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Intergated amplifier



Manufacturer: HAIKU-AUDIO
Price in Poland (at the time of the test): 3813 PLN

Wiktor Krzak
tel.: +48 600-520-997


hile big companies from various branches, who are responsible for new solutions, research and patents, constitute the driving force of the world of audio, the salt of the earth, so to speak, are small manufacturers, who refine those concepts and turn them into something that perfectionists are willing to accept as their own. It can be applied to every sphere of life, including audio. Gone are the days, when big laboratories, such as Bell Labs, worked on theoretical basis as well as ready-made products – that is how classic horn speakers were created by Western Electric ,and then by Altec and JBL. Of course exceptions from that rule still occur – for example Meridian brand, a truly small manufacture, stands behind a few major innovations. However, the above case is marginal, the mainstream is divided into separate branches: researchers, working for the popular market and specialists focusing on audiophile market.

Haiku-Audio, a tiny manufacture from Krakow, with its creator Wiktor Krzak – musician and designer – is a good example of the latter. Made with passion and because of the lack of consent to the existing reality, with time it evolved into a commercial enterprise. Even though it is still fuelled by passion rather than the desire for profit (which, proportionate to the work and money involved, probably will not appear for a long time, that is how it goes), moved beyond DIY regions for good..

However not entirely – the reviewed Bright Mk3 hybrid integrated amplifier, belonging to the Haiku series, is available as a ready-made product, and in this form it is reviewed, but also as a DIY kit. You can order either printed circuit boards with a circuit diagram only and choose components according to your taste, or PCBs with all components but without chassis, or finally a complete set with chassis that has to be assembled. Chassis is a particularly important thing, because it sets professional apart from the amateur. The ability to design it, finding a reliable supplier who will make not only the first one, but all the other ones according to documentation – that is a real test for the company. The former remark is even more significant when you notice that the cost of chassis is often one half of entire product price. According to Haiku-Audio pricelist, chassis of Bright Mk3 costs almost 1400 PLN.

Haiku-Audio | owner, designer

I am a musician, electronical engineer, PhD student at the Academy of Music in Krakow, improvising bassoonist as well as classical musician. Knowing first handedly the authentic sound of music, I aim at possibly accurate reproduction of that sound with the use of audio equipment that I design.
I have designed amplifier for several years, focusing particularly on hybrid circuits. My major designing goals are:
- Minimalism. Signal path should be possibly short, and the number of components small, because neither circuit nor component enhance the sound quality. The best ones only do less harm. - Rationalism. Each solution has to prove right in the calculations, then give positive effects in measurements. Only after that listening tests are done.
- Aesthetics. A good amplifier looks beautiful not only on the outside, but most of all under the chassis. High quality of assembly guarantees reliability and long term stability. All my products are assembled in Poland, key components such as printed circuit boards or transformers also come from Polish manufactures, and a great majority of other components are European products.

The history of Haiku amplifier began in 2003 from taking up a challenge, which was to build a valve amplifier without the use of output transformers. Unfortunately a few attempts involving classic valve OTL circuits did not give satisfying results. Only experiments with hybrid circuits produced fully desirable outcomes. The solution was simple and yet innovative. Instead of composing a hybrid amplifier by connecting a single valve to the input of a complex solid state amplifier, I combined a complete valve amplifier, triode single-ended circuit, with one solid state stage performing the task of output super-transformer, which will enable the valve to operate with low impedance load, such as a loudspeaker. This combination includes all the advantages of a valve SET stage with versatility and durability of transistors.

That is how the topology of Haiku solid state power stage came into existence. I used that name later for a series of amplifiers utilizing that stage, produced by Talcomp. When establishing my own business in 2012 I used the word to name the company. A similar situation occurs in the case of the name Quad. It applies to the company, their famous amplifiers and the circuit itself, which is known and used autonomously.
The name of my circuit describes its simplicity and effectiveness, harmonious combination of content and form. Additionally, it was possible to achieve specifications impossible in the case of a valve amplifier, such as considerable output power, which also increases when the load impedance drops and sufficient damping factor without the necessity of applying any negative feedback.

