Krell LAT-1 loudspeaker A Visit to the Krell Factory

Sidebar 1: A Visit to the Krell Factory

As I turned my Porsche Boxster S into the Krell Industries parking lot, I felt right at home. Sitting by the entrance were two new 392hp BMW M-5 sedans. One was the property of Krell's CEO, Dan D'Agostino, the other the pride of COO Dean Roumanis. But I'd been invited to the factory to see a LAT-1 loudspeaker being assembled, not to ogle cars.

Inside, I was given a tour of the 40,000-square-foot factory by Bill McKiegan, Krell's director of North American sales and marketing. McKiegan explained that each Krell product is made by a "cell" of workers who stay together and assemble one product at a time. Cell workstations were busy assembling power amplifiers, including the 650-lb Master Reference Amplifier (MRA). Bill held up the output printed circuit board for one channel of the MRA, complete with its 88 bipolar output devices—it measured about 3' by 4'.

Later, we were joined by Dan D'Agostino, a powerfully built man with the huge chest and gait of a weight-lifter. He had no trouble picking up the massive aluminum panels used to build a LAT-1. At one point, he lifted a unit to show me the internal crossover network with the huge air coils and the banks of potted WIMA capacitors. D'Agostino explained that every LAT-1 crossover is electronically tested before it's installed. Then, the completed speaker's impedance curves are measured, as well its wideband pink-noise and swept-sinewave responses. It is then given a listening test and partial break-in before being packed and shipped. When I asked why the LAT-1 was not biampable, D'Agostino explained that the crossover is designed to work as a whole circuit rather than as individual sections. "Although I would love to sell more amps, the LAT-1 sounds better as is, with one larger amp."

At the end of the tour, we went downstairs to Krell's listening room. The system included LAT-1s for the right and left front channels, an LAT center-channel speaker, and a Master Reference Subwoofer. Bill put on the Fight Club DVD and played the plane-collision scene. The LAT-1s conveyed the suddenness and explosion of the collision, while the deep bass was well handled by the MRS.

Dan walked me out to my Boxster. He stood back and told me that it was an excellent car, but a few modifications would significantly increase its power and speed. It was clear why the speed of the LAT-1's bass had come naturally to its designer.—Larry Greenhill