Krell Resolution 2 Loudspeakers 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers
Written by Thomas Garcia   
Wednesday, 01 December 2004

Krell Industries, Inc. has been a mainstay in the high-end audio marketplace for over 25 years, originally gaining a reputation for designing and manufacturing accurate, high resolution two-channel preamplifiers and authoritative yet musical stereo power amplifiers. With the onslaught of digital music software, multi-channel music and surround-sound movie recordings, Krell successfully expanded into other electronics, such as DVD and CD players, Home Theater preamplifiers/processors and multi-channel amplifiers. In 2001, Krell crossed the threshold into designing and producing reference loudspeakers. Their first effort, the Lossless Acoustic Transducer (LAT) Series, was a full-on design and engineering assault, utilizing all aluminum enclosures, a complement of state-of-the-art drivers and sophisticated crossover networks. Originating with the no-holds-barred, $37,500 per pair LAT-1s, Krell forged on to create an equally impressive center channel, matching surrounds and a behemoth subwoofer, all adhering to the same exacting standards of the LAT-1s. Like other manufacturers in the field, Krell applied a trickle-down philosophy from their flagship line, utilizing similar technology and design criteria to create the Resolution Series. Resolution products offer a more affordable, real-world application, with many of the performance attributes of their much more expensive siblings. Situated near the top of this line is the three-way, floor-standing Resolution 2 full-range loudspeaker. Priced at $8,000 per pair, the Resolution 2s can be employed in a conventional two-channel configuration, or augmented with other Resolution Series speakers to assemble a multi-channel system.

The Resolution 2 is a floor-standing loudspeaker featuring one one-inch dual-concentric-ring tweeter with an integral waveguide (for enhanced high-frequency dispersion), one custom-designed six-and-a-half-inch midrange and dual eight-inch woofers. Separate one-eighth-inch epoxy glass circuit boards are optimized for impedance and resistance relative to each section of the three-way crossover (tweeter, midrange, woofer), with design rudiments of the LAT Series incorporated into it. The tweeter is positioned above the woofer but below the midrange driver, which is less conventional than most speakers, yet considered more desirable by many designers based on the driver’s interaction with the front baffle and the relative height of the tweeter to the listener. Dual ports augment the low-end response, with one near the top and the other approximately centered on of the rear cabinet face.

The Resolution 2s are a true exercise in craftsmanship, making an impressive aesthetic statement, which is accentuated by their impeccably finished woodwork, as one would expect from a Krell product. Although physically imposing at 140 pounds, with a height of 48 inches by 11.6 inches wide and 19.7 inches deep, the overall scale is minimized partly due to the curved cabinet corners and unique grille assembly. The rounded contour presents an attractive, relatively gentle, soft face to the listener while reducing diffraction. Enclosures for the Resolution 2s consist of one-inch thick medium density fiberboard (MDF), with the exception of the stout, two-inch-thick MDF front baffle. Additionally, asymmetrical internal bracing adds to the loudspeaker’s rigidity while minimizing any additional resonances from the cabinet. The cherry finish on the review samples was flawless, as noted by many who listened to the loudspeakers and were familiar with fine woodworking. Furthermore, the stretched rubber stranded grille cover added an element of elegance to the overall appearance.

Room set-up for the Resolution 2s was relatively straightforward. After voicing the Krells to my room, the best performance was achieved by placing the loudspeakers approximately eight feet apart, three feet out from the back wall and four feet from the side walls. I achieved the flattest frequency response and best system imaging with the speakers directly on-axis to the main listening area. During the evaluation, the main listening position was varied from eight feet to 12 feet from the face of the speakers, with a sweet spot just slightly over the eight-foot mark. With a nominal impedance of four ohms, the Resolution 2s should be able to be driven by any reasonably designed amplifier. Krell recommends 125 watts per channel, though greater performance will be realized by doubling this suggestion. Throughout most of this review, I utilized Krell’s two-channel KAV 280p Remote Controlled Line Preamplifier and KAV 2250 250 watts per channel (500 watts per channel into four ohms) stereo power amplifier, while employing a variety of source components. Additional, lower powered amplifiers were also used during this evaluation, with somewhat reduced performance. Extremely functional, high-quality WBT binding posts graced the Resolution 2, facilitating easy attachment of a variety of speaker cable terminations. For those so inclined, dual connections allow bi-amping or bi-wiring of the Resolution 2s by removing the substantial jumper strips provided with the loudspeaker.

During the review process, I used a multitude of sources, including Super Audio CD (SACD), DVD-Audio, traditional CDs, two-channel movie soundtracks and FM radio as a background source. One consistent trait imparted on all these sources was the Resolution 2s’ smooth, somewhat laid-back presentation. They were the antithesis of overly etched, forward-sounding speakers that sometimes find favor with those who only listen to audiophile-quality recordings. The Resolution 2s consistently impressed many visiting listeners with their musical and non-fatiguing demeanor. This was especially true when listening to high-resolution formats, such as SACD and DVD-Audio.

