Krell Chorus 7200 Amplifier Page 2

Why put Ethernet in an amplifier? In this case, the amplifier can be accessed through any device that can run a Web browser, such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Using the interface, you or your dealer can monitor the heatsink temperature and fan speed, as well as configure the unit to send out e-mail notifications (up to three addresses) if its onboard diagnostics detect any faults. Furthermore, if there’s ever a software upgrade for the amplifier, you can have the amp update its software from the Krell servers with the push of a button.

The Fun Begins
Once I installed the seven-channel Chorus 7200, I hooked it up to my Marantz AV8801 surround processor and calibrated the sound levels to my speakers: three M&K S150s across the front, four M&K SS150 surround speakers, and two subwoofers—a brand-new HSU VTF-15H MK2 situated at about the midpoint of my right wall and an SVS PC-Ultra sitting in the front left corner of the room.

I lived with the Krell for a few days before really putting it to the test, but I was impressed by its neutral tonal quality out of the gate. Not too bright, not too laid-back. When I finally sat down for some critical listening, I truly started to appreciate how sweet this amp sounded.

I began with an eclectic collection of SACDs, including the Telarc SACD Sampler 1 recording of “Moanin’ ” by Monty Alexander from his Monty Meets Sly and Robbie album. This jazz-meets-Jamaica recording features Alexander gracefully moving his fingers across the keys of a Yamaha grand piano while a smooth rhythm section plays in the background, with Sly Dunbar on drums (and riddim) and Robbie Shakespeare on bass. The song is a lot of fun, with Monty’s piano slightly left of center, Sly’s drums to the right, and Robbie’s tight bass filling the room. Every strike of the piano is clean, and the midrange is full of body. As I pushed the volume higher and higher, the instrumental track never strained the amplifier, and it was able to resolve all of the detail in the music without any obvious coloration.

I could say the same for a number of Red Book CDs ripped to FLAC files on my home server. The Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes” is lyrically challenged for sure, but I’ve always enjoyed the rhythm of the track, especially the percussion beat that opens the song and the guitar solo midway through that instantly transports me back to my early 20s. Wow was the first thought in my mind as the drums kicked to life. Was the band playing live in my room? My reference Parasound Halo A 51 amp is a Class A/B that operates in Class A mode up to a few watts, but I can’t say that I remember this recording sounding quite this crisp and clean, with the voices projecting well into the room and the guitars layered in the background.

Class A amp makers tout their products’ ability to re-create voice, and here the Krell truly shined. Take the start of fun.’s “Some Nights,” where Nate Ruess’ voice kicks off the song with a catchy ballad-like opening that transports you back in rock history to harmonies from groups such as Queen and Styx (those bands also shine on the 7200). With this amp in the chain, Ruess’ melody came alive with seemingly limitless dynamics, a 3D-like soundstage, and amazing detail.

This dynamic performance was readily apparent with every Blu-ray I threw at the Krell. The beach landing in Saving Private Ryan exploded into my room, with each discrete effect placed precisely in the soundstage. And the 7200 brought an uncanny immediacy to softer passages, such as the opening monologue recited by Morgan Freeman in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, where it truly sounded as if Freeman was sitting in the room with me describing Frankie Dunn’s personality and why he wouldn’t train girls to fight. Impressive is an understatement.

A Strong Foundation
I spent the vast majority of my review time using my reference Marantz surround processor, but Krell really wanted me to pair this fantastic amplifier with their entry-level Foundation surround processor ($6,500, an S&V Top Pick of the Year, reviewed April 2014). Michael Fremer raved about the Foundation’s prowess in his review, and I have to concur 100 percent. As good as the Chorus 7200 sounded with my Marantz, the Foundation took it up a notch, and I now have some serious processor envy and a strong case of upgrade-itis due to this combo’s audio muscle. The Foundation isn’t the most ergonomically friendly processor I’ve ever used—setting it up was about as much fun as a root canal—but it’s by far the best-sounding. The soundstage is incredibly convincing: You can’t really tell where the speakers are in the room, and the subwoofer integration is by far the best I’ve ever experienced. Like Michael, when I put my Marantz back in my rack, I felt like I needed a prescription for Prozac to fight the depression I was facing.

Putting It Into Words
The hardest part of reviewing audio equipment is putting what you hear into words that can impart upon the reader just how impressive (or uninspired) a particular piece of equipment was to your ears. In the case of the Chorus 7200—and Foundation—it was six weeks of audio bliss for me and my family. My son actually sat on the couch with me to listen to music because it had never sounded so alive, but when I broke the news that the processor/amp combo cost $16,000, he knew instantly our days of audio bliss were numbered.

The only complaint I have about both the amp and processor is the non-dimming backlight that hides behind the Krell logo on each unit. When I was listening to music, they didn’t bother me one bit, but when the room lights were off and I was trying to watch a movie, the blue LEDs were so bright that I thought they might be able to lead a wayward ship into port after a long journey at sea.

At $9,500, the Chorus 7200 isn’t cheap by any means, but its iBias technology delivers bliss for a relatively low cost per channel when compared against the cost of traditional high-end Class A amps. If you’re in the market for a new amp and are a member of the cost-is-little-object crowd, definitely check out the Chorus 7200 from Krell. You won’t be disappointed.

Krell Industries, LLC
(203) 799-9954

willieconway's picture

I'm genuinely curious so please don't take this as a trolling attempt:

To the best of my knowledge an amplifier's function is to take a weak (source) signal, amplify it, and pass it on. Now, if that's the case, how on earth can one amplifier improve (or even just impact) imaging better than any other amplifier in any other way than applying more or less power?

David Vaughn's picture
Willie...thanks for the question. Every amplifier has its own signature sound, depending on the topology used in the electronic path. Some do it much better than others, that's for sure, but a "bad" amplifier will introduce noise and distortion into the signal that will get "amplified" with a higher output. Throw in a week power supply/transformer and you have a poor performer. If the design is done right, like this one here, you get a very clean rendition of the original signal. Does that make sense?
bootman's picture

How can you give this unit 5 stars when it can't make its own rated spec of 200W per channel?
These honestly look more like AVR class amp benchmarks than those of a Krell.

David Vaughn's picture
Bootman,I don't see the benchmarks until you do. All of my evaluations are done without knowing how it measures. All I can tell you is despite it falling just short of its rated spec, the amp sounds outstanding. As for calling it an AVR class amp...I beg to differ. Try and find a local shop that can audition it for you and you'll hear what I mean.
bootman's picture

Ok I'll admit the AVR comment is a bit harsh.
I guess I'm not used to seeing Krells measure so short on rated power.
When I hear Krell I envision KRS monoblocks driving Scintillas.

Esoteric's picture

Thanks for your insight David. Since you have reviewed both this and the ATI AT-6005, how would you compare the two?

Tetto's picture

Any comments from Krell why this unit can't make its rated output? Is this an isolated case for this unit? Or is it true for the whole chorus line?

karlosTT's picture

I think it is disappointing that Krell thought it necessary to play the same marketing game as the AVR manufacturers, ie quoted power through 1 channel only. A company of this stature shouldn't feel the need to play such "power games".
That said, it doesn't really impact on the 7200's value for money - as such. In total, it produces around 0.94kw of pure class A. In that respect it may well be absolutely unique. The high-end AVR's produce around 1kw (of class D) after you've cut through the marketing gumf, whilst the top-rated multi-channel power amps serve up around 1.4kw of class A/B.
So it depends what you're looking for and what your priorities are. I think we'd all appreciate greater honesty, but at the end of the day power and sound quality simply don't correlate.