First test versions of the amplifier constituted the beginning of Haiku Dark and Dark Mk2 series, as well as the high-end Dark-E, which all were presented under the brand name Talcomp at the Audio-Show exhibition in 2007 and 2008, where they were well received.
Another step in the development of the amplifier was the model named Bright, based on two new design goals. First of all, the amplifier should present the sound quality of Dark series while becoming more accessible in terms of its price, so that every music lover could afford it. Secondly, the circuit design was supposed to be so transparent, that the above mentioned music lover was able to assemble the amplifier on his own, because Bright is also available as a DIY kit. The present Bright MK3 model differs from its predecessors in the visual aspect and minor circuit modifications. The company is proud of the fact that for 12 years of presence on the market, none of the Haiku amplifiers have encountered failure.

Haiku Bright Mk3 is a hybrid integrated amplifier, with a valve input stage and solid state output. The valves used are a military version of 6H2π made in USSR, which are the equivalents of popular ECC83. Output stage operates in class AB, but providing a few initial watts in class A. It is a minimalistic design, because Wiktor (whom I know from the meetings of Krakow Sonic Society) is aiming at achieving the shortest possible signal path. The front panel is very carefully crafted by the manufacturer in Wroclaw. It has a black element in its center. Together with two aluminum knobs – volume and source selector – it forms a distinctive design, captured in the company’s logo.

It is a truly puristic device – without line-level outputs, digital inputs, wireless connection, with only four line level inputs and two sets of speakers connectors. The amplifier can be customized to a great extent – it is one of the features unique for small manufactures. Bright can be ordered with a top cover made of metal or organic glass. Even though it may seem insignificant, experience shows that such changes may lead to modification of sound. Its scope depends on the system. It is enough to mention DNM, who entirely eliminated meal from their devices (even their heat sinks are ceramic), as well as Japanese Esoteric. Engineers preparing new SACD releases, have removed top covers from their equipment and placed them at a certain height above the devices (more HERE). It would be interesting to try how changing the top cover in Haiku amplifier influences its sound. In Wiktor’s device it is also possible to change the potentiometer – the blue Alps can be replaced by a DACT switch potentiometer.

There might me a possibility to customize other components as well. It is stated that Bright for example can be ordered with various valves, including: ECC81/12AT7, ECC82/12AU7, ECC83/12AX7, ECC832/12DW7, ECC85/12AQ8, 6N1P-EW, 6N2P-EW and a few other ones.
The same model is also available as a power amplifier. The only difference is the lack of potentiometer, input selector and knobs.

Records used during the test (selection):

  • Pole Reports From Space, Bôłt Records BR ES12, “Polish Radio Experimental Studio”, 2 x CD (2014).
  • Western Electric 300B Vacuum Tube Sound, ABC Records HF1043, “HD Mastering”, CD (2012).
  • Cyrus Chestnut, Midnight Melodies, Smoke Sessions Records SSR-1408, CD (2014);
  • Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Fitzgerald sings the Rodgers and Hart Song Book, Verve 537 258-2, “Master Edition”, 2 x CD (1956/1997).
  • Jean Michel Jarre, Oxygen 8, Disques Dreyfus/Epic 664074 19, SP CD (1997).
  • Marcy Gray, The Way, Kobalt Label HMBT001CD, CD (2014).
  • Mark Hollis, Mark Hollis, Polydor 537 688-2, CD (1988).
  • Mirt, Solitaire, Bôłt Records BR ES18, “Polish Radio Experimental Studio”, CD (2014).
  • Sławek Jaskułke, Sea, Kayax 079, CD (2014).
  • Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet, Polka, Agora 6813801, CD (2014).
  • Zygmunt Krauze, Spatial Music, Bôłt Records BR 1019, CD (2013).
Japanese issues available at

We choose audio appliances to suit our individual taste. There is no such thing as absolute ‘neutrality’, but there are attempts to approach it. Sometimes those attempts turn into failures, other times they are not completely unsuccessful, marking a territory that covers all possible variants. One might criticize such an attitude, because the ultimate goal should be a specific point – the dead centre of neutrality. It is true that in the case of the best amplifiers I know, such as Naim Statement, the territory surrounding that central point is considerably small. What about the people who cannot afford a Statement, which means 99,999999 (9N) music lovers and audiophiles? Does it mean that they should not listen to mechanically recorded music at all? Should they limit themselves to concerts and their own music making?

