Mactone MH-300 B review

Mactone MH-300 B amplifier

Entering the deep territory of valve based amplifiers is never complete without mentioning legendary Mr. Matsumoto company Mactone. To understand deeper philosophy and approach of his mastermind kindly check my interview with him. It’ll give you a look into his audio philosophy and why he feels so strong, that only tubes are the way to go when it comes to the replay and revival of musical events.

When we’re talking in the terms of motion of sound, there is something special happening within the tubes. Few of most recognized tube designers are talking about this so called “energy” phenomena. It seems that the speed of electrons are in a way limitless comparing to the one floating within the silicon. Of course this is the matter of debate and opinion, but I can whole herthed agree, that something different is happening within the music when amplified by tubes. No mystic no magic, but audible science.

It takes years to refine certain amplifier approach. For the skilled electrician it might seems very easy to build good working tube amplifier and in the way it is, but to present a full grown and musical amplifier it takes years of building practices. Not only that, but it strongly depend on views of designer how amplifier will sound. I can always declare, that within high-end world and among different designs it matters the most who is behind soldering, blueprints and who is responsible for final products. Anything can be and it is touched by the human factor. This certainly leaves an imprint or the lack of it on the final products. In our case the preamplifier, speakers, amplifier, cables etc.

Everything matters in high-end. We might not like it and draw our own conclusions or start new audio philosophy nagging camp. It’s the fact that everything affects the sound in a lesser or higher degree. This is not the matter of perception, but more the subject of experience, mileage and know-how. We’re often criticized, by the means of taking everything too seriously or complicate on every little detail within high-end. Again, I’ll never say, that somebody must do something, but I can suggest, that by slowly growing into a mature listener and for that sake even gear lower (admit we’re all bitten by that bug) you’ll start recognizing the differences. You might or might not like them, but they do happen and they can be either measured or heard. What we do with them is the free choice of individual and it might take you further in to the joy of high-end or even, when contemplate too much, drive you away from music into frustration.

The key for any audiophile is musical enjoyment and recreation of those fine emotional events in our home listening rooms. From here, then we simply go abroad into the wider specter of so called personal audio goals, tastes, adventures and challenges. We’ll almost never agree on everything audio and music related. This is O.K. Our agreements paths will cross within some anchors of music reproduction and that we call or should call standard. There are some basic rules we cannot escape with music reproduction and quality and there are a recognizable good, better, great and excellent sound distinctions. Every honest so called audiophile will nod in these remark. We might not able to afford something, but it’s the fact, that there are different qualities of audio reproduction. I’m not talking about tube, transistor, analogue, digital or any other dualism. This is the same standard of quality that applies into every things surrounding us. There are clear differences between average and great. All this in the absence of luxury items. That is another story. Most importantly, we do experience them.

Meet the Golden Samurai

Mactone MH-300 B is unique product. Even before taking it into the system for audible feedback I could appreciate the classical, but still modern appearance. It holds some Samurai like majestic appearance.

Years ago I had my ventures into DIY (do it youself) tube territory. It was fun and great, but it also took so much time and brought so many frustrations along. I learned (from all the hours and days trying do re-create something special with all the electronic parts), that everything looks easy on the paper. Once you start making an actual amplifier suddenly everything changes. There are so many variables making your mind either crazy or bewildered from vast options. Where it all end? What sets apart novice-rookie audio designer and experienced creator is knowledge. This is not only knowledge about basic electrical laws and philosophies, but deeper understanding of the parts and materials. To go even further into so called “esoteric” fields; best audio designers know the way how some components will affect the sound (or wont). People like Mr. Matusmoto, Mr. Kondo, Robert Koda, Vladimir Lamm, Mr. Shindo, Peter Brem, Franco Serblin, etc. know by hearth how certain component can shape not only the sound, but also the speed, emotions and nevertheless perception of the music. There is a large portion of psycho acoustics principles involved withing this knowledge (consciously or without awareness). This people know or can sense without any woo-do or magic how certain resistor, transformer or any other part will affect the final sound. For this kind of knowledge it takes years to mature and perfect itself. But still, that might not be enough. It’s also a matter of talent. There are numerous audio designers within audio society, yet there are few that stand out. Those are artisans and representatives of finest audio craft. We find people with God given talent in every branch of active living-creation and it’s great to being able to experience this creations. Thanks God they’re not always stamped with the luxury label and high fence of pricing.

