I’ve run the Kinki EX-M1 for about 300 hours now. The up-front characteristics of the amp I gave in my first feedback still holds: Very quiet, a silky-smooth presentation with complete control while at the same time so easy flowing, transparent – as if not being present in the audit chain at all. Tonality-wise, after some 300 h, voices and instruments have developed and become just right! I’m extremely impressed by this amp's sound! Look and feel is also great!
During my listening session I noticed that the amp is sensitive to polarity. In Norway we have what is called an IT (Isolated Terra) power distribution net with a “floating” earth potential (to be centred exactly between the two poles, however seldom is due to local area errors), and sockets that allows for changing the power polarity by turning the stick 180 degrees. The amp will sound very well however plugged in, but hit that correct polarity and the amp really excels into perfection. The amp’s full potential will not be reached/experienced if you get the polarity wrong!
Any improvement areas? Initially I thought that perhaps a tad more bass weight would help to create a bit more foundation, however after further listening I’ve concluded that the calibration is just right. Actually, I cannot identify any weaknesses or shortcomings for the EX-M1. The EX-M1 works wonderful with my Harbeth SuperHL5 plus loudspeakers, however, perhaps match my Buchardt S300 MKII even better! (The Buchardts is a tad on the warm side).
As commented, I have always preferred tubes as I think a good tube amp can bring more organic life, presence and weight to vocals and acoustic instruments (I have Cary 805Cs running RCA 845s with Duelund caps and also a Mastersound Compact 845). I think a key virtue of a very good amp is to go from “portrayal” of objects and details in the soundstage to make the objects themselves come alive, tonally sound natural and act as genuine sources for the reproduced sound (the "portrayal" brings you more into analysis (looking at, observing), the latter makes you foremost listen to the music (as being there)). When I listen to the EX-M1 it really draws me into the music! Tubes may still offer me more passion, however this is nothing that springs to mind when listening to the EX-M1.
I would say this is a first time experience for me with a non-tube design. So with no compromises, to me this amp is just fantastic value for money and I'm very happy to be an EX-M1 owner! Thanks! :-)
Credit: Tom from Oslo, Norway