Kingko KA-101. Experiences?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by murphythecat, May 28, 2017.

  1. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    It's going to be so hard not to buy this KA-101 if it is only ~$900 shipped.
     
  2. brendans

    brendans Forum Resident

    Location:
    colorado
    Not sure if price or exchange rate has changed but when I purchased mine it was like 760 shipped. Crazy bargain. I was expecting great sound for the price but build quality is outstanding as well.
     
  3. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I can't say as I didn't audition it long enough. King needed it back to give to a customer so I had it for about 1 day. And since he was not sure he could sell it to the west (at that time) there was no point in reviewing it. King likes it more than the 215 but then he is selling them so...
     
  4. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    The price is $6500HKD - so whatever the exchange rate happens to be when you buy will determine exactly how much you pay. At the time of the review it was $833. Also one's individual bank or credit card has better or worse conversions.

    Generally the USD and the HKD are very steady. I use Oanda currency converter and today it seems to be $832.37

    Currency Converter | Foreign Exchange Rates | OANDA
     
  5. Jsbwjm

    Jsbwjm New Member

    Location:
    Buffalo
    New member here. Richard's review drew me in. I'm very intrigued with this amp. I'm also relatively new to tubes and looking to experiment. I have the reasonably efficient Tekton Double Impacts, 98.82dB 2.83V@1m sensitivity that I'm building around.

    I was on King's website and was also looking at the Aidi integrated amps there. The HM-300SE to be exact. Does anyone have the low-down on it?

    Thanks,
    Bill
     
  6. Baaronj

    Baaronj Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Tallahassee, FL
    Thanks so much for this response Richard. A lot of really good ideas here - I really like the idea of trying an AN 300B kit. Part of this is just wanting to hear how a different sounding amp sounds on these speakers. I appreciate your feedback on the KingKo. I'm not totally dissuaded from it - I have quads of Millard EL-84s and lots of pre and rectifier tubes, I'd like to think some brassiness or edge could be taken off with judicious tube rolling. I'm not convinced a livly character is something to avoid with these Altec's, but an excessively forward presentation wouldn't match.

    Man I would love to have heard my LM518ia through this setup. That was a great marriage of SET inner clarity and ballsy, propulsive drive. I think the dark character of the LM stuff would mate well with the Altecs.

    I know you've been a longtime fan of the AN OTO. Have you ever heard the little El84 power amp? (The L1?)

    Thanks again.
     
  7. Baaronj

    Baaronj Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Tallahassee, FL
    Thanks man! Those are actually the original cabinets. Most 9844a monitors were veneered outside (AND inside) with red maple before getting the coats of grey lacquer. Lots and lots of sanding, made new front baffles and shamelessly copied the Shindo Latour style legs.

    Sorry for going off topic guys - this is a great thread.

    Lots more to the rebuild I'm happy to share in a new thread if people are interested.
     
  8. Baaronj

    Baaronj Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Tallahassee, FL
    Looking forward to hearing from some others who pull the trigger and can add their own comparisons and perspectives to Richard's generous contributions.
     
  9. Jsbwjm

    Jsbwjm New Member

    Location:
    Buffalo
    Of course King answered back right away wrt the HM-300SE:

    The 300SE also is a good amplifier. Specialy in mid range, I had tried to compare with KA101. That day was a client request for it. Only the mid range of 300SE is more warm than KA101. But the dynamics and sound stage of KA101 is win. My customer had takes the AK101 Finally.
    Thanks!
    BRs,
    King

    I purchased the KA101. Should have it within 2 weeks.
     
  10. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    This is a brand that King carries in his store here - he is also a dealer as some people will no doubt like a different flavor or beefier amplifiers. But yes they look quite nice to be sure. I should have actually asked King more about them - I didn't realize that AIDI made several different tube amplifiers. I wonder what that 300B SET amp costs? It will cost more to ship I would expect. I am heading to back to North America next week and I will be covering the California Audio Show July 28-30 in Oakland. So I won't have chance to get into the Aidi until I return.

    Heck if the price is right maybe I can trade in one of my components for the 300B amp (it does have a headphone out as well). And it is probably not nearly as pricey as others. I'll ask King and see what some of them sell for. I've never heard of this brand - but then heck a few months ago I never heard of the KingKo.
     
