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post #1 of 157 Old 04-16-2013, 02:43 PM - Thread Starter
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The 2013 New York Audio Show, held at The New York Palace Hotel, was practically bursting with esoteric audio products; many rooms contained systems priced in the 6-figure range. The overwhelming majority of the show was about 2-channel audio, but Krell was there with the new Foundation AV processor, a moderately priced (by Krell standards) 7.1 surround-sound preamp/processor with a number of features that help differentiate it from rather stiff competition.

 

Krell Foundation AV processor  

photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger

 

Half of a 6-figure, 2-channel system—Wilson Maxx 3 speakers, VTL Siegfried amps

photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger

 

Taking a peek through a window at the New York Palace Hotel revealed this amazing view

photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger

 

The complete system that I auditioned consisted of:

 

Krell Foundation multichannel preamp/processor
Krell S-1500 7-
channel amplifier
Martin Logan Speaker Package including:

2 Motion 40 (front L/R)
1 Motion 30 (center)
4 Motion 20 (surrounds)
1 Dynamo 1500 subwoofer 

Wired with MIT interconnect and speaker cables

Vizio 70" E701i HDTV  

Oppo BDP-95 Blu-ray player

 

Krell Foundation, Krell S-1500, Oppo BDP-95  

photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger

 

One of the more impressive aspects of the Krell HT demo system was the relatively mainstream components used to highlight the new processor's prowess. This system was not a "price no object" Krell showcase—it was more of a "high price is justified by superior engineering" system—yet engineering without compromise is the precise heritage it comes from. After a long talk with Krell President Bill McKiegan, I came away convinced that the new Foundation completely justifies its $6500 price tag.

 

I had the room essentially to myself, and I chose a seat in the second row, perhaps 11-12 feet back from the front stage, just in front of the side surrounds and perhaps 8-10 feet from the rear surrounds. I chose the helicopter attack on the ranch from Skyfall to serve as a reference scene, because I am very familiar with it.

 

The front stage, which turned out to be the least interesting part of the demo

photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger

 

What I heard was quite stunning—a rear soundstage that had the same depth and definition I am used to hearing from the front. I know that is the multichannel ideal, but up until that point it had not occurred to me that the soundfield could truly be seamless and three-dimensional around the full circumference of the system.

 

I asked McKiegan about the impressive performance of the Foundation, which resulted in a brief lesson about Krell's priorities—specifically, to treat each pair of adjacent channels as an engineering challenge, optimizing those preamps to match each other so they form a perfect envelope around the listener. When the balance between the channels approaches perfection, the audio illusion is seamless. Each "channel pair" in the system becomes its own discrete, high-end 2-channel system, with the same 2-channel qualities that audiophiles are always looking for—the sonic image from two speakers takes on a three-dimensional character, with each sound discretely rendered in its proper position.

 

Since a 7.1 surround system has seven channel pairs, there are seven stereo soundfields that ideally surround the listener seamlessly. That is exactly what I heard from the Foundation—a rendition of a key scene in Skyfall that was well beyond the capabilities of my Pioneer Elite SC-55 and 7.1 speaker system, which I used to re-watch the same scene later that day. The proof? Krell's Foundation-based system immediately triggered involuntary goosebumps—something that only happens to me when I listen to the very best high-fidelity systems.

 

I asked why someone would choose Krell for a surround preamp/processor in a world where there are many choices at every level of price and quality. The result was a lengthy discussion about the company's history, the state of 4K and HDMI, and why a Vizio E701i was used in the presentation.

 

Then there's the issue of room correction. Instead of using something like Audyssey or Trinnov, Krell designed its own algorithms from scratch for the Foundation. Why? As a rule, the company designs and engineers everything in-house, to its own extremely high standards. In this case, the result is called ARES—Automatic Room Equalization System. Here is what the company has to say about it:

Quote:
"ARES analyzes all the speakers in the system, their location, phase, and distance from each other, to determine the best crossover frequency, delay, and more. In addition, ARES incorporates the acoustics of the room to determine unique EQ curves for each of the 7.1 output channels. Unlike other room EQs, ARES can be programmed to only adjust the troublesome low frequencies, leaving high frequencies unaltered."

