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Krell Evolution 707 3D Processor

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
This is a review of the Krell 707 3D Processor. I have found it always difficult to compare one component to another one. Not for myself, but on line.

People buy the stereo system that they like the best, or as time goes by, they get used to and enjoy the one they have. So many people will say that they have the best unit available because that is their personal preference. In fact, when they make comparisons, they are not using a standard, such as real music, but what they now feel real music sounds like….often their own system. About 20 years ago people with really good mid-priced units starting attacking, on line and in fanzines, people who bought more expensive stereos. Again, they felt their units sounded the best and paying more was wrong, even immoral to some degree. So instead of discussions, we often got arguments, especially when it came to wiring. So this is about my preferences.

Unlike a two channel music system, with a surround unit, I have no standard. I don’t know what the Millennium Falcon, the Enterprise, or the Planet Pandora really sounds like.

Let me list the things I look for in equipment:
Ease of Setting Up!
Ease of Use!
Sound!
Picture!
Updatability and Service!

Let me first state that I give the Krell unit an “A.”

Ease of Setting Up:
This is the only place where I give a sigh. Without an on screen menu and a better set of instructions, the Krell is a bit difficult to set up. At least it was for me and my dealer. A better interface would have made that so much easier. Instead of going to one menu site on the machine and giving all the instructions and information to, let’s say the DVD, you have to go to separate menus of “Video,” “Audio,” “Triggers and so forth. The instruction booklet is also hard to use. It only comes in a PDF and, if you print it out, the pages are not numbered. But this does NOT take away from it’s performance in any way.

Problem:
I have a 6.1 system, the best my room can do. When I set the surround channels, the rear speaker would not go on and when I set the rear channel the surrounds would not go on. After talking to the helpful people at Krell, I found a way around that, by setting the system to a 7.1 system and using a ‘Y” cable to create one channel. The Krell service group gave me great support and said they would fix the menu to better accommodate 6.1. They also fixed a “freezing” problem I had.

Ease of Use.
Once set up, this machine is the easiest thing in the world to use. The unit had easy discrete buttons and you did not go through a long menu for quick adjustments. Yeah, I wish the buttons were a bit larger. The machine is quiet, but it does give off a little bit of heat. There are also commands in the unit that can help you set your universal remote. Instead of going through menus to do simple things (like on the ML) I was easily able to do most functions quickly. The Krell labels functions, like TV, Game, DVD, CD etc. But I have a few that they don’t list (Like Laser Disc) so I simply taped the real function on the machine.

Picture:
Outstanding. The Krell unit doesn’t upscale any signal from an HDMI, it only up scaled analog signals. So my Verizon cable box is projected at 780P not 1080P. But I connected the component cables (analog) and boosted them to 1080p. The HDMI looked a bit better, so no loss. I did boost the image from my old Laser Disc Player and it looks fine. The Blu Ray image was fantastic and I could NOT believe how great the 3D Avatar movie looked, as well as the movies I list below. Wow. Really, wow. Also, the standard def images from the cable box also looked very good.

Sound:
The DTS-HD sound on Avitar was also unbelievably great. So was Koyaanisqatsi, The Fifth Element, Superman, and The Dark Knight Rises. I like it when a surround system places you in a bubble of sound, rather than hearing sound coming from each channel. This does that so well. And not just with DTS, but with Dolby Digital on the cable broadcasts. I saw a bit of Jurassic Park, Casper, and a half dozen other movies. Both sound and picture improved as I used the unit more.

The only processor I can compare this to is the defunct Mark Levenson 502. The picture on the ML look about as good for the Blu-Ray, but the Krell surpasses it, easily, in just about every category listed above, especially updatability and reliability. The 502 was down (broken) MORE than half the time I had it. And it didn’t take DTS HD, Dolby HD or 3D.

Updatability and Service!
Krell has updated this machine three times and they have even more software updates. That’s good. Everyone helped me at Krell, the service was fantastic. Often, if I had to leave a message, I got a return call within the hour. They were just great.

Grade: A.
But why not an A plus? You’ll just have to wait. I need to have the machine a while longer to get the complete hang of it. I also want to learn how to use their equalization and have the machine a few months before I comment on reliability. Finally, Krell also wants this to be your two channel pre-amp and has special settings for that which I have not tried yet.


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, JVC DLA RS66 projector and Oppo 105 Blu-Ray.

post #2 of 14
Thanks for the review. That's some nice gear that you have chosen. How does the sound in two channel compare to your stereo pre-amp?
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
You ask an important question.

I wrote, "Finally, Krell also wants this to be your two channel pre-amp and has special settings for that which I have not tried yet."

There are two reasons for why I just haven't gotten around to this yet. Frankly, there was so much to do in set up, that I just wanted to watch movies and listen to some music in surround sound.

Second, I need to connect my DC player to the707 so I can A-B them and I just haven't gotten to that either. I will get back to that in a couple of weeks.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
An important addendum!

