|Krell Home Theater Standard 7.1 AV Preamplifier|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers AV Preamps|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Saturday, 01 June 2002|
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Just as I finished reviewing the Krell TAS 5 channel power amplifier, Krell released their newest home theater product, the Home Theater Standard 7.1 AV preamp. The $8,000 Home Theater Standard 7.1 is the big brother to the Home Theater Standard 2 AV preamp, which I used in my review of the Theater Amplifier Standard. Owners of the Home Theater Standard 2 who bought one new from an authorized dealer can upgrade their units to the Home Theater Standard 7.1 at the Krell factory for $1,500. People who bought and HTS2 secondhand will need to pay $2,500 for upgrades. The new Home Theater Standard 7.1 is Krell’s third-generation AV preamp, designed with the hopes of being both "future proof" and true to Krell’s high standards for audio and video performance.
While unpacking the Krell Home Theater Standard 7.1, I noted that, from the front, the new Krell looks almost identical to its predecessor, the Home Theater Standard 2. The only noticeable front panel difference is the group of DTS, Dolby Digital and THX logos on the lower right portion. The gorgeous brushed aluminum front panel is flanked by radiused and polished aluminum corners. The brushed aluminum panel has small aluminum buttons, the majority of which are grouped on either side of the central display. The front panel also has both an infrared sensor and emitter. The wafer-style remote features membrane, "bubble" buttons and is not programmable. A learning remote can easily be programmed using the front panel emitter if desired.
The heavy gauged, brushed aluminum body of the Home Theater Standard 7.1 is 17.25 inches wide, over five-and-a-half inches tall and about 16.5 inches deep. This full-sized, solid unit weighs in at nearly 20 pounds. A close inspection of the unit’s exterior and interior indicates that the design and build quality are unparalleled.
The rear panel is packed with enough connections for just about any system. The connections include both single-ended and balanced 7.1 inputs, one pair of balanced inputs, tape and VCR loops, seven single-ended inputs, a zone two output, six coax and two optical digital inputs, and both coax and optical outputs. On the video side, the Home Theater Standard 7.1 has four s-video and four composite inputs and two outputs in each format. There are also two component inputs feeding a single component out. Rounding out the back panel is an RS-232 communications port, RC-5 input and 12v trigger inputs and output. The only missing connection is a digital RF input for Dolby Digital Laserdiscs, for which an outboard aftermarket demodulator is necessary.
The RS-232 port can be used to upgrade the internal flash memory or control the preamp from a high-performance remote system. This is intended to be done in the field, i.e., either you or your dealer will be able to upgrade your unit’s operating software to keep it current with new processing algorithms.
The inside of the Home Theater Standard 7.1 unit is just as full-featured as the rear panel. The audio portion of the Home Theater Standard 7.1 circuit design takes its design cues from Krell’s audio-only components with the Krell Current Mode topology. The circuit design features Class A, direct-coupled circuitry, which is also found in the Krell 300iL integrated amplifier. The digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital converters utilized in the Home Theater Standard 7.1 are 24-bit and a step up from the Home Theater Standard 2. The video circuitry of the Home Theater Standard 7.1 is also upgraded and is fully compatible with large bandwidth high-definition video signals.
I unpacked the Home Theater Standard 7.1 and kept its prodigious Owner’s Reference guide handy during setup. The instructions were clear and I was up and running in about 60 minutes. Certainly, it helps that I also set up my last Krell preamp, but the overall process isn’t as scary as it may seem. The processor features user-programmable inputs for maximum flexibility, allowing the user to rearrange the inputs to suit the system’s sources. The manual has a chart with pre-assigned inputs for each source. To simplify the setup process, I attempted to conform the pre-assigned inputs, making notations of any connection variances. I suggest that you do this when hooking up any processor with user configurable inputs, as these notes will come in handy later in the setup process.
After making all of the physical connections, I began going through the software setup as outlined in the manual. The setup process is extremely flexible, allowing for different crossover points and a variable volume output for the second zone. Now is the time when your notes from the back panel connections will come in handy. As you go through the setup, configuring the devices, the information from your notes will allow you to breeze through the setup without constantly looking at the back panel. During the setup process, you can set default operating modes for various input signals. The Home Theater Standard 7.1 has a plethora of operating modes, including THX 5.1, THX Surround EX, DTS 6.1 ES, DTS NEO:6, Dolby Digital EX and the newest, Dolby Pro Logic II. The default operating modes are easily changed on the fly to suit the program material.
The setup process can be accomplished fairly quickly, but the advanced user can spend hours fine-tuning the large variety of adjustments in the HTS 7.1 to achieve the best sound and the easiest operation for individual needs and tastes.