The review was done based on my personal experience, people who are reading this review should take it as a reference only.
The review unit is an older model made by JR, the new chassis of KGSSHV Mini is different, the sound is the same.
The first impression of KGSSHV Mini is very well built not cheap at all, the whole chassis is constructed by 6 CNC crafted aluminum panels, the dimension is 31cm x 26cm x 8cm (footers and knob) weight about 7kg, this “mini” KGSSHV isn’t so mini compared to STAX SRM-353X after all.
This unit has both RCA and XLR inputs (new model has only XLR input), a voltage switch, where the input voltage can be selected between 115V and 230V so you may use it in almost every country without a transformer.
The internal circuits are well arranged and there are no cheap parts, all the components were ordered from Mouser, the default volume control is ALPS RK27114A, if you would like to upgrade there are other options but I don’t really think it’s necessary, this default is good enough for an “entry-level” machine.
The sound impression was done by comparing KGSSHV Mini with STAX SRM-353X, using Astell & Kern SE100 as source fed to RCA inputs, tested with STAX SR-L300 Limited Edition.
When I first plugged my STAX L300 LTD into KGSSHV Mini, my mind was blown away! I have had STAX 353X for quite a while and I was so used to the smoothness of it, KGSSHV Mini is totally different, it’s so much more resolving, the clarity is superb as if you can see the boundary of each note! And the power in sound is so straight forward that you won’t miss, if 353X is a sheep then KGSSHV Mini is a mustang! Piece of advice here, turn down the volume before putting on the earspeaker otherwise your ears may get hurt!
What I like about KGSSHV Mini
The clarity, the details, the dynamic and the power in each note, especially when I was listening to Classical, Jazz, I was poisoned by the instrument separation, the vivid sound, the micro details that I have never experienced with 353X.
What I dislike about KGSSHV Mini
My complaint about KGSSHV Mini is the vocal part, which is a bit more forward or intimacy, the soundstage is kind of squeezed, it feels like you are sitting in a studio rather than a concert hall.
KGSSHV Mini delivers a sound with superb clarity and dynamic it’s most suitable for listening to Classical, Jazz or instruments like violin, guitar, and piano. It’s not so good with Pop and Rock music, the vocal is pushed forward which sometimes feel the vocal and music has been separated, and some dental sound in vocal is bright but not harsh if you prefer a warmer sound you can pair it with a warmer source. Due to lack of smoothness, the vocal feels a little emotionless, so I prefer the vocal on the STAX 353X.
Final tips, KGSSHV Mini is so revolving that some bad sources will sound even worse so it may take some time to find a perfect match for it.