I have now have had the 707 up and running for a month. The Man from K.R.E.L.L. did come over and fully adjusted the machines and showed me how to do many more things. Again, the only problem with the unit is the instruction booklet.

I learned how to do the automatic settings which include room size and shape, speaker amounts and placement, speaker frequencies and other little touches.
THE DIFFERENCE IN SOUND AND TONE WAS INCREDIBLE. The automatic settings proved great, especially in the matters of the sub-woofer and bass. It was a much better, fuller and real sound than my own settings. For example, I played the Empire Strikes Back’s first half with my settings and the second half with the new, automatic settings. The second half sounded much, much better, especially the bass.

It’s all a matter of perspective. It all started in the 1980s, with The Empire Strikes Back. Surround sound was new, AND two channel. Most movies then, especially the Bond pictures, had the sound placed in from the perspective of the viewer, so almost everything was in front of you. This included most off screen sounds including music. Starting with Empire, Lucas put you in the CENTER of the sound. So when Bond got into a car, you heard the car in front of you. But when Harrison Ford gets into a truck, you hear the sound as he would, all around you. And music can out of the rear speakers also. Many people, in the 1980s and 1990s had just four speakers for surround, the center being a “phantom.” This most often worked out until people began to use the THX standard. The center channel became a necessity to hear the dialogue well.

So I always but on a Bond and a Lucas movie when setting up a new surround system. If they both sound great, I know everything is OK. And they both sounded great here, but better with the auto settings.

The Krell give you three “memories” that you can use for the room, so I was able to compare MY manual settings to the machines. In addition you can make adjustments and apply them to individual devices. For example, my TV cable box requires a 4 db increase in the rear and surrounds speakers to sound just right, but I do not have to make this adjustment each time, the machine automatically does.

A final, funny thought. My friends saw, in 3D, John Carter here the other night. It was their first 3D movie and it looked and sounded great. The movie is not that good, but they were so impressed by the sight and sound that it was one of the best movies ever!

PS: Because of the change in wiring and moving this heavy 65 lb unit, it will take me some time to compare it to my two channel pre amp.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Bulldogger:

I finally had the time to check out the 707 as a two channel preamp. I compared it to the Levenson 32 and the results surprised me.

As a two channel amp, it is, in every way, the equal of the 32. In fact, it had far more detail at the top when I was playing my SACD player. This made classical solos and small jazz bands sound better than the 32.

It was however, a flat footed tie when it came to large orchestra and loud rock bands. They certainly sounded different: The ML sounded a bit warmer, and therefore a bit closer, but the 707, again, had greater clarity. We sat for an hour and could not decide what was better.

So I did put my ML 32 up for sale.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by lefisc View Post

Bulldogger:

I finally had the time to check out the 707 as a two channel preamp. I compared it to the Levenson 32 and the results surprised me.

As a two channel amp, it is, in every way, the equal of the 32. In fact, it had far more detail at the top when I was playing my SACD player. This made classical solos and small jazz bands sound better than the 32.

It was however, a flat footed tie when it came to large orchestra and loud rock bands. They certainly sounded different: The ML sounded a bit warmer, and therefore a bit closer, but the 707, again, had greater clarity. We sat for an hour and could not decide what was better.

So I did put my ML 32 up for sale.
Ok. That's cool. Most prepros don't do well when used as analog preamps.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
The Krell actually has a special optional setting called "Preamp" when you connect it to a two channel analog unit. It is NOT available for a digital input however. That is how I attached my CD and analog FM tuner.
post #8 of 14
The Krell 707 Analog Stereo Pre-amp is strictly a top drawer pre-amp. You would be hard pressed to find many stereo pre-amps that are better.
post #9 of 14
Just a question on how you connected the 707s to your 600s (fyi, I have a 707 as pre-pro and a pair of EVO 600e for L & R channels), did you use RCA or XLR when you compared it to No 32? I can tell you from experience (I used ot own No 436 and No326S) that switching from Transparent Refence XLR to Transparent CAST makes a huge positive dfference, you will appreciate the full power of Krell EVOs this way. When I did this, it was hard to believe, I had upgraded my preamps already from No 326S to EVO 202s (two box unit) and from No 436 to EVO 400s, and, the improvement on 2 channel music from 202 to 707 was unbleiveable. I have yet to compare 707 as a 2 channel preamp to Dan D'Agustino's new Momentum Preamp, other than this, I haven't found a single dedicated 2 channel preamp (of course you will have to compare using XLR interconnectss) best the 707s, especially when I run on the CAST, and, as a bonus, a 2m pair Transparent CAST cables is several times lower in cost to Transparent REfence (or better) XLR cables. Enjoy your new system.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
First, I have a 707 3D and the newer Krell Evolution 600e amps connected to my left and right. My center amp is an older Krell 450MCX. Previously I had the Krell 600i which replaced my ML mono amps, who, sad to say, who numbers I forgot.

