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Ampsandsound Kenzie/Mogwai Impressions

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  1. exdmd
    @me2621a thanks for your really great write up. I have owned a Kenzie for over a year now and feel no need to upgrade. You can get a bit more slam by adding the outboard input transformers. While the 2C52 is a good input tube I love the mid 1960 Telefunken ECC801S (adapter required) in mine. It has a mu of 60 which is fine with my Tung Sol 1626 plenty of gain.

    The ECC801S has the best midrange and soundstage of any input tube I have tried in the Kenzie. Expensive but worth it, just stay away from any other ECC801S if you decide to try, the later production Siemens are no match for the Diamond Bottom Telefunkens from the '60s.

    I briefly considered buying an Eddie Current Aficionado so I could run fully balanced from my Yggdrasil to my HD800S but I really love the little Kenzie, it just does so many things well. I would rather put the money into nice powered monitors for those days I would like a change from listening through phones.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
  2. me2621a
    Thanks for the comments @exdmd. If I were keeping the Kenzie (it sadly has to go back to @ampsandsound) I would be purchasing an adapter and rolling in a Telefunken, based on the price of the ECC801S's I probably could not afford to grab one of those, but for sure a smooth plate 12AX7.

    I also should have mentioned that the review was done with the outboard input transformer across all 3 amps for consistency. I agree especially on the Leeloo and Kenzie that it added an extra level of slam. I totally get why you were able to stick with then Kenzie, it has great tone and surprisingly large amount of power and with that input tube I could see it working really well with the HD800s and overall see the Kenzie being taken to a new hight.
  3. exdmd
    I'm surprised you got a loaner Kenzie with the Tung Sol 1626 output tubes. Once word got around that the Tung Sol sounded better than the RCA 1626 they became almost impossible to find. I did note using the 1963 Telefunken ECC801S the difference between the Tung Sol and RCA power tubes was not as marked, sure the Tung Sol still sound better but the difference is not as great as when using a 12SL7GT.
  4. me2621a
    Yah I have heard from many that they are the best. It is Justin's personal unit though so I am not to surprised that he has a nice set of tubes in it.
  5. me2621a
    So I have something very special about to ship out to me tomorrow. Its a special project from Justin at AmpsandSound. Hoping to post some feedback this weekend once they arrive, but some pics from the bench.

    Yes by the way, these are 2 mono amps, and they are mirrored, which turned out to be much harder than I think anyone anticipated.

    IMG_1497.jpg IMG_1499.jpg IMG_1500.jpg
  6. me2621a
    IMG_1479.jpg Also lets not forget whats inside, oh my point to point wiring and turret boards...
    Luckbad and exdmd like this.
  7. ampsandsound
    DC9C4657-CE92-493B-AEF0-24FE004F009C.jpeg 81FE9C72-96E9-4E5F-B6C0-7A7B244E9F0F.jpeg FCFA360F-A608-4CFA-8FAA-85975308A3AA.jpeg Winter has been productive. Have 3new amps coming out. Originally designed for what I wanted/needed. Lots of great input from friends helped to refine my ideas.
    I wanted to show how seriously we take execution. The 1st is the perhaps my favorite. Taking what best about the Kenzie and going next level.
    I needed a Kenzie that could do speakers. I needed it to silent on my 98db speakers yet bring the same my collection of amazing headphones.
    The goal was Kenzie tone, the weight and intimacy of the mogwai se. check and check.
    A bit later I can expand on the why, design thoughts and impressions. Tonight, I am very very pleased. By Friday I’ll have the next model ready for a listen if some friends in the OC want to come by.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2019
    omniweltall, exdmd and Luckbad like this.
  8. Luckbad
    @ampsandsound I might have to find my way over. If you somehow managed to combine those two into one magic amp, people will flip.

    Do you have a Windows 10 machine? If so, I could bring my RME ADI-2 DAC and you could hear this thing as a DAC in front of your amps. Works with Windows 10 and Mac plug and play, but older Windows need a driver.
  9. ampsandsound
    No windows box. Right now it’s MBP into McIntosh C2600 for decode/pre.
    I do think that’s where it’s at. The amps that just finished are spoken for and leave tomrrow but the next model has already started asembly. EL84 fun with bigger iron for that one. The last is likely to be a 12b4 ver of the Kenzie mono. No adapters needed. If done, it increases power 2.5x.
    I toy with the idea of a Kenzie that’s just 12b4s. Makes total sense but love tone of the 1626 and the sexy shape of the glass :wink:.
    me2621a and Luckbad like this.
  10. me2621a
    These bad boys are going to make my living room look great! Thanks again Justin for getting these shipped out so fast.
  11. penguinofsleep2
    A brief impression, still learning how to write impressions better.

    Have listened to both Kenzie and Mogwai a few times. With and without "upgrades". Was done A/B once at a dealer.

    For both: I prefer with upgrades. IMO they are upgrades rather than changes to sound signature.

    Kenzie - Nothing about it stood out in anyway, but in a very good way. Not like in a "this is over rated and I just overpaid for this thing" kind of way. Silly but the only thing I actually disliked was where everything plugged in. Most of my stuff has shorter cables and I don't like routing cables over a warm/hot amp or close to tubes. In some ways reminded me vaguely of a few different EC amps, but without as much of that forward edge that many EC amps seem to have.

    Mogwai - I prefer this one over the Kenzie - very thick and fun sound though - not for those who don't want a thicker sound with more bass and mids. To clarify though, this is not bass heavy or mid heavy amp. Nor is it fatiguing. Just that the bass and mids have a full thick sound. Sound is still very clear, IMO more so than the Kenzie, which is already good on it's own.

    Edit: If I personally had to pick one, it'd be Mogwai with upgrades. Currently deciding between Mogwai with upgrades and EC Aficionado. I wouldn't say one is better or worse (assuming you are using tubes that you like, good power, etc) - just different sounds.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
    Thenewguy007 and omniweltall like this.
  12. me2621a
    So having the Kenzie Mono blocks in house for a few days has left me simply saying "WOW". These are great little amplifiers, they power the Utopias and Stellia with authority, the bass is unreal in its weight and accuracy, a step above the Mogwai SE. The amp is lively for sure, and has taken to its NOS tube set nicely. It is sporting RCA 5751 Command Series pre-amp tubes, the lovely Tung-sol 1626, and the Mullard EZ81 D getter.

    Describing them as a Mogwai SE + a Kenzie, with a little extra on top is probably right. This takes all the best parts of Justin's best amps and combines them into one (well two mono-blocks lol) amp. This is a real end game setup. With everything there comes a drawback though. The noise floor on the Kenzie Monos is about the same if not slightly more then the Mogwai SE, that being said it is more than ok with both the 106db efficient Stellia and Utopia, but the amp does say hi when nothing is playing. Now I am a stickler for idle noise, and the fact that I am ok with it is surprising to me, but also speaks volumes to how good these sound. I also suspect that some of this noise is due to power and will be getting a balanced power transformer to see what that does.

    More to come, but I leave you all with some eye candy. IMG_0276.JPG IMG_0277.JPG IMG_0278.JPG
    Drakkard, Luckbad and omniweltall like this.
  13. ampsandsound
    Ok ok ... you win... much prettier pics than Ill ever be capable of. Makes me lust after stuff we built.
    omniweltall likes this.
  14. omniweltall
    You focus on the amps. We can take care of pics:)
  15. Dipesh
    What are the best tubes I can get for mogwai SE
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