Kenwood KR-9600

Kenwood KR-9600

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.

Kenwood KR-9600 Dial

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.

Kenwood KR-9600 Knobs

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.

Kenwood KR-9600 Components

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.

Kenwood KR-9600 Inputs

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.

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53 thoughts on “Kenwood KR-9600

  1. Yes, I have one, and the sound quality is marvelous, you can listen all frequency rang at low volume, the clear, transparency and sound purity are astonishing.

    You can listen deep bass so natural, the med and treble rang are so crystalline and so natural too.

    Important: you need big speakers who can give you the full rang minimum 20Hz to 20,000 Hz and 150 to 200 watts of continue response, to avoid distortion and noise not desired.

    KR-9600 is astonishing.

  2. I had a KR-9600 way back then. Mated it with a pair of ADS 810 speakers (the 910s were the top of the line), Dual direct-drive turntable, Shure V15 III cartridge, that system rocked!

    In hindsight, the 810s could have used a little help on the bottom end, a good powered subwoofer, and it would have been studio quality sound for that day.

    I had “golden ears” hearing back then, and although modern digital sound is more pristine, and doesn’t have the clicks and pops and hiss associated with LP records, there’s something less real about it that might be intangible….but there is a difference.

  3. What a great receiver!!!

    Remember, back in 76, those were the times between analog displays and digital. The manufacterers were dreaming up anything they could to make a sale at the audio stores, including separate power supplies, DC control, A light here, a knob there. I dont think the receivers were “searching” for stations yet, but was soon to happen. I remember a radio station state that all the goodies that the manufacturers could dream up were on the present (1976) Units on the market.

    It is a shame that the 5 channel crap they make today cannot stand up to a KR9600.
    The Kenwood KR9600 has everything that is good, best sound, plenty of power, pulls in radio stations from far distances.

    I tried to use my 5 channel surround sound receiver in my home studio but digital does not forgive, if you go over the sound will cut out. The sound quality is not realistic. Before you start throwing the stones, I can admit to trying quite a few different units with the same dissapointing results.

    I finally connected my KR9600 to the home studio and the difference was immediate. Clean sound, powerful High’s and Mid’s and deep base. I could hear so much more from the recordings that the surround sound couldn’t pull out.

    I do have a turn table but the CD revolution has more or less made that era history, but, I feed many types of sounds through the KR9600 and the sound quality is always fabulous. Of course, if you have a bad recording, the humms and pops / clicks come through perfectly as well. lol. Keep your recordings clean and the sound will be breath taking.

    For a Receiver that is upwords of 39 years old and STILL showing the new equipment how to reproduce the sounds in a realistic manner, the Kenwood KR9600 is a KEEPER.

    If you can find one you should grab it, they are getting harder to find. The quality that is built into these receivers has become history, you can find reviews all over the internet and I haven’t found a bad one yet, after all these years.

    I truely enjoy my KR9600 whenever it is playing my music and I am always amazed that I can be rattling the windows and only using 3 watts on the power meter. You really have to see this to believe it.

    My Kenwood KR9600 is my pride and Joy, after all these years….. :^)

    1. Bought mine in the Phillipines while serving my country.
      Sent it back to fairfield ca. with a HOLD on it.
      After a year in the Phillipines, I picked the unit up and have been playing this reciever ever since!!!!!
      I had it in the shop in Chicago for the switch problem. The repair facility said they were sorry the 9600 was leaving. I have a pair of klipsh forte speackers.
      I enjoy it Very Much!! Long Live Rock!!!?

      1. Bought mine in PI in 1977. Shipped it home and mom put it in the closet and let me six months set the thing up with 4 K-777 speakers, Akai reel to reel (yes R to R), Akai cassette and Marantz turntable. I could have blown the roof off her little duplex. just got it fixed. Still clears your sinuses.

  4. I bought my KR-9600 new back in the day – late 70’s. I think they we available for 2 or 3 years. The only service it has ever needed was at about the 30 year mark – had a few lamps out, a scratchy volume pot, and while they were in there they replaced the speaker relays.

