Kenwood THX combo KC-X1 preamp-tuner and KM-X1 6 channel 100W amp
I recently came across this set of THX preamp-tuner + 6 Channel amp from Kenwood.
One of my colleagues at work (yes, I have a full time job as well, as blogging is still not a source of income...) has inherited this beast from his late brother-in-law and asked me for an opinion.
Being on the market for a new preamp, I though this might be the solution to my search. (It ended up being too big to fit into my AV unit...so the search continues, altough I think I am closing in, more on this later!)
It was an expensive piece of gear at the time and came with a collection of Pioneer speakers that I will review when I have a chance to listen to them. (BTW, the whole lot is up for sale: if anybody is interested, get in touch with me before we put it on eBay...)
I believe this was one of the first THX certified system of this kind, and deliver a lot of power it does, with 6 amps rated at 100w continuous.
The preamp-tuner is very well made and has tons of inputs and output, including a phono stage, a rarity today, hence the proliferation of independent phono stages on the market. All functions are remotely controlled and it comes with a microphone to calibrate the system to your room and speaker setup: grandiose!
Now, for the sound:
I did a few extensive listening sessions on LPs and CDs in two channel configuration, using either the KM-X1 amp or my Bryston 3B.
I have to admit that the combination of the KC-X1 and the 3B was definitely worse than my NAD 7140 driving the 3B. Too much treble and distortion in the upper frequencies.
Using the tone controls (sacrilege!!!) I improved things by reducing the treble by 2dB and boosting the bass by 2dB as well, re-establishing a better tonal balance, but it was still very tiring over time, probably because of a high level of IMD or third harmonic distortion.
Nevertheless, things improved when using the complete system: it is conforting to confirm that these two have been (well) designed to work together.
Lots of power and dynamics, certainly good for home theater use, but probably not your best setup for a combined THX/audiophile setup as lacking the finer details.
The built quality is second to none, way better that Far-East electronics of today.
I have taken a few internal photos for your enlightment
I have known and respected Ken for about 30 years now, so I was quite keen to read his review of the Paris Hifi Show.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to reconnect with him at the Show.
But, I was quite chuffed reading his prose in HiFi News February issue(I always enjoy his prose, as he is a real writer, AND he is not afraid to publish his own opinions...), as we have spotted some of the very same products as being relevant: Vimes, Aerosystem by Jarre, Soledge Maestro, Elipson (bien sur...) and Pierre Riffaud's turntables for instance...
Update on 16/04: Well, I have now received the March issue of HiFi News, and here he is again, showing to the world his collection of gear and software.
I cannot recommend you more than rush to your newsagent and buy your own copy now.
This one will be sold out for sure!
And the good news are that my wife realised that I am not that mad after all !!!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.