Is it the Krell sound I crave?

insider9

Well-known member
It's been about a month since I started a thread asking for help. I've learned a lot in the mean time and manage to undestand better what it is that I'm really after. If you'd rather not read the whole back story skip to last 2 paragraphs :)

I'm currently looking for an amp to match my Roksan Kandy K2 TR5 speakers. For those who don't know the speakers they are a 2 way standmount with a 5 inch driver and a ribbon tweeter. They're really fast, precise and of a not neutral presentation. High mids are a little bit more pronounced over the rest of frequency range and the overall balance feels top heavy. Whatever they lack in bass extension they make up in quality. These were built to compliment Kandy K2 amp.

Initially partnered with Arcam A85 mainly listening to jazz. They sounded bright digging up tons of detail with not that much bass. It was either me needing a week to get use to the sound or that used speakers after a period of inactivity also need running in. Reproduction of timbre of horns was particularly stunning. Precision and control, separation and the rich tone of each instrument was amazing. Vocals, so captivating forward and so accurate and sweet. Soundstage wasn't as big or deep as I expected though. Also listening to rock/metal felt flat and lacking emotion. Poor quality recording would also be exposed.

I then auditioned Roksan Kandy K3 + Audiolab 8300CD. 2 hours of listening and simply knew it was not an upgrade at least not for me. It was like listening to different speakers. Felt detail was lacking, bass had less quality (squidgy) and the overall precision wasn't there. Yes it was perhaps more musical. I even listened to KEF LS50 and R100 afterwards but was just not blown away by the amp.

In another thread I asked for a suggestion for a vintage NAD for another system. NAD C320BEE came this week and it didn't go on my second system after auditioning. Which brings me to where I am now.

What I like about the NAD is the musicality. Suddenly metal and rock, well rocks. The bottom end is pronounced more and this actually suits my speakers. I feel that soundstage widened and broadened a little giving more engagement with the music. Though it lacks just about in every department against the things Arcam did so well it's overal more enjoyable. Sadly the difference in quality is so vast I'm not enjoying listening to jazz any more. Individual instruments don't sound real. The wonderful timbre is gone. Bass is squidy like from a car, the one you see passing with lights underneath it.

I have no qualms that the difference between the Arcam and NAD is vast. But I'm hoping for any advice of the hybrid of the two. I'm also hoping that it can be achieved on a second hand market with a budget of max £600.

So what would be an ideal scenario? Arcam-like (precision, timbre, individual instrument quality, control) but more musical with more bottom end and more engaging soundstaging and presentation (NAD-like).

I tried reading up on things and came up with 3 I've never heard but potentially could be close (I'm might be completely wrong here). Musical Fidelity A3, Plinius 8100, Unison Research Unico Any other amp suggestions very welcome. I adore my speakers even though their flaws so will keep them regardless so please don't suggest changing them. Thanks in advance, much appreciated!
 

tino

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insider9 said:
It's been about a month since I started a thread asking for help. I've learned a lot in the mean time and manage to undestand better what it is that I'm really after. If you'd rather not read the whole back story skip to last 2 paragraphs :)

I'm currently looking for an amp to match my Roksan Kandy K2 TR5 speakers. For those who don't know the speakers they are a 2 way standmount with a 5 inch driver and a ribbon tweeter. They're really fast, precise and of a not neutral presentation. High mids are a little bit more pronounced over the rest of frequency range and the overall balance feels top heavy. Whatever they lack in bass extension they make up in quality. These were built to compliment Kandy K2 amp.

Initially partnered with Arcam A85 mainly listening to jazz. They sounded bright digging up tons of detail with not that much bass. It was either me needing a week to get use to the sound or that used speakers after a period of inactivity also need running in. Reproduction of timbre of horns was particularly stunning. Precision and control, separation and the rich tone of each instrument was amazing. Vocals, so captivating forward and so accurate and sweet. Soundstage wasn't as big or deep as I expected though. Also listening to rock/metal felt flat and lacking emotion. Poor quality recording would also be exposed.

I then auditioned Roksan Kandy K3 + Audiolab 8300CD. 2 hours of listening and simply knew it was not an upgrade at least not for me. It was like listening to different speakers. Felt detail was lacking, bass had less quality (squidgy) and the overall precision wasn't there. Yes it was perhaps more musical. I even listened to KEF LS50 and R100 afterwards but was just not blown away by the amp.

In another thread I asked for a suggestion for a vintage NAD for another system. NAD C320BEE came this week and it didn't go on my second system after auditioning. Which brings me to where I am now.

