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Integrated amplifier



Manufacturer: HAIKU-AUDIO
Prices (during review): 17 200 PLN

Contact: Wiktor Krzak
tel.: +48 731-838-358


The tested product was supplied by HAIKU-AUDIO

ven though Haiku-Audio has just recently made its debut as a manufacturer of complete audio amplifiers, it has already become part of the perfectionist (i.e. audiophile) part of the audio industry. However, it was not so certain that it is possible to move from a company offering DIY kits (Est. 2003), run by an active musician who is mentally closer, perhaps, to a recording studio than to a listening room, to a rightful manufacturer of audio equipment with a classical approach. Haiku-Audio still offers DIY kits, as well as microphone preamplifiers, but it has clearly made itself at home in home audio.

With a twist, however; as Wiktor, the owner of Haiku-Audio said when he brought a heavy, big and new amplifier called Iovita (do you remember Stanisław Dygat’s novel Disneyland?) to my place, the majority of orders that he now gets are the so-called “custom” orders, i.e. devices normally offered by the company, but adapted to the needs of specific users. Sometimes, devices not included in the company offer are sold , things like “working prototypes”. What would seem to be an unnecessary distraction a few years ago, is now within reach for us, consumers. The advantage of small firms is that they are close to their clients and that they can provide tailor-made products. There has to be some basic offer, but this is how it works.

As regards Wiktor’s company, the invariables are: focus on amplification + using tubes and field transistors as active amplifying elements, without using feedback. So, he offers tube (Williamson and Ganymede), hybrid (the Bright series) and transistor (SOL) amplifiers and preamplifiers. Similarly to products that we have already tested (RT Audio Design and sinusAudio), he uses modules produced by the Italian company Modu for housings. It is a reliable and trustworthy manufacturer. Haiku-Audio offers housings assembled using top-class components, i.e. full aluminum boards and not bent steel sheets.

What makes the company’s amplifiers special, apart from their electrical design, is the front panel made in Wrocław. It is an aluminum board with an elongated “window” in the middle, where a darkened acrylic board is placed. There is a large convenient volume knob on the right and input change on the left. It was also decided that the three elements, i.e. the board, notch and knobs would become part of the company logo.


While studying the Haiku price list, we notice a certain regularity: apart from made-to-order tube devices, all amplifiers are inexpensive or quite inexpensive. This is the legacy of DIY in which every penny mattered, but also an advantage of direct sales where the distributor’s and dealer’s profit margins are shared between the producer and the customer. However, such a sales model makes development impossible. A company falls into the trap of low income and a lack of a distribution network. So, perhaps the iovita (the original manufacturer’s spelling) is the first device whose price has been calculated in the same way as prices offered by other manufacturers who have been longer in the industry.

It is an integrated hybrid amplifier with a tube preamplifier section and a transistor power amplifier section. Although the front panel belongs to the idiom developed by the company, here we have its modification – it is as if two Bright amplifiers were put one on the another, with two “windows.” One of them houses buttons, while tubes should be visible under the other one – this is how such “windows” work in tube amplifiers. However, not much is visible here – if we take a close look, we will see the slight glow of input tubes and, perhaps, of LEDs that are used in the circuit as voltage reference standards. McIntosh has dealt with this problem by illuminating tubes with green LEDs. It looks nice, but for many it is an exaggeration – it is not possible to satisfy everyone…

Owner, designer

IOVITA is the latest Haiku-Audio design which summarizes the experience gained by the company so far in the field of hybrid amplifiers. It has fairly high output power (60W/8Ω or 110W/4Ω) and works without negative feedback. Its input selector uses air-tight signal relays with gold-plated contacts, placed on a printed circuit board with gold-plated traces. Volume is controlled using a classical “navy blue” ALPS potentiometer. A single ECC832 tube deals with voltage amplification, while the power stage consists of industrial HEX-FET transformers. Despite high output power, it is a class-A amplifier. Such a solution has made it necessary to use enormous radiators (h = 165mm) that are placed on both sides of the housing.

An ECC832 tube is a rare thing to have in audio equipment. Classic double triodes (ECC and 6SN7 tubes, etc.) contain two identical triodes. It is often the case that the quality of a tube is determined by equal parameters of both halves. The ECC832 is different, as it contains two completely different triodes. It is a tube dedicated for unsymmetrical circuits where each of the tube halves has a different task to do in the amplifier. The first triode is delicate (low anode current) and it is loaded by a dynamic current source, which allows it to obtain maximum amplification and operation within the most linear range. The second triode is much more powerful. It works with huge signal and its task is to drive the difficult load of a strong transistor stage. Until recently, ECC832 tubes were hardly available and their quality left much to be desired, but the Gold version of the ECC832-JJ has lately been released, which can be successfully applied in top-quality devices. It proved ideal for a hybrid amplifier having an unsymmetrical design.

