Emath. Apart from a low-contrast small display already under revision, Emei sprang to life fully mature like an ancient goddess without puberty or adolescence. From exceptional build quality to stylish cosmetics in two color choices, unexpected size/power ratio, the designer's track record, attractive pricing and craftily styled sonics, it all adds up really big. Offboarding the upcoming BT/standard DACs means punters chasing just an integrated or amp won't spend on functionality they'll never use. Such smarts plus substance create serious stump when I'm not in the habit of handing out awards to the same brand time and again. Whilst CHoco Sound is technically new, Emei lives happily on the existing Kinki Studio site. That just weeks prior nabbed another award for their brilliant new cables. So I shall hide behind 'less is more', the original display and the spade-allergic right-channel terminal/s (?) of my sample. Let's call it supply-chain issues for Blue Moon awards. You place an order and six months later they've still not turned up. Publishing schedules can't wait forever.

Far more important is that unlike the AMP-23R, Emei packs the raw grunt to have burlier speakers like ours snap to attention. Shoppers can look well past her own price when it comes to transducers. Whilst chassis size falls somewhere between half and three quarters, power and sonics are fully grown up. Resolution is high not extreme, textures are mellow not sharp, tone is more single-ended than push/pull. Self noise is non-existent. If you fancy a bit more pentode in your triode, add the Kinki Earth cables. They're as high value in their category as Emei is in hers. Regardless, Emei is for listeners who in speakers prefer Zu to B&W, in headphones Meze's 109 Pro to Final's Sonorous VI, in D/A converters Denafrips to Chord. Without valve aging, noise, premature roll-off in the extremes, insufficient damping factor or phase shift caused by output transformers, Emei makes sophisticated subtly tube-inspired sound from pure transistors so with all their usual strengths. From emath to empath.

In hindsight, the CH of the brand name might just be for a bit of chocolate after all? If so, it's Chinese chocolate. CH for Switzerland? Move over. CH…CH…CHanges!

Vinshine Audio respond: "Thank you for the positive review of Emei. We're delighted! The spade issue could be due to the smaller-size binding post that might not have sufficient contact area to secure the spade. For Emei we recommend banana plugs. Ken did try the spade connection, it wasn't ideal in my opinion. Personally I like to use banana for safer operation. Short circuiting the spade may result in the amp failing." Alvin Chee