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exdmd

Kenzie Tube Headphone Amplifier

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exdmd   

kenzieheadphoneamp.png

 

I recently received a base Kenzie headphone amp from Ampsandsound and wanted to share my impressions. Packaging was among the best I have ever seen always a good sign.

Now I do most of my headphone listening through Tidal HiFi and locally stored files. My chain is PC > AudioQuest Diamond USB > Eitr > Blue Jeans S/PDIF > Brooklyn DAC+ > Kenzie > Sennheiser HD800S phones. The HD800S are my reference phones and will be until Sennheiser comes out with something better under $5000. I had been listening through a Vali 2 while waiting for Justin to build my Kenzie, which only took a month including shipping.

The Vali 2 is a good starter amp for the HD800S. If you have never heard a high end tube amp you could be happy with it. It matches well with the HD800S just add a Bifrost Multibit and you are good to go on a budget.

No disrespect to Schiit but I just spent a morning listening switching between the Vali 2 and Kenzie and the Kenzie outclasses the Vali 2 in all respects. Not a surprise.

The first thing I notice is soundstage and imaging. While the Vali 2 soundstage is between the ears and shallow with the Kenzie the soundstage is deep, three dimensional and extends outside my head with good masters. Not all the time mind you but it does happen. I have never had this happen with a phone other than the HD800.

There was an upper treble sibilance with the Vali 2 that is gone with the Kenzie. Midrange is glorious with plenty of air around voices and instruments. I have no problem following complex bass lines.

Treble is accurate and pleasing, and on well recorded rock albums I can follow the drummer as he plays. It is easy to listen deeply into recordings. I have not found anything to fault yet will update if I do. Every component has its warts; takes some time to uncover. With Kenzie you have the choice of the base Kenzie at $1650 or the full on Encore at $2545 with input transformers and upgraded coupling caps. If your budget is under $1800 don't think you are just getting a starter amp. I consider the $1700 I paid a bargain for value received.

Justin is great to work with. Since I only use 300 ohm phones he ordered a transformer with 32/300 taps:

 

kenzie32300.png

 

Yes, the HD800S sound better from the 300 ohm output and not by a small margin. After I was so impressed with the base Kenzie we struck a deal for Justin to build me a set of input transformers in a separate box that would give me sound closer to the Encore. Like I said, he is a good guy to work with.

 

Everyone automatically thinks DNA or Eddie Current for high end amps for HD800 phones but Ampsandsound is gaining fans because they have a great product at a good price and can ship faster than the competition.

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GUTB   

I spoke with the Ampsandsound guys at CAF. I really like their 300B amp, also it has some speaker taps. I think they also had a 2A3 amp too. I wonder if they'll custom wind a transformer for my TH900. I also talked 845s with them -- one of the guys likes 845s, and the other dude seemed afraid of working with voltages that can kill you. If they came out with an 845/211 amp I'd be all over that.

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exdmd   

Never hurts to ask email Justin at justinsweber@ampsandsound.com he is pretty good at responding to emails. The Agartha uses 300B's and is supposed to drive Heresy III speakers fine as well as phones. Would be cool if they made an affordable 211/845 amp.

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