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Audio Note UK Jinro Integrated Amplifier Review

Audio Note UK Jinro Integrated Amplifier Review

Whether or not it’s measured in kilos and ounces or kilos and pence, John Scott finds that Audio Notice’s Jinro is a heavyweight champion that doesn’t pull any punches. 

If you uncover that you’re going to be spending a while at residence with Audio Word UK’s celebrated Jinro built-in amplifier there are lots of ideas and feelings which may run by means of your head.  Personally, I skilled a quick mixture of gratitude and pleasure earlier than a extra sensible concern burst my bubble.  Fairly merely, the place was I going to place it?

The Jinro shouldn’t be, in any sense, your common built-in amplifier.  At 26 inches deep, or extra possible lengthy, – have you learnt anybody who has a 26-inch deep shelf? – and weighing 85 kilos, the Jinro may need been capable of sit lengthways on my glass-shelved Stands Distinctive rack.  Perhaps.  It was additionally potential although, that after about 30 seconds, there would have been an almighty crack and the entire shebang, Jinro and all, would have come crashing to the ground. And that wasn’t a telephone name I needed to make.  Thankfully, a few weeks beforehand, I’d had trigger to face on prime of an previous picket Victorian blanket field and knew that if it supported my weight with out grievance then 85 kilos wasn’t going to be an issue so it was pressed into service as a hifi help and, damped internally by blankets and cushions, a jolly good job it did too.

The Jinro is an built-in design operating pure Class A and utilising a pair of 211 output triodes to provide a most output of 20 Watts a channel.


The Jinro used for this assessment was provided by Audio Word vendor Carlo Marengo of Audio-philia in Edinburgh.  Carlo not solely delivered the amp but in addition provided a pair of ART Monitor Diamond audio system and a COS D1 DAC together with DRAM speaker cables and interconnects and a pair of Extremely strong Goal speaker stands.  Altogether, this might create a system that value greater than my first three-bedroom home and ought to assist present the Jinro off to the perfect of its means.

Probably the most thrilling issues about Hifi reviewing is that second when the courier arrives and the next unboxing of the gear.  On this event, the courier was Carlo and he did the lion’s share of the unboxing and establishing which is strictly the service I might have acquired had I been an actual buyer.  An excellent factor too, because it took our mixed efforts (and a small trolley) to maneuver the Jinro, the audio system and the stands from Carlo’s automotive to my front room.

Carlo’s familiarity with the gear ensured that the Jinro was shortly free of its sturdy packaging and fitted with its complement of six valves.  With the ART audio system equally shortly put in and the COS DAC fed by my very own Roon Nucleus + server, we powered every part up and took a fast break for a cup of espresso earlier than settling down for a pay attention.

Because the Jinro I had for evaluation was an indication mannequin from the Audio-philia showroom, it was absolutely run in and, though Carlo was eager to level out that its sound would enhance after it had been powered up for an hour or so, we have been each equally eager to have a pay attention earlier than he left.  Figuring out that Carlo is an enormous Chet Baker fan, I fired up Baker’s model of George and Ira Gershwin’s However Not For Me from The Greatest Of Chet Baker Sings.  After a few minor changes to speaker place and one other couple of tracks, Carlo declared himself glad and left me to it. With uncharacteristic restraint, I made a decision to not launch straight into an prolonged listening session however as an alternative to attend till later within the night whereas the Jinro settled into its new environment.


So, setting apart the Jinro’s sound for a second, what about its aesthetics?  The Jinro’s design has its origins within the Ongaku amplifier manufactured within the late 1980s by Audio Notice Japan (a unique firm from Audio Notice UK who make this specific amp, however that’s a narrative for an additional time and place).  The Ongaku was a money-no-object amplifier utilizing silver wiring all through and the very best high quality elements.  The Jinro tweaks the design and takes a extra cost-conscious strategy, with copper wiring and fewer esoteric, however nonetheless high-quality internals.  Did I point out that it weighs 85 kilos?  Given its pedigree, you’ll not be stunned to study that what we’ve right here is just not 80 kilos of casing with a couple of kilos of elements rattling about inside.  A lot of the load comes from the three large transformers that sit atop the bottom, however each a part of this amplifier exudes solidity and first-class construct high quality; the enter selector knob offers a satisfying click on because it strikes between inputs and the quantity management turns easily and authoritatively.  At this worth level it would be best to really feel which you could see the place your cash has been spent and the Jinro definitely offers reassurance on that entrance.