    But it’s stored away now, the reason being I found something even cooler (at least to me), a KR-9060.

    The KR-9060 is the 9600’s fraternal twin. I believe it was sold at overseas military Post Exchanges. The only difference between it and the 9600 – beside the model number – is that it has a 120/240 voltage selector switch on the back and a beautiful bronze-ish/brass-ih faceplate. The transformer is slightly different and perhaps a few internal wiring details, but the exact same astounding sound and quality.

      1. Hello Steve…I have had my Kenwood for about 35 years…purchased when it first came out. I’m
        The original owner and has been not used for a long time and just needs for me to clean it up ( dust).
        Please let me know your interest.
        GL @ 973-518-0831. Thank you for your interest.

  5. I purchased my KR9600 in early 1977. A month later someone broke into my house and stole my Teac reel to reel, my Cornwalls Speakers, and about everything else. When I got home the KR-9600 was laying in the floor with the power cable cut but otherwise no damage. The cops said my big dog probably scared the thieves away. It has been 39 years and I still own it. It is in great shape and rocks the walls down. I was 21 and now 60 and I have owned a lot of stereo equipment over the years. But I’m thinking I will keep the Kenwood. No one makes anything like this anymore. The KR-9600 rocked many parties and still could.

    1. Thank you sir. My KR-9600 sits in the original box in a server closet that is well protected against moisture. I have not removed the unit from the box since 2013. I cleaned it up and powered it up. All the lights work and it still looks great. I don’t know who I’l give it to when I’m gone. Nobody I know appreciates this stuff anymore. I have a 1990 Sony ES DAT player I purchased in while in Japan and several ES components. They are in boxes now too. A friend gave me his Marantz gear and I have lately restored some of it. I have two 2265B receivers and a big Marantz EQ. Now that I am old I enjoy tinkering with this stuff.

      1. Dave-
        I live a long way away, but have always wanted one of these. Should you ever consider selling it to someone who would appreciate it, you have at least one taker!

      2. I had one I bought back in 1976 paired with some Cerwin Vega H15 Hed speakers and a pair of Klipsh K horns with walnut finish. Left them at my parents house and come to find out my brother sold the receiver and Vegas and ruined the k horns tore one up and put the other outside in the weather, talk about pissed, I wish he had sold them too! I wouldn’t be so hurt!

  6. I have a KR-9600 that I was going to sell, I bought it from a fellow who went right to Japan and picked it up. It has a beautiful wooden outer casing, I have never seen another picture of a 9600 with that case. After reading up on the unit I think I just might keep it, I had no idea it had 160 rms per channel with separate power supplies!! It is truly a quality beast.

  7. I love these stories guys buying these receivers back when they were made I was definitely around back when they were made but I was busy buying diapers not Stereos but I did pick a KR 9600 up that was not working a year or so back I had it repaired cost me around $500 for repairs it had the infamous circuit power board burnt up but they got it going with a rebuild board it works good now excellent sound it will be in my collection forever

  8. Just a quick comment. Correct me if I am wrong, but this article claims this receiver was made between 1977 to 1981. I think it really was only made between 1976 until 1978.

    1. You’re probably right. Sometimes we go off of when someone actually purchased the unit at a retail outlet or from offerings in retail catalogs. Sometimes the receivers are on the market for a little longer then they are manufactured. But, you’re correct in that we referred to it as being manufactured so we will change the time frame. Thanks!

    2. Oh contraire, I bought mine directly in Japan while on port visit when I was in the Navy back in 1979. I served aboard the USS Ranger CV-61 and we had a total of 6 sound systems hooked up all the way back to the states. Mine was voted best overall. I paired my KR 9600 with 4 Sony SS 850 II’s 200 watt speakers instead of the Bose 901’s that all of my shipmates opted for. Complimented it with a Dual 721 turn table. Listening to it now for the first time in 15 years and it still rattles the windows, vibrates the floor in the whole house with the volume only set a little less the 2. It’s still unbelievably crystal clear and still like new. Still rocking the oldies. I’ll never part with it.

