Just purchased a pair of Atma Sphere M-60 Mk 3's upgraded to 3.3's


Hello all, I feel I’m a novice when it comes to audiophile setups. Been spending the past 10 plus years buying and selling trying to get to the top in regards to hearing what I want to hear, you know, what sounds just right!

I feel like I’m satisfied in regards to the turntable setup, got me a Thorens TD 124 Mk I that I’m in the middle of high end mods.

My current amp and pre are the McCormack DNA 1 Gold upgraded and ALD 1 with a Micro line drive phono pre. I’ve had many variable speakers flying in and out of here that I can’t remember them all. The set I’m planning on keeping will be the Klipsch La Scala’s that have the preferred type AA crossovers and vintage K55V mid horns and K77 tweeters, both metal horn variety. I’m also in the process of making new custom cabinets, something exotic.

I also have a Crown 724 R2R for my tapes and an Oppo 193 modded DVD player for CD’s.

As great as the McCormack is, I happen to come across an opportunity to pickup a set of Atma Sphere M-60’s. Having a quick demo at the persons house I was blown away by the smooth soul pouring out of her speakers. They were her late husband’s and she wanted something simple to use and was moving these onto someone who would appreciate them.

Long story short I grabbed them but now I need to ask, will the McCormack ALD 1 do the system justice or should I get a Tube Pre to match the M-60’s and if so what? My budget right now can’t afford a MA-3 like I hope for, something in the $1K range until I can move the other stuff out.

Your suggestions are much appreciated and thank you for taking the time to read all of this!
kjack48230
Congratulations.  My advice is to proceed slowly in making system changes.  The M60s 3.3s are very revealing.  They are not forgiving of sub par source material, especially bad digital.  Put your new amps in and live with them for 2or 3 weeks then let us know what you hear.
Thanks Brownsfan, I'll do so when I pick them up next weekend. Even though I paid for them I wanted to wait to take until she found the original boxes and all of the extra tubes her husband bought. She texted me that there was a lot. I'm now wondering if those tubes may be the original ones and that he was doing a bit of tube rolling over the years. No matter, I'll never say no to tubes! Good luck with the Browns this year, I might be rooting for them as my backup team. Long time suffering Lions fan here!
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You might want to contact Ralph at Atma-Sphere ( Mr. Atma Sphere ), who happens to be a very large contributor here on the 'Gon. A brilliant guy, and as nice a person on any forum that I have visited. It is my belief from his writings, he prefers an active gain stage before his amplifiers ( and most amplifiers, actually ), as I share threads about using active vs passive preamplification. Of course, when you get the M60s home, listen for a few weeks, as suggested above, and hear for yourself. Owning Lascalas myself, the M60s should drive them very nicely. Enjoy ! MrD.
I own both McCormack and Atma equipment and can say that Atma is probably going be the superior amp.-Unless, you send it to SMcAudio for upgrading, even then, I think Atma will still be a finer amp.
Regarding preamps, if you can swing it, get a MP-3 to go with your amp.

I have the MP-3 and am thinking of upgrading to the MP-1. Truly a fine piece of equipment. Once again, I think it will smoke the McCormack's.
Don't get me wrong. I love McCormack equipment. I run my office system with upgraded Mirco power amps (monoblocks) and a Microline Drive for my Vandy VLR's and am very happy with the results.
As MrDecibel recommended, give Ralph or his assistants a call.They answer the phone and are very knowledgeable. Heck, you can even call Steve or Pat at SMcAudio and get their take on this.
Bob
If you have speakers of high impedance and also of a stable impedance you really cant do much better than Atma OTLs or even OTLs in general. In fact, you can pretty much forget about all other tube amp types (SET, Push Pull) if your speakers are as I mention above. 
Like you, the first time I heard the M60's I was blown away. I now have the MA1's and the MP1. This is the end of my journey. Welcome to the family.

Having started my Atma-Sphere journey some 20 years ago, I think I have a pretty good handle on it. If Ralph's office is closed and you have questions, pm me. 

The OTL asylum at audioasylum.com is also a fabulous place to ask questions.
Thanks Cuz, I will definitely take you up on that offer! First things first, get them and listen to how they sound in my system. I will be looking to get my hands on an Atma pre soon, very soon!
First, if your system is not true balanced now is the time. AFAIK Atmosphere kit are all true XLR (differentially balanced from input to output). I can highly recommend WireWorld Eclipse XLR series 7 for a bargain, as WW recently introduced series 8

Owning an Oppo 105 for it’s ability to play SACD/DVD-A into which I installed an aftermarket Linear Power Module and incoming wire harness to pure silver + furutech Rhodium IEC, I also had a Pioneer PD 65 (Stable platter) that was moded including an outboard PS for redbook. After many years, the laser gave out: an extensive search including Pioneer, laser no longer made, so I used the 105 for redbook as well while I went on a transport hunt, using the 105 as a transport with WireWorld Coax to my dac/pre for redbook. The Oppos are a ’jack of all trades, but a master of none, especially for redbook

My budget was in the $500 range, which doesn’t buy much in hi-end, BUT, I discovered the Marantz HD CD 1 (CD player) with the appropriate digital outs. It is a quantum leap from using the 105 as a transport

Long story short, consider starting there

hth
Tweak, I think you are on the wrong thread.
kjack, everyone here has it pretty much right. Hold your tater (southern slang) or take a deep breath. Do not waste money on substandard equipment. Those are great amps for those speakers. You certainly lucked out on that deal. Wait until you can afford the right preamp. The Atma-sphere is fine. You might also consider watching for the right ARC to come up used. The fellow that passed on, what was he using. Had the wife already sold it?
mijos

WTF? He's using a Oppo as I was for redbook. There are much better transports/players than Oppo at quite a bit less

Now please enlighten me/us, cuz (southern slang), HOW you KNOW the Marantz HD CD 1 is substandard. I do understand that much of the Marantz line is mid-fi, but the HD CD 1 ain't, ya hear (more southern slang)
Hey Mijostyn, he didn't have one. He had a CD player that had a built-in preamp and that was all he used to play music. Can't wait to see how albums sounds through this. I did get this at a good price.
Good Choice in my honest opinion, Once you go down the Atma-Sphere route and have the right speakers to play on. Nothing else really compares. The Key is to get the right speakers for the OTL Amps.

