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Integrated amplifier

Super Sound Device

Price (when reviewed): 40,000 PLN

ul. Piękna 58a
05-540 Zalesie Górne


uper Sound Device is one of the newer Polish audio companies. It was set up in 2016 in Warsaw by two engineers and at the same time friends, Mr Robert Łachniak and Michał Wiktorko. As they say, what started their cooperation was their shared passion for creating high quality audio equipment, and what enabled them to do that was their "mechanical, electronic and organizational capabilities and a passion for chasing after technical challenges." As you will read in the „A few simple words...” section, that claim has a solid ground.

The company is young, but it starts with a very mature product. i.e. one that not only looks great but it is professionally designed and made and features also a full technical documentation. They didn't forget even about logotype documentation, which is very uncommon. Their first product is the integrated amplifier called the Sound Experience. It features tubes, as both designers are huge fans of this technology, namely it uses rare GU50 Soviet power pentodes designed for use in military broadcasting equipment.

They already work on a similar amplifier with twice the power and on audio files player – an original design with a tube digital-to-analog converter. All these devices will be presented during the Audio Video Show 2017 in Warsaw.

Sound Experience

The amplifier under review is an integrated device, but divided into two separate boxes: a module with audio circuits and a power supply. They can be placed one on top of the other but if we want to minimize distortion we should place them on separate shelves. This is a dual-mono tube integrated amplifier, with separate power transformers, based on the proprietary version of the Williamson circuit. Its tube output operates in class A in an ultra-linear push-pull mode, delivering around 30 watts per channel. The actual output depends on particular tubes that's why the value is not given as exact number. Tubes are selected and paired, but each such quartet differs from the others. The power can therefore range from 28-32 Watts per channel, with an 8 Ω load.

Designers decides to use NOS Soviet tubes from the 1960s, designed for military use. These guaranty reliability and a long life-span. The designers chose these particular tubes for their performance, availability and relatively low price. So if it comes to that new tubes won't cost owner much.

In the input stage, in the preamplifier one finds two 6N8S (6H8C) double triodes with octal base, which is the Soviet equivalent of the 6SN7. In the output there are two GU50 power pentodes. One should notice their special endings - the metal "lid" and a bakelite handle. This is a great idea, a pity that is so rarely used. It makes removing tubes safe and easy even if they are hot. Under „combat conditions”, i.e. under stress, etc., this is truly helpful. And it adds a strong visual character to this device.

The amplifier is visually intriguing not only because of its nice wooden chassis (it can also be made of slate or granite), metal parts made of acid-proof steel, but primarily because the transformers are hidden inside. In tube amplifiers they are usually bolted from the top and closed in metal housings for shielding and eliminating vibration. Here they are hidden inside chassis. There one more element attracting attention - a big, solid volume control knob. It weighs 1.5 kg and is made of a block of stainless steel. Its operation is very smooth thanks to its axle mounting on two precision rolling bearings.

The knob is coupled with an encoder and this one with one of the best analogue attenuators, i.e. the Khozmo Acoustic resistor ladder, where there are only two resistors in the signal's path at any moment and they are controlled using relays. Together with this attenuator comes an alphanumeric display, which, for aesthetic reasons, was hidden. So a user doesn't actually know the exact setting. Although upon turning the device on volume control returns to its last setting, but I would appreciate a precise reading of the volume value.

The amplifier is controlled by a small metal remote control, which features three buttons: volume (up and down) and mute. The amplifier features three RCA (Neutrik) inputs. The input selector is a small knob placed on top of the amplifier. I think it could work in a bit smoother way, and also here there is no indication of which input is active at any moment.

The power supply was placed in a separate shielded chassis. Power from PS to the device is delivered using a military-grade silver-plated copper cable from Raychem. AC voltage was separated from DC voltage by screening and cable twisting. The cable is permanently attached to the audio section and on the power supply section it is terminated with a multi-pin Amphenol military plug. Where all these military features and the emphasis on durability and reliability came from?


The Super Sound Device was founded by two Warsaw-based engineers: Robert Łachniak and Michał Wiktorko. We both, already as kids, were quite handypersons interested particularly in many technical matters.

Robert Łachniak, in his teen years, attended the aviation model-making section in the Warsaw Palace of Youth. Very early on he had an opportunity to gain experience in constructing models using machines such as: lathes, grinders, drills and so on. Thanks to his technical skills he built several flying models, and won many awards for his models. After completing his technical high-school, he decided to study at the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering of the Warsaw University of Technology, which allowed him to become a constructor. Later in his career he became an expert in 3D computer graphics design and CAD applications.