 

The Foundation is a decidedly premium product with a price to match: $6500. That is not quite unobtainium to a serious home-theater enthusiast, but at that price point, there is concern about the risk of becoming obsolete, especially since audio and video standards keep evolving. I asked McKiegan how Krell would deal with future changes in video technology, and I liked his answers.

 

I mentioned that the home-theater market is poised on the edge of a revolution in resolution. 4K is on the way, and HDMI standards will need to be updated to accommodate 4K at higher frame rates than 30p. What happens when that day comes? McKiegan assured me that Krell could upgrade the video components, prompting a discussion of the company's long history of updating and upgrading gear as technology progresses. Faced with evolving standards, buyers of the Foundation will likely have the option of upgrading the existing unit or trading it in toward a newer model that includes the updated components.

 

So what else sets the Foundation apart? First and foremost is an all-balanced output stage—7.1 channels of it, with two summed subwoofer outputs. Another very nice feature: All ten HDMI inputs are concurrently active, so switching between them is instantaneous. Two-channel audio aficionados can also take advantage of a stereo preamp mode, featuring a dedicated all-analog signal path. 

 

The Foundation features balanced outputs and always-active HDMI inputs

photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger

 

More than anything else, the new Foundation amazed me with its fidelity, which has always been Krell's mission—to deliver the ultimate in sound quality. In my conversation with McKiegan, he touched on the past and future of high-definition audio. SACD and DVD-Audio are simply not mainstream products, but Blu-ray discs with uncompressed high-resolution audio sell in every Wal-mart, Target and Best Buy across the nation. The vast majority of audio equipment is ill equipped to extract the total fidelity found within these high-resolution yet ubiquitous soundtracks. Krell's Foundation brings the listener closer to that ideal than any 7.1 AV processor I have heard to date.

 

The fact it's priced at the same level as moderately expensive projectors and speakers makes Krell's AV processor a relative bargain for the sound it produces. The Foundation is a fantastic 7.1 AV processor from a company with a long record of accomplishment, producing some of the best solid-state electronics in the entire audio industry. The Foundation deserves an audition from anyone who is truly serious about home theater and considers it to be within his or her budget. 



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post #2 of 157 Old 04-16-2013, 08:39 PM
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Mark, does the unit faceplate made of metal? Or metal/plastic combination?

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post #3 of 157 Old 04-16-2013, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Susilo View Post

Mark, does the unit faceplate made of metal? Or metal/plastic combination?

It's made out of brushed aluminum—even the remote control is made out of aluminum. 


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post #4 of 157 Old 04-17-2013, 04:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

The 2013 New York Audio Show, held at The New York Palace Hotel, was practically bursting with esoteric audio products; many rooms contained systems priced in the 6-figure range. 
The overwhelming majority of the show was about 2-channel audio, but Krell was there with the new Foundation AV processor, a moderately priced (by Krell standards) 7.1 surround-sound preamp/processor with a number of features that help differentiate it from rather stiff competition.




Krell Foundation AV processor  

photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger




Half of a 6-figure, 2-channel system—Wilson Maxx 3 speakers, VTL Siegfried amps

photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger




Taking a peek through a window at the New York Palace Hotel revealed this amazing view
photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger

The complete system that I auditioned consisted of:


Krell Foundation multichannel preamp/processor
Krell S-1500 7-
channel amplifier

Martin Logan Speaker Package including:
2 Motion 40 (front L/R)

1 Motion 30 (center)

4 Motion 20 (surrounds)

1 Dynamo 1500 subwoofer 

Vizio 70" E701i HDTV  

Oppo BDP-95 Blu-ray player



Krell Foundation, Krell S-1500, Oppo BDP-95  
photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger

One of the more impressive aspects of the Krell HT demo system was the relatively mainstream components used to highlight the new processor's prowess. This system was not a "price no object" Krell showcase—it was more of a "high price is justified by superior engineering" system—yet engineering without compromise is the precise heritage it comes from. After a long talk with Krell President Bill McKiegan, I can away convinced that the new Foundation completely justifies its $6500 price tag.

