I started using the HTS 7.1 for two channel CD and SACD listening. The first thing I noticed was that the sound had achieved an openness and depth greater than with the Showcase. There was greater, deeper and richer bass, and the top end had even greater clarity. The Krell DVD Standard plugged into the balanced inputs sounded absolutely fantastic--open and crisp, with a wide soundstage. Bass output exceeded any processor that has been in my system save the McIntosh, yet was always taut and fast. As Krell products usually create a large soundstage, the perspective was wide and imaging was wonderful. Interestingly enough, the analog stage of the HTS 7.1 is so good that it was able to almost match the sound of the DVD Standard when functioning as a DAC, which is quite an achievement in itself.
More of the same was heard while using the multi-channel inputs for DVD-Audio and SACD. Again, the range of sound and the detail put this processor at a level above many others I have heard, and helped bring out the best of high-resolution audio tracks. In fact, this processor has the best multi-channel analog preamp of any I have heard and really made music listening special.
When I moved on to movies, the processor maintained that crisp, taut midrange and wide, laid back perspective that I was familiar with in the Showcase, but it sounded a bit better due to the better analog stage. Again, the better bass reproduction added that extra boost of dynamics to movie soundtracks.
Flaws are few and do not significantly affect the performance. Some complain that the remote is not one of the fancy programmable jobs, but I just appreciate that it is small. Auto-migration between digital and analog inputs would be much appreciated, as well as a slightly larger display, although the black background is a significant improvement over the Showcase's red background. That third component input would be just ducky, as would a price lower than the $8,000 it costs to get all of this audio goodness. As of this writing, Krell is offering a trade-in program that allows you to get a substantial discount on the HTS 7.1 something I would encourage taking advantage of. Like all Krell products, it has enormous top end resolution, and will lay bare the flaws of any bright soundtrack, bad source electronics, or even less than stellar cabling that smears all that top end information.
That said, I cannot think of a processor that has performed to the level of the HTS 7.1. Sonically it is simply excellent. The pre-amp section is top-notch in the world of home theater processors, and Krell's audiophile roots really shine through in the HTS 7.1. For those of you who take audio very seriously, the processor simply must be on your list to audition. Your wallet may implode, your children may have to go to a state college, your wife may leave you, but your ears will thank you. Once I finish this review, I will be calling Krell to convince them they really don't need this piece back right away.
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Krell HTS 7.1 Processor
17.25"H x 5.65"W x 16.45"D
Signal to Noise Ratio: 94dB "A" Weighted
Analog audio inputs:1 pair XLR, 7 RCA,
one 7.1 multi-channel input
Analog Outputs: 8 XLR, 8 RCA,
1 multi-channel DB-25
Digital audio inputs: 5 coaxial, 2 TosLink
Video inputs: 4 S-Video, 4 Composite,
2 Pairs of analog tape inputs
Decoding Modes: Dolby ProLogic II, DD, DTS,
Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES Discrete and Matrix 6.1.
DTS Neo:6, 9 Krell music surround modes
1 RS-232, 1 RC-5, 4 12V out triggers,
one 12V in trigger