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Integrated amplifier
Mach Audio

Price (in Poland): 30 077 zł

Manufacturer: Mach Audio – Profesjonalna Manufaktura Audio

ul. Słowackiego 9 | 23-300 Janów Lubelski | Polska
tel. 510 397 332


Country of origin: Poland


Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Pictures: Wojciech Pacuła
Measurements and charts: Janusz Machałek
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

Date of publication: 01. March 2012, No. 94

Mr. Janusz Machałek is a newcomer to the world of home audio manufacturing. Interestingly, he comes to us from the world of engineering, designing, and measurement. He is not a typical audiophile, rather a music lover who decided to use his experience with electronics to improve the world a little – in the end music is one of the most beautiful forms of human activity, and contributing to its better perception is an activity that leads to the TRUTH. And even if there is no consensus on what this TRUTH really is, we are inside a margin of freedom outside of which – and there is a common consensus about that – there is an ocean of deceit (music and sound wise).

I learned about the amplifier, and Mr. Janusz, during last year’s Audio Show 2011. This inconspicuous amplifier stood on a platform from the company Copulare in the room of Grobel Audio. Its presence there, surrounded by electronics from Jadis, loudspeakers from Rosso Fiorentino Electroacoustics and headphones from STAX can be explained by personal involvement of the owner of the distribution company, Mr. Sebastian Kienitz, in the Mach Audio project that he probably deems worth supporting.
Although looking at the “electro acoustic power amplifier”, as it is called in the company materials, it is hard to understand why. This is a black box, with a nice, although simple fascia, and a cabinet looking like a DIY project. No descriptions on the back plate, quite basic connection capabilities, no fancy things inside. No remote, unknown brand. And the price – 30,000 zł…
My conversation with Mr. Janusz shed some light on this. The project took two years of his life. The amplifier is his proprietary design, different than most available on the market. The most important thing in its construction is an incredibly precise selection of components, with very tight tolerance matching. That also includes selecting transistors with only even harmonics (like tube amplifiers), with the second being most prominent. Mr. Machałek illustrates that with an array of measurements available on his web page. What draws attention is the exceptionally wide frequency response – up to 100kHz at -0.5dB and up to 1MHz with classic measurement, at -3dB. And this is only the top range, from below the amplifier almost reaches DC – there are no capacitors in the sound path. According to the constructor it was about minimizing phase shift, which is in single digit values at 100kHz…
All this comes at a price – I mean the cost of time and work to create this unit. Even though, the price of this amplifier is somewhat shocking.

And who exactly is Mr. Janusz? He writes about himself:
“I made my first steps into electronics already in the elementary school, designing a generator for telegraphy. I made my first amplifiers in high school. Continuing my passion, I worked in the construction department of the Zakłady Wytwórcze Magnetofonów in Lubartów (a tape recorder factory), then I continued with electronics as my hobby, designing for myself and my friends.
While working on the amplifier you are reviewing, I made hundreds of high precision measurements, mostly examining the influence of grounding layout on measurement results and the sound – which is key at such wide frequency response. That is why the design of this amplifier took so long.
It is worth mentioning that this is my introduction into big audio. There were lots of designs on the way, but my basic idea was to replace the tube with the transistor, and that the solid state amplifier should not sound worse than a tube one, but better. Because the measurements do not fully reflect the sound of the amplifier, it was only my visits at Mr. Wojtek, the owner of an analog studio in Rogalow, and subsequent listening sessions that allowed defining the direction of the design.
The input stage features low noise FET transistors (bipolar were used only in current sources), which channel capacitance introduces certain input capacitance that in turn makes the amplifier perform best with the potentiometer set to maximum (it behaved best at 10kΩ, but then there are problems with the source).
Regarding the potentiometer, it was supposed to be very good on Farnell claims; however the tests did not confirm that and it will be replaced by the Alps.
I used passive preamplifier to have as few amplifying stages as possible; it was initially designed with no potentiometer, but after talks with Mr. Sebastian I added a potentiometer, because there is more interest in such designs. When somebody has a dedicated preamplifier, it is best to set my amp at maximum and control volume by the preamplifier. It is worth noticing that the amplifier features innovative protection against short circuit and overheating.
The objective was the most faithful music reproduction, and since phase shifts can deform the sound, I eliminated input capacitors altogether; they had negative influence on the sound as found during the listening sessions.”


