M for...

Mod. It could lead to modernity, mode or Modena to involve some travel to Italy. It could also be short for modification to get us closer at hifi like ModWright. How about modularity?

There I was fêting the arrival of my new Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos which had languished in Irish customs for 6 months before being delivered. When one amp suddenly exhibited just a bit of power-supply hum on its speaker—it hadn't originally—I decided to engage its ground-lift feature. That was indicated by the word 'float' next to a hole in the rear panel. Stopping music signal, I put my ear next to the speaker's mid/woofer for a 'before' reference. Then I inserted a short screw driver into the hole to trigger the subcutaneous switch for 'after'.


Burn mark on the screw driver. All lights out. House circuit breaker tripped. Something had shorted. What the funk?

Emailing the ever-helpful Alvin Chee of Vinshine Audio as Kinki's global distributor, his reply started with three different letters than mod. "OMG!" It turns out that the ground-lift feature remains pending. There was no switch behind the hole as yet. This potentially hazardous oversight will get fixed promptly with a firm sticker to conceal both hole and 'float' until such time that the feature is added. But that's not the point of today's missive. Shit happens. It's the Tao. I didn't get shocked.

The point is that to determine damage, I extricated the output stage from the casing to better look for any visual evidence of fused parts. Assembled, I couldn't see anything wrong. Disassembled I still can't. Having already replaced the external mains fuse and two internal rail fuses, the amp comes up fine again into standby. Then it simply shows a red error message for 'on'. Now we've arrived at the reason for today's feature. Modularity. Unlike most amplifiers I've ever seen, Ivan Liu's flagship is modular. One can easily remove the entire back panel to which mounts the above output stage. One can do the same for the central power supply with its big mains transformer. In the event of damage, there's no need to ship back the whole amp. Just remove the module which needs replacing.

Granted, I would have preferred to appreciate said modularity from a more theoretical distance. But as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Now I know first hand just how easy it is to dismantle this design with a basic 2.5mm hex key and standard Philips screwdriver. I really wish more designers adopted this modular credo for their electronics. Shipping out big heavy kit is no fun on the freight-forwarder, wallet or recipient. Rushing out a far more compact sub assembly is far easier and more convenient.

So how about it? Can we have more mmm…modularity? Please?

Just sayin'….