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Audio Reveal

Producent: ALTRONIK
Price (when reviewed): 25 900 PLN

ul. Muszlowa 3 lok. 83
01-357 Warszawa | POLSKA



Provided for test by: NAUTILUS Dystrybucja


images „High Fidelity”

No 224

January 1, 2023


AUDIO REVEAL is a Polish audio company specializing in the manufacturing of single-ended tube amplifiers. It was established in 2018, and its founder and designer is Mr. MICHAŁ POSIEWKA. He has been running his core business, related to the electronics industry, since 1989. We are testing a new version of Audio Reveal's first-ever amplifier, the FIRST Mk II model. It had its premiere on October 13 this year.

HERE ARE TWO MAIN REASONS for introducing new models to replace older ones: a commercial one and an ideological one. Importantly, both are of the same importance and usually come together. The former is related to the continuous increase in the price of basic materials, components, shipments and labour costs. The calculation of the final price for a given product is usually carried out while it is still at the design stage, and soon after the premiere the price begins to change to the detriment of the manufacturer, to go below the break-even point after two to three years. And yet, in order for a company to have a healthy foundation, it needs to earn enough money.

The latter results from constant revisions that the designer introduces into a given product. They are the result of constant pursuit of perfection within a given design. These improvements are most often tested on the base product, while the devices sold are always the same, identical to the one shown on the day of the launch. This is how mature manufacturers act.

However, the smaller the company, the greater the internal "pressure" to make small changes to the already produced version. On the one hand, this is understandable, but on the other hand, it's not entirely fair to buyers - after all, those who made the earliest decisions to purchase get the least advanced product. The most extreme example of this approach is the DIY business. There are virtually no two similar copies of a given model. There is nothing wrong with this, except that these are not audio companies in the sense in which we understand them in this industry. These are simply designers.

First Mk II

THAT'S WHY I GET SO MUCH PLEASURE FROM LISTENING TO devices from manufacturers like Audio Reveal. Its first-ever amplifier, adequately called FIRST, was tested by us on January 1, 2019. At the time, it cost PLN 19,900. Its new version, which we present to you FIRST, costs PLN 25,900. The difference in price seems more than suitable for me, given the price madness that has taken place over these, now almost four, years – especially since there have been several important changes in the design of the device.

THE LOOK However, let's start with the basics. Audio Reveal's latest amplifier is an integrated tube amp with a solid-state power supply. The black lacquered, heavy and rigid case is decorated with a wooden front. It looks nice, because the workmanship is really good, too. Compared to the Mk I, the front panel has been slightly redesigned. It now features metal knobs: power, volume and input change switches. The transformer boxes also look different.

A two-color LED has been placed next to the center knob. When the amplifier is turned on, it turns red and starts flashing. In this way, the device signals the activation of the circuit that turns on anode voltage only after some time, when they are warmed up with incandescence. As a result, they will work much longer. As I have already emphasized with the Mk I, well-made tube amplifiers are not as unreliable as they are often seen by lay people. Properly used, with good tubes, they behave like ordinary transistor amplifiers. After 60 seconds, the LED turns green and signal appears on the speaker outputs.

As part of the set, we also get a sturdy remote control. It may not be very beautiful, but it's made of metal, which means it's durable. It also has a fantastic feature, i.e. just two buttons: “louder” and “quieter”.

TECHNOLOGY The First MkII features a dual-mono design, that is, each channel is routed separately and they have a mirrored layout on the board. Even the input relay boards are separate. Equally important is the choice that Michal Posiewka has made when it comes to the output stage. All his amplifiers have a single-ended circuit, in which the entire signal (both halves) is amplified in a single tube, thus operating in class A.

This is, historically speaking, the oldest way of amplifying a signal, although we should add that the patent for the push-pull circuit is not new either, dating back to 1920. The single-ended circuit allows the amplifying element to operate in its most linear section of amplification. Such a circuit is also very simple, and the signal path is short, because the underlying assumptions are simple, too. Its problem is low power. In the Mk I version, the First amplifier offered 10 watts of power, and in the new version it offers 12 watts.

The difference is seemingly small, but amounts to as much as 20%. What's more, most of the music we play requires only a few watts, so adding two to the output power clearly means greater power reserve before overdrive. And you can really hear it. To achieve this, the company redesigned the speaker transformers and reached for different tubes than before.