What I like about the NAD is the musicality. Suddenly metal and rock, well rocks. The bottom end is pronounced more and this actually suits my speakers. I feel that soundstage widened and broadened a little giving more engagement with the music. Though it lacks just about in every department against the things Arcam did so well it's overal more enjoyable. Sadly the difference in quality is so vast I'm not enjoying listening to jazz any more. Individual instruments don't sound real. The wonderful timbre is gone. Bass is squidy like from a car, the one you see passing with lights underneath it.

I have no qualms that the difference between the Arcam and NAD is vast. But I'm hoping for any advice of the hybrid of the two. I'm also hoping that it can be achieved on a second hand market with a budget of max £600.

So what would be an ideal scenario? Arcam-like (precision, timbre, individual instrument quality, control) but more musical with more bottom end and more engaging soundstaging and presentation (NAD-like).

I tried reading up on things and came up with 3 I've never heard but potentially could be close (I'm might be completely wrong here). Musical Fidelity A3, Plinius 8100, Unison Research Unico Any other amp suggestions very welcome. I adore my speakers even though their flaws so will keep them regardless so please don't suggest changing them. Thanks in advance, much appreciated!

Have you tried a modern Class D amp for comparison - they might have the bass power and control you are after. Your budget if stretched a little could put you in the territory of the new Cyrus One for example.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Thanks for your suggestion.

From what I've read Cyrus amps are likely to be bright. If so that would make them too bright for my speakers. Arcam A85 is a neutral sounding amp and already can expose poor recordings. I'll definitely have a read about Cyrus One and Class D amps though.

EDIT: What I have read about some of the above amps (sadly not heard any of them) is that the sound I'm quite possibly looking for is the sound of Krell amps. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Even second hand at the minute they're out of my price range.
 
insider9 said:
Thanks for your suggestion.

From what I've read Cyrus amps are likely to be bright. If so that would make them too bright for my speakers. Arcam A85 is a neutral sounding amp and already can expose poor recordings. I'll definitely have a read about Cyrus One and Class D amps though.

EDIT: What I have read about some of the above amps (sadly not heard any of them) is that the sound I'm quite possibly looking for is the sound of Krell amps. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Even second hand at the minute they're out of my price range.

Krells are good but always were a tad expensive. I'd be looking for a decent second-hand Primare integrated. There's a couple of A30.1's on a certain auction site at the moment inside your budget.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Thank you Al for such a specific tip! I'll research it thoroughly.

As you can see I'm out of my depth here so any pointers are very helpful. Luckily, for once I know exactly what sound I'm looking for but it's only so much you can read from reviews.
 

insider9

Well-known member
bigfish786 said:
You could try adding an Arcam P85 power amp, roughly around 250 on the second hand market. You have nothing to lose, as if you don't get the desired results, it will sell for whatever you pay for it. 

 
I have considered that before I got the Nad. Unfortunately it is my understanding that the presentation wouldn't change just the finer detail. I've read it would open up the soundstage which would be great and improve bass. Yes these qualities are partly what I'm looking for.

Concern is I'd still have an amp that's unsuitable for rock. I don't know what it is as hearing all the guitars when listening to Pearl Jam is great but with Arcam they just sound disjointed. The energy and musicality isn't there.

Would bi amping improve that?
 
insider9 said:
Thank you Al for such a specific tip! I'll research it thoroughly.

As you can see I'm out of my depth here so any pointers are very helpful. Luckily, for once I know exactly what sound I'm looking for but it's only so much you can read from reviews.

Indeed, you have to try and listen to as much as you can. Not everyone hears the same thing when it comes to hifi.
 
It might be right up your street, but then again it might not. You'll find in your research that Krell was run by Dan d'Agostino for many years. Then in circumstances I don't recall he left and set up his own super exotic brand with his own name. I've heard them and they are faultless to my ears.

Until about five years ago I think Krell had a fairly distinct voice, one that while essentially neutral, tends to be quite dynamic and exciting, digging out a lot if detail and with a wide open sound - by my reckoning it needs speakers with a bit of warmth. My core system is now 18 years old, and the amp has never needed attention; the CD player has had one service. Review here:-

http://www.stereophile.com/integratedamps/809/#2HBkSgoyz0jredxE.97

The latest generation with the ugly convex trim in the middle of the fascia I've not heard. I'm not sure how much they've changed. I've read some less flattering write ups, and some Krell design guys have moved to Mark Levinson.

I'd buy my amp again, and they are still sold for around £750, versus the original £2500. Try to hear one if you can; there are a steady stream on eBay if you like a gamble.
 
As I said earlier, for a small layout, you can give the P85 a try. I had one. And it did push the soundstage a lot harder. Give it a go.

my next step was to move to Leema Amplification. Which I find hits all the right notes!

I mainly listen to metal, and hard rock. Leema has an addictive punch, arcam has a delicate beauty, but still delivers the goods.