  9. Hello,
    I have a Kenwood AM-FM Mode KR-9600, unfortunately I can not find anybody who can
    repair it. My question is can you repair it,I’m told
    parts are not available for that unit. Any info
    would be appreciated.

    Louis de Farra

    1. We don’t do repairs but I know they can definitely be repaired/serviced. I would post on AudioKarma and give your location. I’m sure someone would know of a reliable tech near you. The KR-9600 does have some common issues, most commonly the output modules and the power switch, but even those issues can be repaired. Definitely a stereo worth repairing too!

    2. Hi, Louis,
      I can electronically restore just about anything that can hurt you. What does it not do correctly?

      [See my website at I am also on Facebook as Dr. Zee’s Vintage Electronics Hospital.]

      Maury Zivitz, Ph.D.

      1. Hello, Kenwood Kr-9600.How are the TW-200A power packs replaced should they ever fail?Thankyou for your time,

        1. Inner Source Audio in Portland Or. installed two Pioneer made as a replacements for the 2 TA-200 power supplies that failed.

          1. Just bought one that needed some TLC for $400. After a few hours of basicly just cleaning pots and switches, reseating fuses and lights, and reglueing broken supports; surprise! It came back like the champ it is. Nice sound for transistors. I am a tube guy. But like to rock out with classic 70s now and then. Also just repaired some Kenwood 777 loudspeakers. Listening to Wikd Bill Davis and Johnny Hodges on 4 JBL D123, a huge horn tweeter, and massive Savard bass cubes now. Very nice indeed!

    3. If you still have the kr9600, I would like to purchase it from you. I have one that also needs repair, would like to make one unit from both of them. Let me know, interested.

  10. In 78 I bought the 9600 and a pair of Klipsch speakers. I later traded it to a friend for a Kawasaki 400 but I never forgot the incredible sound of that stereo. Nothing made today can compare to the quality of that unit. All metal, wood and glass, not cheap plastic like today’s receivers. Would love to own one again.

  11. I own a audio repair facility(specializing in electronic musical instruments) here in Las Vegas and recently restored my 9600. I’m sure I can do the same for anyone in need. All the best!

  12. I still remember the day I bought my KR-9600, in my late teens. The salesman was a bit pompous until I pulled cash out of my pocket. Paired with a set of Mach II speakers and a Lab-100 direct drive turntable was hard to beat. In fact, still have the equipment today, original owner and yes, I am an old fart who still likes to listed to Let Zeppelin. The sound generated by a record and the KR-9600, IMHO, is hard to beat.

  13. Bought a mint 9600 from the original owner today for $300. I was looking for a Pioneer or Marantz, but I think I got a great price.

    I pulled a old pair of Bose 901’s out of storage, fefoamed them, and needed a vintage receiver to work with the 901 EQ.

  14. I bought a pair of bose 901s with the eq for $25.00, refoamed them and listened to them. I found i don’t have the room to make them sound good so i traded straight across for a Kenwood kr9600 in good working condition. It is missing the rack handles however, hope to find a set eventually.

  15. I just purchased a KR 9600 for more than I care to mention. During my search, I listened to a lot of other vintage receivers, but the Kenny sounded the best paired to my vintage pair of Dahlquist DQ 10s (real amp hogs).
    The sound is so pure and clean with absolutely no distortion that I find myself slowly cranking up the power until I start getting a ringing in my ears or my wife complains on the second floor and on the other side of the house.
    Truly amazing that there is no distortaion. I am hearing sounds, instruments, vocals, chords from records that I have listened to many times before. It is like the band is in the room, especially jazz and blues recordings. As long as I don’t blow anything up, I hear it as a wise investment in music pleasure.
    If you are thinking about buying a KR 9600, I highly recommend this heirloom piece of music magic.

