Krell 400xi


Well-Known Member
Jun 2, 2009
I am considering buying a used Krell 400xi and wanted a couple of inputs from people who have experience with it:
1. How does its sound compare to the new S-300i? Unfortunately, the 400xi isnt available for demo locally and I would need to base my judgement on the 300i. I would be able to check out the 400xi before buying but not in my system.
2. I've heard that it runs quite warm. Would it have problems with a 4ohm load in the Mumbai summer?

In general, if anyone has experience with a Krell-Dynaudio pairing, impressions would be much appreciated.

Hey! I've hear the 400xi many a times but the 300i only briefly & i def prefer the 400xi. IMO the 300i runs hotter.

On the dynaudio-krell pairing i'd like to know which dyna's are you using? what is the rest of the chain? what kind of music do you listen to & what you want form the sound?

All the best.
I'm using a pair of Dynaudio Audience 52 speakers. For the source I currently have an old Marantz CD6000 OSE which is due an upgrade.

I listen to a wide variety of music (Jazz, Western Classical, Rock, Metal etc). Looking for a clean sounding, relatively neutral amplifier which has good separation and a wide/deep soundstage. It should be able to manage dynamics well with the inefficient Dynaudio's and keep the bottom end under control.
I have heard the Krell 400xi with the Dynaudio 52SE and the sound was well below average. Even though both the products are good but when it comes to matching , Dynaudio did not sound good with the Krell.
I had the Krell KAV 300i and the Dyn Audience 82s and the sound was good - till I replaced the Krell with a Cayin tube amp. The mids just opened up with the Cayin. The Krell's ofcourse had better bass but was missing the mids I got from the tube amps.

I believe the 400xi is better but I have not heard them
I have the Dyn Focus 140 running off the krell 400 xi.. Clean neutral sound... IMO very nice indeed. It does run a tad warm but till date no issues...
I'm using a pair of Dynaudio Audience 52 speakers. For the source I currently have an old Marantz CD6000 OSE which is due an upgrade.

I listen to a wide variety of music (Jazz, Western Classical, Rock, Metal etc). Looking for a clean sounding, relatively neutral amplifier which has good separation and a wide/deep soundstage. It should be able to manage dynamics well with the inefficient Dynaudio's and keep the bottom end under control.

Hey what amp are you using at the moment?
The dyna A 52 do stage but i don't think it can do a wide & deep soundstage, being a 52 user at least Im yet to witness it.

The krell 400xi if not the best match it is def a good match , if you liked the 300 with the 52's then it's likely you'll like the 400 better. It'll be enjoyable combo & amp will certainly keep the bottom end under control.

The nad silver line's were a very good match. Try to find a used one. I've not heard the new nad's but suggest you try them as dynaudio does enter the audio show's with nad. Though the pricing of nad in India leaves a lot to be desired, you may get a good bargain.

I'm unable to come up with any perfect amp currently available. Although Ive not heard the combo's but i guess you should give the top line Marantz, Aracam A38, on another thread audio enr had mentioned the sudgen 21se. Suggest you try various other amps before you take the plunge.

All the best.
Okay, before I put down my comments, I would want to clearly mention my experience with these components. I have owned Dynaudio speakers for almost 5 years. I started with Audience 52, moved to BM6 (studio version) and finally to Contour 1.3SE. I have extensively listened to Audience 52SE since my cousin has it here in Bangalore. I have also listened to Audience 72 and 82 extensively because some of my very good friends have them. Apart from these I have auditioned Focus 220 multiple times and the C2 and Evidence Temptation on different occasion. All this in the last 5 years. I am a huge fan of Dynaudio for what they do and I have experimented a lot with different amplifiers and sources. So, here is my take on the current topic of discussion:

1. Audience 52 was and still is one of the best speakers at the entry level. They are extremely musical and do all the audiophile stuff with amazing degree of conviction. They are also the easiest to drive among all the Dynaudios. A nice 30-40 watt tube amp is also enough if you are not looking at playing at head banging levels. Dont get me wrong here, no other Dynaudio is as easy to to drive as this one. They work fantastically well in small rooms > 120sqft.

