Krell FPB-200 Amplifiers

FPB-200

2 channel, 200W at 8 ohms, power doubles each halving of impedance load

User Reviews (19)

Showing 1-10 of 19  
ckoffend   AudioPhile [Feb 14, 2008]
Strength:

Excellent control of the music with a well balanced, unaltered presentation. Excellent bass control, superb dynamics, great air, very good soundstage depth, width, height and focus. On well recorded performances it conveys great musicality, transients, leading and back edge decay. Does not create too much heat due to the excellent design and does not require/show significant benefit from the use of highly expensive power cables.

Weakness:

Will convey lackluster performances as what they are. Will not "correct" other weaknesses in a system by imparting its own sonic signature. Requires the use of other excellent performing components and cables - don't buy one if you want to run a mediocre CD player or preamp.

After going through many amps during the course of the past year, I found a well priced FPB 200. To be honest, I was a bit leary based on reading so many Krell bashing threads and having had a Krell KAV 1500 5-channel amp in my system (FWIW, 5 channel amps are not good for 2-channel performance having used: Conrad Johnson, Krell, Proceed, Theta Dreadnaught II and a few others outside of my system - none were as good as a moderately priced 2-channel amp).

I run Wilson W/P speakers so I was a bit prepared to end up not liking this amp, thinking it would spit at me and chase me out of the room. At the time I purchased this amp, I also owned a Mark Levinson 331.5 and two BAT VK 60 monoblock amps to compare it to. I also was able to put in a pair of Thiel 2.2 speakers for listening. FWIW, I liked the BAT VK 60 amps very much and felt they were solid tubed power amps. With my Capitole CD player; however, I found that resolution and detail were lacking with the BATs in place (using a BAT VK 5i pre or the Capitole direct).

With the ML 331.5 in place, I felt that a lot of the resolution that was missing with the BATs was improved upon with the ML. I felt the ML could run well with both speakers (Thiel and Wilson) both direct from the Capitole or via the VK 5i preamp. However, I always felt that the ML was just not quite as musical as the BAT amps. I felt both were very good and bettered the other in very specific areas (partially mentioned above) and was overall pleased by owning both of the different amp setups.

When I introduced the Krell FPB 200 to the system I found that everything was overall more satisfying for me. If felt I had the benefits of the BATs (smoothness, sound stage, musicality) and the benefits of the ML's greater resolution and detail. While I am sure in comparison to some other amps, I will find that the FPB 200 has some weaknesses, I have not felt it lacking in any way.

In my experience, the Krell seemed to impart the character of the recording and other equipment in my chain more so than these other amps I have owned (and virtually all other amps I have listened to). I just felt the Krell let the music flow through better without imparting much of a sonic signature (other than excellent control). My system changed slightly when I bought a new Krell HTS 7.1 thinking that its 2-channel KCT based preamp would be sufficient and replaced the AA Capitole (due to shipping damage after having the tubes changed) to a Resolution Audio Opus 21 with GNSC mods. I feel that my sound stage depth and focus was impacted by the Krell 7.1 in 2-channel analog direct. I attribute this to the HTS 7.1, not the FPB 200 (as my stage depth and focus were excellent with the BAT VK 5i).

Just last week I had commented that it would be a very long time before I considered replacing the FPB 200. I am in the possible process of doing that right now. I have a Krell FPB 300-C used being picked up next week (at under $4K) for this amp I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to see if there is a noticeable difference between the two.

Coming the day before the new Krell FPB 300-C I have a new Aesthetix Calypso being delivered. I will first install the 300-C into the system (without the Calypso) to see if there is a noticeable difference between the 200 and the 300-C based on my known set-up. Based on these results, I will then put the Calypso in the system and give it some time to break-in and then compare the 200 and the 300-C and again determine the differences. At some soon point, I will have either a 200 or a 300-C available for sale.

I would have to say, I would be pleasantly surprised if the 300-C shows a noticeable improvement over the 200. I have been so totally impressed by the 200 within my system that I find it hard to top for my personal preferenced. My experience with it can best be summarized by the following:

The Krell FPB 200 conveys the sound that is delivered to it, good or bad. I have found other than with the demonstration of excellent overall control, especially within the bass region, that the 200 has imparted little to none of its own sonic character.

Since many people buy audio components to change the sound, this may not be a good thing. There was a time in the past that I wanted an amp to soften the sound, I went with tubes. But to be honest I eventually began to miss what I was not hearing. To appreciate the Krell, in fact to enjoy the music fully when using the 200, one must insure that the source component and preamp (along with cables) are producing the sound that one wants to achieve. Relying on the Krell to change the sound (smoothing it, adding detail, adding soundstage, etc. . .) will not result in satisfying end results.

