Scythe Kama Bay Amp Page: 1
Introduction
 
Scythe is a name synonymous with aftermarket cooling hardware. I would like to wager that there aren't too many PC enthusiasts who hadn't at least seen, owned or heard about this well known Japanese based company's products. However, Scythe has decided to branch out from their roots and explore further niche markets. One area where Scythe has seen potential for further growth is within the audio market, and subsequently, is the subject for today's review.
 
I have been fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to review Scythe's brand new and currently unreleased Kama Bay Amp. This product is so new that it hasn't even made it into Scythe's warehouse according to their PR Manager. The Scythe Kama Bay Amp is a Class D general purpose digital audio amplifier with Yamaha YDA138 (D-3) internals.
 
Scythe Kama Bay Amp
 
The Scythe Kama is intended to be used either as an internally mounted 5.25" bay device, or mounted external to your chosen chassis. Let's have a look at the unit's specifications which were taken directly from the Product Page.
 
Specifications
 
* SDA-JAN 1000 (sickle Bay amp)

* Size: 152 x113 x41mm Depth width of 113 x 152 x 41 mm high (side panels)

* Installation: 5-inch bay or external

* Feeding method: AC power adapter that came with a PC

* Input: × 1 x RCA input connectors (2 channels)

* Output: 1 × speaker output system (Channel 2), 1 × headphone system

* Power Amplifier: YAMAHA YDA138(D-3) YAMAHA YDA138 (D-3)
The maximum continuous output of 10 W × 2 channels, 88%(8Ω/10W) SN103dBA The maximum efficiency of 88% (8 Ω/10 W), SN ratio of 103 dB, 0.02…(1KHz/8Ω) 0.02% total harmonic distortion (1 KHz / 8 Ω),

* Headphone Amplifier: maximum output power of 50 mW × 2-channel, 95 dB SN ratio

* Weight: 480 g
 
I'm sure that you'll agree that the specifications are quite impressive for a unit with such a small footprint...


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Packaging
 
The Scythe Kama Bay Amp comes packaged in a sturdy cardboard box that displays the usual amount of advertising that we have come to expect from Scythe.
 
Kama Bay Amp front Kama Bay Amp rear
Kama Bay Amp side Kama Bay Amp side_2 
 
The unit itself is housed within wafers of styrofoam around the sides. This should adequately protect the unit if dropped during transit, but the lack of polystyrene packaging on the top and bottom of the box offers little protection should something sharp pierce it. All things considered it should arrive safely at your doorstep.
 
Package contents Package contents
 
Included in the Scythe Kama Bay Amp's packaging is:
* 1 x AC Power Supply
* 1 x PCI blanking plate and screws
* 2 x bundles of speaker cable
* 1 x stereo mini - RCA Jack
* 1 x RCA - RCA Jack
* 4-pin peripheral adaptor
* Silver front panel
* Installation manual
 
A Closer Look
 
First impressions are usually lasting ones, and the Scythe Kama Bay Amp looks very fitting. Featuring a brushed Aluminium front panel (both black and silver); the unit should look quite at home in any high-end chassis. Both the On/Off button and volume dial feel very high quality, as does the mute button.
 
Should you wish to run the Kama Bay Amp externally, Scythe has included adjustable feet on the base of the unit. Nice touch Scythe!
 
Scythe Kama Amp front Scythe Kama Bay Amp rear
Scythe Kama Bay Amp bottom Scythe Kama Bay internals
 
Removing the top cover of the Kama Bay Amp reveals the innards which are reasonably tidy. All joints appear to be well soldered and quality components used throughout. The Yamaha YDA138 (D-3) amplifier contained within the chassis features a "Pure Pulse Direct Speaker Drive Circuit" which directly reduces distortion of the pulse output signal, and also reduces overall noise levels. Over-current protection for speaker output terminals as well as IC thermal protection are also major features of the amplifier.
 
Scythe Kama Bay Amp faceplate Faceplate
 
As with many Scythe products, the Kama Bay Amp features switchable faceplates depending upon the colour of your chassis. The faceplates are very easy to change over; the removal of four screws is all that is needed to change them over.
 
Kama Bay Amp battery
 
The included AC power supply is a STARMEN single output unit with a manufacturer rated efficiency of 78%. The unit itself is the type typically used for flat panel monitors, and appears to be solidly constructed. If you would like know more about the power supply, then feel free to head here for additional information.
 
Rear connectors
 
The Scythe Kama Bay Amp also features very good quality threaded terminals and RCA Jacks. These should also help to reduce additional noise.