Nagrania wykorzystane w teście (wybór):

  • Audiofeels, Uncovered, Penguin Records, 5865033, CD (2009).
  • Chet Baker, Chet Baker Sings and Plays, Pacific Jazz/EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-90028, HQCD (2006).
  • Depeche Mode, Fragile Tension/Hole to Feed, Mute Records, CDBONG42, maxi-SP (2009).
  • floating.point, Free Falling, selfmade by Piotr Szczepaniak, CD-R.
  • Jean Michel Jarre, Magnetic Fields, Epic/Sony Music, 488138 2, CD (1997).
  • Kay Starr, Blue Starr, RCA Records/BMG Japan, BVCJ-37389, K2HD (2005).
  • Linda Ronstadt, ’Round Midnight, Elektra/Asylum Records, E2-60489, 2 x CD (1986).
  • Michael Jackson, Thriller. 25th Anniversary, Epic/Sony Music Japan, EICP-963-4, CD+DVD.
  • Patricia Barber, Companion, Premonition Records/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, UDSACD 2023, SACD/CD (2003).
  • Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here, Experience Edition, EMI/EMI Music Japan, TOCP-71169-90, 2 x CD (2011).
Japanese versions of the CDs available from CD Japan

The Mach Audio amplifier has exceptionally well set timbre. I searched for some comparisons – in the end I will try to show it in a certain context – and for me it came closest to two amplifiers: to the IT-15 from Lavardin in some extent, and to the McIntosh Mc275 in large extent (see HERE and HERE). I know two versions of the latter amplifier – the Commemorative Edition and the ‘IV’. Yes, the timbre is very close to that. It is a bit warm, not fully open in the middle, with beautiful, velvety midrange. That kind of timbre happens very rarely with solid state devices, so each contact with such kind of amplifier is a little feast.
I think that the velvetiness of that sound is not due to its smoothening out, it is not a part of its “mudding”, but is rather a derivative of the exceptional measured parameters, most of all the level and the type of distortion and the very wide frequency response. And also probably from the simplicity of the amplifying circuitry. How do I know that? Because my reference devices, the ones I own and know by heart, are designed in a similar way – the CD, the power amplifier, the preamplifier – and in the end they sound alike. When I hear something similar, it turns out after a closer look that at least two of the three mentioned components are present in a given device.

The sound is incredibly comfortable. It just encourages us to sit down in our comfy sofa or chair, or whatever we like to sit upon when listening. Even after a long time, when our hearing accommodates to this kind of sound, we perceive it as warm. As I said, this does not come from any softening of the sound or withdrawal of the treble, but from the things I already mentioned and some quieting down of the micro-dynamics. I will return to this in a moment.

First let me talk about how the amplifier handles recordings. One thing you already know – the device “encourages” listening. The sound has the right weight; it is open enough to play each CD right. Really, each CD – I could not find a single one in my collection that would be clearly “unlistenable”. The flaws of badly recorded, badly issued discs can be picked up, that is if we want. But subconsciously it is not what we want to do. For example, when we play the disc Free Falling by the artist naming himself floating.point, we know that the recording dynamics is quite mediocre, that its resolution is only OK, but we listen to it with interest (at least when we like that kind of electronic music – I like it, hence “with interest”), we get fully “immersed” in it, both our head and heart.

The Mach Audio does not differentiate recordings as well as my reference system. Also the Accuphase E-350 or the Luxman L-550A seem to brighten up the upper midrange, adding more energy to vocals, to guitars sustain, to cymbals hits. The thing is that the Polish amplifier significantly increases the quality of listening to worse recorded discs, while the Accuphase and the Luxman rather expose them, not really following the rule of “first – do not harm”. I am not saying that the Mach Audio will improve the sound quality; that cannot be done at this stage, after the source, but I am talking about the quality of listening, which is simply outstanding. The amplifier will play every disc of that kind, and I can add to those Thriller by Michael Jackson, Fragile Tension/Hole To Feed by Depeche Mode, etc. No matter what the kind of music, its source, or its description in the encyclopedia.

How does it do it? We could explain it with its attention to detail. Well, we could, but the Mach Audio is not the kind of device that accents details, extracts the back planes, or exposes the little things we did not hear before. Or at least it does not do it for show.
Its sound is holistic, coherent. The result is that we do not have a “hi-fi” sound, i.e. resolved and detailed at the first glance, with a strong bass and vivid treble, but rather something quieter, somewhat hidden. Closer in its timbre and internal quietness to what we know from live performances.
That’s because at the first glance the top and the bottom of the Mach Audio seem pulled back. This was my impression during the first hour of listening and comparing it with other devices, for example the Hegel H70, which review you can find in the same issue of “High Fidelity” (No. 94, Feb 2012).
But after some time we come to the conclusion that everything is in its place, that Jarre’s Magnetic Fields has a very strong, warm bottom octave and a nice, quite sweet, but in a positive way, treble. The latter was brilliantly shown with Patricia Barber’s album Companion – a live recording, and although splendid, yet not fully “clear”. The Mach Audio showed it from the better side i.e. it kept the original timbre of percussion cymbals, the upper part of the sound of the Hammond B-3 organ and the guitars, combining it into one, smooth presentation. The same case was with the bass – although the amplifier somewhat averages the rhythmical aspect of the recordings, yet the club versions on the mentioned maxi-single by Depeche Mode (the vinyl version was issued as a maxi-single with two A sides) sounded energetic, rhythmical and strong.

