June 7, 2011

Hot Indeed - Krell S-350a CD Player

Big E is enamoured with this Krell. You can be pretty sure of that. He calls it ‘Hot’ and ‘A Giant Killer’. Go read his review from June 3, 2011.

With endorsement like that I couldn't resist to hear it for myself in my own system, could I? Who does not like an underdog winning the day?

So, the Krell S-350a CD player duly arrived at my place. Straight out of the box, the construction quality impressed already. It is a very sturdily built box, the proverbial built like a tank quality seen in all Krell gears. The player is also deeper than usual, and it just barely fit on my rack. The remote control is a metal one, chunky and heavy, one that can inflict serious damage if dropped on your toe. If I had not known and were to guess its price, I’d come up with a figure circa RM20k. However, it goes for RM10,500. Boy, was I impressed again.

The Krell S-350a has a deeper than usual body

When the Krell S-350a started to play, I was impressed a third time. This did not sound like anything I knew or was expecting at this price level. I bought a CD player 7-8 years ago at the same price range, and I can vouch that the sound quality was not even close to this. It shows how much we have advanced in terms of price/performance ratio for digital players now.

The rear of the Krell S-350a

The only comparison I could do was to compare the Krell to my own Ayre C-5xeMP player. Ok, the Ayre costs 2.5 times more, so some may say this is not fair. Still, the Krell stood up to the challenge and its performance was nothing to be ashamed of. Well, I understated. In fact, in many performance areas, the Krell stood toe to toe with the Ayre. In contrast, my old player at the same price as the Krell could not hold a candle to the Ayre.

The Ayre player did pull ahead of the Krell S-350a in a few areas. It retrieved a bit more details from the silver discs, especially the micro details (little flexes in an artist’s singing and playing, ambiance and air); it also sounded somewhat more dynamic; the sound stage was marginally bigger. However, I could conclude all this only after a couple of A-B swaps. I think if I were to walk into a room blind and was asked which player was playing I would have a tough time giving you a correct answer.

The Krell S-350a comes with both balanced and single ended outputs. One strange feature is that the balanced output's left-right channels are reversed

I like the Krell S-350a’s sound. It is not the highly analytical, matter of fact and cool type. It sounded robust, hearty, yet smooth, very organic and natural. This is one that will allow you to enjoy your music for long hours. It is the same set of characteristics that I recognise from the Ayre C-5xeMP, thus this Krell really struck a chord with me.

The Krell S-350a comes with both digital inputs and outputs. Handy if you have an external digital source

The Krell S-350a is absolutely a worthy upgrade from any midrange CD player. In fact, I would go out on a limb and suggest that anyone who is looking for a high end CD player to include this Krell in your audition. You may find few reasons to spend more.

As Big E said, this one is hot, indeed.

Krell is available from Hi-Way Laser, contact Kenny at 019-2813399 or 03-78738325.

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