On the output, where the company previously used the Genalex Gold Lion KT88, there are now the much better, in my opinion, Psvane UK-KT88 Black Plate tubes. This is a good change also because Genalex is a brand owned by a Russian company. And, although it doesn't affect the power, but the sound, the input tubes are also new – previously they were Tung-Sol NOS (New Old Stock, i.e., old tubes, but not used), and now they are tubes from the same Chinese company Psvane.

In the First Mk II amplifier we have four stages based on three tubes: a 12AX7 (ECC 83) dual input triode, a 12AU7 (ECC 82) – another dual triode (this time as a control tube) and a single KT88 flux tetrode. An interesting fact is that the 12AX7 and 12AU7 tubes were developed in 1948, and the KT88 in 1957. The output tube, we should add, operates in a pentode mode. The signal is amplified in class A from input to output. Output tube coupling in this version is handled by the very good ClarityCap CSA polypropylene capacitors, which also constitute a novelty introduced in the Mk II.

| Psvane

PSVANE IS A BRAND OWNED by the Chinese company Changsha Hengyang Electronics. It specializes in tube research, manufacturing and sales. This company was founded in 2011 by engineers formerly working at one of the largest lamp factories in the world, Shuguang. They are the people responsible for creating the, once really highly regarded, Shuguang Treasure "black bottle" lamps. But with popularity also came problems. Due to the not-quite-established distribution of revenue from the series, the key engineers of the R&D department received the rights to the Treasure series and founded their own company which owns the Psvane Audio brand.

This is a special company. It works on equipment bought from Shuguang and offers some of the best currently manufactured vacuum tubes. The basis of its business are faithful replicas of iconic tubes, such as the 2A3, 300B, 211, 845, 6SN7, KT88 or EL34. Their tubes are fantastically made and equally well packaged. And, just as importantly, they look nice. The company's offer is divided into four series, starting with Classic followed by Art, Legend and Acme.

The Audio Reveal First Mk II amplifier uses tubes from the base series. However, the manufacturer offers a possibility of replacing them with models from the Art series: Instead of the UK-KT88, these will be the equally good looking KT-88 TII. The price difference between the basic and the "premium" set is PLN 2,100.

THE TESTED AMP OFFERS FOUR RCA line inputs and has single speaker terminals. The previous version had wound output transformers for a 6 Ω load. This was a good compromise, but life shows that it was insufficient. That's why in Mk II the manufacturer added, hidden in a recess, a switch with which we can choose between 4 and 8 Ω. The speaker and RCA jacks are gold-plated, decent, and look like they have come from some Chinese company – there are no logos on them.

One of the features of this manufacturer's amplifiers is the ability to select the depth of global feedback, by 3.2 dB. Thus, on the top panel of the First Mk II amplifier there is a two-position rotary switch with which we change it. By reducing the feedback, however, we increase distortion, narrow the frequency response and reduce the amplifier's control over the speakers. Usually, however, this is the preferred position for people listening to music. Because less feedback (NFB: Negative Feedback) usually means more pleasant and natural sound.

As for the design of the device, attention is drawn to the solid nice casing, great tubes and transformers, and really nice components, including the abovementioned ClarityCap, but also Wima capacitors, an Alps potentiometer and Nichicon mains ripple suppression capacitors. Also important is the fact that the unit's power supply is really very large and has a dual-mono design: the power transformer has double secondary windings.


⸜ THE WAY WE LISTENED The Audio Reveal FIRST Mk II amplifier was tested in the HIGH FIDELITY reference system and compared to a two-piece system consisting of an Ayon Audio Spheris III tube preamplifier (ca. PLN 150,000) and Solution 710 solid-state power amplifier (ca. PLN 160,000, no longer in production); I devoted a separate listening session to comparing it with a Leben CS-600X tube amplifier.

The First MkII stood on the Finite Elemente Pagode Edition Mk II audio rack. It was connected to the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF SACD player by Acoustic Revive Absolute RCA interconnects, and to the Harbeth M40.1 speakers by Western Electric NOS cables. The amplifier was powered by the Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version cable.

