23 February 2010|
|Konaki KO-NA3601 Amplifier|
After replacing the bottom sheetmetal, I connected the amp in my listening room, driving a pair of 4 ohm woofers wired in parallel. I turned the subsonic filter off since I was using a sealed woofer system, and then set the low-pass filter to about 80Hz. After a couple of tweaks to the crossover frequency and increasing the gain settings, I sat down to hear how well this teeny little amp would perform, and I have to say I came away relatively impressed. The KO-NA3601 had plenty of authority to drive the 12-inch woofers to loud volumes, and sounded fine in the process. The bass was well controlled and deep, quick transients sounded natural without a lot of ringing, and generally speaking the amp sounded just fine indeed. While it’s not going to be mistaken for my 2,000 watt reference amplifier in terms of power, I was very pleased with how well it drove the woofers, even at “enthusiastic” levels, and playing difficult tracks with a ton of dynamics. If I could make one small improvement, it would be to give the amp a bit more gain, as I needed it adjusted nearly wide open to keep up with my main amp. But once set-up, it’s amplifiers like this that can make us re-think the “just how much do I really need” question. I’ll wager this amplifier has more than adequate performance for all but the most demanding listeners.
After my listening session ended, the amp was transferred to the electronics test bench, and put through our usual series of tests. Here again, when you consider the low price and the very small package size, the amp performed quite well. Power levels were what I expected after examining the internals, although my precise measurements fell a bit short of the power specs quoted in the owner’s manual. In fairness, however, the amp and manual I received were very early production and may not be a final version. I mention this because more accurate power specifications were provided in the technical data I received with the amp. Due to this discrepancy, I have left the manufacturers rated power as “TBD” in the specifications below. In any case, the differences only amounted to a bit over one decibel anyway.
Other specs like signal-to-noise measured good as well, a testament to the design and layout of the amp. Where amps like this really excel though, is in terms of efficiency, and not just at full power. A really well designed Class D amplifier will be efficient at fractional power levels as well, and the little Konaki did very well in this regard, measuring better than 46% efficient at only 10 watts of power. This is very good, considering most Class AB amplifiers will struggle to hit 15% efficiency at 10 watts. To test the reliability, I deliberately dead shorted the outputs, ran it at very low voltages, ran it to thermal shut off and was generally abusive, and the amp simply protected itself when I got too stupid, and worked perfectly again when the problem was corrected.
Small amps are increasingly popular, and as small as it is, I believe this one will be no different. The performance is terrific for the low price, especially if you are driving it with strong input voltage. The design and construction, as well as my abusive testing lead me to believe this amp will be reliable as well. Overall, the Konaki amplifier represents a very good value, which was precisely the target Konaki was aiming at when they designed this product. If you’re in the market for a budget priced amp with mid-level performance, check this one out at a dealer near you.