The night before AXPONA’s official kickoff, Krell’s director of product development, Dave Goodman, was still assembling the latest offering from Connecticut’s solid-state powerhouse: the yet-to-be-released KSA i400. (With that model name, no prizes for guessing the number of watts per channel.) The Krell and its associated components were set up in a large, cube-like room—on paper, far from ideal acoustically. But what resulted on Friday morning sounded powerful and impressive. I don’t mean to say that anything was excessively muscular. Effortless, poised, and relaxed though? You’d best believe it.
The KSA-i400 had never had a public demo before, but it wasn’t a shy debutante — not in sonics and not in appearance. The amp’s look, all straight lines without swoops or bulges, harkens back to the older Krells, such as the MRA and FPB lines. Fed by an Innuos Statement streamer into a Krell Illusion preamp and tied together with Transparent Audio XL cables, the KSA-i400 drove a pair of Estelon Forza speakers ($160,000/pair/ see Michael Fremer’s Stereophile review) with ease and authority. Especially remarkable were the bass growl on James Blake’s “Limit to Your Love” and the delicacy of the reverb tails on the RY X track “Howling.” The KSA’s price is expected to be in the mid-$30,000 range.
A Krell amplifier also helped set the fifth-floor Audio Intellect room on fire (proverbial only; no actual fires were set). Anticables connected a Belgian-made 432 EVO streamer (modular design; prices range from $3,500 to $16,000) to a DAC-equipped Krell K300i integrated ($9500; see Jason Victor Serinus’s Stereophile review), which drove a pair of just-introduced, blond-wood Alta Audio Adams ($18,000). Listeners got tight, prodigious bass from surprisingly small woofers, making music in tandem with the Adams’s ribbon tweeters. Saxes and trumpets were brassy, airy, and real. Other duties called; I had a hard time tearing myself away.