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Article: Review | Kinki Studio EX-M1+ 215 WPC Integrated Amplifier


gmgraves
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I have always said that - well at least as long as I can remember - that there is usually very little correlation between the price of a component and the sound quality derived from it. Sure, there's always exceptions; entry level components in particular are always built to a price point, not ultimate fidelity. That said, if you consider the jewelry like build quality of many top flight, expensive components on the market today, the case work alone consumes more than half the overall component budget and in many cases, even more than that...

 

Alas, it's difficult to sway someone from the traditional hierarchical price point conversation.

 

Great review! 

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Always fun to read about a giant killer!  Although I agree that some expensive stuff does not sound as good as less expensive stuff, I do think there's a strong correlation between price and performance, at least from well respected brands.  I was expecting you to give this a big thumbs up by saying it's like an NAD, just to pick a great minimalist brand.  So it's awesome that a thoughtful listener would compare this to a D'Angostino.

 

The noise issue is interesting, especially in light of your note about not being a cable swapper.  I swapped my cables and added power conditioning long after putting together the rest of my system, to great benefit.  My take was that these things lowered the noise floor and enabled much more detail to come through.  I wonder if the secret sauce of the Kinki is that they figured out how to reduce noise inexpensively without third party cables/conditioning?

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I run the prior version of this integrated with Boenike w5SE’s and a Mytek Brooklyn Bridge in my office system with good results. It is definitely a solid value and drives the challenging W5SE’s well. 

- Mark

 

Synology DS916+ > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > Netgear switch > SoTM dCBL-CAT7 > dCS Vivaldi Upsampler (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 Dual 110 Ohm AES/EBU > dCS Vivaldi DAC (David Elrod Statement Gold power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > Absolare Passion preamp (Nordost Valhalla 2 power cord) > Nordost Valhalla 2 xlr > VTL MB-450 III (Shunyata King Cobra CX power cords) > Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker > Kaiser Kaewero Classic /JL Audio F110 (Wireworld Platinum power cord).

 

Power Conditioning: Entreq Olympus Tellus grounding (AC, preamp and dac) / Shunyata Hydra Triton + Typhoon (Shunyata Anaconda ZiTron umbilical/Shunyata King Cobra CX power cord) > Furutec GTX D-Rhodium AC outlet.

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Since i don't regard your HK900 as reference level, its hard to know if this amp is any good for $3K. There seems to be more recommendations in the $5K integrated area from the likes of Copeland, Hegel, Prima Luna & Mcintosh, if any deliver high-end sound at this price point its quite an achievement. 

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6 hours ago, PeterG said:

Always fun to read about a giant killer!  Although I agree that some expensive stuff does not sound as good as less expensive stuff, I do think there's a strong correlation between price and performance, at least from well respected brands.  I was expecting you to give this a big thumbs up by saying it's like an NAD, just to pick a great minimalist brand.  So it's awesome that a thoughtful listener would compare this to a D'Angostino.

 

The noise issue is interesting, especially in light of your note about not being a cable swapper.  I swapped my cables and added power conditioning long after putting together the rest of my system, to great benefit.  My take was that these things lowered the noise floor and enabled much more detail to come through.  I wonder if the secret sauce of the Kinki is that they figured out how to reduce noise inexpensively without third party cables/conditioning?

Oh, I have power conditioning. I have a hospital isolated power supply driving my system . It‘s a huge isolation transformer (about 75 pounds of copper and iron) with built-in LRC filters both before the 120 volt primary, and after the 120 volt secondary. I probably should have mentioned it in my equipment list, but it slipped my mind.

George

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1 hour ago, Rexp said:

Since i don't regard your HK900 as reference level, its hard to know if this amp is any good for $3K. There seems to be more recommendations in the $5K integrated area from the likes of Copeland, Hegel, Prima Luna & Mcintosh, if any deliver high-end sound at this price point its quite an achievement. 