I had the room essentially to myself, and I chose a seat in the second row, perhaps 11-12 feet back from the front stage, just in front of the side surrounds and perhaps 8-10 feet from the rear surrounds. I chose the helicopter attack on the ranch from Skyfall to serve as a reference scene, because I am very familiar with it.



The front stage, which turned out to be the least interesting part of the demo
photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger

What I heard was quite stunning—a rear soundstage that had the same depth and definition I am used to hearing from the front. I know that is the multichannel ideal, but up until that point it had not occurred to me that the soundfield could truly be seamless and three-dimensional around the full circumference of the system.

I asked McKiegan about the impressive performance of the Foundation, which resulted in a brief lesson about Krell's priorities—specifically, to treat each pair of adjacent channels as an engineering challenge, optimizing those preamps to match each other so they form a perfect envelope around the listener. When the balance between the channels approaches perfection, the audio illusion is seamless. Each "channel pair" in the system becomes its own discrete, high-end 2-channel system, with the same 2-channel qualities that audiophiles are always looking for—the sonic image from two speakers takes on a three-dimensional character, with each sound discretely rendered in its proper position.

Since a 7.1 surround system has seven channel pairs, there are seven stereo soundfields that ideally surround the listener seamlessly. That is exactly what I heard from the Foundation—a rendition of a key scene in Skyfall that was well beyond the capabilities of my Pioneer Elite SC-55 and 7.1 speaker system, which I used to re-watch the same scene later that day.

I asked why someone would choose Krell for a surround preamp/processor in a world where there are many choices at every level of price and quality. The result was a lengthy discussion about the company's history, the state of 4K and HDMI, and why a Vizio E701i was used in the presentation.

Then there's the issue of room correction. Instead of using something like Audyssey or Trinnov, Krell designed its own algorithms from scratch for the Foundation. Why? As a rule, the company designs and engineers everything in-house, to its own extremely high standards. In this case, the result is called ARES—Automatic Room Equalization System. Here is what the company has to say about it:

The Foundation is a decidedly premium product with a price to match: $6500. That is not quite unobtainium to a serious home-theater enthusiast, but at that price point, there is concern about the risk of becoming obsolete, especially since audio and video standards keep evolving. I asked McKiegan how Krell would deal with future changes in video technology, and I liked his answers.

I mentioned that the home-theater market is poised on the edge of a revolution in resolution. 4K is on the way, and HDMI standards will need to be updated to accommodate 4K at higher frame rates than 30p. What happens when that day comes? McKiegan assured me that Krell could upgrade the video components, prompting a discussion of the company's long history of updating and upgrading gear as technology progresses. Faced with evolving standards, buyers of the Foundation will likely have the option of upgrading the existing unit or trading it in toward a newer model that includes the updated components.

So what else sets the Foundation apart? First and foremost is an all-balanced output stage—7.1 channels of it, with two summed subwoofer outputs. Another very nice feature: All ten HDMI inputs are concurrently active, so switching between them is instantaneous. Two-channel audio aficionados can also take advantage of a stereo preamp mode, featuring a dedicated all-analog signal path. 



The Foundation features balanced outputs and always-active HDMI inputs
photo ©2013 by Mark Henninger

More than anything else, the new Foundation amazed me with its fidelity, which has always been Krell's mission—to deliver the ultimate in sound quality. In my conversation with McKiegan, he touched on the past and future of high-definition audio. SACD and DVD-Audio are simply not mainstream products, but Blu-ray discs with uncompressed high-resolution audio sell in every Wal-mart, Target and Best Buy across the nation. The vast majority of audio equipment is ill equipped to extract the total fidelity found within these high-resolution yet ubiquitous soundtracks. Krell's Foundation brings the listener closer to that ideal than any 7.1 AV processor I have heard to date.

The fact it's priced at the same level as moderately expensive projectors and speakers makes Krell's AV processor a relative bargain for the sound it produces. The Foundation is a fantastic 7.1 AV processor from a company with a long record of accomplishment, producing some of the best solid-state electronics in the entire audio industry. The Foundation deserves an audition from anyone who is truly serious about home theater and considers it to be within his or her budget. 

Hello what HDMI Cable did they use ? (last Picture)
I mean what manufacture ?

Best regards
tool2010
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post #5 of 157 Old 04-17-2013, 04:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tool2010 View Post


Hello what HDMI Cable did they use ? (last Picture)
I mean what manufacture ?

Best regards
tool2010

Interconnects and speaker cables were all MIT. I have updated the original post.


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post #6 of 157 Old 04-17-2013, 07:58 AM
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This looks like a really impressive unit. Far out of my price range of course but, from what I recall, the McIntosh with their room correction program runs 12k i believe. Compared to that, the Krell w/ ARES seems like a really good option. I am interested to know more about ARES though.

If I was truly ever going to invest in something like this though, I would surely hope that the company would stand behind it with upgrades like Krell is claiming they will support.

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post #7 of 157 Old 04-17-2013, 08:28 AM
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I was there and was impress by the Krell Martn Logan set up being "mid level components", I even like the Vizio screen, the picture looked very film like more of plasma than a LCD/LED???...As soon as the demo ended, which was auditioning Life of Pi a few of us were asking about the the Sub Dynamo with it's room correction, that was pretty impressive.

The guy claimed that the room correction on the Krell was much more sophisticate than the Audyessy latest flavor, and if you purchased the Dynamo sub to add the separate bass correction if you're using Audyessy.

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post #8 of 157 Old 04-17-2013, 04:43 PM
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Even as a an Audyssey Pro Installer, I personally feel that Audyssey is severely overrated. Something as simple as Anthem ARC (available on their $1k receiver) is better than the best Audyssey in the HT environment. For large scale / venue, Audyssey is amazing, but not for home.

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post #9 of 157 Old 04-17-2013, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
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One well-known speaker manufacturer, on condition of strict anonymity, mentioned that it would prefer people not use Audyssey when listening to their speakers. They told me this in confidence, at the show.

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post #10 of 157 Old 04-17-2013, 05:11 PM
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And I agree 100% with them, whomever they are. Also various professional reviewers are also anti Audyssey.

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post #11 of 157 Old 04-17-2013, 07:44 PM
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If not Audyessy for HT, then what? Only an SPL meter? I can do that, but I'm not sure that I would do better. Running Focal's with an Integra AVR, so interested in what would be the recommendation. Thanks.
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post #12 of 157 Old 04-17-2013, 07:58 PM
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Yes, even a good SPL meter and a tape measure plus a laser pointer to angle the speakers properly, usually sound better than Audyssey full-auto. Audyssey settings are far too aggresive in averaging everything. Even YPAO, MCACC, have the option for ten EQ not to "touch" the main speakers. My personal prefernce are ARC and Advanced MCACC done in semi-auto mode and then tweaked further based on the readings on my spectrum analyzer.

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post #13 of 157 Old 04-17-2013, 10:19 PM
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The Krell functionality is very appealing to me. I wonder when other higher-end processors are going to have 10+ HDMI inputs with seemless switching; 4-5 HDMI inputs is not nearly enough. Though I am not very fond of the Krell faceplate and no physical volume knob.

Also, anyone know when there will be an "e" version of the S-1500 series amp? It uses quite a bit of power even at standby. Much more than the more powerful 3250e & 2250e amps.
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post #14 of 157 Old 04-18-2013, 09:42 AM
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Advanced MCACC , at least when I used it, doesn't EQ subwoofer frequencies. Has Pioneer changed that?

Measurements I'm aware of do seem to back up Audyssey's goals (see examples on the AVSF Audyssey thread). Whether those goals are subjectively preferred, is another tale. Sean Olive's tests a few years back using an older version of Audyssey had it performing poorly in that regard.
Full disclosure, I use Audyssey XT32 (a feature of my Denon AVR), 5.1 system, and enjoy the results.

