By Richard / Review, $1000+, ampsandsound, Tube Amplifiers / December 26, 2021

ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2 Review

ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2 Review's image

The reviewer is giving his honest experience with the product and was not paid to write a favorable article. The gear was purchased due to interest and enjoyment in quality of sound.

Tonal Balance / Neutrality9.9
Price / Performance Ratio9.9
Sound Fidelity10
Build Quality10
Bass Extension10
Bass Balance10
Treble Balance10
Treble Extension10
Bass Control10
Tone Density9.9
Macro Dynamics10
Micro Dynamics9.9
Sound Stage Width9.8
Sound Stage Depth10

I first became interested in ampsandsound in 2017 when I was primarily listening with Feliks Audio Euforia Mk I and Yulong D18 + A18 combo. I came across a thread on about how the ampsandsound Kenzie stacked up against the Euforia. 

On September 26, 2021, I got the opportunity to attend my first audio meet at CanJam SoCal 2021 to try out products from many different manufacturers. I was amazed with the ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2 and the Dan Clark Audio Aeon Noire 2; so much so, that I decided that the Kenzie OG Rev 2 was going to be my next purchase.

Thinking back on this experience, my decision to buy was not fully thought out; I remember the combination being dark, intimate, and full-sounding. At the time, I had attributed the sonic qualities I experienced to the Kenzie + Noire 2 Combo, whereas, now, I believe it was more of the baseline signature of the Aeon Noire 2 supported by the signature of the Kenzie.

After having the Kenzie OG Rev 2 somewhere in between, I purchased the ampsandsound Agartha, which arrived on December 9, 2021. Since I’ve essentially “upgraded”, I admit that I’ve been using the Agartha more than the Kenzie, and so this review will only encompass about one month of listening: from when I first received the Kenzie OG Rev 2 on October 24th, to when I received the Agartha on December 9th. 

A photo of the ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2 on a wooden table with glass holding the Kenzie with plants in the background

The Kenzie OG rev 2 utilizes 1626 tubes, known as the Poor Man's or baby 300B, offering comparable warmth, texture, and soundstage depth as the 300B. The 1626 was a tube used during the WWII-era for transmitter tube in radar installations. The design is shy in pure output, but offers layers of texture and drive, and is paired with a massive choke and robust output transformers for ultra-quiet operation.

With the 1626 + 5751 pairing, the Kenzie is punchy in a musical, clean, clear way, resolving all the way through with extension, clarity, and definition. You get a representation of music that is thorough and impactful yet textured and detailed. You’ll miss some of the airiness that allows the notes to spark and pop in the Euforia; but with the thorough control of the ranges of notes, the Kenzie OG rev 2 has a presentation that is well-handled, well-rounded, and full of expression, providing us with a robust and cohesive sound that is rich and fast in a dynamic stage, with great note timbre and detail.

The sound may be more ethereal with the Euforia as the notes are more dynamically spaced, with a unique air, thereby arguably giving more character as the notes are etching the scene of songs. The sense of stage seems better on the Euforia and you're treated to many details that are woven intricately. The Kenzie doesn't lack soundstage, but it is definitely noticeable just how big the stage is on the Euforia. The Euforia is a fun, neutral amp that has great detail; intimacy levels between amps are noticeable though, with Kenzie having, depending on the person you are, a more engaging, and a bit of a more forward expression.

The Kenzie can also described as having the qualities of the Euforia, but fundamentally, the Kenzie and the Euforia are different kinds of amps. On the one hand, Euforia is an OTL amp that omits an output transformer for the purpose of greater linearity and fidelity, whereas the Kenzie uses output transformers to affect the sound. They are both dynamic in their own ways, and I find both a joy to listen to. The Kenzie is more tailored to someone who perhaps prefers more balanced dynamic energy and expression in the timbre of instruments in their sound; the mids are less emphasized in the Kenzie and allow for other ranges to add more dynamic expression to the sound, whereas the Euforia is like a birds-eye-view.

Because the Euforia is a more neutral signature, it sounds purer within its stage, and may render microdetail or complexity more skillfully, as it's less forward. The Kenzie is slightly warmer to add to the musicality when compared to the Euforia, but the power is also very clean. The Kenzie has a more engaging expression in the notes than the Euforia, whereas the Euforia sounds more layered when present in the recording. What I sometimes found could be better in the Euforia, perhaps even by comparison, is it’s more laid back, which may, in turn, be why it sounds so good. By comparison, the Euforia isn't as impactful as the Kenzie due to its softer take, but the macro-dynamics with the Euforia are a treasure with the stock tubes. 

I prefer the Euforia at times for its soundstage, its macro, and microdetail. It's effortlessly smooth and enjoyable to listen to but doesn't have that impactful weight and extension of the Kenzie OG Rev 2. You can follow the music more with the Kenzie and how it "steps" to the music, its engaging ambiance in the how fast the notes hit, and their timbre. 

