No product that I can think of has revolutionized the way we store, interact and enjoy our music collections quite the way the Apple iPod has. For better or for worse the iPod is here to stay and with it low resolution audio files. While non-audiophiles may not take offense to low res MP3 files purchased off iTunes or the like, audio enthusiasts do, which is why a number of audiophiles have either taken it upon themselves to rip their own music or have stayed away from the iPod altogether when it comes to critical listening.
As a manufacturer it's hard to simply ignore the iPod, because doing so alienates you from an entire sector of the marketplace looking for iPod-based music solutions. However, if you're a manufacturer like Krell, with a reputation for cost-no-object high performance equipment, you can't simply make any run-of-the-mill iPod dock or peripheral and call it a day. If you're Krell you have to make THE iPod dock, which is exactly what they've done with the introduction of their new KID or Krell Interface Dock.
The KID is unlike any iPod dock you've ever see. Part iPod dock, part preamplifier, the Krell KID is a statement (like all Krell products) that takes the shortcomings of low res audio files and poor sound quality and says "no more." The KID itself is rather large, almost the size of an average CD or DVD player, with a slot resting front and center along the KID's top for docking of an iPod, iPod Touch and even an iPhone. The KID is built to the Krell standard, which means it's built like a brick-you-know-what-house complete with a brushed aluminum faceplate showcasing three blue LCD displays that show bass, treble and volume figures. The front of the KID also features an Aux input, which can be used for other portable devices such as a Microsoft Zune player.
Around back the KID features a composite and S-Video out as well as both unbalanced and balanced analog audio outputs. The KID has a RS-232 port as well as a 12-volt trigger and a detachable power cord. Underneath, hidden behind a small metal plate, is an input allowing the KID to be docked to Krell's own Papa Dock (sold separately), which is essentially a dedicated stereo amplifier that the KID sits comfortably in for an all-in-one iPod based integrated amplifier solution.
The Krell KID retails for $2,000 and can be integrated into any system the same as you would a CD player. If you want to use the KID with the Papa Dock for a standalone iPod-based music system, you'll have to shell out an additional $2,500 for the Papa Dock, bringing the total KID/Papa Dock combo to a cool $4,000 retail.
Inside the KID uses discrete, differential, Class A analog circuitry to propel the iPod's lack luster sonic performance to the next level. Does it work? Absolutely. Even with low-res music files I've never heard an iPod sound so good. I'm not saying the KID can take a 192kbps file and make it sound as if it was being played from a CD on a $10,000 player, but it's leaps and bounds better than simply plugging your iPod into your preamp or processor's Aux input. With higher resolution files and/or uncompressed files stored on an iPod the Krell KID is a revelation, possessing all the openness, detail, dynamics and control you'd expect from a traditional, high-end source component costing three times as much if not more. The high frequency performance is not at all digital sounding and the midrange is full, rich and natural as opposed to the thin, recessed quality I was used to hearing from the iPod itself. The biggest improvement the KID brought to the table was in the bass response, which plunged deeper with greater control, detail and dynamics than I ever thought possible.
Competition and Comparison
You can compare Krell's KID iPod dock against its competition by reading our reviews for the Marantz IS301 iPod dock and the Denon ASD-51W iPod dock. There is also more information available in our Audio Server and MP3 Player section and on our Krell brand page.
Read The High Points, The Low Points and The Conclusion on Page 2