Monday, May 10, 2010

Kenwood Excelon X1200M "Gouriki" Class D Mono Amplifier Review

When it comes to car audio, high quality audio takes power to generate. To generate this power, we look to the help of amplification through external amplifiers. The bass frequencies are among the more difficult to produce. Clean bass, especially loud and deep bass requires great amounts of power. Subwoofer amplifiers are what we turn to, to provide the power for the bass many of us crave.

Kenwood has answered the call with the X1200M "Gouriki" Class D Mono Amplifier. Looking to their Japanese culture, the word "Gouriki" comes from the two Japanese Kanji characters that symbolize rigidity and strength, and power and force. The design seems to support their source of inspiration. The X1200M is a Class D design that features Dual Sigma Drive, Dual Power Supplies, as well as low pass and infrasonic filters. There is an internal cooling fan to keep cool this 1 ohm capable monster. It is also compatible with the optional wired bass boost remote. Rated at 800 Watts output at 4 ohm and 1200 watts at 2 ohms, with a 2400 watt max output, the "Gouriki" amp is a force to be reckoned with.

I was equally pleased to see that what looked impressive on paper also manifested itself in audio performance. The dual power supply worked together to provide stable operation no matter how hard I pushed it. The Dual Sigma Drive used a negative feed back loop circuit. This circuit helps to control cone movement, and thereby also reduces distortion. The end result also yields more accurate low bass response.

My listening tests showed the fruit of the design. The X1200M seemed to enjoy torturing my Vibe Audio EVO 12" subwoofer. Starting the listening tests with the gain set at 50%, the sub played loud and clean. Seeing that all was well I decided to, like a sports car, shift it into 5th gear with the pedal to the floor to see what it could do. I bumped up the gain to about 85%. This yielded an instant boost in output, with no additional detectable distortion. The built-in low pass variable filter from 50 Hz-200 Hz, also at -24 dB/oct. helped to maintain a clean output.

This clean amplification showed itself in all the tracks that I threw at it. Starting off with some of my favorite 80's beats I turned to Dead or Alive's: Lover Come Back to Me. There were a series of quick beats that were both tight and controlled, with surprisingly quick motor response for a 12 inch driver. The next track: You Spin Me Round, again had a series of quick beats as well as more spaced apart bass beats. Thanks in part to the Dual Sigma Drive, the fast beats were again tight, well controlled, and not muddy. The other beats were also clean with added depth.

Justin Timberlake's FutureSex was very demanding. I was glad to be able to crank up the volume even more on SexyBack. The bass was potently loud but the cone and motor movement were again well controlled even during long excursions. This again helped to ensure a clean sound. Bass Mechanic provided a plethora of pleasant beats and tones that also showed how it could handle low end extensions. The built-in infrasonic filter also appeared to nicely keep out unwanted subsonic frequencies. For those of you that have opted for a smallish box to keep some amount of trunk space, this feature could be crucial.

The X1200M seemed to put out 1200 watts at 2 ohms with ease, and could satisfy the most bass hungry fanatic. If you are in the market for a potent sub amp that is also a Class D design to help ease the strain on your electrical system, and maybe enjoy setting off car alarms in mall parking lots, the X1200M is worth checking out. I highly recommend it! My sub has never been more spoiled with this much quality audiophile power. For more information and complete specs, check out their website at