Michał Wiktorko, at the age of 12 received his first soldering iron from his father, which enabled him to execute several electronic projects from "Young Technique". The printed circuit he used were hand-drawn with a nail polish and the plates were digested with iron chloride purchased in the Scout's Shop. Later, in high school, his interest shifted towards mechanics. He had to assembly his first is first moped by himself as he got a bag full of parts instead of a ready-to-use product. He worked as an energy-specialist for the Polish Army.

His next project was a makeover of the Junak motorcycle into a chopper, thanks to which he gained enormous experience and knowledge of the mechanics. Michał was a self-taught and absorbed technical and natural science like a sponge and his next great passion was chemistry. After graduating from high school, he started his studies at the Faculty of Chemistry at the Warsaw University of Technology. This faculty taught him great meticulousness and accuracy, which is now present in everything he does. Today he works as a civilian for the Polish Army.

Michał Wiktorko: We met and soon became friends in 2000. In 2016 Robert knowing that for years I've been interested in audio components called me proposing that we'd build a tube amplifier. At first, the idea seemed ridiculous to me, but because I love creating new things, it is easy to talk to me in to this kind of venture. And so it happened - paraphrasing Stanislaw Lem's words "What a beautiful and young robot, Michał on Ebay buys pentodes." I bought a set of excellent, although underestimated in the audiophile world, Soviet broadcasting pentodes GU-50.

Our first push-pull amplifier was based on the well-known Williamson scheme, which operates in an ultra-linear mode. Robert designed and partially built the amplifier chassis, and I designed the printed circuit boards using the free, albeit highly functional KiCAD software. Thanks to our abilities, experience and technical culture we are largely self-sufficient. I even made the turned parts myself using the lathe I have in my workshop. Only laser cut parts are custom-made by external contractor.

Volume control is carried out using a 64-step resistor-ladder based on Khozmo relays. The speaker transformers are ordered from Mr. Leszek Ogonowski from Olsztyn. We use Jantzen "Superior" coupling capacitors, military grade Dale resistors, Nichicon and Wim capacitors and WBT speaker connectors. To minimize interference, we have decided to separate the power section using a separate housing. We used only the best materials, no half measures, no room for mediocrity. In our work we follow John Ruskin's idea: "Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort”.

The amplifier was tested in my reference system, where it replaced a separate amplification consisting of Ayon Audio Spheris III preamplifier and Soulution 710 power amp (total cost of around 300 000 PLN). Just before this test I reviewed in exactly the same system the Grandinote Shinai, that was used now as another reference. It was connected to Harbeth M40.1 loudspeakers using Acoustic Revive SPC-3.0 Triple-C cables, and with Ancient Audio Lektor AIR V-edition CD Player using Crystal Cable Absolute Dream interconnects; It was powered using Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version power chord.

During the test the amplifier was placed on my Finite Elemente Pagode Edition rack – the amplifier was placed on the top shelf, the power supply on the middle one. Both featured their own spikes.

Recordings used for the test (a sele- ction)

  • Anita Lipnicka, Vena Amoris, Mystic Production MYSTCD 244, CD (2013)
  • Bottleneck John, All Around Man, Opus3 CD 23001, SACD/CD (2013)
  • Ed Sheeran, Divide, Asylum 95859015, 2 x 180 g 45 RPM LP (2017)
  • Kuniko Kato, Kuniko Plays Reich, Linn Records CKD 385, SACD/CD (2011)
  • Mark Knopfler, The Trawlerman's Song EP, Mercury, 9870986, CD (2005)
  • Peggy Lee, Black Coffee, Decca/Universal Music K.K. UCCU-9517, „Jazz The Best | No. 43”, gold-CD (1956/2004)
  • Pet Shop Boys, Super, Sony Music Labels (Japan) SICX-41, CD (2016)
  • Shubert, Sonata for Piano in G Major, Op. 78 D894, „Fantasie-Sonate”, wyk. Valery Afanassiev, Denon Co-78923, „Mastersonic | One-Point Recording”, CD (1994)
  • The Hilliard Ensemble, The Hilliard Sound. Renaissance Masterpieces, Erato 4632795, 3 x CD (1985, 1986/2014)
  • Yes, Fragile, Atlantic Records/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDCD 766, Gold-CD (1972/2006)

Japanese issues available at

The recently reviewed Grandinote Shinai was a solid-state device that sounded like a tube one. Due to its patented design, the transistors operating in class A, the use of output transformers and so on, Massimiliano managed to prepare an amplifier without tubes that sounded like there was nothing else but valves in it. I am mentioning this remarkable product because the Sound Experience, the amplifier I have a chance to test this time, has a very similar tonal signature. It sounds as if its designers wanted to deliver as “tube-like” sound as possible.