Founded in 1975 by saxophonist and producer Jay Beckenstein, Spyro Gyra’s infectious sound quickly became a precursor of many of today's most popular contemporary jazz styles. With their 1979 pop hit "Morning Dance," Spyro Gyra broke into the pop charts and has consistently created its own instrumental hybrid, incorporating elements of jazz, R&B, Latin and Brazilian music. All five of the main members are prolific writers who have each contributed to the longevity and diversity of the band. Listening to the SACD version of In Modern Times (HEADS UP) tested the system’s ability to decipher complex, dynamic and multi-layered music. During “Your Touch," the Resolution 2s imaged beautifully, with the individual speakers disappearing behind the music. The Krells were capable of keeping pace with the track’s funk-driven change-ups while equally articulating the quickness and delicacy of the keyboard. The scorching jam "Florida Straits" features Beckenstein's sexy sax and Julio Fernandez's Latin style, rock-influenced guitar riffs. David Charles’ powerful percussion, along with the hammering of drummer Joel Rosenblatt, gave an opportunity to stress mid-bass through the low-frequency region of the Resolution 2s. The bass was firm, deep and tight, percussive passages were clearly delineated and the drums were solid with a crisp snap on the attack. The midrange and treble were equally impressive, floating Beckerstein’s sax effortlessly in the vivid, expensive soundstage.

A sizable portion of my eclectic music collection falls outside the realm of “audiophile” material. However, in the real world, I find myself listening to many of these recordings a majority of the time. Therefore, it is important for me to have a speaker system that has excellent resolution and dynamic capabilities, while also maintaining the ability to respectfully reproduce the music of my lesser recordings. The Resolution 2s did a fine job of melding these two requirements. This was evident while listening to two self-titled recordings by Malo (Warner Brothers) and It’s A Beautiful Day (San Francisco Sound). Both bands flourished during the San Francisco music scene of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, never reaching any commercial success beyond a few recognizable songs, yet are still actively touring. Malo’s music is mostly power-driven, based on soulful Latin rhythms, electrifying guitar riffs (played in part by Carlos Santana’s younger brother Jorge) and big blasting brass, with a touch of R&B to top it off. It’s ironic that their only true hit, “Suavecito,” was a beautiful, poetic love melody, very different from most of their material. Recorded in 1972 and subsequently released on CD in 1995, “Suavecito” is relatively well produced, featuring a collage of beautifully interwoven vocal and instrumental elements. The Resolution 2s did an excellent job of delineating the layering of harmonizing vocals from this cut, constantly sounding warm, rich and pure. Integration of high-frequency and midrange drivers was flawless, effortlessly reproducing the small nuances between the track’s instrumental and percussive passages. Distinct sounds such as cymbals, chimes and cowbells were sharp on the attack, yet had a resonant fullness that made each instrument sound real. Other Malo classics such as “Nena” and “Cafe” were well represented by the Resolution 2s, with the Latin-infused percussion and horn sections sounding fast, tight and powerful. Dynamic capacities of the loudspeakers were tested throughout this recording, displaying no signs of compression or dynamic limitations, even at high playback levels.

On the other side of the musical spectrum, It’s A Beautiful Day was the quintessential psychedelic-era band. From its plucky, acoustical string intro flowing into the melodic vocals of former symphony violinist David LaFlamme, “White Bird” blossomed, sounding clear and coherent. Again, the Krells were seamless through the midrange, reproducing the enchanting flamenco-style guitar solo and beautiful violin, which is infused throughout the song. Melodic vocals and instrumental images were solid and steady, located within a realistically dimensioned sound field. Tambourine and cymbals emanated clearly in their own spaces, displaying excellent separation and tonal correctness.

The Downside
Despite the obvious care and quality that was integrated into the design of the Resolution 2 loudspeakers, they face considerable competition in their price range. There are numerous options that are currently priced between $6,000 to $10,000, each offering unique strengths and weaknesses that must be considered for each application.

Although impeccably finished, Krell currently only offers the Resolution Series in a cherry veneer, making it considerably more difficult to match with a specific décor. While I can understand the financial necessity of limiting excessive options for any manufacturer, a single wood color will eliminate certain potential buyers. (Note: Krell will soon be offering the Resolution 2 in a black finish.)

Finally, though Krell indicates that the Resolution 2s can be powered by a 125 watts per channel amplifier, I found a much better match with amplifiers outputting in excess of 200 watts.

For decades, Krell Industries Inc. has been acknowledged as an innovative, ultra-high-quality audio design and manufacturing company, recognized throughout the world. Their recent entrance into the loudspeaker arena was made with the same meticulous attention to sonics, materials and detail as their award-winning electronic components. Incorporating trickle-down philosophies to the Reference 2s, Krell infused design and engineering concepts derived from their reference LAT Series loudspeakers, culminating in a product with similar attributes at a substantially lower cost.

The Resolution 2s’ high-frequency reproduction was non-fatiguing and transparent. Coupled with a smooth midrange, the loudspeakers were capable of extracting excellent results with both high-resolution materials and real world recordings. Using an amplifier of adequate power, preferably 200 watts or more, enhances the performance of the Resolution 2s. Bass reproduction is tight and tuneful, with appreciable low-frequency extension. They are capable of being played at sustained high levels without compression and distortion.

From a fit and finish standpoint, the Resolution 2s simply look gorgeous. Their availability in only a Cherry veneer will be a limitation for some, but for many, these speakers will be a stunning acquisition. Krell offers a complete complement of center channel, surround and subwoofer options, offering a migratory path for compiling a full matching multi-channel music and movie system.

Though greatly discounted from the LAT-1s, the Resolution 2s are not an inexpensive loudspeaker. They fall into a hotly contested price point where ultimately the loudspeaker of choice will depend upon a broad array of issues, including performance, aesthetics and overall value. The Krell Resolution 2 loudspeakers successfully address each of these elements, offering consumers an appealing option to achieve sonic bliss.
Manufacturer Krell
Model Resolution 2 Loudspeakers
Reviewer Tom Garcia

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