Krell KAV 150a – High End Stereo Equipment We Buy

McIntosh is one of the most dependable brand names when it comes to high-end audio systems. For years the brand has been recognized by audiophiles throughout the world as equipment that delivers clear and consistent quality in music. McIntosh is probably best known for its amplifiers and preamps, but the company produces many other components and parts for stereo and home theatre.

What are the specs for the Krell KAV 150a?

Power output:
150 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo), 600 watts into 8Ω (mono)
Frequency response:
20Hz to 20kHz
Total harmonic distortion:
0.25%
Input sensitivity:
1.8V
Signal to noise ratio:
112dB
Speaker load impedance:
4Ω (minimum)
Dimensions:
475 x 92.5 x 387.5mm
Weight:
11.4kg

What else to know about the Krell KAV 150a?

"The KAV 150a has a pretty slim cabinet (48 x 37 x 9 cm) and one may wonder how they succeeded putting a serious 150 watts amp into such a compact-sized cabinet. The weight of the unit explains it al:the KAV 150a is quite heavy, indeed.

The front panel has the classic Krell grey finish, with the Company logo in the center and the also classical electric-blue/violet led above the on/off switch. The quality of the finish is average and testifies where the major savings have been made.

The rear panel is quite crowded: RCA and balanced line inputs, 12V for remote control inputs/outputs, single cheap-looking output posts for loudspeakers and a switch to "bridge" the KAV 150a, so to convert it into a mono 600 Watts power amp.

The KAV 150a is very easy to use and seems solidly built. Once connected to my main reference system it has been tested under different situations and matched with different partners, over an extended period (several months).

When the baby Krell sings

What's this? Uh, a 150 watts Krell power amp! I hear you saying: "OK, big, dynamic and full-bodied sound, powerful bass and..." and you're quite wrong.

The first thing one notices when the KAV 150a is driving the loudspeakers is the grace and the kindness he has and the way it offers the Music to the listener. It is like a sweet cat who loves caresses and is always ready to...bite. It is suddenly clear it is a 150 watts power amp, no doubt about this, but this large amount of power is delivered with ease and grace, there's no trace of aggressiveness in the sound of the KAV 150a.

Sonically neutral and balanced it possesses an open high range, refined and accurate without the harshness of some other cheap hi-power amps. So is the mid range: natural and distortion-free, able to reproduce without harshness even the most difficult female voices.

Actually, one of the best things this amp is capable of is reproducing male and female voices very naturally, without compressions or excessive sibilants.

Then there's the bass range, the famous Krell bass range. Well, the little KAV 150a does what it can to give us an idea of what the Krell bass range actually is. It is powerful and articulated but it clearly lacks the depth and the "breath" of its bigger brothers (sound pretty obvious, uh?).

Some extra "drive" at the lower frequencies would be welcomed, indeed. You should already know I'm a big fan of below-40 Hz frequencies as my favourite musical instrument is the pipe organ.

The tonal coherence of the KAV 150a is good, considering its price and the large amount of undistorted power it delivers. It is hard to hear a portion of the audible spectrum sounding louder or "not-connected" with the rest. It may sound like an easy task but I can assure you than many amps (and loudspeakers too) fail to sound so coherent...

Micro & macro dynamics

Well, as said above, the KAV 150a is like a sleeping cat: you can caress it but you should be always prepared for a "bite". So, when the musical program requires impact, the KAV 150a shows you all the dynamic power it possesses, transferring large amounts of sheer energy to your drivers and to your body.

It does not sound violent: the energy is offered quite gently, which is quite unexpected for a hi-power solid state amp.

It sounds dynamic but not exactly explosive, it is powerful but not aggressive. It is possible to listen to it for hours and hours, at high levels, withot ear "fatigue", a clear sign of class. In fact, you know when you're testing a good amp when after 4 or 5 hours of listening at high levels you can still turn the volume up without willing to turn everything off instead.

The driving capabilities of the KAV 150a are good, it can virtually "shake" any driver, even the laziest one. Even in large rooms, with mid-efficiency loudspeakers, the amount of power is more than sufficient for adequate home listening sessions.

The KAV 150a is very good at microdynamics, too. Not exactly "analitycal" or "razor sharp", it still unveils good amounts of tiny details and variations, though its ability to sound with grace makes it sound smoother than it actually is.

The sense of speed and pace is average: it follows the Music with ease and attacks and decays are natural, withot being too "sharp" and violent.

Soundstage

Good. Wide and deep, well focused with smooth contours. The height of the image is surprisingly good and so is depth, sometimes even excessive: with the Reference Recordings Berlioz's Sinfonia Fantastica some portions of the orchestra appear to be even too far (or more than needed :-) )

There's much air among the instruments and the illusion of a 3D event is very realistic. Not the soundstage of the top-of-the-line Krell amps but still a good performance, given the price. The sound is NEVER "in the face" as is usually expected with hi-power solid state power amps. The KAV 150a has a pretty slim cabinet (48 x 37 x 9 cm) and one may wonder how they succeeded putting a serious 150 watts amp into such a compact-sized cabinet. The weight of the unit explains it all: the KAV 150a is quite heavy, indeed.

The front panel has the classic Krell grey finish, with the Company logo in the center and the also classical electric-blue/violet led above the on/off switch. The quality of the finish is average and testifies where the major savings have been made.

The rear panel is quite crowded: RCA and balanced line inputs, 12V for remote control inputs/outputs, single cheap-looking output posts for loudspeakers and a switch to "bridge" the KAV 150a, so to convert it into a mono 600 Watts power amp.

The KAV 150a is very easy to use and seems solidly built. Once connected to my main reference system it has been tested under different situations and matched with different partners, over an extended period (several months).

Conclusions

Grace and power live together in harmony here. The KAV 150a is the first step into the golden world of Krell amps and it should be seriously considered by anyone who's searching for a powerful amp with a gentle sound.

Also, you may wish to test listen to it if your're the kind of audiophile who thinks that hi-power solid state amps do all sound the same." - TNT Audio (1999)

Brief History of McIntosh

Long mapped-to Binghamton New York – the current headquarters and manufacturing center for Krell Labs – not many people know the brand was originally launched outside of the Nation’s Capital in Silver Spring Maryland, in 1949. In 1956, the brand built their original facility in New York, according to the official brand website.

StereoBuyers has purchased tens of thousands worth Krell brand equipment since 2014, with individual buys ranging from $100 to well over $50,000. If you are moving, ready to upgrade, or have Krell equipment you do not or will not be using, why not contact us today to find out if it is worth good money?

If you are interested in selling your used Krell equipment to us in the greater NYC area or Colorado, please click here to fill out a Free Quote Form and we will get back to you. If we agree on terms, we come to meet you where you want, and pay cash.

The following images show actual Krell equipment purchased by StereoBuyers.