This device offers a warm, dense sound. It is obvious from the very first minute of a listening session: it is a tube-based device that delivers this performance. Regardless of the album one listens to, one shall never reach the point where the smoothness ends and the roughness starts. Listener is always on the “safe side” of the tonal color, one could say “on the sunny side” because, same as the sun, it is warm and effortless. As if Ed Sheeran recorded his Divide album with Super Sound Device owners in mind, as if John Bottleneck played and sang in the Missouri sunshine. Even Peggy Lee from Black Coffee, a quite melancholic album, sang in a more sensual, sexy way than usual.

The thing is that the tested device is voiced to focus on the midrange and lower part of the band, with emphasis on richness and tangibility of the sound. Due to such approach recordings with few elements, especially with vocals and guitars (also electric ones) sound best, or should I say absolutely amazing. These elements are particularly big and presented close to listener and are vivid and tangible. This is not the head of the pin thrown far behind the speaker line, but something hot and close. The amplifier in this regard slightly pulls the recording up, because even if the recording was done so that there is a lot of reverbs and instruments are placed far away from listener, this Polish amplifier will change that delivering a big foreground. This was the case with the recordings of The Hilliard Ensemble performing in large churches (Renaissance Masterpieces), and with the piano recorded by Denon professionals using a single stereo microphone ("Mastersonic One-Point Recording").

There is no doubt that this is a deliberate choice of the designers, that the idea was to “empower” the foreground. Fidelity to the plans of sound and mastering engineers and even the so-called "neutrality" is secondary here. No, it does not mean it is completely disregarded, this is still a very high level, high-end performance, but also a good example of a product with presentation modified to reflect designer's intentions and their aesthetic choices.

Therefore, even I, a “seasoned” music fan and audiophile, was surprised by the mass and richness of the foreground from recordings with leading vocals or guitars, and those the present a real piano. It did not matter whether it was jazz, folk, acoustic rock, or classics music, because the amplifier always delivered dense, rich sound and "hot" colors. The tonal balance here is “shaped” in such a way that listener does not pay attention to the high and low tones, but focuses on the midrange instead. Not because these are missing or not good enough. This is the case where everything is in the right place and yet listener does not perceive whole part of the frequency range in the same way. As if a choice is made by listener, maybe not quite conscious one, but unambiguous for sure.

I mentioned lower and upper part of the band not only to emphasize “supremacy” of the midrange but also to introduce you to another feature that distinguishes this device from many other warm sounding tube amplifiers. Namely this amplifier deals really well with a difficult load. The designers told me that they use JMLab-Focal loudspeakers, that are quite difficult to drive, but I had to confirm this feature on my own.

The Sound Experience's differentiation of bass and treble can not quite compare to the one of my reference system's or even to Shinai's mentioned above. But it also leaves nothing to chance. Everything is under control and its grip over speakers seems pretty firm. Even the lowest tones on Laurie Anderson's album, or the last track from Anita Lipnicka's Vena Amoris had the proper weight, density and “timing”. It is not an amplifier particularly focused on timing aspect of the presentation because it plays rather legato, but not because some sounds are overblown. This is more about merging and melodiousness, about saturation. The attack of the sound is slightly relaxed and therefore there is no perfect timing or ultimate immediacy of the attack. In turn, the decay, even of the lowest bass, is nicely controlled.

I found very interesting this amplifier's approach to recordings with a lot of compression, for example the above mentioned Ed Sheeran's album, but also Super by Pet Shop Boys, and In Utero by Nirvana. Normally, this feature is presented as sort of roughness of upper midrange and often leanness. In this case there was no roughness nor did I lack richness of the sound, because the amplifier does everything in its power to eliminate it. So I got a smooth and tonally balanced performance of somewhat low dynamics – that's the element that tells us that it is this type of recording.

The Polish amplifier differs from others of its class with a low selectivity. The instruments are nicely separated, but using mass, color and a slightly pushing foreground closer to a listener. They do not have a clearly described "body", they are not shown in 3D, but rather as a flat figure. The reverbs are shortened because the emphasized element is a sustain phase, richness. Even loud reverbs and strong ambiance are subordinated to the foreground that is usually presented close to listener. Let's add to this that lower bass and upper treble are not very well differentiated. It's a downside. However, there are no perfect products and only topmost as the reference system, like Kondo Ongaku, like the latest Ancient Audio amplifier can combine fire with water. But even they do it in different proportions. And yet the Polish amplifier is several times cheaper than them.