Mactone MH-300B is one of those audio jewels and public hidden treasures. It’s shame, that we’re not having the luxury of some really great Japanese products. Perhaps ongoing globalization will cut down the borders and let audiophiles worldwide experience some of great high-end products from the land of the rising sun.

300 B

MH-300B as you already figured out use the legendary 300 B tube. I’ll not go into the elaborate state about it, but for some (me included) this is one of the most important and best sounding tubes ever created. Yes, this technology is going back into the 30’s of last century. How can something like this stand out in this age of hyper electronic and technical advancement. Easily!


MH-300B is a push pull design. This will give in the sense of power and motion “double” impact. I had many of 300B based amplifiers. From mono-blocs, integrated etc. While single 300B tube is one of the most seductive performers it’s low output limit the use of speakers. It almost cancel out most of dynamic loudspeaker designs. With taking 300B into a Push-Pull design, this open up quite some possibilities. If designed properly you’ll be surprised what kind of speakers can it drive. More on that later.

To understand more why Golden Samurai is different and special I asked Mr. Matsumoto to tell more about his unique approach to MH-300B:

A) Benefit of Push-Pull circuit

(a) Getting higher output power, compared to single ended output

(b) 2 output tubes (Each standard phase and reverse phase) deny
respective distortion, mixed at output transformer, leading
to much lower distortion value in whole circuit.

For output transformer designing stage, transformer synthesis
for Push Pull circuit has more favorable margin to get lower
distortion in wider frequency rage, in particular for lower
frequency area.".

(d) Single ended circuit is said to provide with smoother and
clearer sound, due to non-existence of Phase-Reverse circuit,
prior to output power amplification stage, which is
indispensable for Push-Pull, deteriorating the sound, in

(e) Mactone Phase-Reverse circuit, on the other hand, is solely
developed by Mr.Matsumoto to differentiate from other
conventional circuits, reproducing even much better
qualified sound than single ended one.

(B) Drawback of Class A motion

(a) Regularly supplied electric current makes life time of output
vacuum tube much shorter.

(b) As applicable maximum power from output tube is almost half
or even less from its rated power value, available dynamic
range is much limited.

C) Mactone motion is AB1 class

(a) AB1 works as class A motion during normal listening level
(Still much less current value than regular Class A motion
in which current flows every time regardless of any music
signal), while moves to class B motion (Fundamentally much
less current value than anything) over some certain sound

This is quite adequate output circuit for music reproduction.

To transfer everything written by Mr. Matsumoto let me dive into the music language.

The Music

Sudden attack of impression and emotions. This is the shortest first encounter phrase I can write down about Mactone MH-300 B. Everything opened up and give the space for the music instantly. I don’t want to fall into the typical audiophile jargon of PRAT, sound-stage etc., but have to point out few parameters, that made MH-300 B so evidently a turning point.

You know the feeling, that we got when listening to vinyl. So called three dimensional reproduction, the “air” and space around performers and most importantly the sense of event itself. Golden Samurai MH-300 B got them all and beyond this. I cannot give the higher remark about some specific component under the test than this. MH-300 B have everything in it’s guts, that is making analogue music reproduction a clear stand out.

What was even more impressive is the ability to drive my Acoustic Preference Maestoso 2.0 speakers into almost full delight. Only large and complex passages at really loud listening levels showed a tiny hair missing of desired gain. I’m one of those who listen to music at much higher volume levels than most. For two reasons. One purpose or reason is to stay objective with reviewing/testing and other to not let anything between sense of energy and emotions of music and me. Note, that Mactone MH-300 B will satisfy most of the listeners even with normal dynamic speakers.

I tried MH- 300 B with various speakers. Low efficient, horn based, dynamic, open baffle etc. We took some time with Miro of SoulSonic Speakers to test the amplifier with his outstanding Wave loudspeakers. We both agreed, that this amplifier carry analogue and special DNA. Miro commented after returning from live concert and listening to Mactone, that MH-300 B brings out the same feelings as live event. What more could one strive for.