I spent a fidgety couple of hours pretending to observe the TV earlier than getting right down to my first critical listening session.  Selecting the primary monitor to play is all the time a troublesome choice however I settled on an previous favorite: John Martyn’s Strong Air.  It’s a monitor that I’ve recognized for almost forty years and has been performed on dozens of various methods, from humble 1970’s music centres to methods costing tens of hundreds of kilos.  How would if fare with the Jinro?  Rendered on a high-quality system, I typically consider this music as hanging within the air between the audio system like smoke.  The mixture of the Jinro, COS DAC and ART audio system offered all the smoky environment I used to be I used to be anticipating however I wasn’t ready for the sheer degree of element that I used to be listening to.   This was like being within the room when Martyn, Danny Thompson, Rabbit Bundrick, Tony Coe and Tristan Fry laid down the monitor, or a minimum of as near it because it appears potential to get.  I assumed I’d been there earlier than with different bits of hifi package however clearly, I’d been incorrect.

Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters is a tribute to Joni Mitchell that includes an fascinating assortment of visitor artists together with Tina Turner, Corrine Bailey Rae and Leonard Cohen.  Cohen intones the lyrics of Mitchell’s The Jungle Line as a poem and The Jinro pulled out all of the depth and gravitas of not solely that well-known voice but in addition all of the tones, and overtones, of Hancock’s piano, rendering it as a dwelling instrument.

Shifting on to some classical music, I picked certainly one of my favorite check pieces- Benjamin Britten’s A Younger Individual’s Information To The Orchestra.  After an introductory theme performed by your complete orchestra, Britten takes us on a tour as every part of devices performs their very own variation on the theme earlier than all of them come collectively once more on the finish for a fugue and a reprise of the theme.  It’s a very gratifying piece of music in its personal proper but in addition a good way of attending to know the person devices of the orchestra.  Sitting in the dead of night because the valves of the Jinro forged a rosy glow over within the nook of my front room I used to be transported to Philadelphia’s Scottish Ceremony Cathedral because the orchestra unfolded in entrance of me. Merely magical.  By the way, the Scottish Ceremony Cathedral just isn’t an precise cathedral however an architecturally spectacular Artwork Deco Freemasons Corridor, now sadly demolished.  For the subsequent 15 minutes or so although, it was resurrected by the Jinro together with the just about palpable efforts of the orchestra members as they reworked bodily motion into music.

That’s all properly and good, John, I can hear you say; however that’s an entire new system you’ve acquired going there.  How have you learnt that it’s not the COS DAC or the DRAM audio system which are the star performers right here?  There was just one approach to discover out.  A lot as I might have liked to have spent the entire week listening to this technique, I knew I used to be going to have to tug it aside to get to the guts of the Jinro’s sound.

Going virtually from the chic to the ridiculous, the £8000 COS D1 was changed firstly by my Spectra DAC after which the Allo Boss DAC that varieties a part of a self-built raspberry pi-based streamer/DAC.  Every of those are available at round £100 so usually are not even in the identical universe, by no means thoughts ballpark, because the D1.  That there was a distinction was instantly audible; it might have been astonishing had there not been.  A lack of element definitely, a discount in atmosphere.  However did the Jinro expose these DACs as completely unworthy companions; did the DACs render the Jinro’s appreciable charms mute? Thankfully not and much from it.  The Jinro might have revealed the bounds of each DACs’ efficiency however they have been nonetheless sounding higher than they ever had earlier than.  When the DRAMs have been swapped out for my Audio GE Sincerus 80s, I’d decreased the price of the system by greater than 60% however I used to be nonetheless left with a setup that merely outshone something I’d beforehand heard right here at house.  Does it make sense to associate a £20,000 amplifier with supporting package at a fraction of that worth? You’d be stunned.

I spent longer than you may think with this configuration.  Sure, the urge to improve DAC and audio system can be plain in time however this was a arrange I might be very happy to stay with.

