Friday, August 9, 2013

Kenwood Excelon XR900-5 Class D 5 channel Amplifier Review


Gas prices are going up. So there is an emphasis on gas mileage. This translates into more smaller cars and space is a premium. Kenwood has designed products just for this predicament. And the Kenwood Excelon XR900-5 5 Channel Amplifier is a perfect example of it. It is a 5 channel amp that is designed to power your whole system.  And as a Reference Fit amp, it does its job in a small compact footprint. Yet it is also an Excelon Series model, which means it is also a flagship model with all the bells and whistles that Kenwood has available.

Features and specs:

CEA-2006 Standard
60 W x 4
RMS Watts per channel @ 4 ohms, 1% THD+N
400 W x 1
RMS Watts per channel @ 4 ohms, 1% THD+N
Signal to Noise Ratio (Reference: 1 Watt into 4 ohms)
Max Power Output
Rated Power Output
14.4 V
60 W x 4 / 400W x 1
(4Ω) (20 Hz - 20 kHz, 1.0% THD) (20 Hz - 200 Hz, 1.0% THD)
75 W x 4 / 600W x 1
(2Ω) (1 kHz, 1.0% THD) (100 Hz, 1.0% THD)
Frequency Response
Input Sensitivity
0.2 V - 5.0 V (MIN-MAX)
Input Impedance
10 kΩ
Signal to Noise Ratio
100 dB
Low Pass Filter Frequency
50 Hz - 200 Hz (variable)
Low-Pass Filter Frequency
High Pass Filter Frequency
(-12 dB/oct.)
50 Hz - 200 Hz (variable)
High-Pass Frequency
Dimensions (W x H x D)
260 x 51 x 169 mm (10-1/4 x 2 x 6-5/8)


The Kenwood Excelon XR900-5 came in an attractive color printed box with pictures of the amp and it’s specs and features listed. Opening the box showed a well protected amp, wrapped in plastic, and held in place firmly by custom molded Styrofoam. Also included was the owners manual, warranty card, and hex wrench. Quality of materials used in the construction was very good, as well as the quality of the construction and the fit and finish. The amp also passed my heft test. High Quality components in amps such as power supplies, and heat sinks, are heavy.  So typically, high quality amps have weight to them, and such is the case of the Kenwood Excelon XR900-5.

I really like the features of the Kenwood Excelon XR900-5.  It is a Class D design, which is more efficient, and allows for a smaller footprint.  Kenwood does even more, however, to make the design even more space saving.  The use lower profile power supply caps to reduce its height by 33%.  They also angle the internal heat sink by 45 degrees to reduce the height even more, all the while doing so without taking a heat in its ability to dissipate heat.  To help dissipate heat even more, the XR900-5 uses air cooling with an internal fan.  The fan is situated next to the heat producing circuitry, drawing air across those circuits, and out an exhaust opening behind the fan. The wiring connector strip was moved to the inside.  Accessing the wiring connectors is done by removing a panel at the top of the amp.  Not only does this further reduce the size, but it also helps to protect the connections, all while giving a cleaner look.

Additional features include a variable low-pass and high-pass crossover, gold plated terminals, and hex terminals.  The -24dB Low Pass Filter and -12dB High Pass Filters are variable.  This allows you to dial in the correct filter sets for your particular component speaker system. The gold plated input terminals are excellent in conductivity, and also yields a wider frequency response, lower distortion, and better dynamic range and signal to noise ratio.  And the HEX type terminals make tightening down the terminals much easier.  All of the controls being on the bottom of the amp were easy to read, and made for easy adjustments and customization of the crossovers and gain settings.

Personally, I have been a big fan of the Class D design.  They are more efficient, and take up less space.  The sound quality has not been quite as good as the Class AB Topology, but the use of higher speed MOSFETS have improved that even more, making the narrow sound quality gap between them and the Class AB, even narrower.  Efficiency can be critical, especially in smaller cars like a Honda.  The stock Honda alternator, such as one on an older Civic, will produce less than 100amps.  And part of that has to be used to power the vehicle.  So an amp like the efficient Kenwood Excelon XR900-5 Class D 5 channel amp, that can run your whole system, is JUST what the doctor ordered.  I have also been a fan of the look that has been Kenwood, with the black brushed aluminum look.  Stylish!

The Kenwood Excelon XR900-5 was stellar in its performance.  Turning to many of my trusted tracks, it was quite transparent.  The sound was not colored at all, and providing the sound I am used to hearing in my music.  The highs were crisp and clean, the mids were natural and smooth.  The resolution was very good, providing great harmonics and details in the music.  Vocals sounded natural with nice timbre.  On the subwoofer side of the amp, we saw the same level of performance.  The XR900-5 provided great power with control of the sub.  My sub played loud, deep, was well controlled, and was also very musical.

The Kenwood Excelon XR900-5 Class D 5 Channel proved to be another excellent performer from Kenwood.  The controls were easy to read and adjust.  And I liked the clean look of having the wiring under the protective panel.  But the truth is in the pudding, and delicious pudding it was.  The Kenwood Excelon XR900-5 proved to be quite transparent, and very musical.  Highs were crisp and clean, the mids were smooth and provided plenty of energy.  And the sub channel provided plenty of power for just about any sub at 400 watts at 4ohms.  You can get 600 watts at 2ohms, but it does come at a small price of a bit in sound performance and additional heat.   Unfortunately there is no option for a wired bass boost remote.  While I would prefer to see the option of having a wired bass boost remote for the subwoofer portion of the amp, there is always the head unit for controlling the bass output of your sub.  At an MSRP of $599, it is an excellent sounding amp that can power your whole system in a very small package.  Based on its design, features, quality, and performance, the Kenwood Excelon XR900-5 Class D 5 Channel Amp has earned our Highly Recommended Award.  Kudos to Kenwood for a great amp.  For more info and complete specs, check out their website at

Reference gear used: Kenwood Excelon DNN990HD Connected Navigation Entertainment Receiver, JL XD 600/6 Six Channel Class D Amplifier, Vibe Audio Stereo 4 Four Channel Class GH Amplifier, Vibe Audio Black Death Mono Class GH Subwoofer Amp, AudioControl  DQXS Electronic 6 Channel Active Crossover and Equalizer, Kicker Front Row Digital Signal Processor, German Maestro MS 654010 3-Way Active Speaker System, Alpine SPX13-Pro Type-X 5.25" 2-Way Component Speaker System.  Massive Audio dual 8" DVC Subwoofers.