It’s a distressing moment for some of us, when a formerly prized piece of electronic equipment reaches a point of obsolescence that we consider jettisoning it. [Jon Robinson] ran into this dilemma by finding the Kenwood Hi-Fi amplifier his 17-year-old self had spent his savings on. It was a very good amp back in the day, but over two decades later, it’s no longer an object of desire in a world of soundbars and streaming music boxes. After a earlier upgrade involving an Arduino to auto-power it he’s now given it an ESP32 and an i2S codec which performs the task of digital audio streaming as well as a better job than the Arduino of controlling the power.
Inside the case is a piece of stripboard with the ESP and codec modules, but there was still the problem of seamlessly integrating it with the amp’s distinctly analogue-era controls. The output from the codec is wired into an audio input – quaintly labelled for a DAT player – and a simple cam on the input selector switch operates a microswitch to select the ESP32.
If you’re dipping your toe in decent audio then an old amp from decades past can make an excellent purchase, but you might wish to educate yourself through our Know Audio series.