Kenwood KR V126R – An 80s beast!

Kenwood V106R

Kenwood KR-126R on eBay

I had previously brought up the beast that I use to power my Yamaha NSA637s with. Well Today, it’s time to introduce you to Kenwoods top of the line receivers back from 1987-1989. The includes the Kenwood KR V86r, KR V106R, KR V126R, and the most powerful one, the Kenwood KR V127R. I’m a proud owner of both the KR V106R and the KR V126R

Look at the beautiful display…

The display of the Kenwood V126R.

Just look at it… This series of Kenwoods are underrated by far, This was top of the line back in the late 80s. That spectrum analyzer for the equalizer is just eye candy. Unlike most spectrum analyzers, this series Kenwood’s doesn’t have any latency. Instead, it dances with your music. Just wait until you see it on the video bellow. To the left, the power indicator is exactly like the analyzer. No Latency at all. Instead, the power indicated jumps as the Kenwood pumps power to your speakers. For speakers like my Yamaha NS A637s that like some bass, that thing jumps with the beat. It will sure draw the attention of any quests. Sometimes when watching action movies, instead of looking at the TV, I find myself just staring at the Kenwood. It truly is a piece of audio art. Kenwood surly however didn’t skimp costs on the amplifier sections of these 80s beasts however.

Kenwood wasn’t playing around back then like the others.

I’m sure you know that back in the 1980s, manufacturers of stereo receivers started to quote “peak” power instead of RMS. Due to this, most receivers from the 1980s didn’t stand buy their power or sound. Kenwood however approached this a bit differently. Starting with the Kenwood KR-V86R in 1987, It pumped out 80 watts per channel RMS with only 0.008 THD. Later on however, Kenwood released the KR V106R while bumping the power rating to a hefty 100 watts per channel with the same low 0.008 THD. Then the KR V126R came out with a rating of 125 watts per channel with the exact same 0.008 THD. Even then however. Kenwood still wasn’t satisfied. In 1989, Kenwood released the king of this series with a whopping 130 watts per channel with….. You guessed it, 0.008 THD. This would be the KR V127R That’s a lot of clean RMS power out of a 1980s digital beauty. One of these days, I’ll get my hands on one. Not that the difference would be noticeable between the V126R and V127R.

The Features:

The Kenwood KR V126R

You get both a ton of features and performance out this beast. These Kenwoods all have the same design. You get a 7 band digital equalizer with up to 5 presets. You also get up to 20 presets for the digital tuner. Not only that, you get 3 video inputs along with tape, CD, and a Phono input. Kenwood also threw in a special “Audio Injection” feature which allows the mixing of two sources With all of this, you would think that Kenwood would slack on the power. They didn’t, instead, they built my Kenwood KR V126R as a monster. But numbers and features are one thing. We forgot the most important part of a piece of audio gear

The Sound:

It’s hard to compare a stereo receiver designed in the 1980s to one in the 1970s. They were designed for different music altogether. Listen to some 80s music. Then go back to 70s music. They’re two entirely different sounds. That how it is comparing the Kenwood KR V126R to anything from the 70s. The sound is bright and crystal clear. It’s almost as if there wasn’t a 125 WPC amplifier in between the original source. The sound is very good when it comes to clarity. But for those who like the warm 70s sound, this series of Kenwoods don’t provide this. Should this stop you from buying one if you come across one? No, this bright, crystal clear clarity is a good thing. You can add the warmth with a tube pre-amplifier. This will allow you to color the sound the way you want to by what is known as rolling tubes. I currently have the FX Audio Tube-01.

With all of this, what’s the catch?

There is one weakness I’ve discovered with these Kenwoods. Remember I stated that I own two of these beasts. The first one I bought after winning a $14 online Goodwill auction (talk about a score). I owned it for about a year when it started dropping the right channel intermittently. Then after about a month of doing this, the KR V106R started having trouble turning on before one day, it just wouldn’t turn back on. I was going to get it repaired until one day, I was wandering around EBay when a KR V126R popped up under auction. I won that one for only $120. That’s a steal by a long shot. I have yet to have any issues with this one. I’ve owned it for 5 months now. I read online that it is a known issue. I’m going to get the KR V106R fixed as I heard it was a cheap fix. These Kenwood beasts are worth keeping around. They sound great, look beautiful, and do not lack on features. In the end, they’re an excellent addition to one’s collection of gear.

18 thoughts on “Kenwood KR V126R – An 80s beast!”

  1. Grew up on a kvr-970b, which is the same thing except no built-in equalizer and everything is manual pot knobs & clicky buttons. This thing was the most metal stereo I’ve ever heard. Managed to blow apart the speaker cases on a pair of Sony ss-u311s. But that combination had the best midrange & a style of quick hard bass thumps that I’ve never been able to replicate, instead of that low-roaring bass you get rattling the trunks of Honda Civics you get today. Made for awesome party music. Glad to see there was an updated version of it that was available.

