehensive home theatre system, the modular five-channel amplifier, the forthcoming pre-amp with on-board surround facilities, the ever-increasingly-sophisticated remote control facilties? It wears the new look, with rounded fascia edges and chamfered accents, press buttons replacing rotaries, a balanced input, operation via a remote control that works other Krell components.
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With the KAVi, an integrated amplifier that was originally envisaged as an export model, but for which home demand is clearly increasing, the Connecticut-based amplifier manufacturer is dabbling in low-cost territory. Previous Krell amplifiers have been known for their prodigious drive capability. The answer lies partly in the growth of Home Theater, an area where Krell has been gaining experience with good-quality, competitively priced, multi-channel amplifiers.
There was also a precedent in the KST, a modestly priced Wpc Krell power amplifier that found favor in Europe a few years back. If performance is to be sustained when the load impedance halves, then, all other things being equal, the size of the amplifier power supply as well as the number of output transistors and their heatsinks must double.
For Krell to specify performance down to 2 ohms and below, they must pass the costs of doing so on to the customer. In the end, it all boils down to application. It has significantly softer, rounder styling than the larger KSA amplifiers.
Its panel logo is the new, downward-arrow Krell "Audio-Visual" symbol. You get five inputs, including the tape monitor facility. A hex wrench is supplied for getting inside, and also for replacing major fuses should this be necessary. Two kinds of output are available from the KAVi: loudspeakers are connected via one set of gold-plated five-way binding posts per channel; there is also a set of single-ended preamplifier outputs via gold-plated RCA jacks.
Note that the loudspeaker terminals remain active even if the unit is run only as a preamp. However, speaker cables should not be left connected, in case the plugs short-circuit the amplifier outputs. A model of simplicity, the front panel carries a horizontal line of milled, stainless-steel, circular control buttons.
The power light glows red for standby, changing to blue for "operate. In addition, a set of 11 LEDs graphically shows the volume setting. This amplifier will mainly be operated, I expect, via the remote-control handset, a satisfactorily chunky plastic molding. This can be shifted unambiguously in five 1dB increments in either direction.
The final touch is the inclusion of some basic control functions for a Krell-compatible CD player or transport including many Philips-type RC5-coded units. I grew to like the handset with its dulled finish and positive-click membrane-type buttons. The case is of aluminium alloy, and its good conductivity is exploited in the form of additional surface area for the modestly finned internal heatsinks. Though these do not have an optimum orientation, an alloy block is bolted through to the lower case section to aid heat conduction.
No external fins are present, though there are some ventilation slots in the top cover. I estimate that the unit should not be run continuously at full power into 4 ohm loads for extended periods. The heatsinking is fine for normal peak program duty, however.
Krell KAV-300iL Integrated Amplifiers
How good could it be? After Schofield proposed a new business plan that would address reliability and performance issues, he came onboard as COO. After spending several hours listening to the speaker with an amplifier that did not do it for me at all, my ears perked up when proprietor Erik Owen switched to a brand-new, hardly-broken-in Krell Ki. A mere two months later, a Ki made its way to Port Townsend for review. What it is. All circuits up to the driver stage operate in pure class-A. The front panel includes power, source selection, navigation, menu, and volume buttons; a USB-A receptacle for playback from USB sticks; and an illuminated display.
Krell S-300i review
It starts off with having the Krell name. Krell is arguably the king of high-end solid state amplification and has been there for a number of decades. Next comes weight and solidity of build. The Si feels as solid as a brick and weighs as much as a pallet load of the things — OK, it weighs 20kg, which is mighty hefty for an amplifier of this price. Lastly, it really is a powerhouse. The special bit comes into play when you see that power output doubles to watts per channel as the load impedance drops. Technically, that is ideal amplifier behaviour and strongly suggests a highly specified power supply and a very robust output stage.
Krell KAV-300i Integrated Amplifiers
Probably the most interesting feature, especially for the HT crowd out there, is the so-called Theater Throughput i. The amount of power consumption in stand-by mode is negligible while the amp is always ready to perform at its best. The Krell remote allows to control other Krell components CD players included so, if you own a complete Krell system, you can use just a single remote. Having tested the KAV a power amp, which is very similar to the KAV i, I expected to get similar results in terms of sound quality. So you can just imagine my suprise when the KAV i started to sing into my reference system A whole different approach, indeed!!!