Krell Resolution 1 loudspeaker Page 2

As you might expect, a speaker with this much physical heft and driver power can move a great deal of air. The Resolution 1 did not disappoint, producing stunning dynamic contrasts with ease. Despite the masses of air needing to be moved, the 1 responded quickly, and was as adept at reproducing full symphonic scores as it was small jazz ensembles, doing so effectively at low levels and when cranked up loud. Needless to say, the 1 could play at ridiculously high volumes in my moderate-size room, with reassuring ease and with no hint of strain or compression. I'm sure it would sound equally relaxed and confident in a large space.

So far, so good, eh? $11,000 isn't cheap, but by today's standards, it's not really expensive for a pair of essentially full-range, driver-packed speakers that really put out and are so well balanced that an experienced listener had trouble finding the seams. So what's the catch?

There isn't any—which is still not to say the Resolution 1 will appeal to every aural palate. One of the reasons it was so immediately appealing was that its top few octaves are probably rolled off—subtly, which is why this wasn't obvious on first listen—and some listeners may wish for greater sparkle and air on top. Limiting a speaker's top-end response suppresses such nasties as tape hiss, grain, and the high-frequency hash present on many recordings, analog or digital. The result was a relaxed fit that was easy on the ears. If it's done correctly, as it was here, music sounds coherent and tonally correct, with nothing missing.

There was no comparison between the high frequencies produced by the Resolution 1 and the mbl 101E, for example. The mbl's purity of tone on cymbals, bells, chimes, percussion in general, and other instruments that scale the sonic peaks, was in another league entirely—the Resolution 1 sounded somewhat closed-in and thick by comparison. Recordings with noticeable tape hiss sounded suspiciously quiet through the Krells. However, the balance Dan D'Agostino has struck was so effective, and the weight and physical clout from the mids down so rich and compelling, that I didn't miss what might not have been there, or how it might have been obscured by a bump or dip somewhere else in the response.

That said, the Resolution 1's sonic excitement came more from its overall richness, weight, and extension than from its ability to portray air, sparkle, and musical "snap." As with the combo of Rockport Technologies' Merak II and Sheritan II (reviewed in the September 2004 Stereophile), the Krell Resolution 1 created a picture into which I looked, rather than one that projected sound outward and threw me back in my seat.

A slightly different take
Krell also loaned me a pair of their 450Mcx balanced monoblock amplifiers, a KCT preamplifier, and an SACD Standard SACD/CD player (footnote 1). I wanted to hear how, if at all, switching to all Krell electronics might change the Resolution 1's tonal balance, given the received wisdom that Krell gear sounds "bright."

Run in balanced mode, the Krell electronics were anything but bright. In fact, they sounded a bit smoother than my reference electronics. In an admittedly short audition, the combination produced a slightly different sonic character, but not one that made me want to reconsider my overall assessment of the Resolution 1.

My month spent with the Krell Resolution 1 loudspeaker was about as pleasing a listening experience as I could have hoped for. Despite the complexity of the design, the five-driver array blended seamlessly, and with unusual ease, to produce a velvety-rich, impressively coherent, and tactile sonic picture.

Everything about this speaker, save for its top-end extension, was substantial. There was bottom extension and punch to please the most bass-hungry audiophile, rich upper-bass and midband performance that gave instrumental fundamentals satisfying fullness and plenty of body, and a sufficiently developed top end to produce overtones that delivered instruments and voices convincingly. The overall mellow balance emphasized woody overtones over bows scraping strings, and chests over throats, but the balance was craftily presented. If you're going to emphasize weight and authority over delicacy, you'd better deliver stomach-crunching bass and ear-popping dynamic authority—the Resolution 1 did so without showing a heavy hand, though I suspect John Atkinson's measurements will show a slight emphasis in the lower midbass.

While you'll find speakers that are "faster" from top to bottom, and speakers that resolve more information, particularly on top, few speakers in my experience combine so many strengths with a balance—pretty much throughout the full frequency range—that was so easy to listen to and live with, and without sounding slow or plodding. Greater transparency and crystalline clarity can be had by spending this much, but missing in action will usually be the grand dynamic scale, the bottom-end slam and extension, the enormity of soundstage I heard from the Resolution 1s.

No doubt Dan D'Agostino had to make some compromises in cabinet rigidity and driver quality in order to bring to market for $11,000/pair such an ambitious, grandly scaled loudspeaker. He chose near-full-frequency performance, expansive dynamics, and smooth overall response over the ultimate in transient speed, transparency, and hyper-resolution, and he made it work. Within those limitations he's created a bold, powerful speaker that delivers more than its money's worth. Combined with appropriate associated equipment (skip tube amps, warmish cartridges, and soggy-sounding cables), the Resolution 1 can deliver stunningly full-bodied performance.

If my satisfying month with the Resolution 1s is any indication, chances are good that lovers of all genres of music will find this ambitious design an attractive option, both now and for a long time to come.

Footnote 1: Production of the Standard has been temporarily suspended because of the lack of availability of its drive mechanism is no longer made. According to a number of manufacturers who used it, the replacement drive has been delayed because Philips outsourced the software implementation to India, and the software and hardware components aren't yet "talking" to each other.
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