A tiny amp with a pleasing sound
- Warm sound, tiny footprint, great looks
- Distortion at higher volumes, warm sound may deter purists, annoying banana plug connectors
If you want a tiny amplifier, have some efficient speakers and don't mind a different interpretation of your music, give the T20 a try.
Price$ 330.00 (AUD)
Kingrex's basic Class T amp is enigmatic. It's tiny, but it has enough power to easily drive efficient speakers to uncomfortable volume levels. It's a solid-state amplifier, but it has the warm sound of a vintage valve amplifier. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach to audio amplification: it's a great little niche product.
Class T amplifiers are a relatively new addition to the high-end stereo amplifier market; they were previously reserved for low-power audio needs in car stereos and televisions. Their advantage lies in their incredibly high power conversion efficiency — far in advance of traditionally power-hungry Class A amplifiers. This has many benefits, including reductions in size, weight and cost due to more compact circuitry and smaller heatsinks.
Enter the T20. It's a mere 18 centimetres long, 13 centimetres deep and less than four centimetres tall. A far cry from the gargantuan Harman Kardon AVR 645 and other units that are most commonly seen in the racks of home entertainment enthusiasts, the T20 has a purer purpose. It doesn't attempt to do anything other than turn a simple stereo audio signal into musical ecstasy.
At its core, the T20 is a pretty simple device. Two analog RCA inputs feed in sound from a source, it's amplified, and finally it's fed out to speakers through the two sets of outputs. These outputs use banana plugs, which might cause consternation for those who prefer bare wire.
It's able to output 23 Watts per channel at 4 Ohms, or 13 Watts at the more common impedance of 8 Ohms. This isn't a large amount of power, making the amp unsuitable for high-power or inefficient speakers. In addition, these values are calculated at a harmonic distortion level of 10%. This is a notably high number, but it's important to remember this isn't an amplifier that aims for transparency or audio fidelity. Realistically, the T20 is rated at 12 Watts per channel at 4 Ohms and 7 Watts per channel at 8 Ohms, with a harmonic distortion level of 0.1%.
Numbers aside, it all comes down to how the amplifier performs in the real world. And in smallish spaces, it performs admirably. Powering a set of JohnBlue JB3 full-range speakers, which are fairly efficient, the T20 was able to fill a small room with sound acceptably.
The T20 has a very warm, smooth sound, similar in some ways to a valve amplifier (which these days very much reside in the audiophile realm). It's not the most balanced amplifier to choose if you're trying to analyse nuances within music. What it does do well, is lend audio a pervasive full-bodied character. Switching to another amplifier, music sounds crisper and sharper but doesn't have the warm quality that is the hallmark of the T20.
Consider the T20 if you've got some efficient speakers and don't need party-blasting volume. It's unobtrusive yet stylish enough to be a centrepiece in your lounge room, and its warm, rich sound will please anyone who isn't worried about perfect sound quality.
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