Great Krell sound at unbeatable price! The first noticeable difference you will find with this amp would be proper reproduction of bass details. Bass is simply tight and fastly detailed. Mids and Highs are also extremely detailed without harshness nor fatique, perfectly warm yet everything is there. Difference is subtle on the Mids and Highs, but Krell bass just fills up the whole sound spectrum which draws the listener to be more involved in depth. I listen to all music from opera (Katherleen Battle) to Electronic (Bonobo, Pendulum) and everything in the middle (Jazz, R&B, Classical, Ambience, Drum & Bass etc) and 400xi plays all of my favorites so smoothly and completely in full. It never sounds offensively hard on your ears at all casually moderate listening levels.
I have gone through a number of raved amps: Macormack DNA125, Proceed AMP2, Musical Fidelity, Krell 100S, Adcom, Nakamichi PA7. I say among all of these amps, my pick was Proceed AMP2 which was very detailed and sweet sounding (two seperate troidal power transformer per channel) at reasonable price, of course until I heard this baby Krell. KSA 100S offered thunderous bass and antique warm sound (Macormack was too warm in this aspect, had to let it go), but it was way too big and bulky (I would have kept it if it was smaller, and newer). Adcom was just too muddy, but powerfull, Nakamichi looked great and sounded very musical (but big size). Above all, this modern interpretation of Krell has the smallest footprint and best design with 100% sturdy aluminum finish (entire case), offering solid bass (evolved bass, it's not the good old thunder Krell, but I wouldnt say less) and full detail without attacking your ears. Also, power is always in reserve (I run Martin Logans, powerful enough to make them cry). You wont be disappointed.
This review is based upon the 300iL the twin of the 400xi minus the selector knob. I have also posted a more extensive review under the 300iL link. Do not believe the Krell detractors. These units at the prices that you can get them for are a steal. They absolutely trounce 99% of the other integrateds that I have owned (Naim, Consonance, YBA, Bryston, etc.). It also bests all of the separates that I have been thus far able to afford (McCormack DNA .5, Bryston 2B, PS Audio 4.6 Preamp). I understand that these are not ultra high-end but they destroyed the NAD, Parasound, Rotel, Adcom, and B&K equipment that I have previously owned.
In summary the KAV 300iL is not a taste of the high-end, it is what I truly believe that the high-end is all about.... Pursuit of pure, sweet music.
Yes KAV stands for Krell Audio Video.But this integrated amplifier is equaly good in audio and home theater.It is definitely audiophile with its wide big soundstage ,accurate rhytmic fast bass which was not available in older Krell integrated amplifiers,thunderous dynamics,timing,very good timbre factor,and smooth undistorted highs.It is even on the warmer side of neutral compared to older kav300i,and the new s300i.Since I have 907be speakers with the beryllium tweeters I can easily say the treble performance is one of the cleanest and yet smoothest at this price point.The mid band is not full bodied like tube designs,neither it sounds as delicate as tube sounds.But it never sounds muddled,and you could always pin point the exact location of instruments.In terms of mid band Sim Audio 5.3 has slightly better body and presence for example.Then again it doesnt sound thin with the right choice of cabling,speakers and source,just not as full bodied as some other designs.It sounds bold,very open and has great presence.It is also sounds fluid and smooth for a solid state design.
Yes it runs really hot,especially after 30 minutes of use due to very compact design and relatively smaller heat sinks for a 200w amplifier (according to stereophile magazine`s test 290w per channel clipping power).It is not intented to use with speakers dropping below 4 ohms or staying at 4 ohms neighbourhood most of the time.So for best results you should give a lot of ventilation space,and use easier to drive speakers impedance wise (less sensitive speakers are ok).
Also it works best with balanced connection and copper cables.
It does not sound like Bose in anyway(i use to have 301 and am5 for my small home theater in the past),If there is a "Bose Sound" regarding the amplifiers.Kav 400xi is definitely for music lovers, and it is really hard to beat or not love to its allround ability,its sense power,its bold dynamic portrayal,neutrality,openness,clarity,and smoothness for a solid state amp. at this price point.
I also auditioned YBA Integrated (which has great mid body ,but sounds muddled,soft in freq.extremes,and much less detailed),Sim Audio 5.3 (which is slightly better than kav400xi in mid band,but not as dynamic,powerful and big in sound stage.),Marantz pm 11s1(which has great fluidity but somewhat softer looser bass ),Marantz pm 15s1,and McIntosh MA6300 (which sounded a bit harsh ,brittle and forward at higher volumes which i did not experience before in a McIntosh amp.).
To my ears Krell was better in most of the areas like sound staging,detail level,dynamics,etc..
I recommend Furutech,kimber select (copper using models like 1016),Van Den Hul and Mit cables.I also recommend staying away of silver or copper/silver hybrid cables.
If you want more midrange bloom i recommend using a cd player or dac with tube output stage.
if you need more power and if you have very difficult to drive speakers in terms of impedance,you can always add a 2nd hand kav 2250 and use kav 400xi as a pre.
If i upgrade I am thinking of 2250/280pre combo or fpb 200/krc3 depending on the price and 2nd hand availability in the future.
Before I owned Luxman l106u,Rotel ra 965 ; rb/rc 980bx, mission cyrus 3i ,and krell kav 300i.
Used or tested with:
Sources:Shanling cd3000,Rega Saturn,Krell sacd st.v3.
Speakers:Focal Electra 907be,B&W 804.
Interconnects:Van Den Hul Thunderline,Mit T2,Kimber KS1016,Audioquest Columbia.
Speaker Cable:Audioquest Midnight 3
It is class A recommended component in well respected Stereophile,
It had high scores from British press including Hifi Choice,What hifi,Hifi World and Hifi News.
Also high scores from German press including Stereoplay.
For more reviews:
KAV stands for Krell Audio Video. So no audiophiles need to apply. This space heater sounds like his name implies. Great tight bass and artificial distorted treble that does not come even close to natural sound.
The best way to describe Krell KAV 400 sound would be: It sounds like Bose . There is no meat or middle between happy bass and miserable treble. On complex recordings you would be able to hear soloist and drums orchestra will sound like a moshpit . If you are planning to hook it up to big screen TV and watch Batman movies then it is ok . However no serious music lover should touch this electronic experiment.
This is the second time I owned this beautiful amp. The first time I sold it because I did not understand what Krell was trying to do with this amp. I bought a 300i instead because it produces more bass. The 400xi is actually a much more refined amp and not as coarse as the 300i. The bass articulation is superb and the damping is very good with little overhang. High frequency extension is very good and produces a very airy sound. Last but not least, the design and finish is awesome.