I assume that all the readers answered the above questions the way I expected, which is: NONSENSE! If so – you get an A plus (forgive me, I could not help myself – in my Master’s Certificate it is clearly stated: ‘specialization – teaching’). You can earn yet another high mark, if you manage to answer another question, which is a natural consequence of the former answer: what should they do then? My answer is: choose appliances and combine them into a system with characteristics and sound qualities that will suit your individual taste best and will enable most of your music to send shivers up and down your spine. Such moments of exaltation or ardent acts are possible to experience on every level, from an amplifier that costs 1000 PLN to 760 000 PLN.

I assume that the same mechanism can be applied to designers, who adjust their circuits to their own concept of how recorded music should sound. In other words, by choosing and working on features that they value most, by trying to minimize the negative influence of other factors – the ones they wish did not exist, or the ones they cannot eliminate. If I am correct, what Wiktor values most are genuine tone colours and how the elements of musical expression come together.

Genuineness is here an equivalent of neutrality, approaching naturalness. The tone colours in the tested amplifier are incredibly normal, simply good. Expression is dense, somewhat warm as well as outstandingly fluctuant. The sound that we get is unforced, devoid of internal tension resulting from technical imperfections. There is, however, an artistic tension or groove, a mechanism that sets the course of events in motion. Tone colour is a dominating factor, because each recording seem to present the maximum of its possibilities. Instruments are very clear, but without stiffness, without providing a distinct starting point for each sound which is removed from its context. The auditory sensation is similar to the best amplifiers.

Being aware that Wiktor is an active musician who also has theoretical knowledge in the field of musicology that most of us will never acquire, the first recordings I listened to featured classical music. And it was exactly as I wrote above: dense, clear, rather warm, very natural playback. Because of power limitations, I had a better reception of chamber music recordings than those of a big symphony orchestra, but also the latter ones sounded simply all right. They just did not have an appropriate scope that can be achieved by more powerful appliances, also those within the same price range. As opposed to most of the not-so-powerful amplifiers, the sound was always clean and dense and I did not have an impression that compression is a problem. Dynamics simply calmed down and the background was moved forward. I think that this type of modification is more than justified.

I was however truly hooked on this type of sound while listening to recordings which theoretically require much more power, that is electronic music. It has been a long time since I heard such good renditions of Bôłt Records labeled recordings in the Polish Radio Experimental Studio series. Solitaire performed by Mirt had air and ingenious sense of balance between all the elements of musical expression. However, also mainstream recordings, such as a single once promoting the album Oxygene 7-11 by Jean Michel Jarre, with club remixes of Oxygene 8, sounded exceptionally coherent, dense, natural, and because of that they were very convincing. I listened to them with curiosity as to what will happen next, with tension achieved by keeping the connection between us – the listeners – and the music. Taking into consideration that we are talking about a recording, not a live performance, it really is SOMETHING.

Let us sum up this part: Wiktor’s amplifier sounds softly (in the sense: ‘velvet’, not: ‘mash’), warm, dense, coherent, natural. The more power you ask it to produce, the more softly and forgivingly it sounds. The above list resembles a description of a valve amplifier, doesn’t it? However there are only a few valve amplifiers that achieve it in such an unforced and unstressful manner. Bright Mk3 does not add unnecessary colour but rather, it ‘encompasses’ everything. I think that it manages to do so thanks to very good clarity, without a trace of brightening, sharpening or contour (stiffness). An additional factor is its exceptional resolution.
Resolution in this case manifests itself in the ‘weight’ of instruments and voices, not in the number of details. It is a device that celebrates the recording. Musical expression is treated as an entity, where the ‘body’ of happenings is important, not the contour. In expensive amplifiers the two elements are equal, within this price range you always have to make a choice.