Try the power amp first, if not what you want, maybe try Leema.
 

insider9

Well-known member
nopiano said:
It might be right up your street, but then again it might not. You'll find in your research that Krell was run by Dan d'Agostino for many years. Then in circumstances I don't recall he left and set up his own super exotic brand with his own name. I've heard them and they are faultless to my ears.

Until about five years ago I think Krell had a fairly distinct voice, one that while essentially neutral, tends to be quite dynamic and exciting, digging out a lot if detail and with a wide open sound - by my reckoning it needs speakers with a bit of warmth. My core system is now 18 years old, and the amp has never needed attention; the CD player has had one service. Review here:-

http://www.stereophile.com/integratedamps/809/#2HBkSgoyz0jredxE.97

The latest generation with the ugly convex trim in the middle of the fascia I've not heard. I'm not sure how much they've changed. I've read some less flattering write ups, and some Krell design guys have moved to Mark Levinson.

I'd buy my amp again, and they are still sold for around £750, versus the original £2500. Try to hear one if you can; there are a steady stream on eBay if you like a gamble.

Thanks nopiano!

£750 would be more than I'm prepared to pay. I am surprised these fine units would go so low. On the other hand if it was the last £750 I'd spend on an amp for a good while I guess it wouldn't be so bad. As auditioning used equipment is so difficult it will come down to an "informed" guess. I guess if the budget would have to be stretched Santa would be contributing towards the overall cost :)

Reading the review of your amp it would suit my needs to a t. Of course how it would actually match to my speakers is anyones guess. They are far from warm sounding. By the way reviews by Stereophile are one of my favourite. Thanks again
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Hi. Never heard them, but I think Krell amps are regarded as rather clinical or cold by some, so completely the opposite. Unfortunately, can't think of anything in that budget that would give you Arcam grandeur and Nad's fatty bass. Did Nad do power amps? Or something from the new Nad range... I don't know.

NVA reportedly has some weight in the lower regions - some complain it's a bit muddy, but it might be up your alley.
 
rainsoothe said:
Hi. Never heard them, but I think Krell amps are regarded as rather clinical or cold by some, so completely the opposite. Unfortunately, can't think of anything in that budget that would give you Arcam grandeur and Nad's fatty bass. Did Nad do power amps? Or something from the new Nad range... I don't know.

NVA reportedly has some weight in the lower regions - some complain it's a bit muddy, but it might be up your alley.

Try the Primare ;-)

Cold and clinical is not how I'd descibe a Krell (and I am sure nopiano would agree), however I guess it's all in the ears of the auditioner.
 

insider9

Well-known member
rainsoothe said:
Unfortunately, can't think of anything in that budget that would give you Arcam grandeur and Nad's fatty bass. Did Nad do power amps? Or something from the new Nad range... I don't know.

NVA reportedly has some weight in the lower regions - some complain it's a bit muddy, but it might be up your alley.

Sadly it's not just the NAD's fatty bass I'm hoping to achieve here as I could resort to tone controls if that was the only thing. It's more to do with presentation. NAD just feels more alive and fun. It's really bizzare as for all it's shortcomings I've listened to it much more over the last few days then the Arcam.

Thanks for suggesting NVA. That's the second time ever I've heard of them and twice this week also (both times on this forum). Worth looking into but the Primare is a firm favourite.
 

insider9

Well-known member
bigfish786 said:
As I said earlier, for a small layout, you can give the P85 a try. I had one. And it did push the soundstage a lot harder. Give it a go.

my next step was to move to Leema Amplification. Which I find hits all the right notes!

I mainly listen to metal, and hard rock. Leema has an addictive punch, arcam has a delicate beauty, but still delivers the goods.

Try the power amp first, if not what you want, maybe try Leema.

With all the wine I've had yesterday I missed this post. Sorry bigfish.

Can I just check with you as indeed P85 would be the cheapest option. Does Arcam when biamped become more punchy/alive?

Issue now is that metal is a complete no go due to lack of excitement and energy. It sound flat :( And it's certainly not a speaker issue, these are fast so can play metal really well.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Primare is a good call, I just don't know if you can fit one in your budget. An Arcam A29 might just do it as well. Or used Naim XS (first gen) - this would be my go to. But I don't know if you can find any of these under 600 quid.
 
rainsoothe said:
Primare is a good call, I just don't know if you can fit one in your budget. An Arcam A29 might just do it as well. Or used Naim XS (first gen) - this would be my go to. But I don't know if you can find any of these under 600 quid.

There are Primares available for his budget (see post #4), otherwise I wouldn't have suggested them. I find suggesting kit that is obviously outside the budget stated a futile exercise. ;-)
 

drummerman

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Cyrus amps are not 'bright'. Arcam is imho brighter lit, at least pre-'class G'.

This misconception harks possibly back to early cyrus.

