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Kenwood KA-801

High Speed DC Integrated Amplifier (1980)

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Kenwood KA-801

Specifications

Power output: 110 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)

Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz

Total harmonic distortion: 0.015%

Damping factor: 100

Input sensitivity: 2.5mV (MM), 200mV (line)

Signal to noise ratio: 90dB (MM), 105dB (line)

Output: 200mV (line)

Speaker load impedance: 4Ω to 16Ω

Dimensions: 440 x 153 x 407mm

Weight: 17.5kg

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Reviews

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rating
Reviewed Apr 14th, 2017 by Slyde

Clean, powerful old`school amp, built to last. I purchased mine new back in 1981, along with the matched KT-815 tuner. Both have been going strong ever since, with near constant use for 36 years! About 8 years ago I did send it off to Terry Dewick (famed McIntosh Guru) who went through it, with minimal restoration needed to return to as new specs.

To deal with additional inputs, I have the A Tape Monitor interconnected to a DBX 400XG Route Selector. From that, I can select from among various signal processors and inputs, including MP3 player, etc.

Not easy to find a good one, but worth the wait if you're looking for such a beast.

rating
Reviewed Oct 26th, 2016 by del20nd

Beautiful amp!

This is the second from the top of the line in Kenwood's final release in the silver face era of amps. It was only sold between 1980 and 1981.

It looks amazing. The X01s are bit more minimalist than the X100 series that preceded them. The face plate on the 801 is brushed and the knobs and paddles have a frosted look. Only a few details, like the knob indicators, have a glossy sheen: the rest of the face is matte. The unit has a metal body painted in a speckled charcoal grey instead of yesteryear's wood veneer. Two watt meters adorn the upper left side (these not present on the top of line KA-907.)

For those who care, the face plate is about 3/8ths of an inch thick, and all of the knobs and controls are solid machined aluminum. High quality stuff.

The overall effect is an amp that is showy and at the same time understated. It's the tipping point between silver amps and the reclusive, black digital amps of the mid 1980s.

Sound wise, it is very clean. The noise floor is undetectable until you crank the volume nearly all the way up. Pitch black. Bass is punchy and highs are clear. To be honest, the sound of the amp doesn't make that much of an impression on me, and that's a good thing. The more transparent an amp is, the better.

The biggest downfall of this amp is the inputs. You have one lonely auxiliary, one tuner (can also be used as aux) and two phono inputs. There are also two tape inputs which could be finagled to work as regular inputs in a hacky way (or perhaps hook up your cassette, reel-to-reel, reverb generator, or graphic equalizer? Anyone?), but this is not ideal. Realistically, you'll probably need a splitter.

Controls are a mixed bag, but at least well implemented. I use the 20db attenuation most often (as a mute switch), usually leave tone defeat on, and honestly cannot tell what the DC coupling switch is supposed to achieve. The tone controls are acceptably well done, and it's nice to have the 'mono/stereo' option in certain scenarios, even if they included a pointless 'reverse' speaker option as well. Also present is the A/B speaker selector, headphone output, loudness (a bass booster,) and the tape and input selectors.

Special considerations for the used market: I've yet to find one of these in perfect working order with all paddle switches intact. You will likely have to hunt down replacement switches (very few of which are interchangeable between different functions,) or repair existing switches. I was lucky enough to find a cheap donor unit, but it took patience. Broken paddle switches will still function, but it's sort of ugly when they get snapped off.

It goes without saying: if you find a cosmetically nice KA-801, it is not child friendly.

Additionally, this 36+ year old unit should be recapped if it has not been done already. It is worth it, and a fairly straightforward job for those so inclined. Circuit boards inside this model are very well marked! Light bulbs are always in question on units this old, but also straightforward to replace. Finally, one of my two units had a faulty relay and the other had had its relay replaced under warranty. This caused the amp to keep playing even after turned off (and unplugged!) until the caps drained. It was otherwise functional.

Bottom line: if you're into vintage hifi, can find a well maintained unit, or are patient enough to fix a unit up, this is a great amp to have. It looks very classy in a living room or listening room, especially when paired with the matching KT-815 tuner.

rating
Reviewed Jun 01st, 2013 by JohnnyCrash8

Very powerful and clean sounding amp. It has excellent control of my 12 woofers and has a very transparent sound. Construction wise, it is very easy to work on. This was designed to last and is solidly built all around. I will definitely buy a second one if it appears at the right price.

 

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