Kenwood KA-3020SE Amplifier

The model KA-3020 has been produced by Kenwood for a number of years, but is still very popular with customers. Following a clearly defined tendency to produce on the basis of popular series models its improved versions, the firm Kenwood showed the world KA-3020SE. "Special Edition" is made thoroughly and "by the mind". Among its merits: the austere design, mechanical input switches, a clever and rational design of the amplifier, two pairs of powerful high-quality screw terminals to connect the speakers (which are switched by electronic relays), "direct connection of the source", which has already become a classic. The impression of high quality construction is further enhanced by the smooth operation of the amplifier control knobs, which do not have the slightest backlash. Particularly strong impression is made by the extremely easy rotation of the large volume knob with silica grease, which also has a digitized attenuation scale. This creates an image of semi-professional level of manufacture of the device.

When connecting the speakers, the experts noted that the design of the screw terminals makes it relatively easy and convenient to connect speaker cables with stripped wire and banana-type connector, but virtually eliminates the use of "forks". Take note of this. Of the other features of the amplifier, it should be noted that it has a separate record selector. The inscription "Low impedance driving capabilty" on the front panel indicates that the amplifier must have good dynamic characteristics and therefore is able to work even with low impedance loads. Let's see.

When assessing the sound quality of the amplifier it turned out that the tonal balance of KA-3020SE sounded quite even with the introduced timbres, but with the toneblock turned off it was immediately disturbed. Music in this case immediately became inexpressive and "pale" in front of my eyes when working with the amplifier both with "shelf" acoustic systems and with floor speakers. Turning the tone control back on immediately revitalized the sound of the amplifier, with the best sound, in our opinion (more precisely - our ears), was when the knobs of the bass and treble controls were set to 3 o'clock. Listening to records of popular and classical music revealed a greater preference of KA-3020SE for pop music, although the light music it served somewhat simplified, not always finding it necessary to dwell on small musical details. At the same time, the quality of the phono stage for the turntable was pleasantly surprising: from this input Kenwood sounded much more relaxed and lively. This amplifier turned out to be insensitive to the type of acoustic system, equally confident in controlling both "shelf" and floor-standing acoustics. This is very good, because it means a wide choice of loudspeakers for the partners of KA-3020SE.

In conclusion, at least a couple of words must be said about the good ergonomics of the amplifier controls, as well as its functionality. The front panel of the amplifier is so simple that one would think: what design and where are the ergonomics? Nevertheless, the large volume knob was always "at hand" whenever we had the desire to change the volume. It is very convenient - the rotary switch of inputs and the amplifier record selector are located under the right hand. Finally, the push-button speaker selection switches also increase the convenience and flexibility in using the amplifier and are in "their" place. Although the ergonomics of the other amplifiers in the test also did not cause any serious remarks from the experts, "communication" with Kenwood was the most pleasant for us.

Price: $280
Kenwood KA-3020SE Amplifier photo