I am a big fan of Dan's gear and in the past have owned several pieces but in this case I would chose the EX-M1+. I have owned one for almost a year and think it is a great amp. Owned an earlier EX-M1 also.
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Kudos on your speakers selection! It seems you have discovered the Variety Prinicple in seeking joy in audio through a variety of expressions. Deciding to diversify in expression of technology was a key factor in finding a greater level of satisfaction as an audiophile.
I do not know if you saw my review of the EX-M1+ at Dagogo.com, but rolling in discrete opamps is a bonus. I will be exploring a new brand of them and will at some point have an update/addendum in regards to opamps. Opamps are cheap relatively, and you can buy a set of them from $100-200 ish. If you are hyper excited by novelty and new rigs, rolling in several different sets of opamps would be like an audio drug; it is exhilarating! There would be a LOT of iterations available to you, especially with those speakers to rotate. I would find that to be a big draw in terms of my thirst to explore new rigs. Most do not have the zeal to continuously build new rigs, but if you do, that would be a variable to provide a lot of fun, and at not too much cost for a few sets. See my other articles on opamp rolling at Dagogo.com.
If you go with the EX-M1+ (I cannot give guidance in comparison to the Modwright, because I have not heard/compared it), then certainly consider upgrading the opamps. There is plenty of discussion about it on the Net, too.
I read your OP Amp reviews in Dagogo and thought you were very thorough and it was quite interesting. My problem is if you have to swap out OP Amps to make a product sound better, why didn’t the manufacturer do it? Is it laziness on the manufacturers part or does it boil down to cost? I would be quite annoyed if I had to swap the OP Amps of a highly reviewed product to make it sound good.
I get it that with tube equipment, swapping the tubes can change the sound as I have done it many times. That is because the better sounding tubes are much more expensive. Is that the same as the OP Amps?
Thanks for all the responses. Yes I have read the opamp articles. Good and interesting information. This Kinki IA really does not need an opamp upgrade but there are improvements if you do so. Just like everything else in this hobby there is always a tweak out there. For everything. Some audible others not so.
Just sharing a friend's experience .... he bought a Kinki EX-M1+ and had very high hopes for the amp. He felt that the amp was 'voiced' in a specific way to increase loudness and certain frequency ranges seemed hyped up. He was using the amp with Harbeth M30.2. I believe he has already sold it and moved on to Hegel (don't know which model).
Again, this is not from personal experience. Just relaying based on feedback from my friend.
I own an M1, M1+ and the M7 stereo amp and over the last 2 years have used them with speakers from Verity, Nola, Spatial, Reynaud, Fritz, Odyssey, Wharfedale and Harbeth. I have not found your friend's characterization to be true with any of them including the Harbeth. Was the Harbeth pairing great maybe not but that is more the Harbeth's voicing than the Kinki's to me. The similarly voiced Wharfedale however was a very good match. As Alan now uses Hegel in his lab the fact that it may be a better pairing than the Kinki would not be a surprise. My Audia Flight integrated was also a better pairing with the Harbeth's and it is voiced to the warmer side like Luxman and Hegel.
As to the op amp rolling Doug referred to it is there if you feel so inclined just like with the input boards for many of the NC500 based amps but it is fine just as it is but if you want to explore a different flavor you are free to do so.
stereo5, The bottom line is that you didn’t believe my review. Shame on you. ;)
I’m going to put in some extended discussion here, not only because I’m disappointed in your skepticism, but as additional info for the community in general in such situations where products can be improved at low cost.
It’s the same as with tubes. Simply because a component can be improved does not mean it was not good sounding in stock form. Do not misread my review and misinterpret.
This is the nightmare for manufacturers who offer such improvements. Instead of fixing the product to allow no easy improvements, they hand the buyer a gift, then it is perceived to be some sort of problem How’s that for a no win for the manufacturer? Perhaps you would be happier if Kinki Studio soldered in cheap opamps like 99% of the companies?