It is worth noting that the IOVITA has as many as seven separate power supply units and that each of them is individually stabilized. Power is supplied separately to transistor stages of each channel and to tube components. Tube glow is separately stabilized in each channel. The seventh amplifier supports a processor which controls input relays and switching on/off all sections in the correct order..

I have already mentioned the principles which Wiktor uses while designing his devices. Another axiom is that he does not use remote control, assuming that it always spoils sound. It seems that even axioms change with time, as the iovita has been equipped with such a receiver located behind the upper “window”. The driver was not ready yet when I conducted the test, but the device will work with any remote control working with RC-5 code (e.g. Arcama).

Input is not changed by turning a knob, but by pressing a button. Wiktor chose very nice buttons for this purpose, with a subtly illuminated rim. The input-changing sockets are green and the remaining two buttons (mute and standby) – amber. There are four linear inputs and there are no outputs apart from speaker outputs. So, I missed a hole at the front a bit (you cannot find one at the back, either) – I am thinking about a headphone output, of course.

The amplifier stands on aluminum feet, but I placed it on three very good HiFiStay Gyrotension VEGA feet during the test, based on sintered ceramic balls and soft suspension (I wrote about them in connection with my test of the Audio Alto DMI 3H amplifier). All the cables were Tellurium Q Silver Diamond series cables. The power cable was connected to a separate KBL Audio Reference Power Distributor power strip with a Himalaya power cable from the same manufacturer, connected to a separate dedicated Furutech wall power socket.

HAIKU-AUDIO in “High Fidelity”
  • TEST: Haiku-Audio GANYMEDE + BRIGHT Mk3 POWER – line preamplifier/phono stage + power amplifier, read HERE
  • AWARD OF THE YEAR 2015: Haiku-Audio HAIKU BRIGHT Mk3 – integrated amplifier, read HERE
  • TEST: Haiku-Audio HAIKU BRIGHT Mk3 – integrated amplifier, read HERE

  • Recordings used in the test (a selection):

    • Paganini For Two, Gil Shaham, Göran Söllscher, Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music Ltd, Taiwan 480 246-5, XRCD24 (1993/2009)
    • Archie Shepp, Blasé/Live at the Pan-African Festival, BYG Actuel/Charly SNAD 534 CD, 2 x CD (1969/2004)
    • Billy Cobham, Spectrum, Atlantic Records/Audio Fidelity AFZ5 234, SACD/CD (1973/2016)
    • Bottleneck John, All Around Man, Opus3 CD 23001, SACD/CD (2013)
    • Hilary Hahn, Hilary Hahn Plays Bach, Sony Classical/Sony Music Japan Entertainment SICC 30087, „Best Classics 100 | No. 78", BSCD2 (1997/2012).
    • Jean-Michel Jarre, Electronica. Vol. 1: The Time Machine, Sony Music Labels SICP-30788, BSCD2 (2015)
    • Joseph Haydn, Septem Verba Christi in Cruce, wyk. Le Concert Des Nations, dyr. Jordi Savall, AliaVox AVSA 9854, SACD/CD (2007)
    • Megadeth, Dystopia, Universal Music Japan UICY-15449, SHM-CD (2016)
    • Mikołaj Hertel, Epizod A, GAD Records GAD CD 035, CD (2015)
    • Pieter Nooten & Michael Brook, Sleeps With The Fishes, 4AD GAD 710 CD, CD (1987)
    • Renee Rosnes, Written in the Rocks, Smoke Sessions Records SSR-1601, CD (2016)
    • Thelonious Monk, Solo 1954-1961, Le Chant du Monde CMJ 874 2376.77, 2 x CD (2015)
    Japanese issues available at

    While thinking of audio devices, we tend to be reductionist. In the case of a high-power amplifier we assume that it is a small amplifier, but with a bigger power supply unit and more amplifying elements, thanks to which it is louder. What is funny, it is so in most cases. However, a huge (high-power) amp does not sound the same as a small (lower power) one. It usually sounds worse and its only advantage is high current which it can pump into speakers, as well as (most often) higher output attenuation, resulting from a parallel connection of output transistors. That is why it is not surprising that the iovita does not sound as if it was an enlarged Haiku Bright Mk3

    First things first, however: power was the underlying cause for creating it. There is no doubt this device will easily drive most currently available speakers, playing loud with a high SPL, with no signs of overdrive. What is more, we can make it work in difficult conditions, i.e. in large rooms, as well as at places with a lot of hard surfaces that reflect sound (I will come back to this topic later in the article).
    The power that we are talking about is mostly the freedom with which the new Wiktor’s device approaches music. We hear no effort being put into the process of developing a piece of music, building its structure by applying one layer after another – tone, dynamics or harmonics. Everything sounds equally open and does not get hardened or sharpened when we turn the volume knob to the right. As far as I am concerned, volume was much too high before the knob reached the 12 o’clock position.