Enjoy the music, as from this point onwards you would not be thinking much about upgrading unless you want bigger OTLs
Tweak I did not say anything about the Marantz. Never heard one and do not care to. My CD transport is an upsampling computer. All my CDs and downloads are in high res on a hard drive. The best transport is no transport. To my knowledge "cuz" is not southern slang. I lived for 5 years in rural Alabama. Roll Tide!
mij

No, but you certainly implied it when you wrote "Do not waste money on substandard equipment". Who are you to tell me what to do? You have no idea of why I make the choices I make

Recently, I had the experience in my home of laptop down loads, and was totally floored, but the owner spent 10 minutes just trying to sync it up. I am not a techie, and would likely have problems and wind up throwing it out the window.

I own 300+ cds and at 70+ I’m too old to transition, though I am a huge admirer. My option is to upgrade to a Jay’s Audio CDT II Mk II and a better DAC
kjack48230,  While you are waiting, I thought I'd offer a few additional comments since they may be relevant to layout of your listening room when you have the M-60's.  If you have talked to Ralph, you probably already know most of this. First of all, I found 6SN7 tube selection to be quite important.  I found the stock Chinese new production tubes that come with the amps to be unacceptable.  Way too much glare.  You can do so much better with some relatively inexpensive NOS RCAs or Sylvannias from the 60's.  You can get these for $25/tube, and they make all the difference.  The isolated 6SN7 towards the front of the amp has the least impact on sonics, in my opinion.  That tube must be a GTA or GTB.   But again, listen before you buy,    Ralph advised me to keep the speaker cables as short as possible.  I placed the amps right next to the speakers, which allowed me to keep the cable length at 16."  This arrangement usually necessitates longer leads from the preamp.  It is advantageous to use balanced cables, and select a preamp that is truly capable of driving long lengths of balanced cable.  If I were you, I'd consider one of the Atma-sphere preamps as a long term goal.  These amps are very special, but they can be brutally honest in revealing upstream issues.  They do not paint the music with euphonics, as a 300B might.  For me, it has taken some work to get things dialed in.  
The isolated 6SN7 towards the front of the amp has the least impact on sonics, in my opinion. That tube must be a GTA or GTB.
I won't comment on the sonic importance of that front tube, but I will say from experience it is a very critical tube in the driver circuit. As stated previously it should be a GTB variant of the 6SN7, but given it's importance I use the Chinese 6SN7 supplied from Ralph in this position. For the other positions I use Raytheon VT-231.
@clio09  From the M-60 MK3.3 manual.

"Install the tubes in their sockets. The middle four sockets take the 6SN7GT driver tube (if using NOS 6SN7s, the front location should have either a -GTA or -GTB suffix)."

I currently am using an NOS GE GTA tube in this position.  It is pretty good there in my opinion.  I also really liked a current production  ElectroHarmonix GTB in that spot, but Ralph warned that they have a rather short lifespan in his amps so he doesn't recommend them.  The Raytheons have a great reputation, but I have not tried them yet.  The back 3 positions offer the best opportunity to dial in the sound to suit the room and ancillary equipment.  As for me, I just could not get rid of the glare until I got all of the Chinese tubes out of the amps. 

@brownsfan .
I can't say I have ever experience 'glare' with my MA-1's using the Chinese Tubes that Ralph supplied.
What speakers and preamp are you using.
Bob
@gdnrbob, My speakers are Coincident Super Victory II and my pre is a Coincident CSL. The source is a ModWright Sony HAPZ1. The room is well treated, and I would say it is not overly bright.  It is important for the OP to just insert the amps into his system and go from there.  He may not find the stock tubes to be a problem in his system and room.  If he isn't entirely satisfied with what he hears, the 6SN7s may be a logical place to start since he indicated that the amps would come with a bunch of tubes.
Happy 4th guys! Again, thank you for all of the feedbacks so far. It's been given me a lot to think about. Although currently I don't have nearly the preamp that'll do the whole system justice, I will be on the hunt for an MA-1, at the very least an MA-3. My room size is fairly large, 22x30. It's actually the upstairs of my garage/barn that I built, it's my multi media room where I also have my theatre setup. Obviously they are two separate systems but they do have to share the same room. I pick up my amps on Saturday on my return trip from my brothers place in Traverse City. I'll give it a quick listen on Sunday when I have time to relax. I'll give a report when I do.
Kjack, I am new to the Atma-Sphere family so I won’t make any suggestions other than to make sure you leave the tubes on in standby for 6 hours before turning on full power after travel.

I called Ralph after getting my M60’s, because tubes were shorting out everywhere. The first thing he said was to leave the tubes on in standby upon arrival . Mine had been shipped and yours are being moved under your control so it may not apply , but I would be careful.

To late for me but everything settled down nicely after purchasing replacements. Great sound!


Hey kjack,

The MA-1 and MA-3 are both amps (and the MA-3 will set you back $140K, BTW). The MP-3 and MP-1 are the preamps, the MP-1 being a dual chassis flagship.
Oops, sorry for the misnomer! I meant MP!
Kjack, What did you think about the M-60's in your system?