Onix A-120MKII Overview and Setup
Let's face it. Everyone is into home theater and accessible music these days. Some may be into the home theatrical recreation of the bone crushing action scenes of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T101; others may be into ripping their CD collections into compressed and dynamically range limited M P3 collection for easier portability and convenience. What happened to good old fashion two-channel listening where one would sit in the comforts of their dedicated room for hours on end discovering the nuances and subtleties of the music they cherish? We live in a fast paced society obsessed with instant-gratification that places an emphasis on watching shallow reality TV shows on their $5k plasma displays and using HTIB "cubed" home theater systems as their reference to "quality" audio. It's no wonder the art of two-channel is on the steady, fast path towards extinction. Being an avid music lover myself, with emphasis on fidelity over function, I do my part to be mindful of this and every now and then review the type of product that birthed my realization for my love of music so many years ago. Enter the Onix A-120 M KII Integrated Amplifier. I can think of no other product readily available that better exemplifies this type of indulgence.
Setting up the A-120 M KII couldn't be easier. It had a very basic back panel with 5 audio inputs, a tape monitor, and four sets of WBT binding posts to power up to four speakers via its internal two-channel amps. The speaker outputs are wired in parallel so if you do plan on taking advantage of all four outputs, we would advise using 8-ohm minimum loudspeakers since the amplifiers will actually see half that impedance when driving two 8-ohm speakers per channel. Otherwise, feel free to use 4 ohm speakers in a two-channel configuration. As you will see in our bench tests, this amp has plenty of drive and will not hiccup on difficult speaker loads.
The thicker solid copper RCA connectors for the CD input add a nice touch of nostalgic value for audiophiles concerned with such matters. I like them because they were firmly coupled to the chassis - easing my concern when attaching and removing even the most exotic and not-so-form-fitting interconnects without fear of breaking them off.
Though I am not a Vinyl fan, lovers of this format should be aware that the Onix A-120 M KII does not contain a moving coil phono preamp. Thus, you will have to add your own and attach it to one of the unused inputs. I don't see this as an issue since true phono fans can always be found chatting up their favorite outboard preamp.
The front panel was void of the gadgetry commonly found on home theater equipment and instead contained a very basic user interface. Consisting of three large golden circular knobs, these sparse controls handled volume, balance (no tone controls) and input. A blue LED indicated power was on and two red LED's indicated a fault (which never tripped even during my max power measurement tests).
Initial power up revealed a momentary 'thump' sound from my speakers, indicating the lack of a muting relay to mute the sound during power supply charging. I was mildly disappointed in this, but given the design philosophy of simplicity and not adding excessive circuitry in the signal path, I could perhaps see the reasoning for this. I, of course, would have preferred a fix for this, but didn't see it as a major issue or potential problem as much as an observation and annoyance.