⸜ Albums used in the test | a selection

⸜ NAT „KING” COLE z płyty Welcome to the Club, Columbia/Audio Fidelity AFZ 153, Limited Edition № 1294, SACD/CD (1959/2013).
⸜ ERIC CLAPTON, Timepieces: The Best Of Eric Clapton, Polydor/Audio Fidelity AFZ 190, Limited Edition № 0115, SACD/CD (2014).
⸜ ALICE COLTRANE, Ethernity, Atlantic/Warner Music Japan 8122-79598-0, seria „Jazz Best Collection 1000 ⸜ No. 9”, CD (1976/2013).
⸜ ANTHRAX, For All Kings, Nuclear Blast | Chaos Reigns/Ward Records GQCS-90112~3, 2 x CD (2016).
⸜ DONALD FAGEN, Nightfly, Warner Bros. Records/Warner Records (Japan) WPCR-14170, seria „Warner Premium Sound”, SACD/CD (1982/2011).
Notting Hill (Music from the Motion), soundtrack, Island Records 546 428-2, Test Press CD (1999).


THERE ARE TWO ANSWERS TO THE QUESTION OF WHAT THIS mythical "tube sound" actually is. The first one is stereotypical (that is, not entirely true, but carrying a grain of truth). It says that it is simply warm, pleasant and soothing sound. The second one, also not quite carrying the truth, but much closer to it, is that it is natural sound. Both are equally true, but they also distort reality – the former because it is just one the choices, and the latter because solid-state designs can play just as naturally.

Historically, it was indeed the case that amplifiers using tubes as amplifying elements sounded warm. However, this was usually due to design limitations, including output transformers that were not entirely precisely wound, tube power supplies, transformers between amplification stages, etc. Modern technology has eliminated most of these hurdles, so if someone gets warm sound from a tube amp, this is an intentional action and a departure from neutrality.

Listened to from this perspective, Michal Posiewko's amplifier is reluctant to be pushed into this stereotype. It is because NAT “KING” COLE from the album Welcome to the Club, remastered in an analog path directly to DSD files by Steve Hoffman, and released in a limited edition on a SACD, sounded extremely dynamic, open and with lightness that we do not expect from tube amps.

That is unless we are familiar with single-ended designs. Then what the First MkII shows is natural, both in terms of sound character and of our expectations. With the amp, I got all the elements that I know from good designs of this type, i.e., a very deep, wide and transparent soundstage, built on one side by the percussion and on the other by the excellent brass section conducted by Dave Cavanaugh.

The sound of the tested amplifier may seem light for a while, but only until we realize that we are being driven by our stereotypical expectations. For when, in the second minute of the song The Late, Late Show, the baritone saxophone enters the right channel, it has an extremely smooth low sound. Anyway, the so-called "pops" or emphasized "Ps" in the singer's voice, were also reproduced in the way I usually get with much more expensive and powerful amps.

A "pop" is a distortion, that's obvious. However, it is also part of the message, part of the recording. And it is an element that is extremely difficult to reproduce, because although it is a distortion itself, it adds character and credibility to the recording. And this is what showed what a successful design the new version of the Audio Reveal amplifier is, for the Mk II conveyed pops in a superb way, without compression, with nicely filled lower range.

This shows that the the device has excellent current resources and the overdrive gap is large in it. And yet it controlled the difficult and large Harbeth M40.1 speakers. It is, by the way, a very transparent amplifier for a recording. It differentiates planes exceptionally well, and does not mask the sound attack. When in Avalon, at the end of the song, Cole's voice is distorted (you can hear it as if the tape was distorted during the recording), this is how it is shown, and the amplifier does not try to smooth it out.

The album Welcome to the Club is difficult to reproduce properly, because not only do we get a deep velvety vocal on it, but also one supported by a large orchestra recorded in the same room and at the same time. The Polish amplifier as if did not notice these difficulties. It is resolving, dynamic and yet natural in what it does. He maintained stoic composure both in the passages where the vocal was quiet and in the tutti, when it sounded against the backdrop of a large swing orchestra. And, as it turns out, you can do even better.

| Psvane ART KT-88 TII

THE PRICE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN the basic and the "premium" tube set is very large, only that the difference in sound between the two is almost transformational. The amplifier remains itself, but now its advantages are "amplified". Bass is lower and better punctuated, while the midrange is stronger. The treble seems smoothed and receded, but this is an illusion. It has more energy, but it's also more resolved, so you get it as a whole rather than a set of individual elements.

I'm exaggerating a bit, but that's just my impression. In its basic configuration, the amplifier is very good. With “premium” tubes it is better, however, that’s it. Its message becomes filled and bass stabilizes. After Midnight, the second track on the album Timepieces: The Best of Eric Clapton, analog remastered by Kevin Gray at his home studio Coeharent Audio, is quite light. With better tubes, however, the sound was so intrisically rich that the difference between it and the preceding I Shot The Sheriff was no longer that tiring. To tell you the truth, it did not mean much anymore.

With the better tubes, I also definitely chose the sound of the tested amplifier with lower feedback. With the basic set it was a bit too "forward" and I sometimes lacked control in it. With the more expensive tubes it was cooler, richer in color and incredibly dynamic. This leads to a simple conclusion: Michal Posiewka's amplifier is so resolving and pure in terms of sound that it perfectly demonstrates the difference between the tubes as well as shows their own sound.

KNOWING WHAT THE AMP SOUNDS LIKE with a high-end analog recording, I was curious to hear the album Nightfly by DONALD FAGEN. Recorded on a 3M digital reel-to-reel tape recorder (16 bit, 44.1 kHz), it sounds clear, transparent, and yet too light. I know from experience that this is not a problem of the digital tape recorder, but that the technique was not yet sufficiently mastered at the time. Users of computer DAW systems (e.g. Pro Tools) needed more than twenty years to refine their skills, while Nightfly was one of the first albums recorded on digital 3M tape recorders.

Anyway, this album sounded quite light, that is, without low bass. But that's just what it sounds like. The version I listened to was released on a SACD. Lay people ask: why release 16/44.1 material on a SACD, when you don't get any more information than from a regular CD, anyway? The practitioner's answer is: because there are many benefits to PCM/DSD conversion. For example, sound is much smoother and “analog”. It also has a better filled midrange, which seems more natural. The information is seemingly the same, yet the sound changes.

The First MkII did not only show that, but also the fact that the midrange is most important to it. And maybe that's why Fagen's CD played so cool. This tendency of the amplifier to focus our attention on what's going on in the range between, say, 400 Hz and 2 kHz, is here due to something that stereotypical amplifiers also do, namely the excellent coherence of this range and filling it with harmonics, only that the First MkII takes a different route to this. Let me explain.

I have already mentioned that one of the advantages of this device is high dynamics and transparency, combined with resolution. That's a bit of a cliché, isn't it? And it isn't. With the tested amplifier we listen to music with interest and involvement because there is everything we need in it, and because the most important range is the midrange. But this midrange "results" not from the coloration of and emphasis on this range, but from the fact that it is so coherent and natural. We "go with it" because we calm down with it. Nothing about the sound is annoying or irritating.


The AUDIO REVEAL FIRST MkII is an amplifier that realizes many different objectives in a very cool way. It is dynamic, resolving and transparent. But we also focus our attention on the midrange with it, because it is internally complex and powerful, both on the bass and treble side, and because it is saturated with harmonics. It's sound that is simply rich, if that's how I can describe it.

The power supply's current reserve is so large here that the First MkII drove the Harbeth M40.1 speakers better than many tube amps offering 30 (and more) watts of power. I encounter this from time to time with 300B tubes, and I got it here too. Perhaps that's why the sound of the amp was so relaxing on the one hand, and full of information on the other. When AL GREEN sang, played from the Test Press CD containing the Notting Hill movie soundtrack, one could relax, collapse in an armchair and drift away.

Yes, the amp is that good. That is why we are awarding it with the ˻ RED FINGERPRINT ˺.

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer)

Control tubes: Psvane Classic 12AU7 (ECC82) + 12AX7 (ECC83)
Power tubes: Psvane UK-KT88 “black bottle”
Frequency response: 20 Hz – 28 kHz (±0.5 dB/1 W)
Rated output power: 12 W RMS (8, 4 Ω/1 kHz)
Line inputs: 4 x RCA
Input impedance: 50 kΩ
Start-up time: 60 s
Rated power consumption: 190 W
Dimensions (W x H x D): 440 x 385 x 205 mm
Weight: 25.4 kg


Reference system 2022

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC