New Management at Atma-Sphere Music Systems

For those of you wondering, I can be contacted at The phone number is 651-695-5552.

Rendition Audio will be introducing a new amplifier at CES, continuing the work of 27 years at Atma-Sphere.

-Ralph (former moniker was Atmasphere)
I certaily wish Ralph the best and hope his new designs don't fence in the customers too much. We don't need another super expensive amplifier. Inginuity doesn't have to be expensive.

And lets hope Atmasphere remains relatively stable. They are really good amplifiers.
Congratulations and good luck. If you recall, I used to own the Navacrons and had worked with you to modify them over the years. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.
After speaking with Ralph Karsten this morning it sounds like the intention of Rendition Audio is too provide products that are highly competitive in performance AND price.

The new designs will also use balanced differential OTL topologies.

His first product will be an amp with a form factor similar to the classic M-60 design along with style elements reminiscent of the Novacron design.

Ralph also indicated that it will include some advances involving ease of setup and a new metering scheme.

I am not sure if he has plans to introduce a preamp, but I think it logical to assume that he will. I am pretty excited to see what his product plans are.
Ralph Karsten was the most valuable asset Atma-Sphere Musical Systems possessed. His departure is saddening and somewhat troubling to me. It was always Ralph's personal integrity, his vision and his sense of musical accuracy and truthfulness that made Atma-Sphere such a wonderful company and its products so exquisitely special.

I'm still waiting to see some overt and wholehearted endorsement from Ralph of the "continuing" management team at Atma-Sphere, and some direct indication from Ralph that he will be contributing his design talent to the company on a continuing basis beyond the quotes attributed to him in the A-S press release. Until then, Atma-Sphere without Ralph is an open question for me, just as would be the case with any other highly specialized firm that is the creation of the genius of its founder, designer and visionary.
The good news is that the audio community at large is not losing an "asset", just Atma-Sphere Music Systems.

...It was always Ralph's personal integrity, his vision and his sense of musical accuracy and truthfulness that made Atma-Sphere such a wonderful company and its products so exquisitely special.

I'm glad the press release wasn't to announce his retirement. I look forward to the advances his new venture is sure to produce.
I have always been of the opinion that good people land on their feet. Ralph is definitely good people. I am 100% confident he will find his way through the darkness.

Judging by the creative, value conscious, supremely good sounding amplifiers he gave birth to, it should be obvious that once he regains his bearings, a lot more greatness will flow from him.
Can anyone access the ASOG server? (Atma-Sphere Owners Group)

It is uniquely coincidental that after some messages were posted questioning Atma-Sphere's new management about Ralph Karsten's curious departure, the server this evening stops accepting connections and now gives a "404 Not Found" error message: "The requested URL /forum/index.html was not found on this server" Especially given that the new A-S management controls the server...
What was the nature of the conversation before ASOG went off-line?
Please don't jump to conclusions so quickly. The server has been fixed. I have nothing to hide. I started the ASOG almost 10 years ago and I don't care to see it go away because chicken little has come to visit. Time will be good to us.
Thank you, Mark.
For those with an interest, here's the link:
Who is Chicken Little and who is Henny Penny? And most important to this story, who is Foxy Woxy? And we know it's not Ralph since he is the King.
Rush, I was able to access the site yesterday afternoon and this morning.
I've been an Atma-Sphere dealer for several years now, and can't help but share Rushton's concern at not having seen Ralph's stamp of approval in a posting of his own. I read the press release which indicates Ralph's wholehearted approval, but frankly the quotes don't sound like Ralph's wording. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Ralph has seen Rushton's posts here and elsewhere, and is choosing to remain silent. So while I try seldom get involved in crusading for this cause or that, I can't help but be concerned for my friend Ralph.

On the other hand, Mark and Harry have always treated me very well, and assisted me above and beyond what I would have expected. I could tell stories of Mark's integrity and generosity, of Harry's integrity and generosity, and of Ralph's integrity and generosity.

My hope is that Atma-Sphere and Rendition Audio will both emerge strong and do well.

But above all, my hope is that my friend Ralph Karston is treated well by the new management of Atma-Sphere. That matters a lot to me.

Duke LeJeune
>>But above all, my hope is that my friend Ralph Karston is treated well by the new management of Atma-Sphere. That matters a lot to me<<

I think you speak for most-all of us AS owners. The single discordant element here, that is plain as daylight, is Ralph's silence. I think he is saying something profound by not saying a word.
The concern is whether Ralph is being hung out to dry...

