In Greek mythology, Atlas was the Titan who supported the heavens. If you name something after him, it had better be rousing. Fortunately the Atlas amplifier has proved worthy of its name, attracting an impressive array of accolades. So how do you better that? With a crowning ‘Signature’ version...
California-based Aesthetix’ Atlas amplifier features an innovative hybrid design incorporating a bipolar output stage, bipolar driver stage and vacuum tube input gain stage. It still stands alone as the only hybrid amplifier with zero feedback, essential for maintaining harmonic integrity, air, space and coherence.
In the six years since the launch of the original Atlas, this big-hitter has earned an enviable reputation, described by reviewers at What Hi-Fi? Sound & Vision as “one of the finest pre/power amps that money can buy”, and by those at Stereophile as “one of the really great amplifiers”.
The Atlas' circuit layout and elaborate power supply design are superlative. One 6SN7 tube per channel is used to provide all of the voltage gain for the entire amplifier. Its two transformers and three chokes are housed under a stainless steel cover to prevent magnetic fields from interfering with the audio circuitry. A 6dB/octave high-pass crossover can be set to 16 different values between 40 and 200Hz – an unusual feature which is ideal for speakers featuring powered woofers (such as Vandersteen) or for audio and home cinema systems using outboard powered sub-woofers. Alternatively, a direct input on the rear panel by-passes all of the switches and crossovers for the purest performance when used in traditional full-bandwidth mode.
The results are, quite literally, awesome. To say that the Atlas is capable of driving virtually any high quality speaker would be an understatement. Its boundless muscle delivers a momentum that feels unstoppable. But this isn’t a mindless power: the Atlas is commanding and authoritative. Its energy masterfully pushes speakers to perform at their peak. Even wayward speakers seem to be brought to bear: those that are hard to drive, fail to fully integrate or rise to dynamic demands, or simply lack the ‘oomph’ to drive the room, will find a new motivation and enthusiasm thanks to the degree of control exerted by the Atlas. Again, however, this is not an uncompromising control. While some amps overdo control at the expense of creative freedom, the Atlas walks that fine line between control and creativity, precision and dynamics, command and freedom.