Krell LAT-1 loudspeaker Page 2

I placed the LAT-1s where the Revel Ultima Salons had sounded best: 63" from the rear wall and 36" from the side walls, sitting on a circular area rug and facing the long axis of my narrow listening room. The room is 26' long, 13' wide, and 12' high, with a semi-cathedral ceiling, with one long wall covered with bookshelves, the other a bay window. The far wall opens into a 25' by 15' kitchen through an 8' by 4' doorway.

My audition of the LAT-1 was the first with my new Krell front-end. I'd had the Krell KBL preamplifier I've used for the past eight years upgraded to a Krell Current Tunnel (KCT) preamplifier, and my vintage Krell MD-1 CD transport player was replaced with a KPS-28C player. Cogelco balanced interconnects gave way to the latest Krell Current Audio Signal Transmission (CAST) interconnects. In addition to my reference Mark Levinson No.334 stereo power amplifier, I used a Krell FPB-600c amplifier, rated at 1200W into the LAT-1's nominal load of 4 ohms. Besides the new system's greater power, it came with a remote that allowed me to operate the CD player and set the playback volume from my listening chair.

With the help of Krell's Bill McKiegan and Dan D'Agostino, I positioned the LAT-1s on my area rug. Using Stereophile's Test CD 3 for channel checks and phasing, I carefully positioned my listening chair in the speaker's nearfield until I could hear the in-phase pink-noise signal as a centrally focused image. Soundstaging was optimized when speakers and chair were set for a 7' equilateral triangle (measured from the LAT-1's tweeter centers).

On the rug, the LAT-1's tweeters were 43" above the floor, or 5" above my seated ear height (38"). However, the tonal balance of the speakers playing pink noise did not change when I stood up, suggesting that the LAT-1's vertical dispersion was good.

Final adjustments included comparative nearfield (8') and farfield (16') listening, checks with low-frequency warble tones, phase tests, more pink-noise listening, and optimization of listening position for soundstaging and imaging.

With the LAT-1s situated out in the room and away from the rear wall corners, I measured solid, clean bass that rolled off gently below 50Hz when playing a 1/3-octave warble tone (Test CD, Stereophile STPH002-2) and using a brand-new RadioShack sound-level meter (footnote 1). This suggested that the LAT-1, at least as set up in my room, would do well on popular music, as the kick drum's frequencies are in the 50-80Hz range. Deeper bass—down to 30Hz—was present but shelved-down. There was no evidence of doubling, however, even at the lowest frequencies.

The LAT-1's rated voltage sensitivity of 91.5dB/2.83V/m lies well above the average range of B-weighted speaker sensitivities reported in Stereophile. Setting the volume control accordingly, I broke in the LAT-1 before the formal review by playing music from an FM source for 12 hours, followed by 12 hours of "Stereophile's Special Burn-In Noise" from Test CD 3.

Putting the Pedal to the Metal
While the LAT-1 proved to be a topnotch loudspeaker, I was not totally satisfied when I started my first critical listening session. Some warmup discs, like Fleetwood Mac's The Dance (Reprise 46702-2), took no time drawing me into the music with speed, smoothness, and a deep, wide soundstage. Other selections, like David Bowie's "Putting Out Fire" from the Cat People Soundtrack (MCA MCAD-1498), required more attention to sound their best. With my wife's help, I added the spiked feet, which gave the soundstage of Cat People more satisfying depth. Playing the LAT-1s at high levels, with peaks over 104dB at my listening position, also improved matters: The bass became forceful and taut, and the instruments separated and became more distinct.

The LAT-1's bass response had plenty of speed, power, and drama. The explosive synthesizer bass note at the very beginning of "Ascent," on Time Warp (Telarc CD-80106), produced a visceral reaction I'd never experienced before. It kicked in with tremendous speed, slammed the sound-level meter's needle above 105dB, and tightened my chest. Talk about anxiety! The bass-drum notes that open Owen Reed's La Fiesta Mexicana, from Fiesta (Reference Recordings RR-38CD), had explosive slam and punch. Music in which the bass line was maintained by kick drum was outstanding, whether it was Mick Fleetwood's riveting drum work on "Landslide" from The Dance, the hyperbolic bass line of Massive Attack's Unfinished Symphony (Circa WBRX2), Abe Laborial's pulsing, throbbing electric bass on "Something's Wrong," from the My Cousin Vinny soundtrack (Var;gese Sarabande VSD-5364), or the pulsing, pounding tom-toms on "I Misunderstood," from Richard Thompson's Rumor and Sigh (Capitol CDP 7 95713 2). Deep pipes also got my attention, particularly David Hudson's attention-grabbing bass didjeridoo on Didjeridoo Spirit (Indigenous Australia IA2003D), which rattled all the loose objects in my listening room.

Footnote 1: I set the KCT preamp's volume level so that the RadioShack meter read 0dB at 1kHz (90dB setting). The LAT-1's level showed the characteristics of my listening room, with a slight +3dB peak at 50Hz, -7dB at 40Hz, -15dB at 30Hz, and -20dB at 25Hz. Similarly, the Revel Salon also rolled off below 50Hz (+3dB at 50Hz, -5dB at 40Hz), but it rose back again to -2dB at 25Hz and 0dB at 20Hz.
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