Krall and Krell from hell ?

Evaluated in July 2010

Am I going nuts ? what is this transistor warehouse doing here ???

The Krell CD player KAV-300CD fell onto my desk and I had to peek under the hood.

This company is synonymous with transistors, big power, deep bass, high price. Even their logo is a transistor symbol.
It would be sooo cool to lampize the Krell. Like an ultimate changeover.

How did this amplifier company deal with their itch to produce a CD player worthy of their legendary status ? Let's find out.

The player looks heavy and vulgar. It has a chassis from industrial design and flimsy mechanism that works roughly. (see my text about VRDS here)
I was expecting a solid state job, but nothing, I mean NOTHING prepared me for this. 280 transistors in 4 rows ??? C'mon, are you people nuts ? What are you smoking?

The DAC chip needs just one transistor pair to work well into any load of amplifier. Are you designing a Krell amplifier or just CD player ?

Do they have a wholesale discount for transistors, or what ? Do they try to say : Fuck you Lampizator man, we are Krell !
Is using 280 transistors in the output stage a sort of a message in a bottle for me ?

I have neither the patience nor knowledge to decipher the topology of 280 transistors. If we consider two channels and two phases of their balanced output, it gives 70 transistors per phase per channel. That is 69 too many for me. But to their credit - it does not have opamps. At lest not in the signal processing.

The DACs are good but not great Burr Brown PCM1702, known from tens of other players. There is nothing special about them - just OK sound.

So how does this monster sound in stock form?
The answer is - bloody good. I was shocked, I did not have my drooling towel handy and I listened in total disbelief.

This player is awesome. It sounds spectacular. It equals the best stock players I had.  it sounds too good to be true.
Sound is spacious, free, open, fast, powerful, dynamic - everything you might ask. Nothing even resembling remotely the opamped sound of all other stock players. This is real high end. I feel no need for lampization, no need for tweaking. Even if the owner would be rather open about the possibility to do lampization if it was to improve the sound. It is soo good that all I want to do is listen MORE. This is the best stock player I ever had, I must admit that I am in shock.

Just think about it - the mediocre mechanism, mediocre DAC chips, cheapest Krell player ever - and what result. They surely know something about transistors !!!

Calling themselves  'INDUSTRIES" is a kind of overstatement in my opinion. It is a high end manufacture, but INDUSTRIES ? C'mon guys, you are not Fujitsu or Siemens.

Above is the motor of the Teac mechanism. The cheapest Mabuchi motor money can buy.

There is an opamp on that board but I feel it is not in the signal path.

The transistors - if it is telling you something - are 8599 . I am speechless.

As you can see, the player has XLR balanced outputs with 4 identical output stages. One per phase.

General view of the monstrous output board. And the TEAC's cheapest VRDS 4,2 mechanism with laser assembly from Sony (240KSS)

This DAC chip is good but not my favorite really.

Note the tantalum caps around it as well as three oscons.

HDCD chip is not my favorite filter - I think it is a bottle neck of many players. At least when it comes to plying non-HDCD discs which are 99 % majority.
This chip can be replaced by ASE Audiotuning - Andreas Sellenthin's upgrade filter - the DF 1704 from Burr Brown.

The SPDIF output is simply the stock cheapest Teac board.

The Krell power supply is very competent design.

Above : power supply PCB.

The 100 Watts  toroidal power transformer.

The TEAC mechanism.

The Krell metalwork is really rough. Very macho but rough.

The tray  has an aluminum front plate glued to itself. The tray however is a flimsy plastic.

2 weeks later:

When the digital filter module arrived and I replaced the HDCD chip with the new one from ASE Audiotuning - Andreas Sellenthin's upgrade filter - the DF 1704 from Burr Brown. I was shocked by the magnitude of positive changes. An already good player became much better in every important area. A magnitude of change comparable with for example the complete lampization. Not mentioning that without that bloody HDCD it is now 6 dB louder.
If you have a Krell - do it immediately. The swap is a 3 minute excercise without any soldering involved.