The 30 W, which the Sound Experience amplifier offers does not look like much. In medium-sized rooms, without the pushing volume knob too far, however, it will be enough to drive and control most of the loudspeakers available on the market, including those difficult to drive. For aesthetic reasons, I would see it in the company of Spendor speakers from Classic line, or Graham Audio, JBL also from the classic series. If one would decide for Harbeth, then I would rather suggest the new M40.2, or M30.1 – the older M40.1 are too warm sounding for it. However, I see no reason to used it paired with Focals, Magnepans or electrostatics. Such a system will deliver a warm, full, fleshy sound presented close to the listener. It's a beautiful, well thought-through sound. Maybe without outstanding resolution and selectivity, but so well arranged that it doesn't bother at all. The RED Fingerprint.

The creators of this amplifier say, that when creating this design they made sure that the layout of the left and right channels was identical. In this way they achieved a fully symmetrical signal path in both channels. On the outside it is reflected only the way tubes are arranged, because what was actually important was a layout of the electrical circuit.

The chassis is made of steel, to which decorative elements are added made of wood or stone. One can choose almost any color and grain of the wood. Finishing in the stone includes "shells" of slate or granite. Slate becomes more and more popular in audio industry and we saw it used, for example, in the turntables such as Transrotor Super Seven La Rocia and Cantano W, also in the Fisher & Fisher loudspeakers and anti-vibration platform Stacore Advanced. This is a material that provides excellent vibration damping and which at the same time looks really good.

Each housing features four spikes. It might be a good idea to fix spike receptacles on the top of the power supply so that the risk of spike moving outside of them and scratching the surface would be minimized.

Front and back

The amplifier is divided into two boxes: the larger one, with audio circuits and a smaller one, with power supply. The first one looks very neat, because the top one can only see tubes protruding from it - two 6N8S double triodes and two GU50 pentodes per channel. The top features a thick sheet of stainless steel, which is bent at the corners in such a way that it resembles a napkin. A large volume knob sits on the front, and it's made of a full steel block. It turns using ball bearings, so it rotates without resistance, but has a lot of inertia. It's coupled with an encoder, so it rotates endlessly without starting point and end points. That combined with no volume level indicator makes it somewhat difficult to use. The knob is illuminated from the top by a few LEDs, so maybe it would be possible to use it to offer some sort of reading of volume level in a way similar to what Cyrus uses for their devices?

There is also an input selector on the top of the amplifier but also with no markings or indicators of any sort. It controls the relays that select the active input. These are three unbalanced inputs utilizing Neutrik RCA connectors. Due to their specific design one has to use cables with relatively narrow plugs - my Siltech Triple Crown did not fit into them. It is also worth noting the unconventional arrangement of these sockets - on top there are the right channel (red) connectors and below the left (black) ones, which is the same way as the connectors are arrangement in Mark Levinson amplifiers and for some time in the Ayon Audio preamplifiers. There is no standard for it, simply most manufacturers do the opposite.

The speaker posts with satin finish come from WBT. There are separate taps for 4 and 8 Ω. Next there is the mode switch – that allows user to choose between triode and pentode mode, but the manufacturer claims that the next batch of these amplifiers will not feature this switch anymore as the pentode mode offers a significantly better performance. There are four sockets for adjusting the bias of the power tubes. The power supply features a multi-pin Amphenol output socket on the rear panel next to an IEC socket and a heat sink. The latter gets quite hot.


The audio circuits were assembled on printed circuit boards. Left and right channel boards are perfectly symmetrical so that the signal is amplified in exactly the same way. In the input works a Khozmo Acoustic resistor ladder with relays. It's a beautiful, mechanically stable construction. Then the signal goes to the Jantzen Superior coupling capacitors and then to the first 6N8S triode. The second one reverses phase and controls the output tubes, the GU50 pentodes. The system is characterized by a small number of capacitors in the signal path, which improves the sound quality.

Manufacturer states that they used highest quality components such as:

  • Ogonowskispeaker transformers on EI core
  • Khozmo 64-step attenuator with IR remote control
  • Nichicon, WIMA, Jantzen Superior condensers
  • Top quality PCBs made in Poland
  • gold-plated ceramic tube sockets
  • WBT speaker terminals and Neutrik input sockets
  • metering socket for setting BIAS for power tubes
  • Omron high quality source selector switches

The power supply utilizes:

  • two toroidal TELTO transformers
  • Nichicon electrolytic condensers
  • Schurter filtered mains socket
  • Amphenol military 10-pin output socke

This is a well thought-through, perfectly executed design.


Output (8Ω | 4Ω): 30W RMS | 32W RMS
Output impedance: 4, 8Ω
Frequency range: 5 Hz-28kHz (-3dB)
Input impedance: 50kΩ
Input sensitivity: 600mV
Inputs: 3xRCA
Tube complement: 4 x 6N8S, 4 x GU50,
Dimensions (W x D x H):
• amplifier: 430 x 500 x 250mm
• power supply: 430 x 500 x 120mm
Weight: 40kg



- 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

- 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: 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