Emillé KI-120 Integrated Amplifiers

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Emillé KI-120 Integrated Amplifiers
Emillé KI-120 Integrated Amplifiers

Emillé and their amplifiers hail from Korea, which, in this day and age, is hardly unusual. Which is not the same as saying that the Emillé KI-120s are not unusual…

Integrated valve amps from the Far East are far from unusual. Barely a week goes by without some new Chinese brand washing up on these shores. But don’t go assuming that the KI-120s are simply part of the crowd…

The CNC machined casework that once separated up-market offerings from their value for money siblings might have become virtually ubiquitous, but that’s not to say that the Emillé amps lack a distinctive character…

In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t have seen anything quite like the KI-120s ever before. They’re big, distinctly retro, beautifully finished, and there’s two of them. Oh, and did I say that they’re big… And whilst monoblocs, valve mono-blocs, beautifully machined and built valve mono-blocs are not exactly unusual, in this case these two unfeasibly large cases constitute a single, integrated amplifier – and yes, I know that’s an oxymoron.

Each KI-120 carries a quartet of 6550 output tubes, running in class AB push-pull to deliver 120 Watts of power. Each chassis offers one balanced and five single-ended inputs, with front-panel controls for source select, volume, power on/off and biasing the output tubes. The fifth control switches the front-panel meter between bias duties and displaying output power. With that big ol’ meter and shoebox configuration, octet of glowing valves and open chassis, there’s no escaping the carefully judged “dawn of hi-fi” feel that radiates from the KI-120, underlined by the fact that you need two of them and there’s no remote control. Indeed, they’d qualify as cute if anybody made a rack big enough to get a pair side by side on a single shelf. Instead they come across as seriously retro and seriously funky, yet in a seriously serious kind of way. It’s an impression that’s reinforced by the “treasure chest” crates in which the amps arrive, packaging that goes beyond the kind of gimmicky ostentation that tends to afflict high-end aspirants, instead entering firmly into the realm of genuine reverence for the contents. The people who build these amplifiers are clearly seriously serious about them too…

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