  2. I am new to all of this. Can anyone tell me about the Kenwood receiver I just bought? I have never owned one Kenwood ever… but now I am hooked. Okay, so I was buying some KLH speakers from a guy on FB Marketplace. Never heard of the brand before but liked the look. Now that I have them side note KLH aren’t bad! Especially for the price! So I mentioned to the guy that I was trying to find a receiver. So he starts video calling me from his basement. He is showing me 3 receivers a Dennon, Yamaha Naturals. Then he shows me the Kenwood. The video call was blurry but I knew right off I liked the display. He then tells me I cab buy anyone of them for $20.00. So I tell him the Kenwood. Then he started trying really hard to steer me to one of the other 2. Just made me want the Kenwood more…. He finally gives in and then actually drives it an hour to drop it off to me. So I get it home and just blown away by the power and sound! It was just what I was looking for. Well this thing is great condition KENWOOD KR-V107R…. everything works as it should. Can anyone tell me anything about it? I am guessing I got a good deal? What year is this from? I read back over what I just wrote and it kind of sounds like Kenwood porn… lol… what do you think?

    • Kenwood porn. That has a nice ring to it. Funny background story. It’s funny how we run into our gear that ends up being our favorite.

      The Kenwood KR V107R is basically a v106r with a different model number.

      Sounds like you got a good deal and I have to give kudos to the guy who sold it to you. This series of Kenwoods are the best in terms of looks. I really hope you’re enjoying yours. My KR v126r is still going strong. Still don’t have a set of speakers capable of maxing it out. Also planning on taking my v106R to get repaired so I can have one in my basement listening area.

      These receivers are still very underrated.

    • I have had a Kenwood KR-V86R, since the late 1980s. Bought it new. It’s a beast, although it now needs a bit of work. I recently purchased a KR-V107R for $200. I’m not complaining. It’s an even bigger beast! I’m surprised these things haven’t developed any more of a following.

      • I believe it’s due in part by them being 80s receivers. 80s gear developed a reputation for being lesser than the silver-face gear of the 70s. The other part being how pure these Kenwoods sound. Because they don’t color the sound at all, they can sound pretty fatiguing. I added a tube buffer to add a bit of warmth to help with that especially on uncolored speakers. The best part about this is the ability to roll tubes and thus change the tone of the system. It’s like having a tube receiver with 5 times the power.

  3. I bought a Kenwood KR-V106R along with Bose Acoustimass 5 speakers back in 1988. Amazingly both still sound great to this day. Thinking about a new unit with Dolby Atmos capability now.

    • It’ll be hard to find a receiver with an amp section as strong as the ones used in these old Kenwoods. They’re out there. But be prepared to pay for them. Good luck on your search.

  4. I have a kR V 126 r Kenwood in great shape . asking 235 dollars for it. I have 5 recievers have to sell a few.

  5. hello there thanks for putting out this article it would be of great help to all the music lovers out there especially those from the 80’s because back then the best stereos were from Kenwood because I brought alot of kenwood products then and also had Kenwood KR V127R it was very power and truely it’s a beast.

  6. Wow this is nice as a lover of music in the early 90’s I remember by alot of stereos and one of my favourite products then was kenwood they were already me of the bes companies with great music players then in my own opinion any product for Kenwood is superb because they have an eye for quality.

  7. Hello Rhett, like you said men Wood isn’t playing around and took date they still make some of the finest wares and appliance today, and since then, the brand has won me over as a customer. The KR v126r is one sound system i can always boast about anywhere i go for its uniqueness and it surprises how the people of that period have at a point had some really wonderful appliances in their time. Nice review on this product.

    • Kenwood was always doing something different. I own a set of headphones by them known as the JVC SZ1000s. I need to get a post out about them. Kenwood almost always takes the road less traveled on. I also have a head unit from them in my truck. One of the last modern day head units focused on sound quality. Built in up-sampling from 44.1kHz to 48kHz, a 13 band equalizer, and some DSP. I feel though Kenwood might be slowly losing their uniqueness in the audio world though as their products are starting to look like everyone else’s. 

  8. Cool, I never had a KENWOOD KR V126R audio-video receiver myself but I remember my cousin had one when I was a little kid (this was in early 90’s). The V126R was crazy how good it made the home sound system really come alive all around you. I even remember a hilarious time when my cousin and his younger bro (obviously my other cousin) got the “rad” idea to put house speakers in the back seats of his 1969 Camaro and stuck the darn V126r in the car too lol. They had it hooked up to some big batteries in the trunk (with more speakers in the trunk) and some woofers and tweeters or whatever those little ones are called. God it was so loud I thought his car would fall apart at the seams lmao. But anyways, really liked the Kenwood V126R, it was a great piece of audio gear for sure.

    • That’s very funny. I could only imagine 120 RMS WPC in a car. Brings up another point. Most car audio power ratings are false to begin with. I love my Kenwood KR V126R a lot. My KR V106R needs some love. 

  9. Wow, it’s great to meet your KENWOOD KR V126R. Being a music lover I always have to deep love with the stereo systems, but I didn’t come across these types of systems for a long time. Time trapped us to mobile, headphones and Bluetooth speakers.

    I used a stereo system in 90s but this one is even older. Congrats, you are really a proud owner of KENWOOD KR V126R.

    • I grew up listening to gear like this. I love good sounding music. Good stereo set ups can bring so much out of your music. When it comes to gear, older is usually better.


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