I have never had an amp that has been able to immediately portray or convey the other changes in my system as well. When I purchased my new Opus 21, I thought I would miss some of the warmth of the Capitole. After playing the Opus 21, I added Cardas Golden Cross balanced ICs as this is a known warm cable. I had already very much enjoyed the sound of the Opus with transparent cables. Putting the Cardas in place I was able to immediately recognize not just the much warmer sound, but the very noticeable loss in the bass slam region, less air in the mid to upper frequency ranges and a bit of a veiling of the overall sound. I attribute not these artifacts, but the fact these artifacts were so blatantly apparent to the Krell.

A good source with a good preamp and reasonable cabling will result in an excellent performing system, just don't expect the 200 to have a whole change on the signal it is being fed, it won't! If you think you can replace your tubed amp and keep the warmth and distortion that the tubed amp imparts to the sound, you won't. If you feel that your amp currently is imparting too much of a sonic signature to your sound, then get the 200 and the signature will be lost. You will hear the music, the source, the preamp and the cabling, but you are not likely to hear the Krell.

I am not a wholesale Krell die-hard. I have heard some of their amps that I was not remotely impressed by. But with the better amps (and this does not necessarily mean newest) I have found them to be absolutely supperb in many areas.

Customer Service

The best I have ever dealth with regarding needing a new manual and various instructions and comments on questions. Never had a single problem with the unit, nadda!

Similar Products Used: Other power amps owned in past year to 18 mos:
Mark Levinson 331.5, Pass Labs 150.5, Conrad Johnson MF 1500 (? 5-channel amp), Golden Tube Audio SE 40, BAT VK 60 factory monoblocks, Theta Dreadnaught II, Proceed HPA (?), Channel Island D-200 monos, Krell KAV 1500 (5-channel amp) and others auditioned outside of my system.
Preamps: McInstosh MX 132, BAT VK 5i, Cary SLP 2002, Krell HTS 7.1 (lastest with KCT based preamp) plus other lessers in my system.
Speakers in my system: Totem Forrest/Arros, B&W, Von Schweikert VR 4 JRs, Wilson Duettes, Watt/Puppy 5.1, Thiel 2.2
Sources: AA Capitole, AA Prima, Resolution Audio Opus 21 with GNSC mods
Cables: Transparent, Synergistic Research, Stealth, Harmonic Tech, Cardas, Audioquest, Analysis Plus, MIT, Zu, PS Audio
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
jaxbaron   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 29, 2004]
Strength:

Bass

Weakness:

Everything else

This amp was a let down for me. I was looking to make a major upgrade from an acurus a-200 to power my Dunlavy 4a's which are very efficient but ruthlessly revealing. What I got from the fpb-200 was better bass and that was it. The highs still pierced my ears. After a while I switched to a Pass x-350 and not only did the high frequencies become totally natrual and smooth, the detail dramatically increased which just showed me how muddy the Krell was. This amp might sound ok with more colored speakers but you'll still be missing in detail. I lived with this amp for a year and couldnt be happier with the switch. Associated gear: Sonic Frontiers Line-3 Pre Dunlavy SCIVA Electrocompaniet Emc-1 mk11 Acoustic Zen cables throughout

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
2
Gucio   AudioPhile [Feb 19, 2003]
Strength:

Total speaker control, detail. Krell really is a bass master

Weakness:

Associated components must be in the same or better class to fully utilize its capabilities. Price, definetely go for a used one.

I have tried all the best amps under $1K and then under $2K, both tubes and solid-state. Finally my wife got fed up with large boxes arriving on our door step every few weeks so I decided to stop the chase and go for this little monster. $3K was a bit of stretch but so far well worth it and unlike last eight amps I've tried this one can't be shipped very easy (100lb). I guess it will have to stay for a while. I never though I would own Krell after reading all the Krell bashing on the net and even more for their prices. However friend of mine had one and after months of comparing all the other amps (see list below) to FPB200 I have decided to end my misery of finding a suitable power for my Dunlavy SC-IIIs. This amp excells in every aspect. Bass: incredibly tight and fully controlled revealing every nuance Midrange: smooth and very open, almost liquid (this may vary with other components) exactly at the point where realy good tube and solid-state gear meets Top: Very well extended and sweet Imaging: Absolutely seemless Tonal accuracy: very neutral but with feeling, piano and guitar sound right Musicality: Included This amp reveals every shade in music. It makes things sound interesting, I am starting to listen to more and more classical stuff. This is the only Krell amp I have ever heard, I am sure some are really bad but FPB-200 turned out OK.