Not a typical tube amp

Mactone MH- 300 B is hard to pin down into some labeling. It’s not the typical tube amplifier. It’s not even typical 300 B sounding amp. There is a recognised warm feeling of tube design, but this is just a touch, that moves toward natural timbre and warmness. I welcome this. In my listening MH-300 B often reminded me on the best pure class A solid state amplifiers, but without their shortcomings. 300 B tubes have a certain ability to bring out finest micro level dynamics details and speed, that is one of the kind. I often felt like this is kind of a hybrid amplifier without any of the artifacts from both sides. More amazingly, than surprisingly MH-300 B showed more energy, then two solid state amplifiers at 150 watts, that I have for test at my lab. To make things even more wicked, Golden Samurai produced more bass “slam” in the traditional transistor style then those two solid state amplifiers. Unconventional, but so impressive.

I know this might all sounds like high praise, but this is one hell of the amp. No matter what kind of music I listened to, sound coming from MH-300 B was never a let down. Some audiophiles strive only for best available audiophile recordings for a so called true high fidelity experience. is this a real challenge? I do own quite some of them and cherish them dearly, but for me a true high-end or ultra high-end must convey any type of music regardless of genre and the way it was recorded. We can always get into drawbacks and endless debates. My understanding of high-end reproduction perhaps differ from often clinical and trend like. For me the emotional impact and connection to performer or event is a must. Without that, there is only a measurement's fool’s errand and pale colours. Life is colourful and with whole spectrum of shining energy. So is the music.

What I heard from some of the best sounding systems (yes high-priced) and what I’m always searching for in the ultimate sense of music reproduction is pure energy exchange or motion of the sound, that travels with it’s own, but recognizing sense and pace. Luckily few of people share the same feelings about this and I’m glad, that those are not my sole findings.

Mactone MH-300 B amplifier can cope with this philosophy with open arms. Regardless of music I played through it everything remained active and with full content. Toscanini held his sharpness and perfection, Ben Webster never failed to loose his pace, Jobim seducing mellows captivated me even further within his intimate world, Coltrane’s Phd. in Saxophone continuously engaged me and want me to come back, Michael Franks rare vinyl Dragonfly Summer excelled at the passion and studio work wizardy, Indigo Girls never failed to show ther Jing-Jang performance shaprness, Nat King Cole caressed my perception of him even deeper etc.


Slowly digital is making it’s little steps toward analogue reproduction. Will it be successful? Who knows? Lately I’m enjoying the way Burson Audio HA-160D converts the zeros and ones into the music. It’s not the high-res monster as some other ones. I found them to clinical and sharp to be real in most cases. I like where Burson in going with the sound. Perhaps this little machine is one of the most interesting and clever priced DAC-pre combos so far, but that’s another upcoming reading.

On the analogue side my happiness was contemplated with another giant and out of this world Aries Cerat Talos phono preamplifier, great sounding Fonel MM/MC phono preamp ans surprisingly well matched combination of MH-300 B and Tom Evans Micro Groove X phono preamplifier.

The end

I’m rarely going into such a statements, but Mactone MH-300B is an amplifier I could easily live with for the rest of my life. It’s unique character and ability to convey the music so intimate and draws me into listening without thinking about certain details is a hearth winner. This is one of those products, that speaks dearly to my inner audio and music clock. It simply clicks. Being the reviewer have it’s great advantages, specially because I’m able to hear so many different things, but it also a hard work. It often comes down to comparing, endless permutations of cables, new components, synergy, critical listening etc.

Mactone MH-300 B can act both as a testing lab tool and late night best buddy. When I simply want to sit down late at night, put on the record, forget about the world, break down my daily shields and let the music in Mactone MH-300 B one of the amplifiers I wanted to let my music pass through.

A true standout and Mono & Stereo only Ultra High-end audio award given so far.

Text and photos: Matej Isak
Mono & Stereo High-End audio magazine
All rights reserved, September 2011