DA&T K-422 Integrated DAC Bi-amplifier Review

TESTED AT $2600
WHERE TO BUY

The DA&T K-422 is a powerful integrated DAC bi-amp packed with features such as Class A and Class D outputs and it’s wrapped in a distinctive premium chassis. It retails for $2600.

Disclaimer: This sample was provided on loan by KStudio for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

Pros
  • Robust, muscular sound
  • Excellent dynamics
  • Versatile with different speaker types
  • Wireless functionality
  • Integrated DAC
  • Versatile input and output options
Cons
  • Might not suit hardcore purists

DA&T K-422

Design

DA&T K-422 front full view

Looking at the DA&T K-422 it certainly has a HiFi look. It has an unassuming but unmistakenly premium appearance. And even if you don’t think it looks premium, you might change your mind when you feel the 17.5kg tank of a chassis.

A brushed section makes up the middle of the unit while all the sides and front sport a smooth matte finish. The thick fluted aluminium body is not purely for aesthetics either but works as a giant heatsink to help dissipate heat from the chassis.

The front panel is clean with just the large red potentiometer in the middle. This knob is also a button and pressing on it puts the amplifier into standby mode, accompanied by some neat lighting effects.

There’s a ring of blue LEDs around the volume knob that show the current output level. But when you increase the volume, the LEDs change briefly to red.

At the top front of the unit is a series of 8 LEDs indicating which input source is selected. There’s a single button on each side to cycle through the available inputs. The amount of input options is pretty comprehensive so I’ll break them down in a list as follows:

  1. coax 1
  2. coax 2
  3. optical 1
  4. optical 2
  5. analog
  6. analog direct 1
  7. analog direct 2
  8. Bluetooth

When it comes to outputs, there are the dual left and right speaker outputs, as well as a D.D.S. output for multi-amplifiers setup and RCA pre out.

If you like metal remotes, the K-422 has a special treat in store for you. The included remote is a very hefty brick of aluminium in the hand and it feels totally awesome. Despite it having only 3 buttons, the remote can comfortably perform all the controls i.e. changing the volume and selecting the input channel.

K-422 remote control

Features

DA&T K-422 rear panel

This is where the K-422 really sets itself apart from the competition. There’s so much to talk about I’m not sure where to start. First of all, the amp has its own integrated DAC that supports up to 32 bit/192kHz and DOP 128. Furthermore, it utilizes a proprietary FPGA system to handle all the decoding duties.

Another great feature of this DA&T K-422 amplifier is its bi-amp abilities. The bottom binding posts are for the Class D PWM output and the top is the dynamic Class A output. The Class A outputs also have a dynamic gain knob so you can dial in the perfect levels.

A switch on the back of the unit lets you choose between Class A only, Class D only or both simultaneously. This obviously makes the K-422 very versatile with multiple speaker types. So regardless of whether you have precise analytical transducers or slower, more musical speakers, you can choose the best arrangement to optimize their character.

Another switch on the back of the amp selects between crossover, full-range or 2-way modes. On the crossover setting, the crossover point between the Class D and Class A outputs is set to 2.3mHz. In 2-way mode, the Class D output is cut off above 5kHz while the Class A output sets the cutoff point at 900Hz.

This amplifier can put out 240W @ 4ohm from the PWM-D outputs and 260W @ 4ohm from the dynamic Class A outputs. That might not seem all that much but when you consider that it can do both of those things simultaneously, you start to get an idea of the power on tap.

K-422 rear panel angled

Sound

Despite having both Class A and Class D circuits, the DA&T K-422’s sound character is consistent no matter how you listen to it. Yes, the Class D output has snappier transients and tighter bass but it’s every bit as musical as its Class A component. This is an amplifier that at its core is designed for the music lover.

But the K-422, despite having an analogue character is also transparent and resolving. On top of that, it sounds extremely robust and muscular. The K-422 exudes confidence and delivers even the most demanding music with effortlessness.

Playing Solar Field’s “Cosmic Dessert (2021 Remaster)“, I was impressed by how the K-422 handled the track. From the barebone nature of the breakdowns with their subtle details to the hard-hitting rhythmic bass, the DA&T takes it in its stride. It takes firm control of the lows with nimbleness and assuredness that leaves no doubt regarding its authority.

Everything is conveyed in a wide, spacious soundstage with pinpoint stereo imaging and placement. Note density is spot on too with focused instruments and vocals. It might not be the most neutral of presentations but instead leans ever so slightly towards smooth and punchy.

The K-422 produces a sound that is enveloping. It wraps you up in the music and takes you on an emotional roller coaster. And although the DA&T emanates a feeling of robustness and confidence, it can handle music with finesse too. Take a song like Sibelius’ “The Swan of Tuonela” and the DA&T has me swept up in the hauntingly beautiful and emotional tone poem. This is a great song to highlight the amplifiers impressive dynamics.

When it comes to cohesiveness and timing, “And The Beat Goes On” by The Whispers had me nodding my head uncontrollably to its rhythmic groove. With songs like this, the K-422 shows it knows how to get down and party. Vocals are expressive, full-bodied and clear making it near impossible to not get caught up in this funk classic. It might not be the best recording ever and the DA&T is revealing enough to show that but it’s presented with such charisma, you’ll likely be so busy tapping your feet to the groove you won’t even notice.

DA&T K-422 input select buttons

Conclusion

The DA&T K-422 might look simple on the surface but when you dig a little deeper you’ll start to discover all that this device has to offer. Its integrated DAC, Bluetooth connectivity, multiple input options and different amplification modes make this a very versatile piece of HiFi kit.

Furthermore, the DA&T has an excellent build quality that surpasses a lot of the competition in its price range. But by far, the best thing about the K-422 is its powerful yet refined and charming sound character. When you consider the price and overall value, this integrated amplifier looks even better. Highly recommended.

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Specifications
DA&T K-422 specifications
Founder of Prime Audio
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