Atma-Sphere MA-1 Mk.3.1 Vs. Atma-Sph. MA-2 Mk.3.1

Hello to all and thanks in advance for looking at my post.

I am in the process of upgrading my soundsystem:
1-Speakers:Tannoy GRF 15'' Dual Concentric Gold in a refurbished and rewired cabinet. I've ahd these for the last 20 years and I finally have the room to enjoy them (about 900 sq.ft)
2-Oracle turntable with Linn Exos and Dynavector XV-1
3-YBA Diamond IC's, power cords and speaker cables
4-Mac Mini with Ayre QB-9 DAC running AIFF files
5-Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk.3 w phono preamp

6-What amps should I choose between the MA-1 or the MA-2?

I currently own a YBA alpha 2 preamp and power amp. I have them on my system since 2003 and after looking at several posts on Audiogon, it seems OTL 's are the way to go with the Tannoys.
I have settled on Atma-Sphere for their quality build, their reputation and continued support of their products. Marketing and sales pitch aside, I can grab good deals on both the MA-1's and the MA-2's...The price difference is significant, but I feel the more power I can get, the better it is? I would appreciate your inputs on which one to choose if money was no object?
What are the specs on your Tannoy speakers (sensitivity, nominal impedance, min impedance, etc...)? It all depends on how difficult a load the Tannoys present to the partnering amp and how load you like to play your music.
8Ohm, 92dB...
In everyday life I do not listen to music too loud. Good presence and dynamics at a low to mid volume level is mostly what i am looking for...By the way, the tannoys are very sensitive speakers and cannot be bi-amplified...
Hello Don. The begnign impedance of the vintage Tannoy DC's makes for the perfect marriage with OTL amplification.

Each and every model of the Atmasphere OTL amplifiers will be more than capable to drive your Tannoy Golds regardless of level you wish to listen at....a superlative choice by the way and a marriage made for each other.

Absolutely no need whatsoever for the additional power of the MA-2 unless your listening in a concert hall.

BTW: It is relatively easy configure the crossover to accomodate biamplification should you choose to go that route.

All the best.

Thanks for your insights Ecclectique...I was told by a friend that my room was too small for the MA-2 but perfect for the MA-1...I just thought that the more power could translate in more dynamics at low to mid volume, something my YBA is not very good at...The music starts to open up only at one quarter volume level...Concerning this, the seller of the MA-2 said : ''Only power corrupts absolutely. The difference between reproduced music and live is largely the dynamic component. You get that with power''
Hi Don. I don't mean to sound condencending, however... to keep things in perspective here regarding the sellers statement of power being the dynamics component to capture the dynamics of live music is way off base here.

To give you some perspective. I grew up listening to Tannoy Reds and Golds from my early childhood until I went to college and left home in the mid 70's.

In the late 90's, we moved to a home with a huge room [42 ft x 32 ft with a 16ft ceiling]

The room was set up as a dedicated sound room for music.

My main speakers are the Tannoy Westminsters [first versions] fitted with vintage 15 in Tannoy Golds with custom crossovers and powered with Atmasphere MA-2 MK-2's.

At the turn of the millenium, a close friend was a dealer for Atmasphere and brought by all kinds of amplifiers to play with. Hi and low powered tube amps... push pull, single ended triodes,ultra linear as well as big s/state stuff from Levinson, YBA, Macintosh etc.
I have had the pleasure of auditioning ever model of the Atmasphere amplifiers in my rig as well as many others.

Regardless of what model of Atmasphere amplifiers were used....I would be willing to wager that very few people would be able to ascertain which model Atmasphere was driving the Tannoy regardless of volume. Each and every model would produce an undistorted sound pressure level that would drive any sane music lover right out of the room.

In regards to your room: If it were me, I would buy the MA-60 or MA-30 and bank the difference. Either one will bring the musicians into your room.

All the best on your quest.

Hello Donfibre,

Buy the biggest Atmasphere amp you can afford and enjoy ..

I can't deny Ecclectique's assertion given his long experience directly with the question at hand but I have invariably lusted for more power. It is probably a silly leftover instinct when I was first buying good gear and a big amp had 60wpc. I have found with time and experience that it is the overall quality of the amp that ends up revealing greater dynamics and inner detail etc.
It is your money but my own choice of amps is quite conservative powerwise. I use mainly two tube amps a 60 watt integrated and 78 watt monoblocs. The speakers BTW in a big room are 92Db but absolute min impedance is low at 3.6 Ohm despite the nominal 8 Ohm rating. Tannoys do not drop thier impedance like my Focals do. Thus you're safe either way. FWIW I have heard both the 60 watt Atma (on special Coincidents) and the 100+ watt Atma many times and did prefer the bigger one (on Avalons). I have never heard the next one up you are considering.
Atma-Sphere amps are wonderful and the MA-1 and MA-2 are remarkably capable of driving a broad range of speakers. The key in matching an Atma-Sphere amp to a speaker is to think about the speaker impedance curve and phase shift. To drive speakers lower minimum impedances, choose an Atma-Sphere amp with more tubes. The greater number of tubes increases the ability of the amp to deal with low impedance speakers.

The big difference between the MA-1 and the MA-2 is, surprisingly, not a matter of power output, it's a matter of being able to drive a lower impedance speaker. Sure the power output is different, but the greater number of tubes in the MA-2 allows it to drive pretty much ANY speaker whereas the MA-1 will be happier with somewhat higher and more benign impedance curves.

I use MA-2 amps to drive my Avalon Eidolon speakers that have a nominal 4 ohm impedance, but do not drop below 3.6 ohms and otherwise have a fairly smooth impedance curve. The MA-1 will just not be as comfortable with that 3.6 ohm minimum impedance.