So how does the Mach Audio sound? In one word: splendid. It has all the advantages of a good, beefed up tube amplifier, but without any tube in the sound path. Its sound is incredibly involving and just “right”, in the sense that we feel no internal discomfort, making us search for something else, we do not ask ourselves the “what if…” questions. Can it compete with other amplifiers in this price range? Here things get complicated.
If we placed the Polish amplifier in a real context, like a range of popular (as long as the price allows for that) integrated amplifiers, then – sticking to the solid state ones – we would have on the one side the Krell S300i and the Hegel H100 – splendid, nicely looking and well sounding amplifiers – and on the other side the amplifiers from Accuphase, Luxman and the IT-15 from Lavardin on the horizon.
All those amplifiers are better made, look better and have a much higher functionality (except for the IT-15, to which I will return in a moment), much better customer support – high-end also means customer support and the confidence that the company will not disappear from the market in a moment – and finally they come from the known and praised, truly iconic companies. Set against this background, the Mach Audio is like an ugly duckling (Mr. Janusz – I am sorry, but I was meant to speak the truth) – the enclosure looks like a DIY project (well, maybe except the fascia), the inside is similar, the company is tiny, Polish (I mean, from a country not really associated with audio), and the functionally is bare to none. Everything seems to be against the device. If it was not for its sound, we could assume it to be just a onetime freak.
Well – the sound. It is splendid, and the reviewed amplifier can be listened to alongside the IT-15 and we will have problems choosing. Both amplifiers come from small companies, their design is adjusted to the small manufacture’s capabilities, and will never be “run of the mill”. However the IT-15 shows what can be done with a device if you have an investor. Because this is what Mr. Janusz needs. The product is ready for manufacturing, but first some issues need to be resolved – re-think the enclosure, exchange the potentiometer (the amplifier sounded better, when I turned it up to maximum and used the volume control in my player), etc. Without that it will remain a garage production. With a beautiful sound, incredibly engaging and just plain good. But this is not yet (in my opinion) a finished product – it is a finished amplifier but not a product.
So I wish Mr. Janusz further successes, because he has a gift in his hands. The current giants like Krell and Accuphase grew up from such beginnings – with the aim to perfection. And perfection comes at a price.

Review conditions
The amplifier was placed on an anti-vibration platform from Pro Audio Bono with experimental suspension of the strings – on ball bearings, and not sleeve ones. The loudspeaker cable is a braid from thin copper wires, prepared by the manufacturer, also used inside the unit. This kind of cable should be added to the amplifier at no extra cost. It should only be equipped with some nice plugs and have the company logo in it. The power cable was in this case the Sablon Audio The Robusto.


The Mach Audio amplifier does not have an official name, symbol, etc. This is a nightmare from the sales point of view. But if things go well it will be “The Mach Audio”, the protoplast. From the design point of view what we have here is a power amplifier equipped with a passive attenuator on the input. That is why the name “electro acoustic power amplifier” used by the designer is not without sense. This is of course an ‘integrated amplifier’, but ‘power amplifier’ is also a good choice. The device is quite heavy. The bulk of this weight is a very large toroidal transformer and a steel enclosure. The enclosure looks like home made in a small workshop. Only the front looks professionally – it is made of black anodized aluminum with laser cut silver descriptions for the knobs. There are tree knobs – power switch, input selector and volume. On the back we have gold plated, big, but not outstanding speaker terminals, the IEC power socket and five pairs of RCA sockets, also quite ordinary. The amplifier does not have a remote controller. The top and side covers are pierced and quite thin.
The electronic circuitry is mounted on one big PCB. Voltage filtering capacitors abound everywhere, including the RIFA capacitors just next to the power transistors. The transistors working in AB class, in push-pull are bolted to a large, aluminum heat sink. The potentiometer is open and does not look very impressive. The signal leading to it and then back to the power stage is transferred using thick, shielded cables, looking similar to the ones used by Manley. There are no capacitors in the sound path.

Technical data (according to manufacturer):
Type: integrated amplifier, class AB, push-pull
Output power: 40W/8Ω | 80W/4Ω
Frequency response: 0-100kHz/+/- 0.5dB | 0-1MHz/+/- 3dB
THD+N: < 0.002% (1kHz/1W/8Ω) | < 0.02% (20Hz – 22kHz/40W/8Ω)
Dynamics: 105dB


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  • Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III [Signature Version] with Re-generator Power Supply
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  • Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro; 600 &#8486; version, review HERE, HERE, and HERE
  • Interconnect: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300 (article HERE, preamp-power amp: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
  • Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review HERE
  • Power cables AC (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
  • Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE
  • Stand: Base; under all components
  • Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under the CD and preamplifier
  • Pro Audio Bono platform under Leben CS300