Scythe Kama Bay Amp Page: 3
Installation
 
Installation of the Scythe Kama Bay Amp was a very simple process. Attach a faceplate, whichever matches your PC chassis (I chose black) and screw the Kama Bay Amp into a free 5.25" bay.
 
Scythe Kama Bay Amp
 
Unscrew an empty PCI blanking plate and replace it with the one that Scythe included in the packaging, and then simply feed your cables through. Some sort of rubber grommet would have been handy here to help seal the hole, and minimise the influx of dust into the case.
 
Blanking plate installed
 
Once your cables have all been nicely routed and secured onto the speaker terminals you should be all good to go.
 
installed and operational
 
Let's head over the page to see how we tested the Scythe Kama Bay Amp...


Scythe Kama Bay Amp Page: 4
Testing
 
I've spent the last week and a bit putting the Scythe Kama Bay Amp through its paces in as many ways as possible. Please bear in mind that I don't have access to a load tester or equipment to really test the actual performance of this amp; subsequently I will be relying on my 'ears'. I shall attempt to report as objectively as possible given the possible range of variables: Loudspeaker Impedance; Loudspeaker Efficiency; Room Size; Room Acoustics and Listening Preferences . The test setup that I used to assess the Kama Bay Amp has been listed below:
 
* Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
* XFX 630i/7150 IGPU mATX motherboard
* 2GB's of OCZ PC2-6400 Titanium RAM
* 2 x 80GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA II HDD's (RAID 0)
* Compro DVB-T300 Analogue/Digital TV card
* Scythe Kama Bay Amp
* Sunbeamtech Cube Case
* Pair of stereo headphones
* Pair of Sony CP-DP2500H speakers ( 6 OHMS, 120W Peak, Rated Power 60W)
 
I tested the Kama Bay Amp in the following scenarios:
 
* Listening to music (Pantera's: Vulgar Display of Power; Vivaldi's: The Four Seasons; and Jean Michelle Jarre: Greatest Hits)
* Watching a DVD (Steven Spielberg's: War Of The Worlds);
* Gaming (Counter Strike: Source), and
* Watching television
 
The Scythe Kama Bay Amp provides a surprising amount of power for its size. I must admit that I was initially taken back by just how well the amplifier performed. For the first part of the listening tests I ran the amplifier and speakers without any equaliser presets to see just how well the amplifier replicated the audio output of the RealTek HD audio  chip on my motherboard. The Scythe Kama Bay Amp performed very well. After introducing some equaliser presets and EAX voicings to colour the sound a little more to my preference, I again listened to the output at medium to loud volume. The Kama Bay Amp did display a little distortion at reasonable bass frequencies and again at high treble frequencies. But all things considered the Scythe Kama Bay Amp performed exceptionally well considering its size, and a slight fiddle with the volume knob or the slider on the EQ sorted the issue..
 
Gaming and movies were quite enjoyable once I got over the 2.1 sound. I'm sorry, but the availability of a 7.1 sound system at home as well as 5.1 system for gaming has spoilt me somewhat. The Scythe Kama Bay performed admirably, and gave a good account of itself as part of a 2.1 stereo system.
 
Once again during the television testing through my Compro T300 card the Scythe Kama Bay Amp performed solidly, and certainly made a nice change from the AV stereo speakers on the 68cm television I was running it through.


Scythe Kama Bay Amp Page: 5
Conclusion
 
So how well did the Scythe Kama Bay Amp perform in todays review?
 
The Scythe Kama Bay Amp is a great little device and is exceptionally well constructed. The unit performed faultlessly during testing and was certainly a competent performer. However, the dilemma that I am faced with is who exactly would use a 5.25" bay amplifier. The HTPC enthusiast would certainly have a decent audio setup at home, and unfortunately, probably wouldn't consider a 2.1 system worth a look. Alternatively, the gamer who doesn't require extremely immersive sound may be swayed.
 
All things considered the Scythe Kama Bay Amp is a great little unit and well worth a look if you can utilise it. The Scythe Kama Bay Amp has an M.R.R.P of €49.95, but won't be available until next week after its official launch.
 
The Good
• Small footprint
• Powerful, considering its size
• Quality
• Price
 
The Mediocre
• Somewhat restricted in application
• Extra routing required for speaker cables
 
The Bad
• Nothing to report
 
OC3D Innovation Award
 
Overclock3D would like to thank Scythe-EU for supplying today's review sample
 
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