    Such a huge power reserve also makes it possible to build a musical message with good differentiation of tones and positions, no matter if we are talking about a violin solo, piano solo or the rhythms from Billy Cobham’s Spectrum. It is a message without internal “jamming”. Usually, an amp that is “asked for more” starts to compress sound, hardens and sharpens the message, which indicates clipping of the peaks of the signal sinusoid. I have never reached that stage with the iovita. I do not say it is impossible, as everything is possible, but I also claim that few people will have that kind of experience (probably only if they decide to prove something to themselves).

    High power almost always means compromise. It results in lower resolution, closing the sound and, most often, hardening it. None of these elements is present here – not because it is an ideal “no compromise” amplifier, but because care has been taken to make them the least bothersome. However, they are going to be the key factor when it comes to deciding whether or not to take the device.
    The iovita provides huge, full and broad sound. It is soft and this is, perhaps, they key distinguishing feature of this design. Other transistor amps that I value, from within the same price range, such as Hegel, Accuphase and AbysSound, are harder and have a stronger and more accurately conducted sound attack. So, the Haiku amplifier is closer to tube amps, e.g. Leben and D-class amps, but designed by people who love tubes, representing elinsAudio and SPEC, for example.

    The softness that I am talking about is mostly the velvet tone. It is something that strikes our ears already when we listen to the amp for a moment and remains with us all the time we listen to it. If the recording itself is like this, i.e. devoid of unpleasant artifacts, let it be Archie Shepp’s Blasé – ultra-smooth, soft and pulsating. When the percussion feet strikes in it, it is a deep, low strike with long sustain. The whole album is a bit black, but this is what it sounds like. When the piano enters, like in the Thelonious Monk Solo album released in France last year, it has a “finite” size and can be further defined, but not through sharpening the edges, but naturally constructing its 3D image through tone, dynamics and harmonics.

    When it comes to the naturalness, it is some kind of an assumption and not something that we could relate to reality. I wrote about it in my April’s editorial, but I remembered it when I was listening to Joseph Haydn’s Septem Verba Christi in Cruce performed by Le Concert Des Nations conducted by Jordie Savall. It so happens that, quite recently, the same piece played by the same people opened the 13th Misteria Paschalia festival. I had an ideal location right in front of the orchestra, in the seventh row of the ground floor hall of the ICE Conference Center in Cracow (more about the ICE HERE). Ten years have passed since the album was recorded – it is one variable. Another one are slight changes in the orchestra. The third one is another reciter – here: Radosław Krzyżowski. The fourth and probably the most important one is a completely different room.

    It was the first time I had ever left dissatisfied after a performance during this festival. I reckon the choice of the reciter was bad and his voice was not well-rendered by the sound system. It was also not the best Savall’s day. The biggest problem was, I think, the interaction of the orchestra with the interior in which they were performing. The ICE has a very large room decorated with wooden panels – one that is “dry” and with short reverberation. Savall’s performances that I had heard before, both solo and with orchestras, took place either in churches or in the Tempel synagogue in Cracow – and this is where he should perform. At the ICE, each (even the smallest) mistake is instantly heard, as it is not covered by reverberation. Apart from that, such a place provides different conditions for performing, in which you hear yourself and other musicians in a different way. So, the “not the best” disposition of the orchestra was obvious.

    However, this is not something I wanted to write about – the thing is that the recording sounds completely different from and much better than what I heard live, during the concert. So, one cannot talk about the “naturalness” of sound in an absolute way without the context. That is why the context in which I recalled this category while describing the iovita is rather closer to my expectations concerning the features that such sound should have.

    Wiktor’s amp sounds natural in the sense that it shows the attack, but stretches it in time so that it instantly leads to sustain. So, this is not about blurring the attack, but smoothing and rounding it. This mostly relates to bass which is not especially controlled in any way. The device draws huge sound sources of a huge volume and there is a lot of swing at the bottom of the scale. However, this is where decay is not sharpened as much as in other amps that I recalled earlier. If speakers are not full-range, i.e. do not render sound below 30 Hz, this is going to be an advantage, as they will be filled, energized and brought to life. However, if speakers are big, you need to make sure if control is not going to be too weak with the music you listen to.

    So, rock music did not impress me as much as with the Bright Mk3. I missed the wildness, control and attack. Even in the case of highly compressed albums that should benefit from such shaping of sound, sound was too “legato.” It was different in the case of jazz and classical music. The foreground is presented slightly behind the line joining the speakers, which is beneficial for live recordings. They come across extremely natural, freely developing into the depth, effortlessly building up accumulations and concluding them with beautiful reverberation. It was similar in the case of electronic music that is not based on clear bit – Mikołaj Hertel’s recordings sounded better than Jarre’s, although the sound of the latter was not so bad, either. It was not about beautifully rendered planes and events clearly presented in the foreground, but about the low bass.

