Krell DVD Standard

Krell DVD Standard

DVD American Style

Gregory Petan

18 November 2002


Video outputs: Interlaced composite, S-video, RCA, Progressive component, RGB+H/V, (BNC), DB-15 (selectable component or RGB), NTSC/PAL selectable
Audio Outputs: coaxial, optical, 1 pair stereo analog (RCA), 1 pair stereo balanced (XLR)
Control ports: RS-232 & RC-5 remote control, 12V AC out
Dimensions: 17.25″ × 5.65″ × 16.45″
Weight: 19.25 lbs
Warranty: 5 years limited (electronics), 3 years limited (hardware) 
Price: $8000

Krell Industries
45 Connair Road
Orange CT 06477-3650
Telephone: 203-799-9954
Fax: 203-891-2028

As American as apple pie…and Krell?

For nearly two decades the Connecticut based Krell Industries, lead by co-founders Dan and Rondi D’Agostino, has been steamrolling its way through the ranks of the high-end market. Gaining its reputation through the development of brute force speaker gripping power amplifiers and bolstered by a superbly focused marketing and PR campaign, Krell Industries has created an aura that inspires lust in the souls of audiophiles and fear in the heart of its competition. 

Having entered the digital fray in the late eighties with the SPB-64X processor, Krell set the standard for build quality and proprietary digital development which helped lead the way through Digital’s difficult growth process. Superb industrial design gave birth to products like the MD-1 transport, a super cool turntable-like CD spinner that helped the analog devotee feel a little more comfortable from an ergonomic standpoint and offered one of the first attempts to apply good old American ingenuity to what was a troubled medium. Though hugely expensive, the SPB-64X and MD-1 combination were widely respected and became one of the first digital front-ends to help turn the overwhelmingly negative attitude of the audiophile press towards digital sound just a bit more positive.

In order of appearance, I have owned the MD-2 transport, the Studio DAC, the KPS 20i CD player and the KPS 25sc CD player/preamp, (along with two Krell preamps and four Krell amplifiers), so familiar with Krell analog and digital I am.

With the debut of the DVD Standard, Krell has solidified its place in the arena of home theater, thus offering a full lineup of products that, if so inclined, one could build a complete home theater chalked full of Krell electronics and speakers.

At first blush, the DVD Standard possesses the familial traits of solid construction and crisp yet massive design. Although closer inspection yields a departure from the Krell heritage of over building. First off, the DVD Standard’s size is more a function of design rather than necessity. A peak under the hood reveals a ton of unused real estate.

While this is hardly a crime, it is the first Krell product I have lived with that appears more massive than it actually needs to be. Secondly, and a bit more disconcerting, is the quality of the transport tray. The thin plastic tray is as lightweight as any mass market transport I have seen, so be very careful around the open tray, this thing could snap off like a twig. Bill McKiegan, Krell’s Vice president of sales and marketing, assured me the tray is of no consequence to the sonic or visual performance provided by the DVD Standard, but for $8000, I expect much better. Lastly, while I actually like the remotes unique slim-line design, its lack of lighting and the array of identically shaped buttons make mastery of its function and usage in darkened environments less than optimum. Having said that, I suspect the prospective purchaser of the DVD Standard would more than likely opt for an after-market universal remote.

As mentioned, I know a thing or two about the sonic fingerprint of the Krell digital offerings. Of them all, I found the KPS 20i to be my favorite. With its outstanding rhythmic drive and explosive bottom end dynamics, I found the 20i more viscerally involving than the more cerebral and refined KPS 25sc. With the DVD Standard, Krell has managed to combine the best of both the 20i and the 25sc, putting forth a DVD player that is not only dynamically explosive, but one that is also sweet, detailed and harmonically full bodied from top to bottom. 
While I was expecting good things from the DVD Standard, I was really caught off guard by its outstanding sonic performance. Right out of the box, the DVD Standard took charge of the system and made its presence unmistakable. While I’m not an imaging junky, the DVD Standard casts an array of huge, meaty apparitions that are so “there,” I felt I should charge them rent. On track three, “YYZ” (Hey, that rhymes!) on Rush Chronicles [Mercury 838 938-2], the bass and drums twist and roll like an anaconda bringing down a wildebeest. The rock solid imaging coupled to the sonic mayhem conveys all the precise yet ferocious intent imparted by the instruments. This same track goes a long way in explaining, in no uncertain terms, what the DVD Standard is capable of dynamically. From the moment the track gets rolling, there is a dynamic forcefulness that changes the perspective from “they are there” to “they are here!” This dynamic assertiveness gives the music a sonic tangibility that rivals, perhaps even surpasses, the Linn Sondek CD12.

Ooooohhh Say Can you See…..?

Let’s face it, the picture quality of even today’s least expensive DVD players has gotten very good, leaving precious little room for improvement. I can name three $500 dollar DVD players whose video quality I could live happily with and not feel as though I’m missing out.

Yes I was content with my old player, that is, until I saw the image produced by the DVD Standard. The video produced by the DVD Standard is truly in another class. And like all great high-end components, the DVD Standard makes the most out of the last few increments of improvement that separates the great from the good. Helped along by the internal Faroudja video processor, the DVD Standard’s picture took on a more dimensional film like appearance compared to my competent, though no longer manufactured, Marantz DVD player. There is a depth and dimension added to the image that comes very close to creating the true illusion of a three-dimensional reality on a two dimensional surface. This is due in part to what appears to be a phenomenal gray scale that seems to fill in the blanks left vacant by lesser DVD players.

The praises I heaped upon the Sim 2 HT300 DLP projector must be considered in conjunction with the DVD Standard. This is a one-two punch, knockout combination. Playing perfectly to the strengths of the HT300, color saturation is dense and super bright, without “summing-up” information within large fields of color. This requires serious video computing power, and the DVD Standard delivers the goods.

To be honest, I have not been the world’s biggest videophile; that is until now. The DVD Standard has absolutely re-calibrated the scale used to judge the merits of the DVD medium. Yet while I appreciate the top-flight video images passed along by the DVD Standard, its great appeal for me lies in its sonic prowess. With the potent combination of both reference quality video and audio performance, the DVD Standard goes a long way in justifying the steep price of admission. Throw in the great commitment Krell has towards customer service, (an important issue not often considered in the evaluation of a product’s value), and you have a complete front-end solution.

I have purposely left out of the discussion the lack of DVD audio or SACD capability due to the fact that, a.) there is no clear consensus as to the commercial viability of either format, and, b.) from what I have heard, there is very little sonic up side to either format compared to the audio performance of the DVD Standard.

The DVD Standard is a phenomenal product. If you have decided you are going the distance with your home theater, the DVD Standard should be your first move in what will be your very own slice of home theater heaven.

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