But not saying other algorithms don't work or that Audyssey is flawless -- I'm sure there are more than one way to skin this cat.
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post #15 of 157 Old 04-18-2013, 11:50 AM
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MCACC actually play with the subwoofer frequencies but not in the way to re-shape the EQ curve but in the way to obtain exact phasing to minimize standing waves and to adjust timing by frequency-band by using 3-band parametric EQ that can not be adjusted by user. IIRC, any Advanced MCACC that 's equipped with "Standing Wave Control" have the hidden 3-band parametric EQ and the ones with "Full Band Phase Control" have the EQ even more finely tuned.

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post #16 of 157 Old 04-18-2013, 12:26 PM
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Someone told me that they were much happier using the more limited ARC in the MRX 500 than they were with the Full Audyssey system. I wonder if that is because of the same thing you guys are talking about here.

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Actually, even the ARC in the MRX series is more accurate in shaping the room acoustic than the full-on Audyssey. The biggest "problem" with Audyssey that it tries too hard to average the room. I have yet to appreciate Audyssey in an HT install with less than 12-16 seats.
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Actually, even the ARC in the MRX series is more accurate in shaping the room acoustic than the full-on Audyssey. The biggest "problem" with Audyssey that it tries too hard to average the room. I have yet to appreciate Audyssey in an HT install with less than 12-16 seats.

Have you compared the MRX room correction to the dedicated pre-pro version in the AVM50V or D2V? I've heard it is more user tweakable / produces even more accurate correction due to more powerful DSPs.

I'd be interested to know how this also compared to Room Perfect, though McIntosh only offers Audyssey at the Krell's price point.
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post #19 of 157 Old 04-18-2013, 02:50 PM
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On paper, the difference is actually minimal, not as much as most people think. Audibly, quite honestly I don't have the hearing acuity to tell the difference between the Full ARC vs ARC 'lite'. So subjectively, my answer is no, althoug objectively there are slight differences in the end result (based on the reading).

Although I never (and can not) do an A/B between Lyngdorf vs Anthem room correction, subjectively I feel that they are about the same provided the calibrator really know what they're doing. It's easier to make a mistake in microphone placement when using Lyngdorf room correction.
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post #20 of 157 Old 04-19-2013, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by David Susilo View Post

Yes, even a good SPL meter and a tape measure plus a laser pointer to angle the speakers properly, usually sound better than Audyssey full-auto. Audyssey settings are far too aggresive in averaging everything. Even YPAO, MCACC, have the option for ten EQ not to "touch" the main speakers. My personal prefernce are ARC and Advanced MCACC done in semi-auto mode and then tweaked further based on the readings on my spectrum analyzer.

Very interesting I had a Yamaha 2020 with YPAO and it sounded awful. With the default settings my system had no bass and my mains were lacking mid range (something I found interesting because my B&W's have always had strong mids). Ended up returning it for a integra 50.4 and ran Audussey and the differance was night and day. Much cleaner bass response and mids from Audussey then YPAO. Not a fan of Pioneer because they use class D amplifiers so haven't heard there MCACC. Anthem Arc is pretty impressive though in there processors but I haven't heard it in there AVR. Maybe I am lucky with my room setup but Audussey has always sounded great with my setups.
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Very interesting I had a Yamaha 2020 with YPAO and it sounded awful. With the default settings my system had no bass and my mains were lacking mid range (something I found interesting because my B&W's have always had strong mids). Ended up returning it for a integra 50.4 and ran Audussey and the differance was night and day. Much cleaner bass response and mids from Audussey then YPAO. Not a fan of Pioneer because they use class D amplifiers so haven't heard there MCACC. Anthem Arc is pretty impressive though in there processors but I haven't heard it in there AVR. Maybe I am lucky with my room setup but Audussey has always sounded great with my setups.

