In the world of affordable hi-fi, you’ll soon find yourself at a number of established names, but those who dig a little deeper will often find gems off the beaten track. Today we are again testing an integrated amplifier but one of a less obvious brand. A brand best known for its power supplies. We’re talking about the Keces E40. A compact amplifier that fits nicely on a desktop but also in a decent stereo setup
We like to test affordable stuff because it appeals to younger readers more quickly. An integrated amplifier below one thousand euros is often the first step to a more refined hifi system. That step where you get the hifi-microbe that quietly infects your whole body with the virus until one day you are completely defenseless and spend your hard-earned money on a far too expensive cable to get the ultimate reproduction. Ok, we may be exaggerating a bit, but we are convinced that a device like the Keces E40 can be the beginning of a new, special hobby.
Appearance and construction
Keces Audio from Taiwan is now a serious player in the market when it comes to power supplies. In addition, they have been building hi-fi components with a limited footprint for several years. Think of pre- and power amplifiers and even a dac. The Keces E40 looks very compact, it is built like a tank. The box looks tight without being too obvious. The 3mm thick aluminium chassis is practically the same as the power supplies: rounded. And it comes across as stylish. The volume control rotates very smoothly and is a pleasure to use
The small buttons for on/off and the inputs on the other hand are less successful. They work fine but feel fragile. From a distance, the names of the inputs are illegible, indicating that this device was designed for the work desk. At the front we see another 3.5 mm headphone jack, not a full 6.3 mm unfortunately. On the back we find two analog (rca), one digital (usb) and one phono input (mm). In addition, we see a pre-out (sub) and two pairs of sturdy loudspeaker connections. Just like the Graham Sleigh Majestic, the usb dac is limited to 16bit/48Hz. Not usable for high-res material (too bad), but we’ve learned not to jump to conclusions when it comes to musicality
The mini remote control is very basic but it works fine. Not only can you use it to adjust the volume, but also to select the inputs and turn the amplifier on/off. It has a ‘mute’ function so that you can temporarily mute the sound when you receive a phone call, for example. Always handy! An integrated amplifier must be functional and user-friendly. No fuss. Just connect cables and play
Inside the amplifier is an oversized power supply (specialty of the house). The class-A/B circuit with probably a high class-A bias, ensures that the tray is quite warm despite the large ventilation openings at the top. Don’t put it in a bad ventilated cabinet.
If the power supply is the most important component of an amplifier, then Keces has certainly done it. The food takes up no less than a quarter of the interior and is dead silent. That’s a good sign.
Because of the power supply, the rest of the small bx is of course full. But everything remains clean. The Keces E40 has 2 times 40 watts (8ohm) in class A/B on board and the – for this price range – wide bandwidth (5hz-100kHz) is particularly noticeable in the specs. Due to the serious power supply, this amplifier weighs in at a serious 4 kilograms. A small powerhouse.