The Kenwood KR-9600 is one of the best receivers ever made by Kenwood. In fact, it’s one of the better tuners ever made by anyone. Manufactured from 1976 to around 1978 and with an MSRP of nearly $800 the KR-9600 was Kenwood’s flagship receiver. It puts out a massive 160 watts per channel into 8 ohms with only 0.08% total harmonic distortion.
It also features dual power supplies, a FET differential amplifier phono input and state of the art tuner design. In fact, the KR-9600 is popular among audio enthusiasts who modify it to bring it up to modern specs and turn it into a fantastic tuner even by today’s standards. It actually has two separate phone EQ’s to accommodate different cartridges. They are switchable from the front controls.
It has two step loudness control, 3 speaker system capability, ASO (Area of Safe Operation) protection circuit, dual power meters and triple tone controls. Another interesting feature is the Sound Injection Circuit. this circuit allow you to plug a microphone into the mic jack while playing from music from another source. So, you can sing along with the music or record yourself over it.
The KR-9600 does have its drawbacks in terms of design as it uses two TA-200W Darlington power packs which are difficult to find nowadays. One tech mentioned, “The TO-92L driver transistors for the output module (Qe6, Qe7, and Qe8 on the amp module) are a little undersized for the job. A good TO-126 transistor does a better job here.” The power switch is also known to have some issues. All of these issues can be overcome and with some attention the KR-9600 can easily compare to the Pioneer SX-1250.
Here are the KR-9600 features:
- 2 x 160 W RMS at 8 ohms, both channels driven, from 20 Hz-20 KHz. Distortion less than 0.08%
- Dual Power Supply system
- Direct coupled amplifier stages and fully complementary output stage
- DLOA (Dual Line Operational Amplifier) system with extremely low noise characteristics
- Bass, mid and treble negative feedback tone controls
- Attenuator control to reduce audio output by —20 dB
- High and low filters
- Power output meters calibrated In watts
- Two position loudness control
- Tone defeat switch
- Stereo, mono, reverse switch
- Input facilities for two tape recorders with A—B, B—A dubbing and tape through circuit
- Double circuit protection
- Sound inject circuit
- Connections: 3 pairs of loudspeakers, 2 tape recorders, 2 record decks, auxiliary, headphones, microphone, FM quadraphonic decoder, monitoring oscilloscope
The tuning section features:
- FM Input sensitivity 1.9 uV (IHF), Selectivity 83 dB, Capture ratio 1.3 dB, Stereo separation 35 dB from 50 Hz-10 KHz
- Special circuitry Includes: FM Input stage with MOS-FETS: 4-gang tuning capacitor: fixed phased PLL demodulator: IF amplifier with FETs and ceramic filters
- Linear calibrated FM scale
- Switchable interstation muting
- Combination signal strength/deviation meter
- Centre zero tuning indicator
- Switchable de-emphasis for future FM Dolby transmissions
For an interesting breakdown of the performance of the KR-9600 and a comparison to Pioneer’s SX-1250 check out THIS thread. The KR-9600 really is a monster and weighs in at 53 pounds. Its dimensions are roughly 27″ x 6 5/8″ x 16 1/2″.
There was a time when the Kenwood KR-9600 sold for the same or even more on the auction market than its competitor the Pioneer SX-1250. Those days are gone and the SX-1250 sells for around 50% to 75% more than the KR-9600 now. A mint KR-9600 can sell for almost $2000. Good working versions can be had for $700-$1000. By contrast, a mint SX-1250 can sell for up to $4000.