  11. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Hey BaaronJ - well I forgot about AIDI the amp brand King is a retailer for in Hong Kong and they make 300B. I have just sent King a message asking about that brand and whether they even make them for US voltages. 300B is usually autobias as well and it also has a headphone out. So I too am curious about it. 300B amps are usually on the soft side of the spectrum (not out front kind of amps). LM makes one but it is pricey at $5kUS. King sold those LM 300Bs so this could be a good budget option.

    To your other question - I have only heard the Kit One which I really liked and the Kit AN E (which I didn't much like). ANKits will be at CAS this July so I hope to give a bunch of them a good listen because some of those kits are drool inspiring when it comes to parts quality for the money. Apparently the instructions are ridiculously good for kit builders. Which I would definitely need.
     
  12. TomR

    TomR New Member

    Location:
    USA
    I received my unit yesterday. Big shout out to RGA for the heads up (been following his posts for years, we're of like mind sound wise).

    Even though I have the complete set of recommended upgrade tubes, so far I'm listening to the stock tubes with insufficient break-in. What I'm hearing is remarkable (only through Grade RS2 headphones so far, no speakers yet). Right now I'm in another home that doesn't have all my main gear (other headphones, fancy power cords, interconnects, vinyl, etc), just my iPod playing ripped AIFF files of favorite music (rock, jazz, blues, classical).

    With proper break-in, better tubes and all the other fancy audiophile stuff, I think this unit is going to blow my feeble, old mind.

    For anyone on the fence, the price for this level of quality and cool looks (IMHO) is ridiculous. I think the idea of offering optional different color faceplates is neat. Oh yeah, the packing is superb, double boxed, could handle some pretty serious drops. The free shipping time was also remarkably short (no more slow boats to or from China). Signature required.
     
  13. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    It's terrific value for the dollar - The headphone amp was really a nice surprise and basically an afterthought throw in. King likes to say it's an integrated amp with a free headphone output. King uses Grado headphones so it is probably an especially well suited headphone. For $850 including shipping it's pretty ridiculous. Sound, build, looks, easy to use. Meters.

    I wish you could change the meter lights to different colour lights - perhaps you can. It would be nice to say have red, blue, green - or even multi changing lights. But you can't have everything I suppose.
     
  14. TomR

    TomR New Member

    Location:
    USA
    One issue I have with both my Grade RS2 and Sennheiser HD600 headphones (impedance switch set appropriately for each model) is that I have no volume range; earsplitting at 8 o'clock. Is there something wrong with my unit?
     
  15. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    I just tried mine with headphones (AKG K550) and mine gets too loud at 10 o'clock with CD as source. I do not usually listen to music with headphones so I won't comment on quality. Note: My AKGs are very bass shy (I mainly use them to listen to TV when my wife is studying nearby).
     
  16. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    The volume control has fairly high gain. This just means that things get very loud at 10 o'clock on high sensitive speakers and on lower sensitive speakers at around 12 o'clock. This is common with most anplifiers.

    The headphone amp part is a resistor so the three choices given all sound the same bit have lower and lower output. So just try whichever one sounds the.best for you headphone. I have both Senn HD 600s and AT 50s and the range i can use is betwen 7-9 oclock and it will get very loud.

    But there is still a range of volume from soft to medium to loud. It's an integrated amp first and a headphone amp second. If you are buying it mainly as a headphone amp it's probavly better to look at Woo or something...but then they aren't intefrateds.
     
  17. TomR

    TomR New Member

    Location:
    USA
    Thank you both. I thought the headphone output came from separate secondaries of the output transformers. If it then passes through attenuating resistors for various headphone impedances, that's a great piece of information. I'll upgrade those resistors to higher quality ones that put my normal listening level at 12 o'clock for my various phones. I have other, better headphone amps but the Kingko is no slouch, so I disagree with you there. After my adjustments, I'll be perfectly happy.
     
  18. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    Just remember that if you do change tje resistors and then switch to integrated amp mode to turn the volume down. If it is 8 o'clock on headphones and the cord comes out no problem...but at 12 o'clock there would be a problem...

    Certainly there will be better dedicated headphone amps. Woo Audio is a popular example. But I do like the simpler approaches where possible. Higher end parts yield better sound. Heading to CAS tomorrow night. Cheers all.
     