A photo of the ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2 on a wooden table in yard with plants in the background

If I had to choose between the Euforia Mk I with the Kenzie, I might choose the Euforia because the details are picturesquely woven with a nimble touch within a balanced yet fun signature. I might choose Kenzie because it establishes a baseline of a sound signature and never strays from its rein of control throughout the ranges in its own sense of highly musical delivery. The Kenzie has a well-rounded, defined, clean, and more engaging signature. 

In the Kenzie, I found that the timbre was beautiful. It's very well woven, with great presence and soundstage that you would expect coming from a $2600 dollar amp.

The Euforia Mk I is special because, by the notes' extension and imaging, the result is a grandness in the sound. The stage is open and unique, in that, it is more neutral, and consequently, the extension makes the sound full, ambient, and resolving. The open stage and extension of the notes make it feel like you're being treated to every nuance with dynamism.

The Kenzie has more impact and texture in the notes than the Euforia Mk I, and the result can feel like a more life-like experience. The power that flows from the Kenzie is apparent by the unique physicality in the note and how it engages you with its rich, defined tonality. The Kenzie also renders complexity with the ability to go deep in the ranges with clarity and consistent, engaging energy, while also having its own unique ambiance.

The Sennheiser HD650 is the first set of Hi-Fi headphones I’ve owned, and to me, it was a starting point that was beginner-friendly, warmer, well-rounded scalable sound. The Kenzie + HD650 combination produces a very cohesive, large, and deep sound that is incredibly intricate, elegant, and resolving to me.

I've had very satisfying listening sessions with the Kenzie, and if I hadn’t been introduced to other amplifiers that I think are more acutely resolving while providing more power for resolution such as the ampsandsound Agartha, or ampsandsound Nautilus, I would have considered the Kenzie the best amplifier I’ve ever listened to. It handles notes, nuance, and space with a signature that is markedly pure. 

As someone who once owned the ampsandsound Agartha, the sound becomes relaxed and more resolving. The defining characteristic of the Agartha is, coupled with the large soundstage and even imaging, the fully shaped, defined, and quality of notes produced make the presentation incisively deep. It's an open live-venue-like experience that is full and resolving.

Though it is shy in pure output, I wholeheartedly believe the Kenzie is an end-game amplifier. With inefficient headphones like the HE6se V2, the Kenzie won't power them to their fullest, but they can be decently powered and enjoyable if you pair the Kenzie with a Class A pre-amp like the Garage 1217 Project Sunrise III. The Kenzie has a strong, nuanced, and expressive sound. 

The more I listen to the Kenzie, the more I find that I would recommend it to anyone; I think it's perfect for the audiophile who wants to take a dive into high-end gear and who can appreciate the Kenzie's value as a complete package amplifier that contains all the resolution and detail a serious listener could ask for. Although the Kenzie is one of ampsandsounds lower-priced offerings, I couldn't really find anything that it was lacking for me. To me, it can be a final destination in the ampsandsound line of signatures. Though there are higher-tier offerings at ampsandsound, the Kenzie offers a complete signature that stands on its own.

The Kenzie has a sound signature that can be considered an end-game, even stacked against giants like the Nautilus. The dynamics are full and expressive, the instruments are clean and thorough, the level of detail is consummate. Paired with a pre-amp, the Kenzie's resolution in detail is top-notch. At the same time, I might add that there are possibly different options if you want to consider them, however, I've never had a listening session with the Kenzie OG Rev. 2 and thought, "I need something more", except maybe for when compared to the Nautilus, whose stage is pretty big.

The Kenzie offers all the quality, stage, dynamics, and resolution I could ask for, all while remaining highly musical and engaging. It's undoubtedly a luxurious and thoroughly satisfying experience to listen to. If you might be looking for options that might be considered better, I had a conversation with Justin where he expressed that going from the Kenzie to the Kenzie Ovation is like going from the Bigger Ben to the Nautilus. I haven't listened to the Ovation, but it was described to me as being quieter, having greater texture, depth, and most especially weight. These are great points, and I find it almost hard to think about, because listening to the Kenzie, and now I'm really curious, it doesn't lack in any of those things. 

The Kenzie is an excellent, compact companion for any listener who is looking for an amplifier with a small footprint and no-frills sound. The size might mislead you at first, but I'm currently using it as my daily driver alongside the Nautilus, and to me, it is no joke when comes to the richness and delivery of a thoroughly pure and commanding musical hi-fi presentation. It's strong, engaging, and as I've described, it's complete in the sense that, after listening to it for some time without comparison, it's hard to believe there is any amp that could be even more rich in expression.

Image of ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2 on fireplace counter

USB: Singxer SU-6

Cables: World's Best Cable (RCA Amphenol)

Source: Schiit Modi Multibit (smaller soundstage, weightier, impactful notes), Singxer SU-6 -> Audio-GD HE-7 Mk I (larger, more defined soundstage, more sense of space in lieu of weightier and impactful notes), Matrix X-SPDIF 2 -> Yulong D18 

Headphones: Sennheiser HD 600, Sennheiser HD 650, HIFIMAN HE1000se

Product Links: 

ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2

Audio-GD HE-7 (MK2)


About the Author


Software Engineer by trade, always loved music, but discovered Hi-Fi in 2012. Decided that since interest in sound quality was growing, could share experience with different products.


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