I used Transparent BALANCED to connect the units. I have not yet tried the cast and, on this site, a lister who had a similar system said that he felt the Transparent Balanced was better than cast. So I haven’t bothered to compare the two yet. (Bothered means, in this case it’s a lot of work.)

In the last decade, I have heard that certain Surround Units, such as the ML 40 or 502 and many from other companies can be used as an analog pre amp and that they are just as good as the ML 32. This was just not true, the ML 32 was better, in my opinion. Perhaps if I had not had it in my system I would not have cared as much, but I did.

Here was the big surprise for me. I first had the Krell 707 hooked up to the SSP input of the ML 32 and that degraded the sound! It should have been a pass through with minimum effect, but it frankly wasn’t. So at first I was ambiguous about removing the ML.

Of course I did not know that the sound was being degraded until I connected the 707 directly to the amps. A silly thing: My units are placed in a big Salamander cabinet which I cannot possibly move without help. SO I had to wait until my dealer had some time so we can slowly compare the two. Also the ML 32 weighs over 100 lbs and, again, I need help with that. And that is also why I haven’t tried the cast wires. Just checking, Transparent makes cast also?

We were frankly astonished that disconnected from the ML is sounded so much better!!!! The we compared the two separately. It is rare that these units live up to their hype. But as separate pre amps, I be hard pressed to say one was better than the other.

The President of Krell says that their new Pre-amp, The Phantom (you wrote Momentum) is better. Wow! I’d love to hear that.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by lefisc View Post


The President of Krell says that their new Pre-amp, The Phantom (you wrote Momentum) is better. Wow! I’d love to hear that.

The 707 pre-amp is inherited from their previous Evolution 2 pre-amp. Krell has a history of keeping their top of the line just that, "Their Top of The Line". I haven't listened to the Phantom, but I do believe that it is better than the 707.

If you are looking to demo some Cast cables, I would truly recommend giving the "Purist Audio" Cast cable a try. Give them a call and see what arrangements could be made for such a demo. They are really great folks and more than willing to answer any questions you may have. Going to Cast is just another step up, but many Cast cables (including Krell's) leave a lot to be desired.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanx for the advice! i'll get in touch with purist audio.
post #13 of 14
No, I actually did mean Dan D'Agustino's Momemtum Pre-amp; Dan left Krell a few years back and started his own company, and his Momentum monobloc amps are phenomenal, perhaps evern better than EVO 1. And, Krell no longer builds EVO 1 and EVO2 (the front 3 channels of the 707 when run in 'preamp' mode is direct decendant of EVO 2 including shielding). I had the EVO 202 2-box preamp which are very similar to Phantom, and, I still believe that in 2 channel analog mode, the 707 bests it with CAST going to 600e. Your result might differ as your speakers and perhaps how we listen are likely different.
Also, in my opinion, unless you use Transparent Opus interconnects (I do have the Transparent Opum MM 2 speaker cables from my 600e to MAXX 3s), the Transparent CAST sounds better with 707 and 600e. I have spent innumerable hours in comparing, and, I live within 2 hrs (still a pain) of my dealer from whom I have purchased a lot of gear and he was kind enough to loan me several transparent reference all the way up to Opus mm to compare for over a month's time, and, I ended up with CAST, as the best. While, it was really hard to separate the opus mm from cast; it was very apparent for any less cable than the opus (if you really want to argue in detail, I'd say, opus mm had a tad better tonality but the snap and r, p and t of cast were better).
The point is you are enjoying your system and you felt that your 707 was at least as good as the venerable No 32 and felt comfortable enough to put No 32 out for sale.
Yes, even with perhaps the best of shielding in 707, less connections is still better. My previous ssp was MC-12 purchased as V3, but had every upgrade done including eoom eq, and traded it after 707, while it was a v5room eq. fyi, I have never run any video section in it or in the 707, and all of these go through a Lumagen Radiance XD video processor. I did see that the 2 channel analog was better without running any video cables through 707 as was the case with mc-12, other than potential shielding issues, I have no other explanations but sound was better. And by the way, all of my six dedicated 20A circuits are all on the same phase and none of my grear are not power or phase limited as far as power coiming in the socket goes.
Enjoy your great system.
post #14 of 14
Sorry lefisc, I missed one question that you'd asked, yes, Transparent makes CAST cable too, and, it is, in my opinion based on innumerable hours of listening, better than the CAST cable that you can get from Krell. The Transparent CAST used to be about $1,200/2m pair, but that was a few years ago.
One other point, I have Salamander too, except, I only have a 'double' in height and not 'tripple' like you have. In addition, I have given about 18" of gap/space between the back of the Salamanders and the wall giving me ample room to play with cables and interconnects, if you can have the whole thing move forward when you have some help, it will help you in future when you need to either switch, upgrade interconnects, cables and components. I hope this tip helps you, l learned it nearly a dozen years ago and have put it to good use.
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