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The Director's Chair

April 2002

An Interview with Dan D'Agostino, Founder and CEO of Krell Industries

Jeff Fritz: Tell us about Krell’s beginnings and what drove you to build audio electronics.

Dan D’Agostino: I had been in retail, I had been in manufacturing, and no one was producing the right amplifiers. Some work had been done with class-A designs, but they were all low power and could not properly control speakers. Being an engineer, I knew the performance advantages of class-A biasing but felt that higher power was necessary to properly control the loudspeaker. This idea for high-power class-A amplifiers that I started with more than 20 years ago is still important in the design of our current amplifiers.

JF: Looking back, what Krell products are you especially proud of?

DD: There were a number of key products for us: in amplifiers the first KSA-100, the KSA-250, and the Master Reference Amplifier, from which our current Full Power Balanced amps are derived. The KAV-300i was a key product in the development of Krell in that it introduced our brand to a new group of customers. In terms of our industry, the KAV-300i established the integrated amplifier as an important category in high-end audio. Its successor, the KAV-300iL, is a really fine product that once again raises the price/performance bar to a new level.

Krell has introduced some important digital products including the Reference 64 processor, the KPS-20i CD player and KPS-25sc preamp/CD player. Our work in combining home theater and audio has been exceptional, first with the Audio + Video Standard and now with the Home Theater Standard. Your readers probably remember that when Krell introduced the Audio + Video Standard, we launched a concept called HEAT (High End Audio Theater), which was the combination of the AVS with five channels of Krell amplification. HEAT showed that by applying the fundamental principles of high-end audio in conjunction with a reference-grade preamp/surround-sound processor that home theater and high-performance audio could indeed co-exist.

JF: When did Krell enter the home-theater market? What were the initial challenges?

DD: In 1995, Krell introduced the Audio + Video Standard. When I designed the Audio + Video Standard, high-end audio was still exclusively a two-channel domain. No one in our segment of the industry had yet developed a true high-performance surround-sound processor, much less combined it with a preamplifier that was suitable for use in a high-end music system. The real challenge was developing a component that delivered high-performance video and surround-sound processing without compromising the authenticity of music reproduction

JF: What happens when you have an idea for a new Krell? What must take place to bring the concept to reality?

DD: Throughout the year, I travel extensively and visit with dealers, distributors, customers, and other industry leaders. First, I develop the concept in my own mind. Next, I discuss the concept with my engineering staff and work with them to develop a prototype. When the prototype has been built, I listen to it extensively, use the prototype in my own home, and make improvements as needed. Only when I am completely satisfied with the sonic, operational, and aesthetic performance does it go into production.

JF: Tell us about Krell’s entrance into the loudspeaker market? What design goals were achieved?

DD: Our first loudspeaker was the Master Reference Subwoofer. As you know, what motivates me is building the best. I had a need for a subwoofer that could reproduce honest 20Hz information and play loudly without distortion. I also wanted it to occupy a minimum of floor space. By starting with a 1"-thick solid aluminum housing, I was able build a chassis that was totally inert. Into this chassis, I mounted the woofers, the electronic crossover, and over 2500W of power. The result is that I ended up with a speaker that represents the triumph of force over area.

What I learned about the virtues of using aluminum enclosures carried over directly to the LAT loudspeakers. Since aluminum is both extremely dense and acoustically inert, and since concrete and lead are not practical, it also made for the ideal loudspeaker enclosure. What the listener hears is only the sound of music being reproduced, without any box colorations that other types of enclosures introduce. If you examine the crossover networks in our loudspeakers you will notice the same level of build as in our amplifiers. This is by design. Our amplifiers can overload almost any crossover. Now there is a speaker that can properly handle our amplifiers. My vision of sonic performance is complete sonic accuracy, that is, no change from source to final output. The LAT loudspeakers complete the chain from input to output and allow me to bring that vision into reality.

JF: What do you enjoy most about designing a new Krell product?

DD: Pushing the envelope. I love doing things that nobody else has done before and advancing the state of the art. This is what founded Krell Industries 21 years ago, and it is what continues to motivate me today.

JF: How has multichannel sound (be it for music or movies) changed the audio/video industry from a manufacturer’s standpoint?

DD: From my perspective, the advent of multichannel sound is great for Krell. You will recall that with the Audio + Video Standard, Krell was the first high-end manufacturer to address the synthesis of audio and video. The AVS was the first component in the HEAT system. HEAT applies the lessons we have learned from traditional two-channel audio; that is clarity, dynamics, accuracy, and control, to the audio/video world.

Krell then introduced the KAV Series of more affordable components to allow more people to experience Krell performance. The KAV Series began with the KAV-300i (now the KAV-300iL) integrated amplifier and now is headed by the Home Theater Standard 7.1, which has all of the latest processing for music and movies. Later this year we will introduce our Showcase multichannel products that will allow a whole new generation of consumers to enjoy Krell. So, Jeff, we are actually very excited about the possibilities that multichannel sound offers.

JF: What type of products do you foresee Krell producing ten years from now?

DD: One thing you can count on is that whatever we are doing, we will continue to do it at the highest level possible. Building the best and then applying the lessons we learn from building the best to the rest of our product line is what Krell is all about. I’ve got some cool things under development, but I can’t tell you about them just yet.

JF: Tell us about your personal audio/video system? What movies have you been enjoying at home?

DD: For music, I use the KCT (preamp)/KPS-28c (CD player) combination with a pair of FPB-750Mcx amplifiers driving LAT-1s as my main speakers. For movies, I interface the Home Theater Standard 7.1 processor with the KCT’s Theater Throughput and have four FPB-350Mcx amplifiers driving the rear and side speakers with a FPB-450Mcx driving the LAT-C center-channel. Of course, there is also a Master Reference Subwoofer.

As for what I am watching at home, the classic Godfather trilogy has long been a favorite of mine; Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary is a brilliant and fascinating history of America’s classical music; and for great sound and picture quality, I’ve been watching Pearl Harbor. I must also admit to being a fan of westerns so for me the remake of Tombstone is a lot of fun.

To learn more about Krell Industries' products visit their website.

 


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