AmpsandSound Kenzie Headphone Amplifier
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- Headphone Amplifier
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AmpsandSound Products Are Handmade In Small Batches and Go Through Extensive Quality Control
AmpsandSound headphone amplifiers are the truest expression of their mission to bring tested designs and minimalist values to personal audio.They have chosen to utilize only single-ended, zero feedback tube designs to bring back warmth and musicality to personal audio. Each model balances the desire for power, the need for quite operation and the desire for wide bandwidth. The ampsandsound sonic signature closely approximates the best aspects of the classic tube sound of the 50s (maximum midrange bloom), supplementing it with a modern bass signature and transient speed.
Like many of their products, the Kenzie headphone amplifier evolved from earlier designs – in this case, rave reviews about the SE-84’s headphone section. The inevitable question followed; why didn’t they build a dedicated headphone amp?
After some research, they came to the conclusion that a headphone amplifier building on the much loved Darling circuit was the right choice for them. The outstanding performance of the Kenzie headphone amplifier is made possible with custom wound ultra-high quality output transformers providing amazing frequency extension.
The Kenzie does not use a voltage network, and has more than enough power to drive even the most difficult headphones. They chose 32 ohms and 600-ohm output taps to allow use with the widest variety of headphones; everything from Grado Labs, HiFiMan, Audeze, MrSpeakers, Sennheiser, and Beyerdynamic.
The Kenzie showcases the transformers on the chassis to frame in the unique 1626 single-ended tubes. They have included an ALPS volume pot to allow attenuation and simplify the signal path.
The Kenzie is one of the sweetest-sounding headphone amplifiers on the market. The 1626 is commonly referred to as the “Poor Man’s 300B”; offering a similar level of warmth, texture, and soundstage depth.
The 1626 is a WWII-era tube that was used as a transmitter tube in radar installations. The design is shy on pure output, but offers layers of texture and drive, and is paired with a massive choke and robust output transformers for ultra-quiet operation. As with all AmpsandSound products, parts selection was crucial during this build and each chosen not for price, but for best quality and synergy.
The Kenzie is handmade in Southern California with U.S.-sourced parts and custom hand-wound output transformers.
Size W/H/D: 16x13x7
ampsandsound believes in the non-boutique approach to manufacturing. Resistors are 2% or better and over spec’d, Caps are made by industry leaders with 5% or better ratings, wiring is Teflon, and output transformers include large core to resist saturation and provide a minimum 20hz to 20khz on a bench. Ultra wide frequency response, rock steady RMS provides a non-fatiguing sound.
All ampsandsound amplifiers are built on a thick plate of anodized aluminum which is 10”x14” and placed into a hard wood plinth/chassis made of solid ¾” thick Eastern Walnut. The plate is 1/8” thick and has nearly no deflection. We don’t outsource our work at ampsandsound. We have the depth of the chassis large enough to allow for full sized chokes to be used without cluttering the clean look up top.
Ample Power Supply
All ampsandsound amps employ an extremely stiff power supply. The power supply chosen exceeds specified capacitance and always includes robust choke filtering. We recognize the importance of reducing DC ripple in creating life-like sound stages.
High Quality Transformers
Output transformers are over spec’d and ultra high quality. We consider the output transformer as important as any other design choice. When buying any tube amp, the weight of output transformer can be directly proportional to the quality of sound. In general, larger outputs have larger cores which are less prone to saturation and have higher inductance. Larger cores and greater inductance allows the transformer to carry a low-end signal with minimal distortion. These transformers are bench tested to perform down to 20hz to up to 20khz. Even if your speakers only go to 50hz like a LS3/5a having an amp with can drive that low impedance signal is pivotal in creating the whole sound stage.
Internal wiring is done with silver plated Teflon and silver solder. All wiring is held down and tied neatly with obsessive detail. We prefer never to see a loose wire… always tied down with a service loop and always dressed with function dictating form.
Our products are handmade. Parts selection matters deeply to us, sourcing the highest quality parts that can be found without getting distracted by esoteric or misleading specs. We have chosen parts with preference to domestic suppliers including our signature top plates, chassis, transformers, and PCBs.
Quality, not Quantity
We do not want to sell these in large quantity. We seek to build something worth passing down and demanding use. We believe each of our amps are statement pieces, each design choice was made with care. Our design esthetic was masculine and purposeful… nothing by accident.
We have specifically chosen to build based on the best practices of production. Switches, fuses, IEC sockets and binding posts are common and replaceable with off the shelf parts should a need ever arise. Tube Sockets are high temp ceramic, PCB is super thick with through hole construction, resistors, and capacitors are all over spec’d intended with long trouble free use.
Dramatically Smooth Sound
The sound is smooth, liquid without sacrificing detail. We recently demonstrated the final production version at a small listening party paired with our Cornscalas’ and everyone was awestruck with the size and depth of the sound-stage.
The Aluminum top-plates and hardwood chassis were made large enough to allow appropriate component layout with specific attention to grounding and signal wire location. We chose to use domestic hardwoods, Eastern walnut, Mahogany, and other exotics to provide the solid foundation to build excellent sound. Exotic hardwoods can be chosen at additional costs.
Special Attention to Grounding
Each amspandsound amp is built with attention to grounding schemes/ star grounding and use of common ground contributing to its ultra-low noise floor and wide bandwidth.
Tube Rolling is a great way of getting to know your amp as each tube has its own sonic signature. The reality is we are here to enjoy music… if rolling, try 1 type at a time… driver or power and allow several weeks to really hear the tube before changing it again. So often we chase a different sound, rather than a better sound. A great amp or speakers are meant to be transformative, so let the music play!
Custom wound ultra-high quality US sourced transformers
32 and 600 ohms output jacks via separate ¼” Jacks
Utilizes WWII era 1626 triode tubes
ALPS volume pot
Choke filtered power supply
Custom walnut chassis with ebony corners and hand rubbed finish
Triode Strapped output
Easy to drive input
Input tube: 12SL7 or equivalent
Output tubes: 1626 or VT-137
Cathode Bias/automatic bias allows for easy tube changes without adjustment.
Compatible with 32 ohm-300 ohm headphones using the 32 ohm 1/4″ jack.
Headphones above 300 ohms will benefit from using the 600 ohm 1/4″ jack.
Input impedance is 10K ohm with alps pot, .5v for full power
Input Sensativity 520mV peek for full power out.
32ohm power: 200mWatts RMS @ 1khz, 20.5VRMS
Frequency bandwidth 20hz -3db to 12khz -3db full power
Frequency bandwidth 20hz -3db to 18khz -3db @ 160mw output
Noise on 32ohm tapp @ 500uV
600ohm power: 250mWatts RMS @ 1khz, 12.5VRMS
Frequency bandwidth 20hz -1db to 18khz -3db full power
Noise on 600ohm tapp @ 1.4mV
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