Krell Full Power Balanced 350mc monoblock amplifier Page 4

Just so our world-music readers don't think I've given up the Trip Hop ghost, I'll turn now to "Shining" on Peter Kruder's Peace Orchestra (G-CD 004) Notes: "That voice, she's so focused, luminous, round and real, it's just fantastic! The Krells lay her out stunningly. Contact! Plaintive, poignant, sweet and ambient, just plain killer. Aural candy, but not at all euphonically flawed." The low bass was deeply resonant, the powerful fundamentals filleting out the bottom end. The very top was, it has to be said, just a tad hashy, but not too bad. Considering that those highs are in the recording, the Krells in fact ought to leave their hashiness intact, as they do. Organic doesn't mean rolled-off, although the 350Mcs could sound mighty sweet. (Exactly the opposite of my expectations, if truth be known.)

At 1:50 into "Universal Highness" from Thievery Corporation's Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi (Eighteenth Street Lounge Music ESL5) you'll find a great drum solo. If your body don't shuck'n'jive to it, if the physicality and palpability doesn't move you, if the slap of palm on taut drumhead doesn't leave you slack-jawed in amazement, then seek help immediately. Again, the amps proved utterly organic in this way. I was spastically boppin' around in the Ribbon Chair until I caught K-10 giving me the look!

Notes: " 'Incident at Gate 7' lays out a female vocal that floats buoyantly well to the rear of a huge soundstage. It's a thing of great beauty, supported by lush midrange and a jumpin' drum beat with bass deeper and tighter than Schwartzenegger's butt!" (Yes! How do I really feel!)

And you think I'm nuts? Listen to Moby on his new album Play (V2 63881-27049-2). Track four, "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad," proved an emotive experience indeed. Moby's got an interesting way of mixing music, lyrics and recorded sounds bordering on performance art. (Catch his act on Sessions at West 54th Street on A&E.) At times he plays with repetition in the same way Andy Warhol explored multiple images. Moby manages it all through a state of induced satori, anything but boring. And somehow, that joy in the music came through smashingly well on the Krell monoblocks. I listened to the entire CD, mouth agape, drool cup handy, digging it deep.

Coming down from spiritual enlightenment, I marveled how the Krells knocked out such big, capable bass. They dug down and got the basics right, creating an organic, earthy foundation for the music. (When enjoying bass quality like this, most audiophiles smile and nod at each other in some group acknowledgement of prowess. Yah mon!)

The Krells set up a large, airy soundstage, not particularly forward or rearward in aspect. The presentation was—all together now—organic, thank you (organic, in the sense of fading naturally into and out of the acoustics of our well-treated room). The soundstage edge boundaries weren't so finely defined on their own, unless delineated by the recording, in which case, of course, the Krells delivered a virtuoso performance. I've heard this effect with a few other amps in the past, and I like it.

But the 350Mcs aren't just bassmaster acoustic "place holders". Nope, try track 11, "Run On," from Moby's Play and dig that midrange-rich gospel vocal backup. Moby mixes a lot of information into his music, and the 350s pulled all that information quite beautifully. There was nothing mushy or indecisive about the presentation. Everything sounded coherent yet textured, part of a musical whole, complementing the sonics rather than fighting it.

To illustrate, let's be-bop to one of my favorite pianists, Alfred Brendel, playing Haydn's Piano Sonata in b, one of my all-time favorite piano works. Notes: "I find myself listening to the action of the piano, noticing it like never before, as part of the process of making the sound. The Krells nail it. The detail's there even as the sound remains transparent and sweet in the upper mids and highs. The upper registers are wonderfully laden with harmonics, there's an airiness, a graciousness in the sweep of the music that's very engaging and involving."

CAST your fate to the wind
Incredibly, I found, the Krell 350Mc monoblocks were more self-effacing than the slightly-more-expensive Linn Klimax, my current solid-state reference. The Krells actually drew less attention to themselves from the midrange on up through those sweet, engaging yet detailed highs; attractive enough to pull me right into the music, but fairly subtle about it all. Imagine.

The bottom end was powerful, just what you'd expect from a Krell. It was impressive, no doubt about it. In fact, I couldn't help being aware of how great the bass was. Is that a good thing or not? I dunno, you might feel inclined to argue about it, but not me. I just enjoyed it.

The Linns had slightly better microdynamics, the Krells slightly better macrodynamics. The Klimax sound a touch "white" and more transparent on top in comparison to the Krells, the 350Mc were slightly darker and seductively sweeter. it all just a matter of taste? Yep. And if your tastes runs to their sound, don't even hesitate. The FPB 350mc is a classic class-A design if there ever was one. Highly recommended!

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