Gee, what you regard as reference level, is kind of irrelevant. It is an excellent amplifier and I have had everything from Krell, to Threshhold to Audio Research (in fact, I replaced an SP 10 and a pair of VTL 140 monoblocs with the HK because it was better sounding, and not by little bit either. But if you’ve heard the HK and still think it’s sub par, then more power to you. That’s why they make so many different brands and styles of amps.

George

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1 hour ago, gmgraves said:

Gee, what you regard as reference level, is kind of irrelevant. It is an excellent amplifier and I have had everything from Krell, to Threshhold to Audio Research (in fact, I replaced an SP 10 and a pair of VTL 140 monoblocs with the HK because it was better sounding, and not by little bit either. But if you’ve heard the HK and still think it’s sub par, then more power to you. That’s why they make so many different brands and styles of amps.

Ya sorry to rain on your parade, my covid got the better of me. 

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Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Thanks for the review.  MOSFET  output is reminiscent of the old Hafler amps which had a tubey softness.  Based on the op-amp rolling suggestion/capability I assume this unit has a similar sound signature?  

 

Cheers

 

Went to the manual for more info.....

 

9. Technical Parameters

Frequency Response: 10-150kHz (±3dB)
THDN: 0.0232%; 0.006% (A-Weighted)
S/N Ratio: >103dB
Output Power: 215W RMS (8Ω), 290W RMS (4Ω) Both channel drivenDamping Factor: 2000

Max Output Voltage: 55VAC
AC Power: 110/240VAC, 50/60Hz (Factory configure)

Input Sensitivity: 2.25Vrms - 3.6Vrms
Input Impedance: 50kΩ
Input Connector: RCA x 3, XLR x 1, HT Bypass x 1 Output Connector: Preout x 1
Output: Speaker Binding Post 4mm L/R Channel

Dimension: 430W x 125H x 370D Weight: 25KG

Mac Mini 2007: 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo, 3 Gig RAM, 500 Gig 5400 RPM HD[br]OSX 10.6.6, TimeMachine Off, Airport Off, Dedicated to Music[br]HAGUSB USB-->S/PDIF[br]Players: Audirvana, ITunes[br]Music Library: RedBook 16/44 WAV[br]Bryston BP26DA Preamp/DAC[br]Bryston 3BSST Amp[br]B&W 804s Loudspeakers[br]

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Will you please review the monoblocks?

Mac Mini Late 2014 (16G/SSD) w Uptone JS-2 w OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini RAID (JS-2) / Roon

Aqua LinQ w EtherCon cable (Ghent) w Uptone EtherRegen w Uptone JS-2

Aqua Formula xHD w Ocellia RCA Interconnect & Shunyata Delta NR

Kora TB 200 Integrated Amplifier w Audio Art Power Cable

Magico V2 w Ocellia speaker cables w Shunyata Dark Field Elevator & JL Audio E-Sub e110 X 2

All equipment, including subwoofer on Modulum platforms (modulumaudio.com)

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7 hours ago, Rcanoe said:

Thanks for the review.  MOSFET  output is reminiscent of the old Hafler amps which had a tubey softness.  Based on the op-amp rolling suggestion/capability I assume this unit has a similar sound signature?  

 

Cheers

 

Went to the manual for more info.....

 

9. Technical Parameters

Frequency Response: 10-150kHz (±3dB)
THDN: 0.0232%; 0.006% (A-Weighted)
S/N Ratio: >103dB
Output Power: 215W RMS (8Ω), 290W RMS (4Ω) Both channel drivenDamping Factor: 2000

Max Output Voltage: 55VAC
AC Power: 110/240VAC, 50/60Hz (Factory configure)

Input Sensitivity: 2.25Vrms - 3.6Vrms
Input Impedance: 50kΩ
Input Connector: RCA x 3, XLR x 1, HT Bypass x 1 Output Connector: Preout x 1
Output: Speaker Binding Post 4mm L/R Channel

Dimension: 430W x 125H x 370D Weight: 25KG

I once had a Hafler amp. The DH 200, perhaps? It's been a long time. I don't remember it being particularly "soft" but on the other hand, lots of amps use MOSFETs as their output devices and I don't remember any them being characterized as "soft" so I'm not sure that it would be correct to associate the technology with "softness". But I could be wrong about that.