Similar Products Used: Bryston 3B-ST and 4B-SST, Classe CAP-150 and CA-201, McCormack DNA-125, Spectron Musician II, Jolida JD-502, JD-1000A
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
John   AudioPhile [Oct 09, 2002]
Strength:

Built tpo last. Quality and sound that wont send you out next month looking for a new amplifier

Weakness:

If there is a weakness--price;however, if I could find what this amplifier does for less--I would have purchased that amp

After purchasing this amplifier I found everything--dynamic pacing with a full bodied sound. This amplifier is non-fatiguing. Fantastci soundstage and control over the music. Great sense of space and decay on music fade.

Similar Products Used: Marantz SM85, Krell KSA 50s; Carver M200t; Carver M1.5p;
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Rmml   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 29, 2001]
Strength:

Grip and control on my Thiel CS3.6, Emotionally engaging with SLAM of course.

Weakness:

maybe the price but in this case you get what you pay for, and more, much more.

This amp showed me what my Thiel CS3.6 is capable of. The only amp that is able to do this of all the amps I had.A match made in Audio heaven.
Head snapping dynamic shifts,chest pounding transient attack, humongous soundstage, dead on imaging,wide open top end with unbelievable extension,silky smooth mids, tight slammin' bottom end ,etc,etc, "it's all there".
You will get a lot of those moments when you listen to your system and you find yourself smiling thinking "Damn my stereo sounds good". At least I do.

other equipments:
EMC 1
SF Line 2SE
Krell FPB200
Thiel CS3.6
PS Audio PP300
NBS Monitor Series IC and speaker cable
FIM and NBS PCs

Similar Products Used: Simm Audio W5,BAT VK-200,Krell KAV250,Parasound 3500,B&K ?
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
David Stone   Audiophile [Mar 20, 2000]
Strength:

Name it!

Weakness:

Once you get over the price, there aren't any.

I had a FPB-200 at home for a demo with my N802s and as absolutely floored. I took the amp back and bought a KAV-250a to hold me over until I could afford the FPB. The soundstage collapsed, dynamics died, and I couldn't stand my system. I listened to the Levinson 336 with the B&W but found the bass soft. The Krell is tight all around, and the mid range is incredible thru the Nautilus. Live acoustic guitar (i.e. Dave Matthews at Luther College) presents a great image (if your room is good) that makes you feel like you're in the audience.

And with the updated chassis for this year, no amp looks better!

Similar Products Used: KAV-250, Levinson No. 336
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Jeremy   an Audiophile [May 15, 1998]

I actually prefered a Brystom 3bst over this amp. judged on sound quality, I give it a 5, but only 3 for value.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
Ian M   an Audio Enthusiast [May 12, 1998]

I have an FPB 200 and love it. Have you seen the barrage of recent "reviews" about the FPB 300 in this section? It seems that some people are on a crusade of sorts. Puzzling. With out describing their whole systems, it is difficult to see the value in their rantings.
I am sure that they are correct in so far as how it applies to THEIR audio desires. It is also evident that the auditioning process and selection of a reputable and fair dealer is important.

My FPB 200 is a great piece. I A/Bed it to a Levinson 331 and chose Krell by a nose. Blah, blah, blah. Other gear in my system:

Krell KRC-3 PreAmp
Levinson #39 CD Player
Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Speakers
Tara Labs Master Gen 2 Speaker Cable and Balanced Interconnects

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
M Panwar   an Audiophile [Dec 23, 1998]

Carver Amazing Platinum Edition MK IVThese are driven by a CJ MF200 being fed by a ARC LS3. The midrange is where they excel. Ofcourse being a ribbon coupled with what 4 woofer they have both the highs and lows right but I am in love with the midrange, drum, etc. on Jazz, Blues, etc. In my small room, I have backed up on the Q control (tighter bass) and this really helps. I used to drive them with two CARVER M1.0T (mono rating at 1000W) but about 4 years ago traded them for the CJ. Eventually I will give them more power than the 200WPC CJ. Anyone who listens to these speakers just falls in love with the imaging and consistent sound whether they are sitting/standing or walking around the room. Highly Recommended. *****

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
John Aiello   an Audiophile [May 22, 1999]

I have had my Krell FPB-200 for about a month now and can't say enough great things about it. For those of you that are wondering "Is it worth it: the answer is YES!!! The bass slam is there the high end is there and all of it is under control. I never feel that I am going to run out of power. There is no harshness or brightness to speak of and the sound just keeps you glued to your seat. The only amp I have heard that beat it was the FPB-300. Wish I could have afforded that oen but for now the FPB-200 is tops.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 19  

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