Whatever you heard is not the result of the MA-2 amplifiers. They are superb, says this owner of an Atma-Sphere MA-2 and Eidolon speakers combination.
I will agree with "Rushton" that the problem is not with the Atmasphere. These amps remain my favorite after listening to many others. They also work on many speakers - not just electrostatics (though they sound absolutely superb on these). On my Magnepan 3.6's they sound outstanding. And, Maggies are probably the last speaker that many dealers would recommend them for. Now to be honest, it did take the auto-transformer to provide the superb sound but, this was just a simple matter of impedance matching the Atmasphere to the Maggies.
I have to mention that it is not the amps also-absolutly not possable!!! But I don't want to bash those speakers just that it's not a good match. The speakers are very low sensitivity and probably have a hard impedance curve to boot. That fine if your amp is up to the task. The Atmaspheres are very dynamic ( as good as it gets for tubes) with the right speakers.
My experience with Atma-Sphere M-60 amps driving Köchel K300 loudspeakers has been outstanding.
My guess is that the Gilmore loudspeakers just weren't your cup of tea. There shouldn't have been any system matching issues as Mark Gilmore is an Atma-Sphere enthusiast.
Perhaps there was a problem with the setup in that particular room. I would contact Ralph at Atma-Sphere to see if there was anything problematic. Atma-Sphere amps do not lack dynamic ability.
Sorlowski, you and I did not like the Atma Sphere/Gilmore sound at HE2004. I did not find it weak, or non dynamic, but harsh, irritating, and very shrill.
I also back up those here who feel the Atma Spheres are a stellar sounding product. I assure you that with a different speaker, the Atma Sphere amplifiers will sound a lot better.
However, if you witness Ralph's comments in my thread reviewing the show, you will see that he found the sonics to be first rate. I think it just comes down to preference. I think that is the kind of sound Ralph honestly likes, and more power to him. The converse is that most audiophiles will disagree, and would like the sound of his rooms better than shows where he has paired his amps with the CAR horns or these Gilmores. Still, it's his company, and he should go with what he believes in.
But, please try to give the amplifiers a listen with a different loudspeaker if you are at all able.
I was at HE 2004 and I would not base ANY buying decisions on show sound. The rooms are just not optimized for any reasonable evaluation. One of my favorite speakers (Vandersteen 5a's) sounded absolutely dreadful...for the first time ever. I'm running my electrostats with Innersound Monoblocks. One of the few amps that, in my view, sound great with stats is the Atma-Sphere. If you have a line on a decent pair...I wouldn't hesitate.
somewhere you can read:
"And, finally, the last bad sounding room I encountered was the Atma Sphere/Gilmore room. Ralph Karsten was a gem of a person, but the synergy between his amps and those speakers was poor. The achilles heel sonically of the Atma Spheres is wrestling a woofer's voice coil to the ground and gaining the submission. Four 12" woofers look to be more than the great OTL amps are capable of.
they really sounded week, undymamic, I do not know what they are capable of, but they did not go well on HE 2004 seems not only to me, just not in the league of Manley's or VAC's, not even close.
I was at the show as well and was less than impressed with the synergy. I have to agree that the amps are not able to wrestle with that many woofer motors, especially in that room. I echoe Trelja's comment that the combination was unable to resolve even the treble, it was indeed harsh. I have heard these amps do wonderfully well with different speakers but if your looking for a rich lush tone you may not want these. They are super clean, pure and very fast. The room was too big and they are better suited to moderate volumes.
I was with Trelja and Mechans in the room and we all agreed that the pairing did not work to our ears. I also have to add though that It WAS NOT the MA-2's at fault. I have heard them in Rushton's room driving his Eidolons, and they produce the most beguiling, involving music I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Ralph builds a tremendous product and I myself would love to try a pair of the MA-2's in my room to drive my Magnepan 3.6. I just don't think the Gilmore/Atma-sphere coupling is a good one.
I am not saying the Gilmore is a bad product. I have not had enough experience with it being powered by more suitable amplification. But unless the three of us were suffering from a group hallucination, we all felt the synergy was non-existent and the sound was harsh and uninvolving.
>I'm not a big fan of tube gear either.
You misunderstood me, I'm just not fan of transformless tube gear since the show. Sound quality, liveness of good tube gear I had heard from (Lamm, Hovland, Vac, Manley) is just beyond reach of any even outrageously expensive SS gear, at least to my ears. Not all tube gear is equal, like not all SS gear is equally bad :)
For example $144.000 SS rig from MBL sounded really good (only one SS I really liked on HE 2004), but I would prefer ~$40.000 Manley+Joseph Audio+"do not remember source".
I would encourage you to give OTL amplifiers another chance.
At the 2001 and 2002 HE shows, I found the Atma Sphere amplifiers sounded horrific with the Classic Audio Reproductions horns. Two months later, I heard the same amplifiers with a different pair of speakers and wound up buying them on the spot.
Hi Y'all, I thought I should put in my 2 cents as you knew I would eventually...:)
I'm sure you've noticed that there is not a consensus about what you all heard, with the exception of those being in the room at the same time hearing the same thing. Some say, smooth sweet sound, bass is too FAT, others- harsh sound, no bass, soundstage OK. Still others, no soundstage, highs too soft, amp can't handle the woofers, etc....
IOW, complaints, yes, but they are contradictory.
