The Krell K-300i is an perfect, not cheap, integrated amplifier. Like many (multiple pairs) built-in amplifiers that we’ve seen in recent years, you have the option to include a selection of digital inputs. However, there are two unusual aspects to this. The first is that this is something Krell hasn’t offered before. The company built amplifiers to amplify and sources to connect to them and was glad not to let these two things mix. The second is that, after making the jump, they did not stop – as we will cover, this is one of the most complete examples specified of the breed that we have not yet tested.
Of course, historically, full specifications weren’t the reason people chose Krell. The company has an enviable reputation for producing stereo and multi-channel amplifiers that could take any speaker, no matter how demanding, and fold it at will. This remains very important by 2020; The flagship mono 575XD will remove 575 watts in an eight-ohm charge which should be enough for virtually any task before using it as a welder. The K-300i is not volcanically powerful, but it should still be enough.
The case is all metal and the way it is assembled is tremendously stimulating with confidence. The American high-end has a different vibe for both its European rivals and its Japanese, but even if you were a busy fan of one of those design schools, the Krell K-300i would still impress. This is far from a cheap amplifier, but you can see where the money was spent. Black and silver finishes are available and the silver finish is really very nice if you can make it work with the rest of your equipment.
Despite a low-profile enclosure, the Krell K-300i weight 52 pounds. Producing 150 watts per channel in 8 ohms, doping 4, the K-300i provides the heavy grip that will attract newcomers and will be familiar to fans. The 1/2-inch milled aluminum front panel (available in silver or black) completes the homage to past Krell products, while the curved front keeps an eye on the future.
The Krell K-300i is full loaded. Equipped with 2 HDMI inputs, 1 HDMI output and a preamp output to integrate two pairs of balanced XLR inputs and 3 rca line level inputs, everything at your disposal will be easily connected. Those who select the digital box also have toslinks and coaxial inputs along with USB and RJ45 Ethernet inputs, as well as Bluetooth/aptX functionality. This is a well thought out product as an independent control center or integrated into a complete home system through RS-232 ports.
Totally anticipating great dynamics and a tonal balance that favors the lower octaves, as with the past Krell product, the K-300i is very different from Krell’s previous efforts. It’s a top-down update for a more refined, but more musical, sound. The lowest records are more refined and controlled at the same time.
Keeping the dynamic and blunt low end that made Krell famous with audiophiles around the world, the K-300i is more nuanced and natural in its musical delivery. There is a sweetness in the sound reminiscent of the original KSA-50. The Krell K-300i is not swaying, inviting you to turn up the volume on your favorite tracks from the get-go. It’s always a big sign. Remember, Krell amplifiers are still Class A, but thanks to Krell’s current i-Bias topology, they don’t work as hot, nor do they draw as much power at low volume levels as the original models. However, the K-300i still extracts 900 watts from the AC line at full power and generates a good amount of heat.
It’s also easy to use. There is a useful display that shows input, volume and sampling frequency, and a menu-based system that allows you to cut and set input levels. My only real complaint is that it occurs on any amplifier at any price that does not include a volume knob. The Krell’s volume ramp is something that can only be adjusted to the speed that the buttons allow is never as fast as a fast wrist movement acting on a volume knob. Fortunately, this ramp is quite fast and the presence of an excellent custom remote softens the shock a bit. It is also worth noting that if you use the Krell as a Roon endpoint, the volume is perfectly embedded there too.Krell K-300i Integrated Amplifier Review
£8,999.00 is a lot of money for an amplifier. We don’t want to despise the cost of the K-300i in any way. It is still a considerable amount of money, although consider that the K-300i, when equipped with the digital card is actually a standalone system. So is a Naim Uniti Nova and that’s a total of £4,700 less than the Krell.
The fact is, however, that this is not just a good amplifier. It’s really cool, perhaps the most convincing balance of features and performance. I am aware that there is a movement in some circles now to consider that any system – stereo or multichannel – needs EQ to be complete. If you’re shopping, listen to the K-300i and a couple of decent support speakers. Behind modern connectivity is an amplifier that is indisputably old school. In addition to being old school, however, it is undoubtedly brilliant. The Krell K-300i is a masterpiece and the undisputed best of its kind. Photo:Krell
2 pr. balanced via XLR connectors
3 pr. single-ended via RCA connectors
1 EIAJ Toslink Optical
1 S/PDIF Coax
2 HDMI (HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2) + 1 HDMI Output
1 USB-A (USB 2.0 host)
1 USB-B (USB 2.0 audio device)
1 Bluetooth with aptX
1 pr. preamp outputs via RCA connectors
1 pr. speaker outputs via gold-plated binding posts
1 RS-232 input via 9-pin D-subminiature connector
1 remote IR detector input via 3-conductor 3.5 mm connector
1 12 VDC trigger input via 2-conductor 3.5 mm connector
1 12 VDC trigger output (60 mA maximum current) via 2-conductor 3.5 mm connector
Balanced: 16 kΩ
Single-ended: 8 kΩ
20 Hz to 20 kHz +0, -0.22 dB
<10Hz to 100kHz +0, -0.57 dB
>104 dB, wideband, unweighted, at 2V RMS in balanced, referred to full power output
>117 dB, “A”-weighted
25 dB, referenced to 2V RMS in balanced and full power output
10.4 V RMS Balanced
6.8 V RMS Single-ended
Total harmonic distortion
<0.015%, 1 kHz, 150 W, 8 Ω load
<0.08%, 20 kHz, 150 W, 8 Ω load
150 W RMS per channel at 8 Ω
300 W RMS per channel at 4 Ω
98 V peak to peak
34.6 V RMS
<0.023 Ω, 20 Hz
<0.035 Ω, 20 Hz to 20 kHz
>347, 20 Hz, referred to 8 Ω
>228, 20 Hz to 20 kHz, referred to 8 Ω
Standby: 11 W
Idle: 46 W
Maximum: 900 W
Standby: 37 BTU/hr
Idle: 156 BTU/hr
Maximum: 3060 BTU/hr
17.25 in W x 4.12 in H x 18.00 in D
438 mm W x 105 mm H x 457 mm D
Unit only: 52 lb [23.6 kg]
As shipped: 60 lb [27.3 kg]
Digital Module Specs
Coaxial and HDMI inputs support PCM up to 24-bit/192kHz.
Optical input up to 24-bit/96kHz
HDMI inputs support DSD and 4K video content.
HDMI output supports Audio Return Channel (ARC)
USB and Network streaming support MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV(PCM), FLAC, ALAC up to 192kHz
Bluetooth streaming supports A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP