Krell’s New XD Technology
Krell’s “XD” (Xtended Dynamics, Xtended Dimensionality, Xtended Detail) upgrade for the iBias amplifiers takes an already great sounding amplifier and raises its performance to the next level. “XD” is a classic example of Krell’s continuous R&D efforts reaping benefits across multiple product lines. During the development of the K-300i Integrated Amplifier we discovered substantial sonic improvements by lowering the output impedance below traditional norms. So we applied this technique to our existing line of amplifiers and the improvement was so substantial that it required a unique designation, hence, “XD.”
It was no simple matter to just lower the output impedance. This affects the amplifier’s stability and transient response so each stage prior to the output stage had to be re-tuned to work optimally with the lower output impedance. This lower output impedance exerts more control over the speaker drivers and damps out unwanted vibrational modes, allowing a more accurate reproduction of the original signal.
Krell Class A iBias Technology
Krell’s history is rich with breakthrough Class A amplifiers that have helped build the Krell legacy of offering the best sounding amplifiers available. Audiophiles have always considered Class A technology to be the best sounding operating state for amplifiers. However, despite Class A’s unrivaled sound quality, it has fallen out of fashion because of recent demands to reduce power consumption and heat in home electronics products. Krell engineering took this challenge and redefined the meaning of high performance power amplifier. Our goal – unmatched performance, elegant design, and a compelling array of features. The breakthrough – a patent pending circuit delivering Class A operation without the excessive heat and wasted energy of conventional designs, housed in a striking new form factor, with network connectivity for advanced access and monitoring. The sound is open and unconstrained, in a manner that rivals live performance and the true sound of voices and instruments. Music and dialogue are reproduced with a richness, detail, and startling dynamics that fill a room.
Plainly stated, Class A designs are the most musically accurate circuit topology available. Class A amplifiers do not suffer from the inherent distortions that all Class AB amplifiers experience. In a traditional Class A design, the output transistors conduct full current at all times regardless of the actual demand from the speakers. Often, only a fraction of this power is needed to reproduce an audio signal at normal listening levels. The rest of the power is dissipated through the amplifier’s heat sinks, producing large amounts of wasted heat. With Krell’s iBias™ technology, bias is dynamically adjusted, so the output transistors receive exactly as much power – but only as much power – as they need.
Krell’s iBias Class A technology allows our latest amplifiers to run in full Class A mode to full power while minimizing heat generation. Previous efforts at using a “tracking” bias, while effective, only measured the incoming signal and set bias levels from this information. Our new patent pending iBias technology significantly elevates the effectiveness of previous designs by calculating bias from the output stage. This seemingly small change in topology results in a dramatic improvement in sound quality, especially midrange richness and purity.
The core of the technology is an innovative, patent pending design for a dynamic intelligent bias circuit. Our iBias Class A circuit directly measures the output current of the amplifier and adjusts the bias to the optimum level. Because iBias Class A measures the output current, the real time demands of the specific speaker connected to the amp are directly incorporated into the circuit function. In addition, iBias Class A even reduces the bias when the signal is at very low levels, making its operation undetectable by ear and even by standard amplifier measurements.
In sliding bias schemes, the circuit merely estimates how much bias is needed based on the input signal and an “assumed speaker load.” Compared with iBias Class A, these sliding bias technologies are much less effective – and much less accurate.
Power Supply Highlights
Power supply technology has always been an important contributor to the Krell sound. The power supplies of our Krell iBias Class A amplifiers have been optimized for use with the iBias circuit. Depending on the model, up to four toroidal transformers feed amplifier modules that include the audio circuitry, rectifier, and power supply filtering mounted to an individual heat sink. This design shortens the electrical path from the power supply to the output transistors, reducing the overall impedance and allowing the circuit to respond faster and control the speakers even better and more accurately.
Unlike traditional Class A amplifiers, iBias Class A amps have a compact design that allows rack-mounting, making them ideal for custom installation as well as traditional audiophile systems. This convenient form factor is made possible through thermostatically controlled ventilation fans. The fans used are specifically chosen for quiet operation, and operate at the speed required to maintain the ideal internal temperature. They run only during periods of peak energy demand – when the music is at its loudest – so they are inaudible in normal use.
|The new amplifiers include RJ 45 Ethernet connectivity and an internal web page that is accessible from any smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Network connectivity brings convenience, monitoring, and reporting to end users. Amplifier configuration options include display brightness and timeout. For energy conservation, the amplifiers can be programmed to power off at a preset time of inactivity. Individual channels can be muted and firmware updates can be initiated from the web server.
Once the amplifier is connected to a network router with Internet access, the amplifier’s advanced protection systems are now viewable on an Internet-connected device. Excessive current, output DC, fan speeds, short circuit, and overheating are all monitored in real time. If an issue occurs, the fault is displayed on the front panel and reported on the web server interface. Emails will automatically be sent to as many as three email addresses to notify the end user and/or the dealer of the condition.
Audio signal voltages are converted to current at the amplifier input, and the audio signal remains in the current domain throughout the entire amplifier.
Current mirrors in the final gain stages use a new output power device that operates at a 73% higher voltage, delivers almost 10% more current, and offers 120 watts of additional power handling capability as compared to other devices.
With this combination, the iBias amplifiers may now deliver substantially more power while using a smaller footprint. Normally used in demanding, high-bandwidth video circuits, these transistors allow the design of gain stages with superb accuracy and very low distortion. The signal path is fully complementary and fully balanced from input to output. Independent complementary pre driver and driver stages for the positive and negative output transistors make the output stages extremely fast and linear. This unique circuit is impervious to low-impedance or reactive loads; it simply drives any loudspeaker with absolute confidence, achieving the very best possible sonic results.
Most amplifiers use coupling capacitors in the signal path to block DC and prevent damaging offset voltages from reaching your speakers. Krell amplifiers are fully direct-coupled, with no capacitors in the audio signal path. This design gives the Krell amplifiers lower internal impedance, which allows firmer, more precise control of your speakers. It also provides flatter, more extended low-frequency response, because coupling capacitors not only block DC but also affect the lowest bass frequencies. Krell employs expensive, non intrusive DC servos that remove DC without impacting the musical signal. Thus, the iBias Class A amplifiers deliver the full breadth of the music with detail, impact, and space intact.
Reserved for the Solo 375 and Solo 575 is our CAST inputs and circuitry. Current Audio Signal Transmission, termed CAST, is a revolutionary method of connecting analog audio components for unparalleled sonic performance. In traditional audio systems, each component is a discrete entity with unique characteristics that act upon the musical signal independently. Each component is unaware of the other components in the system. The cables that connect the components also have their own electrical characteristics, which affect the sonic presentation of the entire system. Krell CAST™ unifies individual components and interconnects them into an electrically linked whole. The original signal remains unaltered from source to speaker. Still equipped with standard connections for use with other components, the full expression of Krell technology is realized when the system is connected using Krell CAST MMF interconnects. Krell CAST connected systems offer significant improvements in every performance area: speed, precision, dynamic range, depth and width of the sound stage, transient impact, and tonal balance.
Everything Audiophiles and Home Theater Fans Could Want in an Amplifier
Krell iBias Class A amplifiers are the first to deliver the rich musicality of Class A amplifiers, the uncompromised dynamics of classic Krell amplifiers, and the efficiency and low power consumption of Class G and H amplifiers.
Because the iBias circuit eliminates crossover distortion, the amplifier is able to resolve more of the detail and microdynamics in even the best analog recordings. Simply put, the music breathes. Whether an iBias amplifier is called on to reproduce the extreme dynamic range of high-resolution digital files, the minute intricacies of a 45-rpm, 180-gram vinyl record, or the complexity of today’s latest blockbuster action film, it does so without altering or abating the music in any way.
The iBias amplifiers’ unprecedented ability to retrieve the subtlest details gives their sound an incredible dimensionality, with an ambient, broad and extraordinarily deep soundstage. As spacious as the sound is, though, the amplifiers are still able to produce pinpoint stereo imaging if the recording calls for it.
It’s all the power and control for which Krell has always been famous, with a level of resolution and musicality in the midrange and treble that has simply never been heard before.
In short, the new patent pending iBias Class A Krell amplifers give today’s audiophiles and home theater fans everything they could possibly want in an amplifier.