As I and others have commented here and elsewhere, I don't think I care who ends up running Ralph Karsten's company after Ralph is out of a job with the company he created. That sort of thing happens in corporate America. Nor do I particularly care whether Atma-Sphere without Ralph will be successful.

What I DO care about is whether Ralph is being hung out to dry in the process; not only being forced into a situation he did not choose (apparently so, given his silence), but possibly being prevented from making a living in high-end audio in the future. This really, ultimately, is not a question about whether their new management team can keep things running, or what the vision for the future may be... For me, this is about whether Ralph is being materially hurt in the process. It is not a “Chicken Little” issue, it’s about whether a person I respect and value is being dealt with fairly and with consideration.

To be blunt, three questions keep preying on my mind, and I am concerned about the possible answers. In the absence of Ralph's agreement to an accommodation with the new management:

1. Will the new Atma-Sphere management try to prevent Ralph from competing in the high-end audio tube electronics market if he chooses to do so? Is new management trying to restrict him right now? If Ralph has a negotiated exit package that includes a non-compete provision, and if Ralph has been compensated for entering that agreement, and if the package is suitable to him, then fine. Otherwise not.

2. Will the new Atma-Sphere management attempt to prevent Ralph from using independently and for his own future benefit the intellectual property Ralph created/invented over the years, or to prevent him from using it in high-end audio applications? (Same considerations/caveats as in 1 above.)

3. Will the new Atma-Sphere management attempt to prevent Ralph from independently making a living in high-end audio, the only career he's ever known, using the skills he's developed over a lifetime? The "press release" sure makes it sound like an A-S exclusive, which is fine if Ralph has been fairly compensated and has agreed; but again there is this deafening silence from Ralph. (Same considerations/caveats as in 1 above.)

What I am concerned about, WHOM I'm concerned about, is Ralph and his well-being in the aftermath this change. That is why I continue to ask Mark Gilmore and Harry Blazer to step forward with Ralph's endorsement to all of this, because, as Springbok noted, Ralph's silence on this issue is deafening, and that is very discouraging to me.

Mark and Harry, I certainly hope you are working hard to make this the honorable transition you wish us all to perceive, and one that will do you credit when all the facts are shared. I would far rather congratulate you and support you than be your critic.
Well said, Rush. I echo 100% your sentiments and believe that, irrespective of the business/contractual details that exist between Ralph and the new owners, Ralph has inspired such loyalty in AS owners that, if the result of the take-over is to deny Ralph the ability to continue to work in the high-end audio industry, there will be such resentment amongst us owners that it can only reverberate negatively for the new AS. The new owners may well say that it's none of our business what transpires in the corporate world between new and ex-owners; however the extent of loyalty and concern that we share for Ralph will make legal details irrelevant to us, the consumer, the present and future customers of Atma-Sphere. Sorry to be trite, but if Ralph perceives his treatment to be shabby and inequitable, then so do we and if the bottom line is customer satisfaction, then the new owners would be best served to keep the customers happy:)!
Oh, SH&T. I've just gone and bought a pair of M-602.2s, and now this happens! Well I hope the amps are as good as I would expect, considering the loyalty you all have to their creator! Good luck to him. And btw, from what I'm told, the courts are pretty loath to enforce non-compete agreements that were either signed under duress, or without substantial compensation. They will not deny someone the right to make a living, but might, for example, restrict him for a (relatively short) period of time or impose a geographic restriction. Course, what do I know? Where's Kelly or some of our other A'gon lawyers when we need them?
You'll be fine - those things are built to last a millenium. When I had a question after Ralph left, Bill Layer was extremely helpful. Worst case, call Ralph. The amps are as good as you have heard. Maybe even better. Mine is.
Swampwalker, how have you been? I can personally assure you that your AtmaSphere M60 purchase is quite a smart one.

Please remember Ralph Karsten's "20 Year Rule". This is an ironclad, all out, commitment to do EVERYTHING he could possibly do to ensure that his products will last a MINIMUM of 20 years. At the time AtmaSphere was founded, the decline of the vacuum tube was in full swing, and American manufacturing was sinking fast. The country, in fact, was in a dark recession. Ralph wanted to ensure that no matter what happened to his company, his customers would be guaranteed the means to be listening to this wonderful music 20 years from ther purchase date.

Even his choice in tubes is influenced by this mantra. While they may not last forever, they seem to last longer than any other tube amplifier. If you come into a good tube, like the mules they have running at AtmaSphere, you could go 20+ years on them - they still haven't gone south on him.

Believe me, from personal experience I doubt there are more bulletproof amplifiers made. Try shorting any other amp and tell me what happens.

And, while we are speaking about Ralph, I want to make sure everyone knows exactly how much of a prince he actually is. Ralph is one of the most down to earth, personable, generous, intelligent, passionate, creative individuals ever in high end audio. There would be NO AtmaSphere without Ralph. In my opinion, the high end community owes him their support to the degree that his ability to land on his feet and be employed as anything he wants to be is assured.

History is full of personalities who were the companies they represented, often falling apart quickly once the departure of the founder was complete. I say the goal is to live and let live, but Ralph's ability to support himself MUST be ensured. To deprive a human being the capacity to make a living is one of the most inhumane, morally reprehensible acts in the world. I have faith the management of AtmaSphere would never engage in such a heinous act. But, if that ever happens, it is the responsibility of the audiophile community to mete out justice via our support.
Good post, Trelja. I think we all agree with you.
We ask that all comments and posts regarding Atmasphere be collected under this Press Release by Atmasphere. Remember, that Audiogon rules require that no personal attacks or trial by innuendo be allowed within these forums. We encourage you to express your opinion on the subject of changes at Atmasphere based upon those facts which are available to the public. Audiogon is interested in the health and vitality of the high-end audio industry, and believes that an open and public discussion by all parties ultimately allows for the truth in these matters to rise to the top.
Did anyone see Atma-Sphere at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest? The Atma-Sphere Web site had said they would be there, but the only report I've seen so far is that Classic Audio Reproductions used an MP1, but not as a dealer/manufacturer demo. (He and Ralph had shown together many times in the past.)
Hi Joe- I'm fine. I'm sure the amps are well-built and all, but I've also got a Llano Trinity 300 sitting around that has become an orphan. My concern is not so much with the amps functioning, but that if the company goes down, which sometimes happens in these situations (esp. if they alienate the high end community), then the amps, which I bought to try-out, never having heard them, would drop seriously in value if I decide to stick with my present amp. Well, I guess if I ever get those big Soundlabs or Maggies, I will have a use for the Trinity anyways.
A Ralph Karsten Fund has been established. Please see the announcement at:
It was good to see Audio Asylum set up a specific OTL Aslyum to replace ASOG as well.
I'm getting a 404 Page Not Found error with wtf??, can others access the site?

Ok, this is serious I tried to go to OTL Online forum and saw this message posted,

"OTL Online
Comments on this board have reached levels of speculation and incorrect inference that are damaging to all parties in this unfortunate dispute. No one in possession of the facts has posted, and no one posting on the topic is in possession of the facts. The materially affected parties are prohibited by the process from making public statements.

This board will be suspended until the issues surrounding ownership of Atma-Sphere are resolved.

-Al Sekela

09 October 2004"

What does one make of this? I'm sure all the speculation is damaging things for the new management but makes you wonder why doesn’t Ralph say something about all this?, though I don’t own any Atma products but have read highly about his amp's and was contemplating picking up a pair of M-60 for my new Merlin VSN-MX, therefore the interest in this thread.

Sbfx, the Audio Asylum site was down for some repairs this afternoon. It's back online now.
Ok its working now.


As of around 7PM Mountain Time last evening (October 22), Mark Gilmore, Harry Blazer and any companies associated with them are no longer involved in the management or ownership of Atma-Sphere Music Systems, Inc. Ralph is now the sole shareholder of Atma-Sphere. Distribution will now be handled in house at Atma vs. thru Glacier Audio. Glacier Audio will continue to be a dealer.
Can someone clarify what " Atma vs. thru Glacier Audio." means?
Interesting. Veddy interesting.
Mr. Blazer, I can't tell you how much this news pleases me. I'll say it again, I hope you sell a truckload of Atma-Sphere and Gilmore products.
I believe this is excellent news.
Glacier Audio was the master distributor for Atma. It bought everything that Atma produced. Glacier Audio is no longer the master distributor.
Well- OK, I guess I have some comments.

First and formost. I want to thank everyone who stood by me and supported me through this dark night of soul.

We will have more announcements in due time; things have happened so fast that I am still reeling.

Anyway, you can still contact me at 651-695-5552.

And: come see me at CES- we'll be showing the new M-60 MkIII :)