  19. TomR

    TomR New Member

    Location:
    USA
    Of course. Thanks.

    Not sure if I understand your logic. If you feel the integrated amp is a giant killer, why would you not feel the same way about the headphone function; same circuitry up to the output transformers, headphone is tapped off the same transformers and through a resistor?

    Anyway, no matter. I have no interest in spending the big bucks that many of these highly touted dedicated headphone amps command. I look forward to hearing the Kingko with a nice pair of efficient speakers I'll be building, it's main function once I get there.

    Thanks again for bringing this product to our attention.
     
  20. rockytophigh

    rockytophigh New Member

    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    I ordered one of these upon reading this thread. My speakers are not in yet, and I'm listening on a simple set of JBL floor standers. I swapped out the tubes as recommended and wow....I'm super impressed. I will post more feedback when my speakers arrive.
     
  21. rufusblues

    rufusblues Member

    Richard,
    Being that you have stated the Kingko amp even comes 'close' to the Line Magnetic SET you recently sold, as you recently stated in another blog thread, is certainly saying something. I am using a First Watt F6 amp to drive a pair of open baffle speakers which are about 93db/watt efficient. I have used many different types of tube amps over the 40 odd years of being into this hobby, driving a variety of speakers. As wonderful as the F6 is (and I do like it a lot!) I am curious about this Kingko amp, especially using the EL84 tube, which is not a an output tube I have experience with, but one which usually gets very positive results. I am using two Rythmik subs to augment my open baffle speakers, so the deepest bass is not of concern. I wonder if you think the Kingko amp would be a fun, worthwhile tube amp to try out, or do you think it would be 'outclassed' by the F6? I would be using the David Berning designed LTA MZ2-S as preamp. Considering that you are yourself using the Kingko amp in a significantly more costly system than mine, I would venture to assume that you would not think it outclassed by the First Watt F6 (especially using better, nos tubes)....but rather maybe more a matter of personal taste....?
    Thanks!
     
  22. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    As you know regardless of price any given piece of gear won't be the answer gor everyone. Reviewers should ve trying to find good value in products and that to me is what the Kingko represents. It's not the last word in amplifiers but it gets the main things right and more right than several more costly amps that I have heard. I like it more than the LM 211Ia and 216Ia voth of which cost double. And those were already some of the best around in their price range. Neither of which have headphone output, autobias, switchable voltage, preamp in, meters.

    Part of the reason for changing the 219Ia was not purely about sound. The 219Ia has the edge in sound. But it's close enough where I prefer having much more space, less pricey tubes, and the ability to transport it back to Canada one day. And when I do upgrade it can serve as a very good headphone amp.
     
  23. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    As a follow-up to the KingKo. I have purchased the Audio Note M3 Phono Balanced (nearly 15 times the price of the KingKo!) and run the KingKo Ka-101 as power amp. I am happy to report that there is no noise or added hum with the pairing. The turntable is spooky quiet. just set the KingKo to zero volume flip the switch to preamp in and off you go. King mentioned that he was going to work on a preamp down the line so it might be a nice upgrade in the future.

    When you start putting piles of tube gear together I often worry about hums and microphonics so I am please that with all the tubes in my set-up noise is not a problem. Well except for the air-conditioner. That can't be helped. It's 33c and 85-95% humidity daily here.
     
  24. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    My Kingko 5AR4 rectifier tube started arcing on me a couple of days ago after about 3 months of relatively light use. I've now got an RCA 5U4G in it's place that King recommended but I see a lot of internet posts saying that a 5U4G will shorten the life of other tubes compared to a 5AR4? What do people think? Has anyone tried a NOS 5AR4 in place of the Kingko one with good results?

    Also my 5U4G glows blue for a couple of seconds on startup then clears - anyone else using a 5U4G have this with the Kingko?
     
  25. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I believe the Kingko has a 6 month warranty on the tube so he should send you another one if it fails. Unfortunately manufacturers have no control over the quality of the tubes. One of my 845 tubes failed within 2 months with my 219IA and the next one was fine (as were all the others) for 3 years until I sold it. I can't say with regard to the 5UG4 messing the life of other tubes. Not heard of that. The EL84 is a long lasting output tube though compared to say EL34. My amp so far has been trouble free. It now serves as my power amp.
     
    MC Rag likes this.

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