Jeffrey, I have never compared the two. If you post this question on Audio Asylum (Digital Drive board on www.audioasylum.com), I'm sure many will say the Krell is the better CD player. However, Krell CD players have a reputation for being sterile or analytical, meaning they lack musicality or emotion and can bring out all the "digitalness" that the CD format has to offer. This notion has matched my limited experience with Krell players.
I own the '777ES and for the $1500 I paid, I feel it is an exceptional CD player. Not all audiophiles will agree with that sentiment. Some feel that for the price the '777ES sold for, there are better straight CD player out there. To each his own. In my opinion, the '777ES is an excellent CD player with outstanding build quality and SACD as a wonderful bonus.
Given your question, I assume SACD playback is not very important to you. While I do like the '777ES just as a CD player, you owe it to yourself to listen to various CD players in your price range.
I assume you know that the '777ES has been discontinued, so you would have to get one used. However, you ought to consider its replacement, the 'XA777ES. It too is an excellent CD player. Since you live in North Jersey, you might want to head over to Rabson's Audio (or whatever the exact name is; I'm sure of the Rabson's part) near Paramus. I've been there once, as my brother lives up that way. It's a nice store with nice salespeople. When I was there back in November, they had the 'XA777ES in their prime listening room.
Best of luck.
I also have the SCD-777ES and like Keith, I very much enjoy it.
It has superb SACD performance and great CD performance.
I have not heard the Krell so can not comment on it.
The best thing is to always find a dealer who will let you take em home and try out. Most quality, independent ones will.
I would strongly suggest you get Super Audio capability. You may be surprised how good it sounds.