Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Aqua Hifi Formula, AURALiC Vega
Preamplifier: Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, COS Engineering D1, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, F5, F6, F7; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V, VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Headphones: HifiMan HE-1000 & Susvara; Final Sonorous X & D8000; Sennheiser HD800; Audeze LCD-2 & LCD-XC; Meze 99 Neo
Headphone amps: Bakoon AMP-12R, 2 x Questyle CMA-800R, Nagra Classic Preamp, Vinnie Rossi Lio, Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps/sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail: SGD 2'898 with free worldwide DHL shipping from Vinshine Audio/Singapore [ca. €1'840 at time of publication]

Kinky. Something relating to, having or appealing to unconventional tastes especially in sex.

Since we're not that kind of mag, we find our kinks elsewhere. Enter Alvin, selective boss of Singapore's Vinshine Audio portal. I'd previously worked with him during my Denafrips Terminator review. By also carrying the Kinki Studio brand, he now proposed this assignment. That was a good thing since I'd not heard of them before. Unrectified ignorance would have been a bad thing. Just look at the appearance then build quality, moving on from there to specs then price. To the first two aspects, the photos do all the talking. For specs, 215wpc into 8Ω and not from class D get us going, particularly once we hear the $2'898 sticker delivered worldwide via DHL; in Singapore not US dollars. That made it ~€1'840 at time of publishing. Which is just a bit kinky, innit?

The list of parts—dual 300VA UK Amplimo power transformers, 256-step precision R2R volume, 0.2µm gold-plated circuit boards, Wima caps, Furutech/Neutrik sockets—extends the theme further than skin deep. Dual-mono layout piles it on. Then there's ±3dB bandwidth from 10Hz out to 150kHz, SN/R of >103dB, THD/N <0.006% and damping factor of 2'000. Input impedance is 50kΩ, input sensitivity 2.25Vrms - 3.6Vrms and connectivity 3 x RCA, 1 x XLR, with WBT-like binding posts. At 25kg, the M1 is no lightweight and dimensions of 43 x 12.5 x 37cm WxHxD even make it a standard full not odd-sized proposition. 8mm aluminium panels rather than bent sheet metal play up vault construction, EMI/RF resistance and pride of ownership.

With fellow Chinese high-value brands Denafrips, Jay's Audio and Soundaware rounding out Vinshine's roster, Westerners sidestep common China/Taiwan-direct concerns by dealing with Alvin who has developed a solid reputation for responsive customer care. He takes the potential sting out of transactions which, despite favourable direct pricing, can backfire when QC and performance standards aren't what one expected; when service calls go unanswered; when the language barrier or cultural differences create insurmountable obstacles.

Kinki's HQ in Guangzhou

Too good to be true turns into a sure thing whilst cutting out the usual middlemen and their margins. For prospective buyers, professional reviews now become important to confirm that performance keeps up. Who wants a sharp looker for a good price who turns out to be a sonic clunker? After my sterling experience with the Denafrips, I found it implausible to think that Alvin would have signed a brand which didn't deliver equivalently. But in the end, the road from a suspicious hinky to an exciting kinky had to go through my system. It meant that my answer to his review solicitation had to be affirmative. That was one of the easiest 'yes' made in a long time.

"We had a long lead time to get our Vishay BC capacitors from RSComponents. We ordered some 1'000 pieces in bulk but delivery was partial; still good enough to keep us busy fulfilling orders. Each outbput board is carefully marked because we pair match for the most accurate stereo sound." Here we see mono output modules and a batch of Amplimo power transformers.