George

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I've been looking at this amp for a while, but was concerned when a reviewer or listener (can't remember) said yes the bass is tight and tuneful, but is also somewhat excessively prominent or emphasized. Any comment?

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Enjoyed the review- nice work George.

 

Home: Melco N1A/2 | EtherRegen+Farad | UltraRendu+Farad | Denafrips Gaia | Denafrips Terminator Plus | Jeff Rowland Coherence II Series 2 pre | Blue Circle Audio BC-202 amp | Raidho XT-1 | 2 Revel Performa3 B112 subwoofers  | PS Audio DS Power Plant 12 

Home Office: IsoRegen+LPS1.2 | Denafrips Iris | Denafrips Venus 2 | Blue Circle Audio SBT preamp|  Eddie Current Zana Deux Super | Hifiman HE-1000SE | PS Audio DS Power Plant 12

Office:  Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE w/preamp module | Blue Circle Audio BC-28 amp | Raidho X-1 | REL T/5x sub

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I purchased the Kinki Studio EX-M7 power amp, based on the same architecture as the integrated but with extra sauce.  It received a 6 Moons "Blue Moon" award for value (link here) and Joël Chevassus, a 6 Moons contributor who also edits Audiophile Magazine, an on-line French publication, actually sold a pair of Luxman monos and replaced them with EX-M7s (he has two systems driving Vivid Audio loudspeakers).  Here's the link to Joël's review (in French).  Anyway, in my system, the EX-M7 replaced a Devialet Expert 220 Pro, so a class A/B now instead of a class D amp.  I am thrilled with the amp and it's a great value.

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An interesting review. I mentioned output impedance in another thread recently. I suspect that this is one of the more significant measurable aspects of an amplifier's performance.

 

Subjectively and anecdotally, I recall I time that I was trying many different amplifiers with the KEF Blade. What I found was that if I compared two amplifiers, both with reasonable specs and sufficient power to drive the Blades, I would tend to prefer whichever one had the lowest output impedance, rather than the one that was ultimately more powerful, best S/N ratio, lowest THD etc.

 

I note the Kinki has claimed damping factor of more than 2000. Although I do note this is the manufacture's claimed figure, and it is not specified at what frequency / ohms load for which this number applies. Even so, if even approximately correct, this is an incredibly impressive number.

 

All of which makes me wonder. One of the best measuring amplifiers on the planet is the Benchmark AHB2, much admired by some with a more objective approach to things. The AHB2 a pure power amp, but it is in a similar price range to the Kinki.

 

The AHB2 does have much better S/N ratio and lower THD than the Kinki, but a damping factor of 350 at 20 Hz / 8 ohms. I wonder how the two might compare subjectively?

Windows 10 PC, Roon, HQPlayer, SOtM sMS-200Ultra, tX-USBultra, Paul Hynes SR4 (x2), Mutec REF10, Mutec MC3+USB, Devialet 1000Pro, KEF Blade.  Plus Pro-Ject Signature 12 TT for playing my 'legacy' vinyl collection.

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As of the time of this post, there's still one available secondhand over at TMR:  

 

https://tmraudio.com/components/integrated-amplifiers/kinki-studio-ex-m1-stereo-integrated-amplifier-exm1-remote/

 

I was very close to nabbing it myself, but am really just starting out on my 2 channel journey.  I think I need to start more modestly and enjoy the upgrade path (like I did with my headphone journey). 

 

 

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I had the Kinki Studio EX-M1 for two weeks, a couple of years ago. It sounded good for its price but the quality of the speaker taps, VC and some channel imbalance made me send it back and buy a used Simaudio Moon 600i instead. 

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