This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

The silver-anodized matte fascia with its nicely rounded-over edges—sadly not available in black—conveys quality without going overboard with inch-thick extravagance but the gray lacquer enclosure seems less ambitious. Though ultra solid, its color and workmanship recall postal service boxes which during the 70s contained office telephones. I had no such complaints with the business end which, besides the ubiquitous IEC power inlet, sports the single speaker terminals, 3 x RCA inputs, 2 x XLR inputs and 1 x RCA pre-out. There’s also the expected iPod port—necessary cable link included— and a remote control is standard too. That's a heavy metal wand available in black that can control other Krell kit and should expressively not be dropped on your foot.

I was obviously curious how 300 watts into my 4-ohm Geithain ME 150 speakers would translate. Those usually feast on just 45 watts compliments of my Jadis Orchestra, not really a micro-power ascetic but valve integrateds aren’t exactly known for damping factor and control. I admittedly braced for muscle-man antics and thus was very pleasantly surprised when a few bars into the first track ("Indigo Swing" by the eponymous group) the suggestive term instead was fluid, not the brash cowboy mentality I subconsciously might have associated with Yankee hifi. I got suckered in by subtleties instead. The sonic profile wasn’t in your face but seductive. As comparator, AstinTrew’s AT2000 came to mind which, while not exactly my personal sonic ideal, had left me impressed with its unpretentious highly musical character. Krell’s S-300i pointed in a similar direction though unlike the AT2000 which occasionally wasn’t the paradigm of power, the Krell never tolerated any doubts as to its resources. Where the AstinTrew did allow fears that a pianist might not finish a performance because the next climax could overtax the amp’s reserves, the Krell promised instead a three-hour bravura show with the option for one or more encores.

After a few days of proper break-in, the time came to get serious. I also concluded that this machine plays even more relaxed and profound when it has reached optimal working temperatures. I kicked off with my favored genre of Jazz and particularly, Holly Cole’s finely nuanced voice on Romantically Helpless which, though center stage, didn’t prevent me from honing in on the percussion without missing a beat. I’ve rarely noticed the hi-hat this accurate and detailed. The Krell rendered the bass with speed, not ultra dry but rather harmonically rich and well integrated. FX spectaculars from raw power were not on the menu. Bass orgy freaks will be disappointed unless such orgies are musically called for. Whatever is on the record gets converted into pressure without fail. Dee Dee Bridgewater’s percussive arsenal on Live at Yoshi’s communicated without doubt that the Krell could mobilize 300 watts into the Geithain’s load for more volume = more fun.