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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
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Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac late 2020 with Ventura 13.3, 40GB RAM, Audirvana Origin, Qobuz Sublime, Singxer SU-6 USB bridge, LHY Audio SW-8 network switch, Sonnet Pasithea DAC; Active filter: icOn Gradient Box at 80Hz/4th-order hi/lo-pass; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Goldmund Job 225; Headamp: Cen.Grand Silver Fox; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Qualio Audio IQ w. sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Carbide Audio footers, Audio Physic Codex, Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Shanling M3 Ultra, Soundaware D300Ref; DAC: Cen.Grand DSDAC 1.0 Deluxe; Preamp/filter: Vinnie Rossi Signature L2 + icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Enleum AMP-23R; Loudspeakers: MonAcoustic SuperMon Mini, Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF + Akiko Audio Corelli; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win10/64; USB bridge: Singxer SU-2; Headamp/DAC: iFi iDSD Pro Signature; Headphones: Final D-8000; Active speakers: DMAX SC5
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl Dp5 transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Gold Note IS-1000 Deluxe; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail: $1'699 incl. shipping
Gotcha. What I thought was the incoming Kinki Studio Mini integrated had become the CHoco Sound Emei. This happened when Vinshine Audio's Alvin Chee emailed "happy Easter Sunday. Kinki Studio's chief Mr Ivan Liu [interview here] decided to launch the Mini integrated amp under CHoco Sound, a new subsidiary brand of Kinki Studio focused on artistically designed high-performance products." Jay's Audio had done the same with LHY Audio, Denafrips with OEM brands. Mr Liu's expansion had been two years coming. That's how long his desktop integrated had been in R&D when August 22nd 2022, his website teased "new product launches: 1/ the new mini integrated amplifier; 2/ the new ultimate preamplifier; 3/ the new ultimate power amplifier; 4/ the new Kinki Studio cables and power cords. The Vision DAC-1 is discontinued. A new version will be introduced in due course." Two days later, Kinki's general manager Ken Ng sent me an equally short note. "Good day. We'll send you a Mini for review once ready." As we'll see, that wasn't until June the following year.
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By September 27th I published this post on our news page: "790 + 791 = $45K: Yup, that's the math of Kinki's new top separates, the 790 preamp [$20K] and 600-watt 791 monos [€25K/pr] teased on their site. In it we read of a quad of 800VA transformers in each mono's basement coupled to 88'000µF of storage capacitance and 8 pairs of lateral Exicon Mosfets.
"The matching preamp offers 0, 3 or 6dB of voltage gain, dual RCA and XLR inputs each, twin RCA and single XLR outputs then mounts its signal-path circuity on an elaborate suspension system to float it above the dual-mono power supply.
"Clearly this company is no longer content just being pegged a high-value brand from mainland China. That tiger has roared, that ship sailed. Of course their current range remains available. It's the new top tier which now hunts adventurous big-game shoppers.
"And who knows, forthcoming reviews could find that the value equation remains because Kinki now compete with Gryphon, Pass and other heavy hitters?"
Those less flush will content themselves with CHoco Sound's new Emei. By March 16th 2023, Alvin and his lieutenant Ken checked in. "We had supply-chain issues which finally relaxed. Now we're in the final stages of first assembly to launch in about a month. By April we should have a spare sample to send."
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