CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Audio

Spellbound by the sound of Kinter’s $33 stereo amplifier

The Audiophiliac gets smitten by Kinter’s flyweight K2020A+ amp that costs and weighs next to nothing.

51zqlvoldnl-sl1000

The Kinter K2020A+ amplifier.

Kinter

The Kinter K2020A+ stereo integrated amplifier defies all logic, how can something this cheap, tiny and lightweight sound this good? It does, and when you choose speakers wisely you'll hear what I'm talking about. The K2020A+ currently runs $33.

Disclaimer: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of products featured on this page.

It doesn't look like much, the little guy is just an extruded metal 4.7 by 5.8 by 1.6-inch box with plastic volume, bass and treble controls. It's certainly small enough to squeeze onto even the most crowded desktop applications.

The K2020A+'s not so "secret sauce" is its Tripath power chip that developed a tech cult following that loved it for its "tube like" sound. I wouldn't go that far, but the amp rated at 20 watts per channel was up to the task of making my Dayton Audio B652 Air speakers sing. The speakers go for around $50 a pair. Encouraged by what I heard I also tried the K2020A+ with Emotiva's terrific Airmotiv B1 bookshelf speakers that sell for $299 a pair. The sound was very audiophile.

The K2020A+ would be an ideal for a small bedroom, den, office system or maybe a starter amp for new audiophiles.

The Kinter K2020A+'s rear panel

Kinter

Listening to The Knick TV soundtrack by Cliff Martinez, the soundstage was positively huge. The all synth score's sound blossomed to fill the entire front wall of my listening room. True, the music's deep bass with the B652 Air speakers wasn't disturbing my downstairs neighbors, but definition was decent.

R.E.M.'s Live at the BBC box set, played at satisfyingly loud volume had plenty of get up and go. Michael Stipe's vocals jumped out of the mix.

The K2020A+ differs from the similar looking Lepai LP2020Ti amp in two important ways, the K2020A+ uses the Tripath amp chip vs. the K202A+'s Texas Instruments chip, and the K2020A+ has a higher capacity 5 ampere power supply as well as wall wart. The LP2020Ti uses a 3 amp supply.

Comparing the Kinter K2020A+'s sound with the Lepai LP2020Ti, I can't say the differences were dramatic, but they were there. The K2020A+ played a bit louder without sounding like it's working very hard, and the treble is more open and spacious. Oh, and the K2020A+ is currently four bucks cheaper than the LP2020Ti. Does the NAD C 316BEE V2 amp that sells for more than 12 times the price sound better? Yes, in every way. 

Still, the Kinter K2020A+ is a charmer, it gets the important stuff right, it sounds remarkably good for very little money. If I've made you curious about getting into quality audio, but you don't have much spare cash you can get a taste with the K2020A+ playing Spotify from your computer or phone over a set of Dayton B652 Air speakers. You'll be onto something good for well under $100.

Buy the Kinter K2020A+ on Amazon
Now playing: Watch this: AKG N700NC: Does it beat Sony and Bose?
2:03

Parasound's feature-packed high-end amplifier is a knockout: We put Parasound's HINT 6, a powerful and seriously versatile stereo amplifier, through its paces.

Back to the future with JBL's iconic L100 Classic speaker: The L100 was JBL's ultimate 1970s rock speaker, and now it's back and sounding better than ever.