Haiku presents happenings in a natural way, not only as a ‘shadow’ of a happening but also its ‘heart’. It becomes obvious with high quality recordings, but the less perfect ones also sound truly pleasant. It is not the forward oriented type of playback, nor is it particularly tangible. Music is presented in an exceptionally natural manner, but located behind the speakers, not in front of them. Dynamics is not high and it seems that the amplifier focuses on tone colour and similar types of relationships between elements rather than on sound volume. In that respect differentiation is impressive and for example the way Midnight Melodies by Cyrus Chestnut and Polka by Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet are recorded, will be shown immediately, without being veiled. It is an exceptional device, which presents mature and refined sound. As always – it is not for everybody, not for every configuration and room (its size). However, if Wiktor’s concept of music is close to your expectations, it will be difficult to find equally good amplifier in the same price range RED Fingerprint.

Haiku Bright Mk3 has a noble silhouette, based on an attractive front panel and two heat sinks fitted on both sides of chassis. The front panel is made of 10 mm thick aluminum, available in silver or black. Black anodized knobs are also made of aluminum. The one on the left is used to select input, the one on the right controls volume. Their indications are poorly visible – you have to come close in order to check which input is active or how far the ”Volume” knob is turned. There is an ample but almost invisible mechanical mains switch.

There are no diodes or indicators behind the black panel in the centre. You cannot tell if the amplifier is turned on. In the version with top cover made of organic glass, LEDs used in current sources and valves heated filaments are visible.
The back panel includes four pairs of gold plated RCA connectors insulated with teflon, as well as two pairs of speaker connectors. There are no descriptions – another feature that the company has to work on in the future.

Large heat sinks placed along both sides of chassis are not just an ornament. The amplifier’s PCBs are placed on them – right and left channel separately. The printed circuit boards are very interesting. You can notice decent passive components, for example large Wima polypropylene coupling capacitors, precision resistors, as well as a number of electrolytic capacitors in the power supply section. Their plastic covers were removed and replaced by labels with descriptions. According to them, every component was measured and paired. As you can read in the manufacturer’s description, power supply filters utilize capacitors with total capacitance of 60 000 μF (it really is a lot).
The power is supplied by a large mains transformer rated for 300W with a number of secondary windings. A choke is used in the H.T. section of the power supply. Inputs are selected by a mechanical switch and the blue Alps potentiometer controls volume. Signal path between the switch, potentiometer and finally PCBs consists of considerably long, shielded wires.

The description seems simple, but the structure of this amplifier is much more refined and we already know it from a Canadian Tenor Audio 175S amplifier that costs over 150 000 PLN. Italian Flight Audio amplifiers used to work in a similar way. The valve stage actually constitutes a complete voltage amplifier. Solid state stage works only as a voltage follower (or source follower), which provides current gain without altering the voltage. It reproduces the voltage fed by the valve with considerably greater current.

Another feature that can be found in very expensive products like Naim Statement is the way that the output stage is powered: Bright Mk3 has regulated power supply. Due to the need of keeping the price at a “friendly” level, Bright contains only one mains transformer. Dark-E had a separate transformer and voltage regulator PCB for each section and that is the reason why it used to cost almost four times as much.

The amplifier looks very neatly and reliably. It contains interesting solutions and a great amount of work has been done to fine tune every element. I like it very much.

Technical specification (according to manufacturer)

Valves used: 2x 6H2π-EB or 2x ECC83
Rated power (8 Ω): 35 W
Rated power (4 Ω): 65 W
Frequency response (-1 dB): 14 Hz-45 kHz
Frequency response (-3 dB): 8 Hz-85 kHz
Stage class: A/AB
Input sensitivity: 500 mV
Number of inputs: 4 pairs of RCA
Number of outputs: 1 pair
Power consumption (max): 300 W
Dimensions: 450 x 360 x 100 mm
Weight: 12 kg
Available front panel colours: Black or Silver



- Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
- Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
- Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE

- Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE
- Multiformat Player: Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD
- Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
- Power amplifier: Soulution 710
- Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE

- Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
- Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
- Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
- Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
- Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
- Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
- Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE

- Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
- USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
- LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
- Router: Liksys WAG320N
- NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
System I
- Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
- Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
System II
- Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
- Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA

System I
- Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
- Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
- Power Line: fuse – power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m) – wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
System II
- Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
- Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
- Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
- Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
- Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
- Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
- Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4

- FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One