Cigar Aficionado

Krell SACD Standard

If you're one of those analog traditionalists who bemoan the disappearance of the vinyl album two decades ago not because the sleeve art was better then, but because CDs lost part of the sound wave in the translation, you may want to reconsider digital sound. The innovation of Super Audio CD (SACD), with its Direct Stream Digital technology, enables near analog fidelity, especially in the hands of the high-end audio manufacturer Krell.

Developed by Sony and Pioneer, SACD increases the frequency response to more than 100 kHz and the dynamic range to 120 dBs and more closely follows the original analog wave form of the music. Krell's high bandwidth, high dynamic range circuit design and stable chassis design work hand in hand with the new technology and translate into something you don't have to be a sound engineer to understand: better sound.

The Krell SACD Standard ($4,000) player can play discs that were recorded for the new innovation as well as the copy of Abbey Road that's been in the boom box for 15 years. Either way, this unit cranks out the tunes like no other. Partnered with the Krell KAV-400xi integrated amplifier ($2,500) and two LAT-2 loudspeakers ($10,000/pair), the SACD lets you spend a Saturday night in the comfort of your living room playing your favorite Debussy CD without ever wishing you were at the New York Philharmonic.

The system also redefines loud. The volume control that tops out at 151, but playing music at 8 is still enough to hear every snare. Turn it up to 25 and you'll find your head nodding along to the beat. Double that figure, and it's a party—no question about it. Ever wonder what it was like to be a Led Zeppelin roadie in 1971? Crank the volume up to 110 and you're on your way.

Turning this system up all the way sounds nothing like maxing out other systems. The analog technology in digital format eradicates the distortion that traditionally accompanies high decibel levels. Louder doesn't just fill the ears with noise; it makes Keith Richards' riffs clearer, Charlie Watts's drumming brighter, and every one of Mick Jagger's notes stronger. Now, that's satisfaction.