2. Krell is one of the worst amps to be partnered with Dynaudio !!!!
I have heard 3 different model of Krells paired with different Dynaudios and they all sounded crap !!! It was the analytical, dry and unmusical Dynaudio experience I have ever had. Two of my very close audiophile friends owned (one of them still owns) 400xi and they have tried pairing Dynaudios with this amp. All I can say, a Wharfdale 9.1 + Marantz entry level amp sounds better than this combo. And I know it was the Krell amp and not the speaker which was more at fault. Dynas are very revealing and they tell you exactly how good or bad is your electronics. The 400xi is a confused amp which Krell has designed in a hurry and did not pay attention to the sonics. The sound from this amp seems okay on the first listen, it is clean and smooth but as you listen to couple of songs you will realize that it does not keep you hooked to the music and that normally happens when the harmonic integrity of the music signal is not maintained and nothing can be done about it.
Anyway, no Krell has ever been able to impress me when paired with Dynaudio so I would suggest you stay away from them if you buying Dyns.

3. Dyns in general require quality power (quantity is required but it is secondary). Do NOT hook an entry level NAD to Audience 52. If you have to stick to entry level amps, I would suggest Marantz. In general I would list out the amps which I have liked and disliked with Dyns, you can choose according to your taste and budget:

Do NOT use these amps with Dyns:

1. NAD (I have not heard the master series but anything below that is no no)
2. Cyrus (Lean and Bright)
3. Krell
4. Primare (cold and dry, does not work with Dyns)

Amps which I think would work well:

1. Marantz
2. Arcam
3. Cayin
4. Naim
5. McCormack
6. Plinius
7. Accuphase
8. McIntosh
9. Odyssey
10. Usher
11. Lyrita Audio (the monoblocks)

There could be many more. As and when the discussion progresses we can talk. But the above list is almost proven (except Lyrita, but I have listened to Lyrita products and hence a extrapolation). I may have sounded a bit strong but believe me these were some consistent observations over a good number of years that I have learnt so I did not want to sound light.
Forgot to mention:
Sugden is nice but I am not sure how far it can drive the 52. But it will be an experiment worth trying because Sugden is a musical amp. So musical that you can change your speakers to match it if required.

And, A52 stages extremely well, give it width and some 3ft depth and watch the magic. Infact you dont have spend more than 10 mins to position it to achieve an almost ideal soundstage and image, they are so friendly.
Thanks for all the tips guys. I've had the Dynes for a few months now and use them with a Marantz PM7001 and a Tripath (TA2022) based 70W amplifier. Neither has bottom end authority and overall dynamics with these speakers. The Marantz sounds a bit warm but is missing a soundstage. The tripath soundstages very well (especially with a OPA627 based preamp) but sounds a bit cold with these speakers.

I've tried the speakers with a range of amps and have the following impressions:
1. Advance Acoustics pre-power combo: Definitely have the power to run these speakers. Soundstage is a bit weak and in general the sound is forward and somewhat rough around the edges. I was thinking of trying the power amp with a passive pre but got scared off by stories of poor reliability
2. Various Moon amplifiers (i1 to i5): All round decent, clean sounding amps with good imaging. The smaller duo (i1 and i3) had little by way of dynamics with the Dynes. The i5 was decent but lost out on PRAT and bottom end slam.
3. Rotel pre-power: made my ears hurt - too bright
4. Nuforce integrated: Good imaging and detail, weak everywhere else. Sounded a lot like my Tripath
5. Bryston Pre-Power (3BSST power, not sure of the pre model): the best I've hears so far (it better be at 2.5L!). Got everything right: dynamics, soundstage, detail etc. Just a bit cold sounding but might do well with a warmer source (source was a Moon CD player). Unfortunately too far out of budget.

I've otherwise heard the Nad master series integrated with a pair of Dynaudio Contour 1.3MkII and came away generally unimpressed. Plan to listen to the Parasound and Krell tomorrow. Also have the Odyssey amps on the shortlist. Unfortunately wont be able to demo them with my speakers.

