Todd Eichenbaum, design engineer at Krell, walked me through the design of their new amplifier, the $10,500, 300Wpc 302. The power supply employs a 3kVA toroidal transformer, built-in power conditioning, a current-mirror input stage, a push-pull driver stage, and low negative feedback (8dB) around the output stage. It was paired with the $10,000 Evolution 222 stereo preamplifier.
Other Stereophile writers, like Wes Phillips and Stephen Mejias, had mentioned how impressed they had been with the sound in the Sjöfn room, but what I had not appreciated until I visited the Swedish manufacturer's room towards the end of the Show was: a) how small these speakers were; b) how good the stereo imaging was despite the speakers being right up against the wall behind them; and c) how much thunderous bass was being produced by just two reflex-loaded 4" woofers! Of course, the Guru speaker ($1800/pair), photographed here by Larry Greenhill, is designed to take advantage of the low-frequency boundary reinforcement afforded by the close-to-the-corner positioning, but even so, I was surprised by the result. The speakers also sung on soprano vocals; Sjöfn is a company to watch out for, especially as the fact that the speakers must not be used out in the room makes them very spouse-friendly.
Well, few people have. In a stunning collaborative effort, Rives Audio, RPG, Modex, Talon, VAC, Wadia, XLO, and Silent Running set up two rooms designed to demonstrate that even the best audio components need a little help from intelligently applied digital EQ and room treatment. Two rooms, almost mirror images of one another, with essentially the same system—only one room used EQ and treatment and the other didn't.
Here's the system rundown: Wadia 581i disc player ($9450), 100Wpc VAC Alpha integrated amplifier ($10,000), Talon Thunderhawk loudspeakers ($25,000/pair), XLO Signature 2 interconnects ($00/m). XLO Signature 2 speaker cable ($2700/2m), XLO Argentum XP3 power conditioner ($600), and Silent Running Craz Reference isoRACK ($6000, as configured here).
We trucked across the hall to the treated room which contained several sets of RPG Variscreen free-standing variable acoustics screen ($700/each), a Modex Plate ($1000)—which offers broadband low frequency absorbtion from 50–500Hz—and two Rives Audio Sub-PARC crossover/EQs ($4500/each). The system also boasted an extra pair of VAC Alphas—Richard Rives explained that he was using the Sub-PARCs as crossovers, bypassing their digital woofer amps to kep the signals equivalent from top to bottom.