If your Tannoys have a nominal impedance of 8 ohms or greater, and if the minimum impedance doesn't drop below 6 ohms, the M-60 will probably match well. If the nominal or minimum impedance is lower, then look to the MA-1 or MA-2, with the MA-2 being the better choice the lower/steeper the impedance curve.

Your best resource will be to call Ralph and ask him about your specific speakers. He's likely to know other A-S amp owners with your speakers and he will give you good advice you can trust.

Atma-Sphere amps are superb, and I applaud your decision to focus on finding the right Atma-Sphere amps to work in your system. Good luck!
Mechans. With all due respect: re powering the Avalons with Atmasphere amps.
No doubt in my mind the MA-1 would be the better choice over the MA-60. The MA-60 hasn't a chance comparatively speaking here.
For that matter, even the MA-1's would be considered marginal at best when driving the Avalon. The only Atmasphere amplifier capable of getting the best from Avalons are the MA-2's.
For the record, my MA-2 mk2's were sold to an Avalon owner.
To be candid here: Even though your Focals are quite sensitive at 92 db, I wouldn't even consider Atmasphere amplification due to their lowish impedance load on the amplifier. Most all OTL topologies are not comfortable with impedances much under 6 ohms. As the impedance of the speaker drops, so does the wattage of the amplifier.

The Tannoy DC's impedance is very benign, nominally 8 ohms, typically around 9 ohms and never dips below 6.6 ohms. The perfect load for a Atma-sphere amplification.
In Donfibres room... Even with an extra 15db of headroom for the dynamic range over and above the power required I sincerely doubt more than 25 watts would ever be tapped.

Rushton. A great analogy and well said.
I was mistaken when I said the MA-1 was what I had heard several times. It was in fact Rushtons Avalons that were being driven by the MA-2. Forgive me for my error.
The speakers that the M-60s were driving have a very benign impedance they were Coincidents which I recall being rated at worst 11 Ohms. In any event I did acknowledge that the Tannoys were not known for dropping their impedance. Thus it was clearly up to the OP whether he would need the extra power.
I still stand by my remark however that the MA-2 on the Avalons sounded better but quite different than the M-60 on the Coincidents which have their own outstanding attributes. My amps have 4 Ohm taps so maybe that is why they can tolerate the more demanding load but they are paralell PP, not OTLs.
While I have never heard the 11 ohm Coincidents, I would imagine they would make for a very good match with any model Atma regardless of power.
This is great! Thanks for all your inputs...I have to talk to Ralph soon about this, but your comments are bringing me closer to the MA-1's...Other comments are very welcome and I will keep you informed of my decision and my experiences...
Don. A refurbished cabinet? Did you add any bracing?
I am not sure what you mean about bracing (my mother tongue is french). A carpenter friend and I took the originals that had a severely damaged finish, chipped corners and one missing grille frame and we proceeded to take them apart. But the gold monitors themselves were mint and no work needed to be done on them, only the cabinets. We then proceeded to rebuild or replace the damaged parts and refinish what we took the same time we put in new wiring in the cabinets while keeping all the original crossovers...They still look like vintage GRF's, but with a better finish and a more contemporary look with the grills on. It took us roughly a year and a half to do this in our spare time...yeah, I know, sounds pretty crazy...But they sounded so good I thought it was a good investment to improve their looks...
I`ve followed this post with interest as it addresses the common dilemma of how much power for a given speaker. I believe that Ecclectique has displayed generosity and much wisdom towards you. Given your speaker`s load characteristics his suggesting the m60 amp seems correct. The MA-1 would be overkill for that speaker. I do understand however many audiophiles crave for power when often they`re better off with a less powerful
amp that is usally simpler in design and complexity and will more often then not sound better.
I'm gonna agree that there is NO need to go for the MA-2s. I don't know how big your room is (that would help us give you better advice) but I will tell you that when I had M-60s (wish I never sold them) they drove 89 dB, 6 ohm flat impedence Merlins to very very high levels in a 14' x 23' x 8' room. Your Tannoys are 3 db higher efficiency and the amps will make more power into an 8 ohm load. So unless your room is ENORMOUS, the M-60s should be more than adequate, IMO. But give Ralph a call or drop him an email; I would be very surprised if he does not have some experience w your speakers and he is as straight a shooter as there is.
Swampwalker, I think you did not notice, but in my first post I specified my room to be about 900 sq.ft.
I Like the extra power the MA-1 can give me if I need it, and I have a good deal from a local seller...Not something available to me at the moment on the M-60's...But I will give Ralph a call and also ask him about IC, PC and Speaker cables that would be a great combination with his artwork...On another forum I read regular quad shielded mic cables are good...?
Hi Donfibre.
The MA-1's offered at a good price locally seems like a no brainer to me, go for it before their gone.

RE: Bracing the cabinets:
The original Tannoy cabinetry made for the 15inch DC's were rather flimsy and will benefit from the some extra cross bracing and dampening inside the cabinet.
Adding some extra support will tighten up the bottom couple of octaves.

Hope this helps.
Donfibre- Sorry, did not see the room size. 900 sq ft is pretty big (nearly 3x my room). Given the availability of a local purchase, I agree w Ecclectique- MA-1 is a no-brainer. Don't want to speak for Ralph but I'm pretty sure will tell you that w a properly terminated XLR, the IC cable is not a constraint. Curious to hear what he says about PC and SC. Hope you can pull it all together; I am willing to bet that it would be awesome system.
Donfibre, have you gotten the amp? If so, what do you think?