KR Audio Valve 340i Integrated Amp 20 Watts Single Ended Triode
The asking price is not small change for most people. But for those of you seeking a world class two-channel system the KR340 offers a chance to get off the equipment merry-go-round by anchoring your system with a solid cornerstone. It is not an amplifier you will soon trade in. The KR offers more musical enjoyment for less money than what I use in my reference system, though to be fair my preamplifier has an outstanding phono stage. If what I've said about the KR with the 842VHD is to your liking and you simply cannot afford the KR, take a listen to the Manley Stingray. It is not as good as the KR, but it is a lot less money, and an excellent value in its own right.
And what about the third question, which I have not answered: "Why is the preamplifier section solid-state?" It is about the money; and it's also about the music. Riccardo Kron started out to make a tube preamplifier, but because of the lower standards of small signal tubes that were available, it took a lot of expensive engineering to reach the sound quality he demanded. His original KR 01 preamp was simply too expensive, so he turned his attention to solid-state. This is the pathway they have found that works, and honed it to perfection with quality parts and excellence of manufacture to bring you world-class music reproduction. In essence, this is an amplifier that produces music magnificently, and gets completely out of the way of the listening experience. I felt like I could buy this amplifier, surrender my Enjoy the Music.com® reviewer's hat and listen happily ever after. Everything KR put into this amplifier — and more — comes out in the music. Therein lays the true value. It is well known that tube amplifiers often sound much better than they measure in the laboratory.
Let The LPs Roll...
Almost as an afterthought, I ran the outputs of my CAT tube preamplifier into the KR to play a couple of LPs. A little Janis Joplin, a little Stevie Ray Vaughn... Oh, My G-d, this amp almost raises the dead! The experiment suggests, however, that if you already have an outstanding preamplifier, perhaps the VA 320 power amplifier would be a more desirable choice. Throughout most of the review I was listening under the impression that the preamp section was active. It was not until the end when some apparently conflicting information led me to investigate further. It turns out the signal path of the preamplifier section is indeed passive, while the active electronics are used in the switching and volume control. My ignorance provided me, once again, with an unwittingly blind test. While I never felt it was the most dynamic amplifier that I've heard, neither did I think it lacked dynamics to any significant degree. And it certainly is among the most transparent windows I've had the pleasure to hear. For overall enjoyment of the music, it is hard to imagine it getting any better than this. As an integrated design it brings both beauty and simplicity of operation to the system. Maybe they will forget they loaned it to me for a few years.
The KR amplifier sits before me on the floor between the loudspeakers. Like the famous TV western gunfighter, Paladin, it is dressed in black. I hold a business card that reads: Have tubes, will rock.
Type: Stereo integrated tube amplifier
Power Output: 20 watts per channel
Output Tubes: Two KR 300BXLS
Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz (-3dB)
Output Impedance: 4 or 8 Ohms
Dimensions: 53.5 x 25.5 x 41.5 (WxHxD in cm)