I have recently gotten the latest version of the Krell 707, Evolution 3D Processor and I was in the process of putting it though it’s paces, if you know what I mean. You are comparing this unit here to others, so I thought this would fit in if I discuss the Levenson 502 and then give a review of the Krell (let me know if this should have been a new thread)
I will discuss what it is and does, but also let me discuss the Mark Levinson 502, which originally came out at the same time. That unit, my biggest mistake in audio, is rightfully discontinued. I had bought and was satisfied with many Mark Levinson pieces since 1985. The Mark Levinson company, or Madrigal, was a small company that produced great sounding equipment and stood by it. The Levinson Company was then bought over by Harman Kardon who really didn’t seem to know how to fit this company into their vast holdings. So, it became a small part of a company that was mass-producing consumer-products. I bought the ML 40 over a decade ago and it eventually stopped working well. After a half a dozen trips back to the service department they admitted they couldn’t fix it and said that they would give me a good price if I bought the 502. I should have turned them down.
Its competitor was the Krell 707. The Mark Levenson unit came with a large high-definition screen on the front which allowed you to navigate the menus and to see the video that you would be controlling. The Krell unit had a very small display and, to be frank, very small buttons on the front which I thought would be hard to see in the dark. What I did not realize was that the Krell unit had easy discrete buttons and you did not go through a long menu for quick adjustments. This would mean that if I wanted to do something simple such as raise the volume on the center channel or lower the base, I had to go through complicated menus to do so.
A big difference also was that the Mark Levinson upscaler boosted everything to 1080P. The Krell unit doesn’t do that, it only up scaled analog signals, not any from an HDMI.
The first unit came to my house and they removed my Mark Levenson 40. This unit and the next (believe or not) three unit failed within minutes a couple wouldn’t even start up. At this point I wanted my money back but my dealer said he could not get it from Levinson and so he could not give it to me.
The unit came with HDMI 1.1 which did mean it played my Blu-ray. But it didn’t play 3-D or some other functions now available. It also didn’t play Dolby or DTS HD or any of the new surround sound modes that have come out since. There was a work around for this. You had to get a Blu-ray player that had a LPCM mode where the blu-ray player did all the work. So you’re bypassing that expensive circuitry that you paid for in the Levenson unit. The Levinson Company announced that this machine would never be updated.
There ass a loud fan that goes on and off in the unit. When you are listening to soft music, even with the unit OFF, you can hear it.
Well, kept breaking. The last time none of the triggers worked. Also the machine froze many times. You’d have to reboot it which took about five minutes. Worst of all, it allowed hum began coming out of the sub-woofer. This usually happen when there was quiet on that channel. It happened on all video inputs. The Levinson people had the machine for a couple of months (they didn’t have the parts) and returned it to me saying that they fix the triggers and the freezing but there was nothing wrong with the bass. Well, the freezing was still there, and even after I had the manufacturer (Thiel) check out the bass unit, the hummmm was still there.
My dealer replaced this unit with the Krell 707 3D. While I don’t like the smaller buttons, they do have discrete codes to put on a universal remote which means I won’t be using those buttons very much anyway. But the buttons set things, and don’t lead you to a menu. Yeah, the Krell has a few less functions, but these turned out to be functions I never used any way. The Krell Company has people I can speak too. One of them said, in fact, he’d like to come over after I set it up and go through everything with me to see that it works. That’s just great!
Without a doubt, without an on screen menu and a better set of instructions, the Krell is a bit difficult to set up. A better interface would have made that so much easier. The instruction booklet is hard to use. However, once set up this machine is as easy as can be. It is a delight to use. Their remote is so multi-functional, while the ML just got you into menus. The machine is quiet, but it does give off a little heat. Not much.
I had been using the Krell for a week and had been very happy with it. The surround sound was great. The picture from my Oppo 105 was perfect going into my new JVC DLA RS66 projector. It did not, as the Levenson did, covert a 720p to a 1080p image, but it looked fine. The standard def images looked remarkably better than the Levinson.
My system is: Mark Levinson 32 pre-amp, Revel Salon 2 front speakers, Revel Voice 2 middle, Thiel Sub-woofer 2 and three Powerplanes rear and surround; Krell Evolution 600 for front speakers, Krell 450Mcx middle, and Proceed HPA-3 amp for surround and back.
But then came the problems. I have a 6.1 system, with one rear and two surround channels. Everything worked OK until I put on a Blu Ray with DTS HD sound. I lost the two surround channels. Then, when I changed my settings and eliminated the rear channel I got the surrounds back. While changing the menu the machine froze a few times. And then I began to lose all sound from channels that were not Dolby 5.1, but Dolby 2.0. On Wednesday the machine went back to Krell and I hope to get it back next week. This is a major plus: They called, they gave me information, they are working on it now and I am being kept in the loop. They are convinced it is a software problem which they can resolve easily. Gosh, I hope so!