The name is Kinki Studio, but there is absolutely no "kinky" about their products. On the contrary, it is a self-developed, well-tried, solid technique. The company is based in Singapore, but like so many others, the products are built in China, under a vigilant eye from the Kinki Studio people. The name Kinki is the owner's wife's nickname, and can best be translated into something on la "treasure booth".
The range contains both amplifiers and a full-size separate dac, and in this test, the integrated amplifier EX-M1 is on the test bench. As has been said, it has traditionally been built up, but much emphasis has been placed on the choice of components, and although it would be obvious to use cheap Chinese shelf products, Kinki Studio has actually turned its attention to the rest of the world in search of the best solution . And that means that many of the components come from Europe!
And it does not have a built-in dac or Riaa, which is still very often a compromise. The focus is on building a power amplifier and sounding amplifier. And if you want a dac, then it is like a separate device in their range, which is also a better solution.
Technically, the EX-M1 is beautifully constructed as a pure dual mono construction, where the two halves in the amplifier only share the power plug on the back. Even the entry step has a separate transformer per page! The choice of components in the circuits is also of very high quality. As a special thing, the EX-M1 offsets the difference between balanced and unbalanced input. I have only experienced very few products before. Practically, this means that you should not think about how the volume should stand, depending on the signal source. And I can already reveal here that there is no audible difference to whether the signal is balanced or unbalanced. Quite well done by an unbalanced construction, where the balanced signal must pass through a conversion circuit!
And now we are by volume, the EX-M1 is built up as a step-ladder / R2R, where instead of a variable resistor, there is a long series of separate resistors that are inserted into the signal path. And here are a lot of 256 steps! It is also possible to "trim" the gain between 26 and 22 dB with a rocker switch on the back.
The cabinet is a story in itself, and is made of delicious solid pieces of aluminum, and the front in particular has been given the great ride. It is half an inch thick and is milled with narrow, curved grooves throughout the width of the front. And, along with the two large turned aluminum buttons for volume and input / power, you get an extremely good impression of the EX-M1 just by looking at it. Pages, top, bottom and back are also made of the finest aluminum with a cut finish. We are very close to the lavish finish that Norma Audio has! On the back side you will find four inputs, one balanced, and one set of WBT-like speaker terminals on each side. Super nice connectors, made for solid connections.
The speaker terminals are mounted directly on the very solid cooling profiles inside the amplifier. They are not traditionally designed, but instead are a solid lump of aluminum with cut-outs for the transistors and cylindrical openings in height, with corresponding openings in the top and bottom of the cabinet. Instead of using the surface area for the cooling, this is what is called the "chimney effect", where the heat draws air through the cooling profile by means of convection. In this way, cold air is sucked into the bottom and up through the aluminum which gives off heat to the air. Not a solution you often see, but actually an extremely effective way to cool down. And despite being quite high at. A / B operation in the EX-M1, it will at no time become a lukewarm touch!
Kinki Studio EX-M1 sets off with an exceptional musical and natural sound. And I must honestly say that I am surprised how much it adapts to the sound of the reference amplifier set. There is a nuance and detail wealth that in no way stands under the shadow of the three times more expensive amplifier set.
The bass is dense, dry and precise, but also very nuanced, and all details from drum kits and bass guitars or floor bases are clearly clear of each other and there is a pressure that emphasizes the amperage of the EX-M1. However, the level in the deepest base does not reach as far as Norma. But I must honestly say that I didn't think about it after the first 3-4 plates had run, because the definition of the tones is actually shaking good. And besides that it is accurate, there is still a string of heat with it, without it becoming bulky.
In the middle zone, there is a naturalness that becomes very expensive to get better ... in fact, I am a little shocked by the presence and feeling of presence coming from the executive, with the EX-M1. However, the trees do not grow all the way into the sky, because a little bit of purchase is given to the precision, and the performers are not quite as sharp in the sound picture as I am used to, and the sound image is also experienced a little less on all leaders. But there is still a really good sense of the sound image and the space behind and between the speakers.
In the treble, no finger can be put on something, and it is wonderfully free from unoder. The air may not be quite as free and light as the more expensive amplifiers, but it is now quite good for the price! But it is impressive as easy as it slides off up here in the upper frequencies.
But one thing is how it works when you divide it up ... it must also be related. And it does so with the EX-M1, which has a distinctly homogeneous and coherent sound, where you almost forget that it is actually technology that produces the sound. And then the dynamics are nothing short of excellent in a subtle way where things both explode in the soundscape, and at the same time make the small details stand out very clearly. And in these areas, the EX-M1 is in no way in the shadow of the amplifier set in the listening room.
However, it has a slightly "high-spirited" gain, and with a sensitivity of 92 dB on the Audovector's, it made sense to choose low gain of 22 dB so that volume control could be better utilised. Sound-wise, there is no difference, which, as mentioned earlier, also applies to the balanced / unbalanced inputs, which both sound the same and have the same level in terms of volume. And that gives an extremely good impression that Kinki Studio has made the EX-M1 so flexible.
The overall experience with the Kinki Studio EX-M1 is extremely good! And we are not far from the completely sumptuous experience you get with, for example, Norma Audio's top products, both visually and sound-wise. The EX-M1 is beautifully built, and you have the feeling that nothing is left to the case, although of course there has been a budget in the development.
Just as with the sound as sound-wise, it is close to what I know from the amplifier set in the listening room. There is a musicality and naturalness that you usually only get from much more expensive products! However, the EX-M1 cannot fully follow the technical aspects of the music, nor does it have the same profit. But for the price it's all right!
In fact, Kinki Studio EX-M1 is a really good buy, and since I have previously awarded the appointment "Best Buy" to more expensive amplifiers, which did not at all have the same finish as the Kinki, then there is no way around that EX- M1 must have the same ...
Kinki Studio EX-M1 is a "Best Buy" with arrow up!
Principle: Integrated amplifier
Output power: 2 x 215 watts.
Dimensions: 43 x 12.5 x 37 cm (W x H x D).
Weight: 25 kg.
Price: Kr. 22.695, -
Turntable: Michell GyroDec SE, Reed 3P
Pickup: ZYX 4D Ultimate, Benz Micro Ebony TR, Goldring Legacy
Stepup / Riaa: Ortofon ST-80SE, Vincent PHO-700 / Psvane
CD player: McIntosh MCD500
Streaming: Audiophilleo 2
Amplifiers: Vincent SA-T7, Norma Revo PA 150
Speakers: Audiovector SR6 Avantgarde II
Cables: SilverSonic AirMatrix RCA, SilverSonic Q10, SilverSonic D-75, AM USB
Power Filter: Isotek Syncro, PS Audio Dectet
Accessories: Sound InVision panels, SoundSmith EZ mount
The listening room is rectangular, just under 20m2. The speakers play across the room by ½ meter to the back wall and over 1 meter to the side walls. Loudspeakers and listening position form an isosceles triangle, with 2 meters at each link. The room is dampened with absorbents and diffusing panels.
Review by: Mikkel Gige