Of course we all want the ultimate build, the ultimate sound for cheap. If the parts are not good enough and better are available, we complain. If the parts are too fancy and deemed unnecessary, we complain. This is the audiophile community, after all. :(
I have actually had to discuss with manufacturers how much of mod availability to a product should be discussed in a review because of this very perception problem in the community. If I put in an arcticle that I have done an improvement, then some yahoo goes to the manufacturer and gripes about it. NO, they can’t just pay a bit more money, or put in the effort, but instead it’s easiest to blame the manufacturer, or make other excuse for not getting their a-- off the couch and doing it.
Simply because theoretically a unit could be improved, there is always a percentage of the community that thinks that is a problem. Either the manufacturer didn’t give us the best, or it doesn’t sound that good because it wasn’t built with this or that part, etc. It can’t simply be that it’s a great product, a good design, and it can be tuned. No, that can’t be. It has to be a problem. :(
Then, there are the component makers who go to the limit, the extreme, and again, a percentage of the community, the objectivists or "thrifty" ones, are railing against them because of purportedly using parts that are not necessary and upcharging. I feel sorry for the manufacturers who have to deal with all this nonsense.
I happen to have in my rig right now, along with the incredible Legacy Audio i.V4 Ultra Amplifiers the older Eastern Electric Minimax Tube DAC Supreme - with Sparkos Labs (among others used) upgrade discrete opamps. It was a GIFT of EE to NOT solder in some lame opamp that would not allow for the INCREDIBLE contouring of the DAC to any system. This community needs to learn that simply because a component is built to a cost point does not mean it has poor sound, AND if the maker generously allows upgrades, it should be seen as a benefit, not a problem.
Now, does this mean the EE DAC is better than all others, a "giant killer" that takes out DACs up to 3x price? Yes, about every fifth system. And, in about 80% of the time it doesn’t. So, will the Kinki Studio EX-M1+ with discrete opamps outperform components that cost 3x? No one knows, comparisons must be done. But, no one wants to do that; they just want to boast about what they think they know. Again, this is the audiophile community, after all. :)
Thank you for the response although I am a bit perplexed. You said I didn’t believe you. Yes, I most certainly did believe you. I tried to digest your findings but I got lost a little bit in the details, hence my questions. Part of my problem is that I would never screw around with different op amps. I have done it with tubes many times however. All my questions were honest but you made me feel like I was talked down to although I know it wasn’t intentional. I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression.
I haven't heard the EX-M1+ but I owned the EX-M1 and although I loved 99% of its sound, it sounded a touch dry to me. I replaced the opamps and this helped but my subconscious kept telling me that something wasn't quite right. The best way I can explain it is that it sounded harmonically incomplete or overdamped and as much as I loved the amp I couldn't ignore this trait and ended up selling it.
Once I hooked up my tube amp again, my subconscious relaxed and the nagging was gone.
However, the new owner of the EX-M1 likes it so much that he has now sold his tube amp.
dkerr, isn't that the way it goes? Audiophiles are always looking for something in the sound they don't have. :)
Indeed! And I'd like to thank you Douglas for your writings on your opamp experiments. They were very interesting and were the catalyst for me trying them in the EX-M1 (as I REALLY wanted to be able to keep it and the opamp upgrades got me SO close).
This looks like an older thread BUT I have owned both the KWI, and the Kinki. I paired them both with Dynaudio C1’s, and in my system the Kinki sounds much better. It took some break in, so be patient. It really opened up and smoothed out the sharp edges after 200 hours or so. It’s got plenty of reserves for the Dyns, and really shows off that lovely tweeter. BTW, I did roll in sparkolabs opamps, and it took the Kinki up a notch. Even more musical, well worth the small effort it took. What’s cool thing to be able to do to change the sound of an SS amp!
The KWI, on the other hand, I found a bit dry, kind of technical sounding with my setup. The thing is super well made, plenty of power, and I owned it for several years until I found the Kinki.