Krell Resolution 2 Speaker System
Krell's new Resolution Series speakers are all about pure hedonistic pleasure. Think of them as the speaker equivalent of a fire-breathing, 500-horsepower Dodge Viper SRT/10. But hold on a sec: The Resolutions are more than an exercise in brute force engineering. Their manifest also includes incredible precision, hyperclarity, and ultra-low distortion. Forget the Viper; the Resolutions are closer to a Porsche 911 GT3.
The Resolution Series handily sidesteps a classic dilemma: what components to use when testing speakers. Since Krell builds electronics and source components, I could use an all-Krell system to duplicate the sound that Krell's founder and CEO Dan D'Agostino heard when he designed the speakers. Synergy was assured.
It Begins with a Crossover
I can attribute a big part of that synergy to the Resolution Series' crossover networks. D'Agostino initially practiced the fine art of crossover design years ago when he engineered crossovers for B&W and MartinLogan's flagship models. He sees the crossover as the interface between the power amplifier and speaker. For these speakers, he selected extremely high-current/
high-voltage components, just like the ones found in Krell's powerhouse amp. On the other hand, the Resolution crossover's flat, easy-to-drive impedance curve won't stress even the most modestly endowed amps when the playback levels turn fast and furious. It's a crossover that any amplifier could love.
The Resolution 2's curvaceous wooden cabinet was an imposing presence in my theater. Moving its 140-pound mass around my room was definitely a two-person job. The Resolution 2 has a 1-inch tweeter, a 6.5-inch midrange, and two 8-inch woofers. The speaker's three separate crossover boards—one for the woofers, one for the midrange, and one for the tweeter—are based on the three crossovers tucked inside Krell's standard-bearing $37,500 LAT-1 speaker.
The Resolution C center channel will unflinchingly keep up with the Resolution 2s. The C's driver complement includes twin 8-inch woofers, a 4-inch midrange, and a 1-inch tweeter in a sealed cabinet. The appellation "full-range" is routinely applied to all sorts of lightweight poseurs, but this time it's for real; the Resolution C claims to reach all the way down to the 40-hertz range. It's not shielded, but I can't imagine anyone putting this 90-pound behemoth on a Sony Trinitron TV.
The Resolution 3 two-way monitor has a 1-inch tweeter and an 8-inch midbass driver. It's no bookshelf speaker; it feels a lot heavier than its purported 45 pounds. You'll need a serious set of stands to properly support these beauties.
The Resolution Subwoofer is unique on a number of counts. First, Krell subs are the only subs you can buy that are powered by a Krell amp—in this case, a 700-watt Krell amp. The stereo RCA/XLR input and output options rise above the norm. Instead of the usual continuously variable low-pass cross-
over control, the Resolution Sub offers just four discrete settings: 60, 70, 80, and 100 Hz. These filters are available for use as low- or high-pass crossovers; the latter is intended for use with satellites. I'm sure most of you will stick to the sub's crossover bypass and let your pre/pro handle bass-management duties. The Resolution Sub is in the minority, as it is an acoustic-suspension (sealed-box) sub, and that's OK with me. I find sealed subs to have tighter, truer pitch definition than ported designs.
The speakers' inert cabinets are decked out with gorgeous cherry veneers, and their drivers peek through rubber cord "string" grilles. All of the speakers are outfitted with dual sets of WBT's very best speaker connectors. The Resolution 2 and Subwoofer sit on adjustable stainless-steel cone feet; however, if you're worried about gouging your wood or tile floors, Krell also supplies heavy-duty rubber-tipped feet.
Krell Goes to the Movies
My all-Krell support staff included the Showcase processor, amp, and DVD player; the SACD Standard player; and the FPB 350Mcx monoblocks for my stereo listening tests. Sure, I experimented with other components and remained impressed with the Resolutions' sound, but I spent the majority of my time in all-Krell nirvana. Krell components fare best when run via their balanced connections, and I used DH Labs' solid-silver Revelation interconnects. I also used DH Labs' Q-10 biwire silver cables with all of the speakers.
Man, these speakers are fun. As soon as I heard the Rolling Stones' Four Flicks DVD boxed set, I was sold. The Stones sounded absolutely live; I've never heard anything better at home. The sound was miles ahead of what I remember when I saw the band at Madison Square Garden. The Resolution C's charms extend way past merely crafting lifelike dialogue; its unbridled full-frequency response is matched by its wide-open dynamic capabilities. Charlie Watts' drum kit does its business in the center channel; it's almost always reigned in over less dynamically adroit speakers, but the Resolution C gives it room to move. If you ever get a chance to hear the Resolutions, check out "Honky Tonk Women," and you'll see what I mean.
My effects-driven DVDs barely exercised this macho system's moxie. In Chicken Run, the gnashing machinations of Mrs. Tweedy's machine showed the Resolution ensemble's tightly controlled, linear bottom octaves. Never a hint of boom or bloat; just effortlessly deep subterranean bass.
The Main Event: Music
With speakers this good, Miles Davis' tasty Bitches Brew feels even more densely textured and alive. I cranked the hell out of Davis' fiercest bopping boogies and discovered that the Resolutions like to be played loud. When I turned it up again and again, they refused to turn nasty. The sound is extremely neutral, yet it never veered over to coolly analytical. I'll just say that these speakers tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the sound of my discs.
At the quieter end of the spectrum, I spent some time with Bob Dylan's Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall. The solo set is all-acoustic, but the feeling in the air is electric as he previews a bunch of tunes that he'd soon record for Bringing It All Back Home. The Resolutions' soundstage was incredibly wide and deep, with laserlike focus. You know what? SACDs were even more vividly rendered. On Blues in Orbit, Duke Ellington's 1965 recording, I clearly heard the acoustic spaces between the instruments. The Resolutions dredged up a truly extraordinary amount of low-level detail and ambience.
The towering Resolution 2s might be visually or even sonically overwhelming in a smaller room, so I experimented with the Resolution 3s upfront. Yes, the towers' gravitas was scaled back, but this still-heavyweight system will cut the total price down from $21,000 to $17,000. That said, I consider the complete Resolution 2/3/C/Subwoofer system to be a relative bargain. It's barely more than half the price of D'Agostino's take-no-prisoners LAT-1 speakers. What surprised me most about the Resolutions was their fluency with music and movies. I'd recommend this system to die-hard audiophiles and hard-core home theater buyers with equal enthusiasm.
After the review, Krell sent some fellows to pick up the system. As soon as the Krells were history, I went through withdrawal. I usually look forward to getting reacquainted with my reference system, but I couldn't stop thinking about the Krells. I want them back!
• Krell powered subwoofer
• Audacious style
• Equally fluent with both music and movies