Does anyone have any experience with CEC amplifiers? Available at some very attractive prices in HK
On a budget, Odyssey is nice, in fact nice enough support you through next couple of speaker upgrades. Even I have heard the Bryston + A52 combo and had similar opinion as yours...nice but somewhat cold. Odyssey is much better that way...Rich, clean sound without the typical dryness/coldness.

Another amp thats amazing is Naim. Superb PRAT, clean sound, transparent but a nice musical touch. Not at all analytical. It also has the ability to drive the Dyns well. Its in the same price range as the 400xi.
I will second Odyssey for the dynaudios. I have a stratos extreme that I am using to drive a pair of focus 110's and it is handling these speakers very well, much better than a class d bel canto s300 and definitely better than a pair of quicksilver mid mono push pull amps that I used for the past 5 years. All these amps are in the similar price range of $2k and I give the Odyssey that highest marks, especially when paired with my dynes.
Its reviews like these that misguide people. Stereophile and its likes have never had the guts to trash a bad product from a company like Krell, B&W or a Dynaudio. And we all know why:mad:.

Both my friends who bought the 400xi bought them based on this very review (I have read this review almost 3 years back. They even tried to convince themselves that it is a good amp and hence tried a lot of things (cables, CDPs) to make it sound musical, but it just cannot. It is flawed too deep inside IMO.
I would normally not condemn a product as much as this unless I am as confident and as disappointed about the sonics. In fact this has now become a common practice to focus on the technical aspects first, create a sound signature so that there is no apparent turn off and then market the product well. It does not work that way. Just listen to an old Carver amp, you may find n number flaws in its sound but it will never fail to keep you hooked to music.
In particular, Dyns do not forgive badly designed electronics.
I couldmt agree more with Dr Bass.

The Krell 400xi is a BAD amplifier, and IMHO a SHAME to the Krell Badge.

It lacks resolution and will be outperformed by an amp HALF or even quarter its price.

One of the WORST Hi Fi buys IMHO :mad:
Hey! Jai have you palced the spk in a dedicated room?
I agree that the 52 is one of the best speakers at this price range & dynaudio is very good brand. Im using my 52s with a nad 320bee & a nad 542 cdp. It does the job of playing the music but I agree it need much better components.
The best Ive heard form the A52 in a dedicated treated room with my gamut pre power & holfi Cdp. It did stage but not in the level of say a 1.3 SE since a quite a few might have heard the SE they would know what Im getting at.

I also agree that selecting components through reviews could be misleading.
From the various set ups that Ive heard the krell with imo it is certainly not the best match for the dynas but if matched well with a good cdp it does the job & if paired with certain speakers one can get a good balance. But we are not talking speakers here.

There are very few options available at 1.5l odd & even less if you can only demo in mumbai. Try & get the amps at you place or take your spks to get at the best compromise.
To each his own - please see attached various other reviews of the krell 400xi and all seem to be positive. Agreed krell is the 800lb gorilla of the high end world (and may influence reviews) but if all the reviews are favorable then I would guess it merits a listen at-least. Anyways proof of the pudding is in your own ears and sound is quite subjective, so it is better to listen to it yourself with your spekers. I have heard a krell system in the past - the CAST system - and remember being quite impressed by it, but I have not heard the 400xi so cannot directly comment on it. YMMV


SoundStage! Equipment Review - Krell KAV-400xi Integrated Amplifier (12/2006)
Krell KAV-400xi Integrated Amplifier By Alvin Gold
StereoTimes -- The EAR 834P Phono Preamplifier
Krell KAV-400xi Integrated Amplifier Reviewed
About my observations of the A52, they are great entry level speakers that work well with small and small-to-medium rooms. My friend has his setup in a dedicated small bedroom of size 10ft x 12ft. The speakers are on solid, heavy-weight free-standing stands setup 3ft from the wall behind them with 1ft clear off the sidewalls. Source is a Linn Ikemi CDP while the amp is a Sugden A21-SE. IC is a AQ Lapis. There's enough steam in the 25-watt Sugden to do justice to those A52s while the overall experience is quite remarkable for such a simple, non-fussy setup. In fact, one can listen for hours without any signs of fatigue.

I can imagine the gorgeous sound of this setup. Linn is known for clean PRAT and Sugden for tones....what a combo !!!:licklips:
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