I think you might find what you seek with Naim. Propulsive, somewhat dark but good detail. Great bass. Very involving. Again, this is for 'newer' Naim ... XS and original Supernait and later.

Cyrus is somewhere between the two. Neutral.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Al ears said:
rainsoothe said:
Primare is a good call, I just don't know if you can fit one in your budget. An Arcam A29 might just do it as well. Or used Naim XS (first gen) - this would be my go to. But I don't know if you can find any of these under 600 quid.

There are Primares available for his budget (see post #4), otherwise I wouldn't have suggested them. I find suggesting kit that is obviously outside the budget stated a futile exercise.  ;-)
Agreed and my Primare also agrees :)

Just got back from a close to 400 mile round trip South Yorkshire > Surrey > South Yorkshire. Had an hours worth of demo with my speakers and was rather impressed. So again, thank you Al.

I'll report tomorrow after a couple of hours of listening.
 

insider9

Well-known member
drummerman said:
Cyrus amps are not 'bright'. Arcam is imho brighter lit, at least pre-'class G'.

This misconception harks possibly back to early cyrus.

I think you might find what you seek with Naim. Propulsive, somewhat dark but good detail. Great bass. Very involving. Again, this is for 'newer' Naim ... XS and original Supernait and later.

Cyrus is somewhere between the two. Neutral.
Thanks for straightening that out. I managed to buy a Primare yesterday (Sunday) so will have my hands full for a while. I'll do a write up as soon as I've got some thoughts.

I'll look into Cyrus and Naim next time I'm after a new amp. These two are definitely on my radar now that I have more accurate info.
 
insider9 said:
Al ears said:
rainsoothe said:
Primare is a good call, I just don't know if you can fit one in your budget. An Arcam A29 might just do it as well. Or used Naim XS (first gen) - this would be my go to. But I don't know if you can find any of these under 600 quid.

There are Primares available for his budget (see post #4), otherwise I wouldn't have suggested them. I find suggesting kit that is obviously outside the budget stated a futile exercise. ;-)
Agreed and my Primare also agrees :)

Just got back from a close to 400 mile round trip South Yorkshire > Surrey > South Yorkshire. Had an hours worth of demo with my speakers and was rather impressed. So again, thank you Al.

I'll report tomorrow after a couple of hours of listening.

Glad to hear covering that sort of distance paid off. Put feet up and Enjoy!
 

insider9

Well-known member
Ok, so I haven't managed to have a listen to the amp yet apart from checking it works. Many reasons including being knackered after yesterday's trip and my ears are still getting back to normal after I demoed NAD M2 (a little bit too loud). The guy I bought the Primare from had it so it was rude not to have a listen especially as I brought my speakers along.

One observation so far and I hope I shouldn't get worried...

Primare while on standby makes a clicking noise once in a while. Similar but not as loud to a click you get when you switch the amp on. Several clicks then nothing for a minute and returns for a click or two. I haven't heard it when the amp is fully on and not playing music.

Last night when switching it from cold I've also heard some electrical noise inside.

Is this normal or is it faulty/haunted?
 

Macspur

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insider9 said:
Ok, so I haven't managed to have a listen to the amp yet apart from checking it works. Many reasons including being knackered after yesterday's trip and my ears are still getting back to normal after I demoed NAD M2 (a little bit too loud). The guy I bought the Primare from had it so it was rude not to have a listen especially as I brought my speakers along.

One observation so far and I hope I shouldn't get worried...

Primare while on standby makes a clicking noise once in a while. Similar but not as loud to a click you get when you switch the amp on. Several clicks then nothing for a minute and returns for a click or two. I haven't heard it when the amp is fully on and not playing music.

Last night when switching it from cold I've also heard some electrical noise inside.

Is this normal or is it faulty/haunted?

Sounds a bit suspect to me, have a word with the guy you bought it from and see what he has to say.

Mac

www.macsmusic.blogbubble.net
 
Macspur said:
insider9 said:
Ok, so I haven't managed to have a listen to the amp yet apart from checking it works. Many reasons including being knackered after yesterday's trip and my ears are still getting back to normal after I demoed NAD M2 (a little bit too loud). The guy I bought the Primare from had it so it was rude not to have a listen especially as I brought my speakers along.

One observation so far and I hope I shouldn't get worried...

Primare while on standby makes a clicking noise once in a while. Similar but not as loud to a click you get when you switch the amp on. Several clicks then nothing for a minute and returns for a click or two. I haven't heard it when the amp is fully on and not playing music.

Last night when switching it from cold I've also heard some electrical noise inside.

Is this normal or is it faulty/haunted?

Sounds a bit suspect to me, have a word with the guy you bought it from and see what he has to say.

Mac

www.macsmusic.blogbubble.net
Seconded. It would worry me too. Have you got speakers connected, or is it just sitting with the mains on?
 

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