    This is not warm sound, as high tones are open and present. They also have high energy if a recording “asks” for it. However, we do not perceive them in the same way as with AbysSound and Accuphase devices, for example, where their level is lower than in the iovita, but, as they are more emphasized, it seems that there are more of them. So, the Haiku amp will prove perfect where most amps fail – in large rooms with poor acoustics, i.e. where we have large flat surfaces such as glass panes, floors and furniture. Using some tube amps may bring similar benefits, but such amps lack power to fill a lot of space with music without distortions. At such places, the tested amp will prove invaluable.


    Of course, the iovita is not only suitable for modern sterile rooms. It is a simplification which clearly shows the pros and cons of its sound. It is nicely “set” sound in which it is hard to point out the dominance of any range. The amp does not sound bright or dark, but rather soft and generous. It is useful in the case of a big orchestra, but also when it comes to an instrumental solo that will gain incredible tone and dynamics, no matter how loud we will listen to it. The selectivity of the device is not high, as it rather focuses on huge assumptions. Its resolution is really good, as the amp clearly differentiates recordings, showing changes in the acoustics, tone and dynamics. A lot happens in this musical message – it is top-class sound, indeed.

    iovita has a purist design – it is a stereophonic integrated amp with only four line inputs and with no outputs. It is a big device with a solid rigid housing consisting of aluminum boards and huge radiators on its both sides. The radiators have sharp edges, so you need to be careful while moving the device. An additional “floor” provided by an assembly board for power supply units additionally increases the amp’s rigidity. To minimize vibrations even further, General Music System sheets have been placed on the bottom and top panel. It is aluminum with a flexible, sticky material which resembles a similar Arcam product from many years ago.

    The front and rear panel

    At the front there is a huge volume control knob and six buttons – four to change the input, one mute and one standby mode button. The input buttons have a green-illuminated rim and the two remaining ones – an amber-illuminated rim. At the back there are two pairs of speaker inputs and four pairs of RCA inputs – all of them are gold-plated and solid. The power socket has been integrated with a mechanical power switch. The device stands on four aluminum feet.

    The inside

    One look at the inside and we know that it is a dual-mono design, from power supply to the output. The only elements common for the whole amp are: the input board, potentiometer and the standby circuit. Individual boards differ when it comes to the manufacturing method and the color – two of them have been made by the Projekt company and the rest – by Haiku itself. The amp boards called the “hybrid module” have the name “Bright Mk4” on them. So, it can be supposed that the circuit is a stronger version of the Bright Mk3 model. The inside is not as packed as in a smaller amp and I am sure that the iovita would fit in a housing having the height of 1W (1W = 1 Wiktor). However, perhaps this is about doubling the cooling surface of the radiators – in the end, they have to deal with twice as much power.

    From the input board where signal is selected in relays, it is transmitted to the front of the device by long interconnects to a malachite Alpsa potentiometer. After attenuation, it gets to a tube – a JJ double low-power triode ECC832. Yes, this is no mistake – it is a unique tube independently produced by the Slovakian company. JJ calls it the “Combined double triode for special purposes”. There are two versions – one with pins soldered in the same way as in the ECC82 or ECC83 – it can operate in both circuit types. In the tested amp, its gold-plated pins were placed in a nice additional stand with gold-plated contacts, placed in a classic ceramic one, in turn.

    In the power amp section, there are two pairs of transistors per channel. These are complementary AB-class HEXFET International Rectifier IRFP140N + IRFP9140N field transistors operating in a push-pull mode. We can find really nice passive elements on the board, e.g. polypropylene coupling capacitors and precise resistors.

    Power supply has been divided into three elements. One is for the semi-conductor section and is located with amplifiers on the same board, another one with the anode stabilizing circuit and one more (with a rectifier and glow voltage stabilizer for tubes) are placed on smaller boards attached to the bottom of the housing. This is where we also see two large toroidal transformers and two very big Jamicon capacitors with screw clamps. However, most capacitors in the circuit are Japanese Nichicon capacitors.

    It is a clean nice design with good components and a solid amplifier.

    Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer)

    Tubes: 2x ECC832-JJ Gold
    Output power (8 Ω): 60 W
    Output power (4 Ω): 110 W
    Frequency response (-1 dB): 14 Hz-52 kHz
    Frequency response (-3 dB): 8 Hz-84 kHz
    Class A/AB
    Input sensitivity: 600 mV
    Power consumption when off: 100 W
    Maximum power consumption: 400 W
    Dimensions: 450 x 360 x 190 mm
    Weight: 20 kg
    Previous panel versions: 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