The ultimate check was, in fact, to pair my reference amp, an Etalon SuprA, with the D1 and the

DRAMs, eradicating the Jinro from the equation totally. Had I been reviewing both of those in isolation as an improve in my very own system, I’d have been delighted with the enhancements nevertheless it was clear that this arrange merely didn’t sing in the best way that even the “finances” Jinro configuration had.

Some amplifiers garner a fame as “rock amps” or “classical amps”.  The Jinro is just a music amplifier.  Whether or not you throw a Mahler symphony at it or some dub reggae, it simply will get on with the enterprise of placing on a musical efficiency, portraying the recording as shut as attainable to what the producer meant.  Every listening session stretched on into the night time as I picked out hitherto unnoticed particulars in what I assumed have been acquainted recordings.  If I might sum up the Jinro’s core high quality in a single phrase it will be: Holographic.  Enjoying Felton Lonnin from The Bairns by Rachel Unthank and The Winterset, I might virtually see Rachel clog dancing on a picket stage in entrance of me, flanked by upright piano and double bass, in what I imagined to be a small church corridor.


One of many questions individuals typically ask me about high-end audio gear is: “Is it value paying all that cash?”  On common, individuals spend round £22,000 on a brand new automotive and you will get a reasonably decently specced one for the price of a Jinro.  You may argue that a automotive is a necessity and a hifi amplifier isn’t however, handled correctly, the Jinro will outlast any variety of automobiles and will probably be cheaper to take care of and gasoline into the discount.  In case you actually care about music copy, it’s an funding that may repay itself by offering many, a few years of listening pleasure.

And it’s, in reality, a pleasure that’s actually troublesome to relinquish upon getting skilled it. A few days after he had delivered the Jinro, the COS D1 and the DRAM audio system, I acquired a textual content from Carlo asking how I used to be getting on.  “Sorry, who is that this?”  I texted again. Wouldn’t it be potential to maneuver home in every week with out Carlo discovering out? I used to be starting to assume it is perhaps value a attempt.  When the time did come handy again this excellent beast and return to my very own system – which I had been completely proud of by the best way – I discovered myself not likely eager to take heed to music a lot for a few weeks; that particular magic that the Jinro had introduced simply wasn’t there.  Time, nevertheless, is a healer and whereas I’ve obtained used to dwelling with out the Jinro once more, the time we spent collectively gained’t be forgotten.


There isn’t a denying that the Jinro isn’t for everybody.  It’s a piece of kit that must be accommodated; you’re most unlikely to have the ability to merely slot it into your listening room instead of your present amplifier.  Nevertheless, in case you are ready to provide it houseroom, its beautiful sound high quality will repay your efforts in ways in which actually should be skilled to be appreciated. It’s a hefty funding, however one that may pay dividends over a really very long time.


Construct high quality: No pointless bells and whistles right here, simply top-quality elements expertly put collectively as a lovely, strong package deal.

Sound high quality: Breathtakingly detailed, the Jinro makes probably the most of any musical style from whisper-quiet ambient jazz to full-blown orchestral climaxes.  When you assume you understand your music assortment inside out, the Jinro will present you in any other case.

Worth for cash: At £20,000 the Jinro gained’t be in everybody’s finances however in case you are contemplating an amplifier at this worth level it calls for an audition. Until you’re an incurable field swapper, it might be the one amplifier you’ll ever want. 

Execs: Construct high quality is second to none. Extremely detailed and refined sound. Massively pleasurable to take heed to.

Cons: Costly. Uncompromising measurement and weight. Carlo made me give it again

Worth: £20,200







John Scott

Producers Specs

INPUT IMPEDANCE: 100Okay Ohm, line degree

INPUT SENSITIVITY: 450mV for full output

MAXIMUM OUTPUT: 450mV for full output


VALVE COMPLEMENT:​ 2 x 5R4WGB, 2 x 211, 1 x ECC82 / 5814a, 1 x 7044


UNIT DIMENSIONS: 305mm (h) x 305mm (w) x 640mm (d)

MAINS INPUT: AC 100-120V / 220-240V  50/60Hz