The smallest of the Resolution Series, the Resolution 3 is a 2-way monitor system based on the same engineering principles that distinguish the Krell Resolution concept. The tweeter is identical to the unit used in the Resolution 1. The 8-inch (22cm) mid-bass drive unit is optimized for use in a two-way design where demands are placed on the low and midrange portions of the frequency spectrum. A polypropylene drive unit, this mid-bass driver features an oversized voice coil and magnet structure with a proprietary suspension design. This advanced driver design simultaneously ensures extraordinary bass reproduction and outstanding midrange accuracy.
After listening to a number of different "bookshelf" speakers, I selected the Krell Resolution 3 monitor speakers to replace a pair of floor-standing Thiel 2.3s in my main system, which is used for active listening, mostly to jazz and classical music. The Thiels are excellent speakers, but were too large for my listening room, both physically and sonically (the room is roughly 15 feet by 12 feet). In the space I had available, which put the speakers only eight feet from my listening position and only seven feet apart, the Thiels tended towards weak bass response and a high end that could turn brittle and harsh, particularly in the upper registers of the violin and flute (a function primarily of my room arrangement, I suspect, but also of Thiel's concentric midrange/tweeter with the mechanical crossover -- the driver needs a respectable distance from the listener to resolve the sound into an accurate signal without an edge to it).
I was looking for a replacement that would offer the same kind of stellar imaging as the Thiels, but could work in a relatively small space, providing more authoritative bass and a smoother high end. The Resolution 3s fill the bill nicely. The stereo image is rock solid, with a clearly defined center and, with good recordings, a soundstage that extends both beyond and behind the speakers. The Krells provide a smooth high end and remarkably solid bass in the small space, without any hint of brittleness or boom -- the bass was capable of providing significant energy down to low organ notes, although to produce the characteristic physical impact of organ pedal notes a subwoofer would be necessary. The Resolution 3s are in the class of speakers that, with most recordings, "disappear", leaving the listener alone in the room with the music.
Of course, in the world of loudspeakers all improvements come with a price, and in the case of the Krells it is a slight but noticeable blurring in the lower midrange --especially with classical pieces for an orchestra or other large ensemble. The Krells do have a little trouble (as do the Thiels and most other speakers) convincingly reproducing the complexity of loud passages in classical works that employ the orchestra's full forces.
Perhaps unintentionally, Krell provides the Resolution 3s with a handy way to experiment with a small change in the speaker's sonic character. The speakers employ an unusual speaker grill that is formed from a series of rubber "strings" stretched vertically between two metal frames that attach, respectively, to the top and bottom of the face of the speaker, stretching the strings taut. Claims to the contrary notwithstanding, the grills do slightly impact the sound of the speakers (I confirmed my subjective impression with a spectrum analyzer and microphone -- at least in my room, putting the grills in place actually flattens the frequency response measurably -- I imagine the impact of using or not using the grills will vary from room to room -- happily, the speakers look great either way). I have heard claims that the grills introduce phase distortion, also, but I have no way to measure it, and could not detect any negative impact on imaging when I put on the grills. By the way, be careful when putting the grills on or taking them off -- it takes a fair amount of strength and coordination to do it safely, and the edges of the metal frames are sharp and can both scratch the wood and cut fingers (I am wearing a bandage on one finger as I type this).
For a monitor speaker, the Krells are both large and heavy. They weigh 45 pounds apiece, and are 16 inches high, 11 inches wide, and 17 inches deep (the horizontal cross-section is a truncated teardrop, tapering towards the rear panel from the frount baffle). They are intended for placement on a speaker stand -- stands between 24 and 30 inches tall should be appropriate -- the stands will need to either have a very heavy base or be capable of accepting additional loading, using sand or lead shot or kitty litter-- otherwise the speaker/stand combination may be top-heavy.
