When it comes to cost no object high-end full-range loudspeakers the list of products is small but distinguished. Manufacturers such as Wilson Audio, Bowers & Wilkins, Revel, Focal, Meridian and MBL all compete in this ultra exclusive club. Well, there's a new addition to the scene: the Krell Modulari Duo. While it may not be the biggest or even the most expensive, I argue it may just be the best of the whole bunch.
Retailing for a whopping $65,000 a pair the Modulari Duos aren't cheap, however among their peers they're priced somewhere in the middle. Wilson Audio MAXX 3s and Alexandria X-2s, Focal Grande Utopia EMs and MBL 101 X-Tremes all cost more, upwards of $100,000 or more.
The Modulari Duo's are a two chassis design, each module being built with solid aluminum ranging in thickness from half an inch to one inch. The Modulari Duo is available in standard silver or black (custom finishes available at an extra cost) and has no real grill to speak of, allowing all five of the Duo's drivers to be on full display, all the time. The top half of the Modulari Duo is actually the Krell Modulari Primo, which is a two way monitor speaker consisting of a one-inch ring tweeter and seven inch aluminum mid-bass driver, both sourced from ScanSpeak. The bottom of the Modulari Duo is the Modulari subwoofer tower, which consists of three, eight-inch ScanSpeak woofers. Each woofer has a maximum excursion of one inch, allowing the Modulari Duo to reach notes down to 27Hz. Krell states that the Modulari Duo can reach and playback every single note on an 88 key grand piano including the 27.5Hz low A without strain.
For a true full range loudspeaker the Modulari Duo is rather compact measuring in at 46 inches high by nearly 15 inches wide and 25 inches deep. Compact may be one of the Modulari Duo's party pieces but light weight it is not; the Modulari Duo tips the scales at 345 pounds a piece.
So what does the Modulari Duos sound like? Do you believe in magic? I didn't until I heard the Modulari Duos at a recent Krell event. Powered by Krell's new Evolution 402e amplifier, driven by a Krell CD/DVD player and matching preamp the Modulari Duo's performance was jaw dropping. I'm at a loss to think of any instance in all my years of reviewing home theater and two channel audio equipment where I had been rendered speechless. But that's what the Modulari Duos do. They are so effortless and pure it's as if you're listening to music through no speaker at all. They are open, engaging, and rife with detail and air, yet have a natural way with dynamics and dimension that boarders on surreal. They can play soft or they can play loud, real loud, and everywhere in between. Though they may look like lifeless slabs of polished aluminum, the soul they posses inside is simply beautiful. If I could afford them I would've purchased them on the spot.
Read about the high points and the low points of the Modulari Duo on Page 2.
• The Modulari Duos are as beautiful to behold as they are to listen
to. One rap of the knuckles to the side of a Modulari Duo loudspeaker
will tell you all you need to know about just how solidly built these
• The Modulari Duos are compact enough to fit into even modest
listening spaces and or rooms, though be sure you can place them well
away from your front and side walls for best results.
• The Modulari Duo is a true full range loudspeaker if I've ever heard
one. From the highest frequencies to the lowest octaves the Modulari
Duo can do it all, making it the ideal speaker for a cost no object two
channel or home theater system.
• The Modulari Duo's are fairly efficient and can be powered by a
variety of components including Krell's own integrated amplifier, the
S300i. That being said, if you can afford to give the Duos the best
they will reward you in spades. I recommend mating a pair of duos to at
least a Krell Evolution 402e or better yet a pair of Krell Evolution
900's. The Modulari Duo's sound good with other manufacturer gear
though the synergy of hearing them through a Krell Evolution system is
something you have to experience to believe.
• The Modulari Duo's grill does little to protect or deter curious
hands and fingers from wanting to touch the drivers or at the very
least strum the "strings" of the grill itself.
• The Modulari Duo is a full range speaker, complete with a subwoofer
tower section; however those subs are not powered, meaning you're going
to have to make sure you have the juice on tap if you want to see what
the Modulari Duo's can do.
• The Modulari Duo's aren't the easiest speaker in the world to
maneuver and place in a room. I recommend having your local Krell
dealer install them for you, or you may want to have a friend on
standby when you need to toe them in for better imaging, a week or two
after their arrival.
Let's not beat around the bush, the Modulari Duo's are expensive. At
$65,000 a pair we're talking used Ferrari 360 money. However, having
driven my share of Ferraris and now having heard the Modulari Duo's I'm
not sure I'd pick the Ferrari. Of course it's all a fantasy, for I
can't afford the Modulari Duos, though I have to admit I'm jealous of
the customer who can. They're that good. As far as cost no object, full
range loudspeakers: the Modulari Duo from Krell are as good as they
get. In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, "It is so choice. If you
have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."