Anthem also happens to have the most impressive class D amplifiers around in the Statement M1. smile.gif Class D or not I wouldn't mind having a pair --just don't have the dedicated circuits to pair them with.
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Very interesting I had a Yamaha 2020 with YPAO and it sounded awful. With the default settings my system had no bass and my mains were lacking mid range (something I found interesting because my B&W's have always had strong mids). Ended up returning it for a integra 50.4 and ran Audussey and the differance was night and day. Much cleaner bass response and mids from Audussey then YPAO. Not a fan of Pioneer because they use class D amplifiers so haven't heard there MCACC. Anthem Arc is pretty impressive though in there processors but I haven't heard it in there AVR. Maybe I am lucky with my room setup but Audussey has always sounded great with my setups.

I had a close experience to this.

The YPAO in my 863 wanted to give me absolutely no bass and the mids were lacking as well. I eventually set everything up manually.

My father-in-law got an Onkyo a year ago, and even though it was in a different system than mine, his really came to life when he added the Onkyo to it compared to his 20 year old Denon.

So I know that I wont buy a yamaha again, but I am stuck with it for now.

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post #23 of 157 Old 04-19-2013, 10:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Anthem also happens to have the most impressive class D amplifiers around in the Statement M1. smile.gif Class D or not I wouldn't mind having a pair --just don't have the dedicated circuits to pair them with.

I wouldn't turn down a pair of 1000-watt monoblocks—but I also thought the S-1500 was as transparent, dynamic and detailed as any amplifier that I have listened to lately. At about $1,000 per channel in a 7-channel configuration, that's a bargain for Krell sound. 


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post #24 of 157 Old 04-19-2013, 01:54 PM
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Anthem also happens to have the most impressive class D amplifiers around in the Statement M1. smile.gif Class D or not I wouldn't mind having a pair --just don't have the dedicated circuits to pair them with.

Have to disagree with you here. At that price point I find the Statement M1 to sound unnatural. Haven't heard a class D amp that has even response across the frequency spectrum. They are great for live sound were you are trying to save weight and heat output. At $7k for a stereo setup If dropping that kind of cash I would rather look at Bryston for an amp. Big fan of Anthem Processors for Home Theater.
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post #25 of 157 Old 04-19-2013, 01:58 PM
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What do you mean? According to my RTA reading when I reviewd the M1, the frequency is virtually ruler flat !!

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post #26 of 157 Old 04-22-2013, 12:32 AM
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And I agree 100% with them, whomever they are. Also various professional reviewers are also anti Audyssey.

I'm glad I don't have their ears and brains. It is nothing new that speaker MFR's shone digital processing, especially versions that appear on many mid to low priced receivers as well. Nothing but old snobbery under different disguise. What ever fills their wine glasses.rolleyes.gif

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post #27 of 157 Old 04-22-2013, 10:22 AM
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What do you mean? According to my RTA reading when I reviewd the M1, the frequency is virtually ruler flat !!

Interesting Stereophile seemed to have simular results to what I found...
"But in its present state I cannot recommend the M1. It imposed a tonal signature on the sound that was simply not neutral. Many successful audio products fail to meet this criterion, and some are perhaps designed to do so, but I don't believe that this was Anthem's goal. Perhaps, as they've done with the upper treble, Anthem will be able to further voice the M1 and let it sing at lower frequencies. I sure hope so." -http://www.stereophile.com/content/anthem-statement-m1-monoblock-power-amplifier-page-2
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post #28 of 157 Old 04-22-2013, 11:19 AM
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Don't get me wrong, I don't disagree with your finding regarding the performance of the Statement M1. I'm just saying that the RTA analysis shows an (almost) ruler flat frequency response. Which MAY be the culprit of the sound being less desireable.

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post #29 of 157 Old 04-24-2013, 01:42 AM
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Yes, hdmi inputs abound, but sadly no 7.1 analog... Very disappointed w that discovery personally... But if I could afford it, I'd buy it without regrets
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post #30 of 157 Old 04-24-2013, 05:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes, hdmi inputs abound, but sadly no 7.1 analog... Very disappointed w that discovery personally... But if I could afford it, I'd buy it without regrets

What device do you have that would be superior to the Foundation for 7.1 processing, that would make you want to use analog inputs instead?


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