Krell Vanguard Integrated Amplifier at CES 2015 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 27 Old 01-20-2015, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Krell Vanguard Integrated Amplifier at CES 2015



Krell demonstrated its "best-ever integrated amp" powering a pair of YG Acoustics Hailey 1.2 speakers. Also, a peek inside the 4K/UHD Foundation pre/pro.

-------

When you look at Krell's $4500 Vanguard 2-channel Integrated amp its not immediately apparent what a beast it is. If you try to pick it up, you get the first hint that it's not a typical compact integrated amp. The Vanguard fits into a standard rack and its only 4 inches tall, yet it weighs 40 lbs. That's because inside the chassis resides an amplifier capable of outputting 200 watts/channel of class A/B power into an 8 ohm load, or 400 watts/channel into a 4 ohm load.


With its Vanguart integrated amp, Krell packed plenty of power into a compact chassis.

There's more to the Vanguard than sheer power. World-class audio fidelity is what Krell is best known for. That's why the company used a class A preamp in the Vanguard that's derived from its flagship Illusion preamps in the Vanguard.

In an analog configuration, Krell's newest integrated amp includes a pair of balanced XLR inputs as well as three pairs of RCA connectors. However, the Vanguard Krell president Bill McKiegan showed at CES included an optional digital module. The upgrade adds USB, HDMI, Ethernet, plus coaxial and optical digital inputs to the unit's capabilities. There's even support for Bluetooth connectivity. Furthermore, HDMI pass-though makes it possible to connect to a TV for use as a 2-channel AV system—or to pass surround-sound to another preamp/processor.

Despite the inclusion of HDMI, the primary purpose of Krells Vanguard is high-quality 2-channel audio reproduction. The digital module supports 24-bit/192kHz PCM through HDMI and coaxial digital inputs as well as 24-bit/96kHz PCM through the optical connection. USB and network streaming offer compatibility with MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV, FLAC, and ALAC formats up to 24-bit/192kHz.

Bill demoed the Vanguard powering a $45K pair of YG Acoustics Hailey 1.2 speakers. The Haileys are rated at 4 ohms nominal and 3 ohms minimum impedance, but that load didn't phase the Vanguard at all. The system sounded great with music, it was reminiscent of the Krell iBias/YG Sonja system I heard at CES in 2014. I fact I heard Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" at both demos, which cemented my impression that the Vanguard successfully delivered Krell's signature blend of power and high-fidelity in a compact package.


The Vanguard powered a pair of YG Acoustics Hailey 1.2s with 400 watts/channel going into a 4 ohm load

By the way, while I was in the Krell suite I grabbed a couple photos of the 4K/UHD upgraded Foundation with the cover taken off. It's amazing what you can do in terms of cramming electronics into a tight space if you incorporate silent fans into your design. It's funny because when I first saw Krell many years ago, its amps were huge and featured elaborate heat sinks. With products like the Vanguard, Foundation, and iBais, it's the exact opposite—the company's latest gear fits neatly inside a rack and is notably compact considering what's packed inside each box.


Inside the Foundation 4K/UHD.


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post #2 of 27 Old 01-20-2015, 01:14 PM
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Mark,

I bet AVSers are trying to decide whether you are the last person one should turn to for reports on ultra high end audio gear...or the first.
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post #3 of 27 Old 01-20-2015, 01:22 PM
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A lovely product to be sure. But one wonders why manufacturers are still making 2 channel integrateds.
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post #4 of 27 Old 01-20-2015, 01:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post
A lovely product to be sure. But one wonders why manufacturers are still making 2 channel integrateds.
It actually seems like they are making a bit of a comeback. Probably because there are enough audio enthusiasts out there who prefer a really nice pair of full-range speakers to other options but don't want to deal with a stack of separates to run them. Just a guess.
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post #5 of 27 Old 01-20-2015, 02:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by R Harkness View Post
Mark,

I bet AVSers are trying to decide whether you are the last person one should turn to for reports on ultra high end audio gear...or the first.
The only certainty is that I'm always listening for something exceptional-sounding. I much prefer it when amazingly high performance comes with an equally amazingly low price, but I know that's frequently not the case. This year I plan to expand my reviews and coverage of both mainstream and high-end gear.

