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.
For an interesting breakdown of the performance of the KR-9600 and a comparison to the 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 really nice KR-9600 will sell just under $1200. Good working versions can be had for $700-$900. By contrast, a really nice SX-1250 can sell for $1500 to $2000.