There is a simple reason for all of this. And since I was in the room a lot, I can tell you that I experienced all of the above, and more. There are no contradictions, just the system being true to the recording.
If that's what was playing at the time you came in, then that's what you heard. Thus the contradictions.
I heard a lot of bad recordings at that show and I heard a very small number of good ones. The goods ones were spectacular- the most realistic portrayal of string bass I have heard at a show, by a long stretch, and the system did very well with a recording that I know quite well- CANTO GENERAL. I recorded CANTO myself.
On other recordings the system faithfully revealed the flaws that were inherent in those recordings. There were a lot of them.
My feeling is that this speaker has raised the bar (IOW its a breakthrough) and we (myself included) are all challenged to understand that significance. I know this applies to me; as natural recordings (i.e. two mic recordings) I made sound fine, while other recordings I've heard for years did not have the bass I was used to (more *or* less), or had details I had not heard before, etc.
As I mentioned a previous post, it gave me food for thought:
-where I said:
" If I was having trouble with this, I cannot doubt that others would have too. The Organ Symphony was the eye-opener, as it did demonstrate that the bottom end was there and not lacking.
Mark claims that most speakers (planars included) retain energy for various reasons- box resonance, frame resonance (in the case of certain planars) or the inability of the diaphram to return to center (or the resting point) as in the case of certain ESLs. By placing the resonant frequency of the baffle an octave below the cutoff of the drivers, and by having no box at all, Mark avoids these issues, but boy is the bass different! He says if you add a little bass boost to simulate the energy retention of other speakers, that then the bass is presented the way most people are used to hearing it, but he maintains that such is not correct.
Are we used to hearing overly bloated bass? "
-Anyway, the bottom line here is that one had better have a good idea of the recordings one is listening to with a speaker like this. I use recordings that I have made and that has always been my reference. But if you don't have that luxury, it is a simple fact that you will have to bring a variety of well-known recordings with you to a show, and have them demonstrated to you.
One guy did just that, and had what was to him a startling revelation. He had two CDs, both of a 1960s Impulse jazz recording. One was HDCD and the other was the original digital issue. He had been listening to the original, but got the HDCD, which seemed to sound better on his system. But on our system, both CDs sounded better then he was getting at home, but the Gilmores revealed how the original CD was actually more natural sounding (more shimmer in the cymbals, more liquid sax tone, stuff like that) then the HDCD. He auditioned the difference several times.
So next time, bring your own recordings. Otherwise you will have no idea why a certain recording is playing and why the system is sounding the way it is. A revealing nature, as any audiophile knows, has its price. If you want the stereo to always sound its best, the recording has to have its ducks in a row. Unfortunately, there is a dirth of good music that is well recorded and altogether too much that is well-recorded that I will never want to hear again. For those who have to stay in the room all day, its hard to always play the same audiophile recordings ad nauseum. I play music that I like instead, and deal with the recording.
And that's what y'all were hearing.
Well, I think your invitation is a good thing, Ralph. Although I really disagree strongly about the competence of these speakers, and you must admit, I am really in the majority, they deserve the chance you are asking us to give.
From my vantage point, they represent an update of the old Carver Amazing Platinums, which seem to have always been out there used for about $1000, for a quite princely sum. I happened to like the sound of the Carvers, from what I remember - wish I bought that pair 16 years ago. Time will tell as to whether the Gilmore speaker is a player or not, although the market often undervalues deserving products, such as AtmaSphere amps, in favor of products less worthy. If these speakers actually mirror what is being passed through them, they deserve my backing off of my criticism. However, it seems that those coming to their defense are few and far between - can't say as I recall one person, but what do I know? I wonder how a manufacturer of a product like this, at a price like this, can find takers in the long run based on what I personally heard and the opinions of others that I trust.
Your point is well taken. And Mark Gilmore himself readily admits that the Gilmore was inspired by the Carver- with all the problems that he saw fixed. To that end, the baffle is non-resonant at any frequency the speaker can reproduce. This is different from the Carver (an nearly every other speaker as well).
There is a good reason no-one is coming forward to defend the speaker- there is hardly anyone who has heard them in their homes yet, and we all agree that that will be when a deterimination can be made. To that end, there are now a few that have heard them in their homes, literally in the last few days. They are all Glacier Audio in-home showroom owners, so we probably won't be hearing too much from them initially, until after a few sales have been made so they can speak without sounding biased.
I have made my statements from hearing recordings that I have made in rooms that I had to get familer with because I had to do nothing but play the stereo in them for 6 days in a row. Having done that with the same rooms with other speakers it gave me a little more perspective, although I really want to hear what they do at home. All in due time.
I did speak to one of the people who has a Glacier showroom today, who has been a customer of mine for several years now before getting involved with the Gilmore. He says he is quite astonished at how well the speaker handles transients, how wide-band it is, and particularly how revealing it is. He has a set of Revels and he has owned Quads as well. He literally called up just to say how much he appreciated what we were doing, and how nice it was that Mark had gone ahead, with all the criticism he's recieved, in creating a speaker that has so clearly raised the bar against the competion.
He also reiterated what I posted yesterday on this thread, which is that people are not going to know what to make of this speaker, since it raises the bar so far.
So he and I agree on that point, and furthermore it gives me the perspective to totally appreciate where you are coming from- its been a learning curve for me too. The fact of the matter is this speaker will have to be heard in more controlled circumstances- known and proper recordings, home environment that you are familier with, that sort of thing. It will all come out in time.