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post #6 of 27 Old 01-20-2015, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post
***Krell demonstrated its "best-ever integrated amp" powering a pair of YG Acoustics Hailey 1.2 speakers.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Krell's own speakers there...

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post #7 of 27 Old 01-20-2015, 09:04 PM
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Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Krell's own speakers there...
I'm impressed they managed to make speakers cabinets out of some old amplifiers cases. I'm sure it was all part of some kind of shared fabrication process.
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post #8 of 27 Old 01-20-2015, 10:21 PM
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Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Krell's own speakers there...
Why not use the YGs? Those people will convince you that you entering into a relationship with the speaker not owning it.

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post #9 of 27 Old 01-21-2015, 07:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Why not use the YGs? Those people will convince you that you entering into a relationship with the speaker not owning it.
No doubt YG is a critical darling and one of the true elite brands in high-end speakerdom. I think it works to Krell's advantage to use YG at a show like this where YG has its speakers in several other setups, all of which feature far more expensive electronics than the Vanguard. When you see and hear the Vanguard driving a pair and pulling off the whole high-end hat trick, it makes a positive impression—it's the Krell that represents a mere 10% of the total system cost.

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$4500 for 200W per channel? If I give that kind of money to Powersoft, Lab Gruppen, Crown, etc they will gladly add a zero to the power output. (or 2 in Powersoft's case. )
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$4500 for 200W per channel? If I give that kind of money to Powersoft, Lab Gruppen, Crown, etc they will gladly add a zero to the power output. (or 2 in Powersoft's case. )
Understood. But in the demo it was actually outputting 400 watts/channel thanks to the 4 ohm impedance of the speakers. And fwiw I have a Crown XTi-2002 at home and I respect the price/performance of pro amps. But the Krell Vanguard is not just an amp, you'd still need a preamp, or some kind of source, to use one of those amps in the same way. Needless to say I've done exactly that in my own system, with my Crown. It is not as compact and elegant. Also, no doubt Krell's gear is a bit out of my price range but I still happen to think it sounds good every time I hear it—that's over 20 years and running.

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***I think it works to Krell's advantage to use YG at a show like this where YG has its speakers in several other setups, all of which feature far more expensive electronics than the Vanguard. When you see and hear the Vanguard driving a pair and pulling off the whole high-end hat trick, it makes a positive impression—it's the Krell that represents a mere 10% of the total system cost.
That's a good point.

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post #13 of 27 Old 01-21-2015, 07:15 PM
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A lovely product to be sure. But one wonders why manufacturers are still making 2 channel integrateds.
It's for people who who thinks MCH pre/pro's somehow compromised. I don't buy that argument per se, but if there is a market by all means let 'em have it.

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Originally Posted by VTOLfreak View Post
$4500 for 200W per channel? If I give that kind of money to Powersoft, Lab Gruppen, Crown, etc they will gladly add a zero to the power output. (or 2 in Powersoft's case. )

Not all watts are created equal. Krell watts are far more potent then anything those companies have to offer.

You have 25 watt tube amps that destroy 200 watt speakers.... again... all watts are not created equally.
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^What does that even mean??

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^What does that even mean??
Ditto. Facetiousness, I think.
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post #17 of 27 Old 01-23-2015, 08:24 PM
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^What does that even mean??
It means he knows nothing about electronics and wanted to prove it to us.
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post #18 of 27 Old 01-24-2015, 04:12 AM
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It means he knows nothing about electronics and wanted to prove it to us.
Watts= Volt* Amps.
Some amplifiers run higher voltages such as tube based,
some are more biased towards current.
No rocket science there.
If the amplifiers have low distortions, linear power in the given range they are driving something, or close to identical then there is no difference.

I used to have the KSA 600 full class A model. Was a total power hog, but it could drive. I had something go wrong so it was in the shop and I tossed in my system some EV pro power amplifiers. I expected it to sound harsh, terrible, especially considering this was 1/10th the cost for more wattage. Well I lost nothing, gained more control, and then I had to seriously look away from the audiophile crap and back to my logical thinking that was taught to me in school.

