New cosmetics suggest more reason why Mr Liu launched CHoco Sound. Emei's looks don't really fit inside Kinki Studio. Moving the brand identifier onto the gold-anodized bar behind the spy glass off the front is a classy new wrinkle. It segues back to the brand's byline of artistically designed high-performance products. If this were a sonic chocolate bar, what a swell wrapper. Unlike for chocolates, we won't toss this one. Just so, what makes sound remains mostly hidden inside. But since particularly men shop first with their eyes, it's fitting that Emei dresses chic. During the Flintstone era of unkempt man caves, just the sound mattered. Today the vast majority has progressed. Appearance now is an intrinsic part of the total performance package. If looks just sit there, they'll get run over quick. Why spend domestic coin on roadkill? We want ocular flattery not a posthumous posse of flat possums. Going mano i mano with our 25wpc AMP-23R was foregone conclusion. Enleum's is my favorite transistor sound when 45wpc/4Ω suffice. If not, my Enleum with 10 x power is Mr Liu's EX-B7 mono in the bigger downstairs system. If Emei could perform a similar stunt back on Enleum's power turf, it'd be a personally gratifying discovery. Not all chasers after great sound part with $6K for low transistor power. At roughly a third, Emei's math is friendlier. How many sonic crumbs would fall through the cracks because of it?

To insure that none would, on April 14th 2023 Kinki Studio unveiled a new cable range resulting from a "one-year collaboration with a cable manufacturer to develop our own line of studio-grade audio cables". Called Earth, the range encompasses power cords, RCA/XLR interconnects and speaker cables. All sheaths and dielectrics are DuPont PTFE, conductors mono-crystal copper plated "with 2.2 x the thickness of ordinary silver plate" then surface-polished. A central passive ring absorber "effectively reduces EMI above 100kHz". Connectors are copper with thick gold plating. Each terminated cable undergoes 3-stage -196C° cryogenic treatment. Speaker cable terminations are spade or banana. On how the project came about, "at the end of 2021 Mr Liu met Mr. Shoon now of Kinki Studio Cable manufacture in the Guo Chao Hifi group. It's where some of our domestic manufacturers promote Chinese hifi in a space of shared Chinese culture. They hit if off, became friends then began discussing a future collaboration based on the technical R&D backgrounds of each. They're both very persistent about chasing issues of sonic distortion, quality problems like HF fuzziness and slow bass. They decided to cooperate on a range of dedicated studio-grade cables for Kinki Studio products. Their shields and conductors use silver-plated copper, the connectors a four-layer electroplating process of gold over palladium over silver over copper. These are professionally designed and manufactured cables, not quick DIY efforts with hot glue and heat shrink. The EMI trap is a Mr Shoon patent."

This Stunning Series below meanwhile conjures up Goldmund with its cuboid monos; a massive home-theater receiver with the matching preamp; and positioning at the very top of the heap. Certain reader feedback in these pages expresses doubt that Kinki Studio can successfully make this lofty leap in one go without first laying some middle ground. That's for reality to decide, not wishful thinking or know-thy-place class bias.

On effort and ambition, the team around Mr Ivan Liu certainly shows grit and purpose. What more could we ask when simultaneously to a flagship assault, the CHoco branch of the same tree is in bloom? Kinki Studio are turning quite into a Downton Abbey affair of celebrating both downstairs and upstairs. I further admire that for today's model Mr Liu picked not another alphanumeric AMP-23R designator but female name which we might view as a Chinese form of Aimee—it can be—but which also means the highest of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in Sichuan Province. Finally a Sino piece of hifi kit which proudly owns its origins all the way. With the next email, that mountain blew its top. I learnt that like Kinki, Emei embraces a DC-coupled 'forward-feedback' concept to eliminate all signal-path capacitors. The power supply is a 600-watt 'audio-grade' switch-mode type encapsulated in the black metal housing we already saw. This facilitates an utterly unexpected 138wpc/8Ω power rating, "about 180wpc into 4Ω". It's a reminder that power-supply voltages limit/expand how many watts given transistors can safely make; and not to judge a port hole by what it shows. Multiple DC supplies provide separate power to the preamp/power stages, protection and control circuits plus expansion kit. "The all-aluminum metal armor is machined with multi-faceted 3D precision, the K9¹ crystal display hand-polished to be crystal clear and silky smooth". Claimed bandwidth is 5Hz-150kHz ±0.5dB, THD+N 0.002% and S/NR 88dB.


¹ From Wikipedia: K9 glass or crystal is a variety of optical borosilicate crown glass. The number 9 refers to its 9% lead oxide content. K9 glass has high optical clarity and is used in many contexts requiring this characteristic. It has been regarded as a difficult-to-cut material because of its superior mechanical properties. Its high refractive index for a leaded glass and exceptional clarity combined with low cost have made it desirable for chandeliers, lasers, telescopes etc.