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Kenwood Basic C1

Stereo Control Amplifier (1983-90)

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Kenwood Basic C1


A full-control unit, the Basic C1 is fully up to the high standards set by its partner, the Basic M1 power amplifier. It contributes clarity, smoothness and the ability to process the most varied and dynamic program material with accuracy.

Now that high quality MC cartridges are becoming more affordable, the freedom to select a cartridge to suit the needs of the music is an important advantage in a preamplifier. The Basic C1 adjusts to the preferred cartridge automatically, according to the input selector that is activated.

This system is realized through a new high gain, high stability phono equalizer amplifier that has a dual-input function. Its input stage employs two high-gain FET's while the output is a new low noise IC.

By changing the negative feedback value and impedance automatically, this new equalizer amplifier allows cartridge selection without any reconnecting inconvenience. In addition, optimum noise and distortion ratings are maintained for both types of cartridge.

Many preamplifier designs are disappointing when it comes to actual listening tests, in spite of apparently good performance data. But the Basic C1 preamplifier is one model that will shine out in any such test. S/N ratios and RIAA accuracy are, of course, excellent.

But it is the ability of the preamplifier to process signals transparently and smoothly, without any trace of harshness or coloration, that makes it outstanding. It can provide a wealth of musical fine detail especially in the very high frequency range, which is often a disaster zone for preamplifiers. Yet it can handle highly complex and heavy dynamic music cleanly, too.

With a super low noise buffer amplifier to feed it, the tone control circuit is a negative feedback, capacitor resistor type that produces no gain and provides excellent tonal quality and low distortion. At the center detent position, totally flat response is obtained.
At a point 30dB below maximum vol┬Čume level, a 100Hz signal can be boosted from zero dB to 9dB for fine tonal balancing when listening at average to low volume levels.

To prevent shock noise when the control amplifier is turned on or off, a relay circuit at the output releases the signal only after all circuits are stabilized.

The Basic C1 is equipped with every control that you will need for the maximum enjoyment of every music source. There are two tape inputs (with independent circuits for each) and two tape monitors. Dubbing is accomplished from Tape A to Tape B, Aux and Tuner selectors and Phono MM and MC cartridge selectors, as well as Tape selectors, each have an LED indicator above them.

The control panel is simplicity itself, reflecting the clear thinking that exists at Kenwood about what control amplifier priorities really are. The panel is laid out for easy use. And inside, the same philosophy of simpler the better holds for the circuitry.


Frequency response: 1Hz to 250kHz

Total harmonic distortion: 0.004%

Input sensitivity: 0.25mV (MC), 2.5mV (MM), 150mV (line)

Signal to noise ratio: 70dB (MC), 87dB (MM), 108dB (line)

Output: 1V (Pre out), 5V (Pre out Max)

Dimensions: 440 x 78 x 326mm

Weight: 4.2kg


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Reviewed Apr 26th, 2017 by citation16zz

This is just as good if not better than my Yamaha CX600U preamp. Take a look at the specifications for this Kenwood Basic C1 Preamp, they are rare for that time and today they rate very high with modern equipment that is out there.

I was totally surprised as the amazing clear/uncolored sound that this preamp produced. It may be a gem that people do not know about because like all 'gems' they are under rated or were put aside because of subjective opinions or another higher end component may have stolen its limelight!

If you find out, get it, incredible component to have in your audiophile chain of equipment. Japan Made what else can be said!

Reviewed Aug 20th, 2014 by guest

Look at the specifications! I challenge you to find another pre amplifier with these specifications within todays price range. I have even seen pre amplifiers costing several thousand dollars that don't even come close to the Basic C-1 specs. I have owned mine since around 1987 and it has performed flawlessly, while the C-2 that I purchased around the same time went out only a few years after purchase. Simplicity is where it's at!



re: Basic C1

I've had the C1 pre-amp since 1985 paired with an M2 amp and they've both performed flawlessly ever since with no issues.

This website is not affiliated with or sponsored by Kenwood. To purchase Basic C1 spares or accessories, please contact the company via their website or visit an authorised retailer.