  16. I’ve had 2 Kenwood KR-9600 receivers one now and one at least 15 years ago. These receivers are way under priced considering they are way better than any pioneer SX-1250s. Remember these were built in the late 70s during the stereo wars. Not only did Kenwood build a better receiver than pioneer but they made their price more competitive as well without lacking on quality that was better than other makers. Anyone that ever actually compared the two always chose the KR-9600. The other nice thing is that the 9600 can handle 4 to 16 ohms where as the others receivers clip and shut down. The big Sansui”s are also known for clipping and shutting down. Spoke to a audiophile that’s been running a vintage audio and repair shop for over 40 years and he right out said he’d take a Kenwood KR-9600 over a Pioneer SX-1250 anyday. So why pay so much for a Pioneer SX-1250 when you can find a better awesome Kenwood KR-9600 currently for around $700 to $800. I’m sure the prices will soon start going up for these as well in the near future. If you haven’t had one get one and hold on to it. You’ll love this beautiful powerful work of art. They are a beast, beautiful to look at and even better to hear. Pure power and quality!

  17. Bought my KR-9600 in the fall of 1976 and paid $579 for it. Still listening to it and feel good knowing I bought one of the best recievers ever made! It runs 2 pairs of JBL 100’s without braking a sweat. Technics direct drive with Shure V15 III makes this whole system pop! Haven’t heard anything past or present that beats it.

    It will be going to my son when I pass on…..

  18. A friend sold me his 9600 to me about 1983′ with no tuner I went and bought a new KT-615 for radio. Well I never liked the KT-615 because it wasn’t aligned properly or something was up. I enjoyed that 9600 until a few yrs ago I sold it.
    The best sounding integrated amp I have listened to..real quality.

  19. A friend of mine passed away couple weeks ago and his brother gave me his audio equipment. KR-9600 and a pair of Klipsch heresy speakers. Unfortunately the Kenwood doesn’t seem to be working. Powers up, no signal. I’m a professional musician so I put it through every combination that I could think of. Is this worth fixing?

    1. I’m looking for parts for my 9600 If you are planning to part it out or sell the whole thing Please let me know thank you very much

  20. I just got a 9060 for 125.00 works great and a pair of Kenwood kl-777A speakers for 150.00 together they sound great. Rock on.

  21. I saw my first Kenwood 9600 in a music store in Huntington, West Virginia in 1976/77 and fell in love with it! Unfortunately I could not afford one. :-( Fast forward I now have five (5) that I bought on e-bay and STILL LOVE the sound!!! The SAME DAY in that music store in Huntington, West Virginia I saw my first ESS AMT 1 speakers and fell in love with them! Unfortunately I could not afford them at THAT time EITHER! :-( Fast forward, e-bay has been good to me and I have found and purchased Four (4) sets of various ESS speakers and STILL LOVE Them and the sound! My lust for old tech has been satisfied!!!! LOL

  22. Just found one laying in the grass next to a junk hauling truck. Grungy, but paid the guy $30 bucks for it. Got it home and it rocks the house.

  23. Tom Roland 8/26/20
    I just purchased a 9600 a few month’s back with the wooden case. Cosmetically it’s a strong 9 but all it would do was power up. I took it to Modular Electronics in Atlanta 770-410-1122 for repair. When i first spoke with the owner ( Benny ), he said he could repair any part of the unit even the power packs that are no longer available. Two month’s later i was picking it up. I was like a kid ( a 63 year old kid ) i could not wait to get home and hook it up. I hooked it up to a pair of Sansui SP-X8000 and Kenwood Kl 777D speakers. This receiver performs from 3 watts to the extreme. It’s been quite a long time since i have heard something like this. I can not honestly say that this is better than a Pioneer or a Sansui, but what i can say is that this receiver is incredible with the speakers i have hooked to it. I will rate the 9600 as a keeper especially knowing that a quality service shop like Modular Electronics is just up the road if i need help.

  24. I’m looking and interested in a K/W 9600 on eBay that is selling for $2000. It has had quite a bit of work done on it. Would I be foolish to pull the plug and click on buy it now? Also per one of the internal pics…compared to the internal pic on this review, the area around the heat sinks looks a bit different. Can anybody tell me what may have been done in that area?

    1. It depends upon what you want. If you just want to buy one that’s already been restored and don’t mind paying a premium for it then that might be the way to go. Personally, I’m a little more frugal so I would approach it differently. You can find really nice KR-9600’s for around a $1000 or less that have not been restored internally but are beautiful externally. I would buy one of those and then have someone restore it the way I want it. Total cost would still be quite a bit cheaper than $2000 I would guess. But, either approach is valid. I think $2000 would be the highest selling price in the last year by quite a bit. The next highest sale was $1525 for a fully functional unit in its original box in May of last year. Every other sale was under $1000.

      Edit: Looks like the $2000 unit has already sold so somebody wanted it. Looks like prices are moving up!

  25. First heard one when they came out and wanted to buy it until I was told the price. I was only in High School and could’nt afford it . I remember standing in the store in the front and the 9600 was 30 feet away in the back hooked to a pair of Sansui 15″ cabs. I still remember how the bass beat me in the chest. Spent the last 40 years putting a near $25,000 audiophile system together. Saw the 9600 on Ebay that said found in box in closet at an estate sale. I won the auction for only $500.00 and when I opened the box it looked brand new. No marks on it anywhere and no dust inside! I still get phone calls from a guy in a second floor apt. 30 feet away telling me the bass was ratteling his window. I’m still a little pissed that the 9600 paired with some Ifinity 12″ studio monitors sounds almost as good as the big system. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones because it still rocks the block and sounds awesome.

  26. I currently have a KR 9600 hooked up. It sounds pretty good but needs to be serviced. I would like to get $1500 for it plus any shipping charges. I have another that needs some work . I would like to get $800 for that one. Buy both and get a better deal ! 607 648 7498.

  27. I bought my 9600 in 1976 for $600 it is an absolute ass kicker, it has chewed up many speakers including a set of Peavy stage monitors, I now have 2 cerwin vegas and 2 xls 15 cerwin vegas, Wow.

  28. I have a KR 9600 cosmetically excellent and in good working order except for a scratchy volume pot.
    I am the original owner since 1976 . Located in Huntington Beach , CA
    I have decided to part with it because I rarely turn it on and I think it needs to go to a good home !!!
    If interested, make an offer. 714-307-4614. Text me.

  29. A former co worker gave me his KR9600 receiver because he wanted something new with a different performance level.
    He was going to trash it because he’s had it since the early 1970’s.
    He apparently wasn’t aware that upgrades could be made to this receiver to include assessories found in some of today’s high end stereo receivers.
    It’s currently in the shop because the right channels are shorting in and out.
    It’s getting a complete going over to insure everything is working perfectly.
    It’s getting a few upgrades too.
    LED lighting and tuning .
    New updated gold plated speaker inputs for a optimal response.
    A rear mounted bluetooth connector for my I pod, i pad and smartphone.
    My impression of this receiver is that it is a performance masterpiece that one would be hard pressed to find in any of today’s stereo receivers.
    This type of receiver is what i’ve been searching for, for a long time but didn’t have the money to afford one.
    And this was given to me absolutely “FREE”.

  30. My brother and I had a 9600 with dual Advent loud speakers (4 seies) with a Tandberg 10.5″ reel to reel running at 15 ips with Dolby. Boy do I miss the days…… Have never had anything close to those sounds!

  31. I bought mine in college in 1978, it ran our fraternity house. I am listening to it as I type. It runs vintage Klipsch speakers I inherited. Has been serviced over the years, some lights not working and I have to play through Tape Monitor B, but it is still working. My boys ask when for $200 I do not replace it. I have listened to three current receivers. All flat by comparison, and it comes to life with volume. My longest relationship. Cheers

  32. Great Receiver, purchased mine in Iwakuni Japan while stationed there with the USMC … late-mid 1970s, have it connected to Polk Audio towers, purchased late 1980s and connected to Akai 10.5″ reel-to-reel, purchased from PX as well with 2 pair of JBL, white woofer refernece monitors, however, those were stolen with receiver but my dad found the Kenwood in a pawn shop while I finished my tour … Love It … Just Sayin’

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