Each speaker employs an 8-inch mid-bass driver and a 1-inch concentric-ring tweeter with a wave guide. The speaker contains a very complex crossover that includes significant electronics to assist with bass equalization. This is probably Krell's claim to fame and what distinguishes the speaker from others -- the speaker drivers themselves, while of high quality, are products provided by third parties and are simply assembled by Krell into the speaker enclosures. The enclosures, incidentally, are gorgeous, but are only available in a cherry finish. The speakers are set up so that they can be bi-wired or bi-amped. Very snazzy jumpers are provided for those of us who prefer a traditional two-wire-per-channel configuration.
The instructions provided with the speakers are competent and technically complete, but provide very little insight on placement, use of stands, advantages of bi-wiring, etc. An odd oversight for speakers in this price range. The Krells come with a five-year warranty (save the boxes and the packing materials -- shipping these back without damaging them could be tough without proper packaging).
In sum, while $4000 (mine were demos) is a lot of money for a monitor speaker, I have yet to encounter a speaker at or below the price that could equal the Resolution 3s' ability to deliver a convincing, musical image in a relatively small space. For the audio enthusiast with a healthy budget (let's face it -- VERY healthy -- I always get a chuckle when an audio reviewer calls a four-figure piece of equipment "affordable") but limited listening space, the Resolution 3s should be at the top of the shopping list.
Associated equiment for this review:
Audio Research LS25MKII Preamplifier
Audio Research PH3SE Phono Preamplifier
conrad-johnson MF-2500 Amplifier
Music Hall MMF-7 Turntable with Goldring cartridge
Sony XA9000ES SACD Player
Sony KA3ES Cassette Deck
I've been living with my Krell Resolution 3's for almost a year. The sixmoons.com reviewer said that firing up this speaker for the first time immediately put a smile on his face. I think that that is the very best way to sum up this speaker--they are involving!
Sound Anchors makes a $450, 24" dedicated stand for the Resolution 3's, which I purchased from the same store as the speaker. An excellent decision--but I think that, at several hundred dollars, Sound Anchor should include a sheet of instructions and tips (you have to fit the spikes.) An e-mail to Sound Anchors elicited a prompt and helpful reply, however. I also ended up purchasing the optional coasters for bare wood floors. (Not cheap--if memory serves they were between $15 and $20 each, and 6 are required.)
I set up the speakers in my 19' x 11' x 12' space in front of the long wall, seven feet apart measured from center of tweeter. There is 28" between the front wall and the tweeter. (Are you as confounded as me by reviews that don't state whether they are measuring from the back or front of the speaker when they tell you how far into the room the speaker is?) This puts my ears about 8' from the front of the speakers, which are toed in about 25 degrees. I'm using an MBL 7008 integrated amplifier (200 deliciously musical watts into 4 ohms), a Rotel RCD 1072 CD player, Monster Cable M100i interconnect, and M2.4s biwire speaker cable.
As to sound--the important thing--what can I say? I'm not a professional reviewer with experience with hundreds of products. I owned the Magnepan 1.5's for many happy years. (Sold in a move, and I'm not sure that Magnepans would match my present decor, and being in an apartment I wanted speakers off the floor. But I could be wrong and who knows, once you go Magnepan, maybe you end up back.) I auditioned two other speakers at this price: The Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor and the MBL 311 E. To my ears, it was an easy choice: the 8" mid-bass woofer of the Krell imparted a weight to the bass that makes them boogie, and made me swing my head from side-to-side and tap my feet. This quality was missing from the other two. To refer to the sixmoons.com review again, I agree with the reviewer that they sound "more robust than most speakers of similar rating. These speakers have solid and full bass down to their lower limit and they effortlessly energize a room."
I love these speakers. I mostly listen to classic rock, but I have all kinds of music in my collection. I think that no matter what you listen to, they will not disappoint. I had a musician friend of mine over, and we listened to Led Zeppelin LOUD. He said that they were the best speakers he's ever heard, only excepting two world-class mastering studios he's been to. Not bad for stand-mounted speakers!!
If you live in an apartment as I do, or have a medium or smaller listening room, you should check out these wonderful speakers. Can't let this review go without mentioning the Krell's outstanding fit n'finish. They look great!