Krell got fixed, some audiophile offered a got amount of money, I released my record, bought a new cycling bike, synthesizers and never looked back. Especially considering the money saved on electricity. I did turn dow the fans though in the pro gear as they could get a bit loud.
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Watts= Volt* Amps.
Some amplifiers run higher voltages such as tube based,
some are more biased towards current.
No rocket science there.
No, it's not rocket science; it's basic electronics.

You write as if there are "choices" over what combination of voltage and current amps supply in order to provide a certain power level. Obviously, that's not correct. Every amp, regardless of it's internal design, is proving the same voltage and current at a certain power level.
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No, it's not rocket science; it's basic electronics.

You write as if there are "choices" over what combination of voltage and current amps supply in order to provide a certain power level. Obviously, that's not correct. Every amp, regardless of it's internal design, is proving the same voltage and current at a certain power level.
I will humour you:
Every amp, maybe in audio that is close to true, but not every amplifier period.
Of course there is also output impedance
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At a given power through the load (i.e. the speaker), the same voltage/current appear across/through the load, regardless of the amp's output impedance. If you're splitting hairs to observe that the voltage at the *amp's* output is therefore higher, then sure... but so?

It's not like the amp can "choose" some random (or non-random) combination of voltage and current, as your previous post implied.
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post #22 of 27 Old 01-24-2015, 06:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 807recordings View Post
Watts= Volt* Amps.
Some amplifiers run higher voltages such as tube based,
some are more biased towards current.
No rocket science there.
If the amplifiers have low distortions, linear power in the given range they are driving something, or close to identical then there is no difference.

I used to have the KSA 600 full class A model. Was a total power hog, but it could drive. I had something go wrong so it was in the shop and I tossed in my system some EV pro power amplifiers. I expected it to sound harsh, terrible, especially considering this was 1/10th the cost for more wattage. Well I lost nothing, gained more control, and then I had to seriously look away from the audiophile crap and back to my logical thinking that was taught to me in school.

Krell got fixed, some audiophile offered a got amount of money, I released my record, bought a new cycling bike, synthesizers and never looked back. Especially considering the money saved on electricity. I did turn dow the fans though in the pro gear as they could get a bit loud.
That's why I keep a Crown XTi-2002 around. When I do a review I want the reality check pro gear provides. It's fans almost never come on.

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When it was said that all watts aren't created equal(ly), maybe the poster means that some watts are created by solar power plants, others by hydroelectric plants, others by coal fired plants, etc.

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Any idea what the digital upgrade costs?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTOLfreak View Post
$4500 for 200W per channel? If I give that kind of money to Powersoft, Lab Gruppen, Crown, etc they will gladly add a zero to the power output. (or 2 in Powersoft's case. )
Understood. But in the demo it was actually outputting 400 watts/channel thanks to the 4 ohm impedance of the speakers. And fwiw I have a Crown XTi-2002 at home and I respect the price/performance of pro amps. But the Krell Vanguard is not just an amp, you'd still need a preamp, or some kind of source, to use one of those amps in the same way. Needless to say I've done exactly that in my own system, with my Crown. It is not as compact and elegant. Also, no doubt Krell's gear is a bit out of my price range but I still happen to think it sounds good every time I hear it?that's over 20 years and running.
You can't get the sound quality or the range that these will get you from a pro amp!!!
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Originally Posted by rogergraham View Post
At a given power through the load (i.e. the speaker), the same voltage/current appear across/through the load, regardless of the amp's output impedance. If you're splitting hairs to observe that the voltage at the *amp's* output is therefore higher, then sure... but so?

It's not like the amp can "choose" some random (or non-random) combination of voltage and current, as your previous post implied.
Agreed. The determining factor is the speaker impedance. Different amps all have different DC voltage rails but at the speaker terminals, different amps will still measure the same VA on the same speaker.

((RMS audio output voltage squared) / 8ohms) or whatever the load impedance is. That is a universal formula no matter who's amp is being tested. If different amps had different VA ratios, the formula wouldn't work.

And tube amps are sometimes mistakenly referred to as "high voltage amps". Yes it's true the DC rail(s) are at hundreds of volts, the output transformer converts that high voltage to current. SS amps generate the necessary high audio current directly.

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Any idea what the digital upgrade costs?
I believe the upgrade is $1500. Great amp I love mine.
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