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Amplifier Kenwood KA-4050R review

The remotely-controlled KA-4050R closely mirrors the older KA-4040R, and so its stylised appearance is as predictable as its internal design. Once again a digital encoder lurks behind its sculptured facia, scanning the rotary input selector for your choice of either MM/MC disc, CD, tuner, aux or two tape sources.

These inputs are then routed via a cluster of gas-filled relays, separating the digital logic (which also processes commands from the IR handset) from the audio path itself.

It is possible to power-up the amp, adjust its volume, change the input or mute the output via remote control. Otherwise its tone controls, balance and rec-out selection must be attacked the old-fashioned way.

Sound quality

This Kenwood turned in a respectable, if ultimately uninspiring, performance in the listening tests. It started off quite well, sounding reasonably coherent and lively without resorting to brashness, and prompted the adjective ‘comfortable’, which turned out to be very appropriate.

One panellist was enthusiastic, pointing out its good sense of pace and scale, while at the same time noting that high frequencies seemed a bit curtailed, and that what poise it had disappeared when the going got complex, It did some things very well. The acoustic guitar on Cherokee Louise sounded particularly natural and the lyrics were clearer than usual.

However, the heavy duty, higher volume Mahler track revealed a rather plodding, matter of fact approach that robbed the music of its vitality and excitement. In the final analysis the most common view from the panellists was that the Kenwood didn’t do anything very badly, but it didn’t do anything particularly well either.

Results with vinyl were much the same. The amp was deemed generally competent, but also rather restrained, making the tracks sound more bland than usual.

Conclusion

The Kenwood KA-4050R is a well equipped beast with a dependable, but rather bland, sound that is unlikely to offend or enthuse. If you have an overly energetic system and want remote control, it’s worth considering.

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