Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 44

Thread: ATI Amplifiers

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Central Coast California
    Posts
    9,062

    ATI Amplifiers

    I had business in Alhambra, CA, which is north of Montebello, CA, home of Amplifier Technology, Incorporated, or ATI. My meeting ended early, so I decided I'd try to find the ATI factory and see what's going on there. It wasn't the easiest quest in the world, and once my GPS got me to the address, I still couldn't figure out if I were in the right place or not.

    Eventually, asking questions of nearby corporations and persistence and a little exploration paid off, and I was inside ATI.

    Over the course of several posts, I'll explain what transpired there. The end result: I've got two brand new ATI amps driving my K2 S9900s, and I love them.
    Out.

  2. #2
    Senior Member HCSGuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Bend, OR
    Posts
    716
    I remember working the Stereophile show with Mike Pontelle and Morris Kessler way back when they launched the brand. We had a AT1606 open on the table (it was a static display only) and it blew people away just by the construction - the huge toroid transformer, which they wind themselves, super clean board layout, and almost no point to point wiring. If you opened up a Parasound or B&K in those days, you saw yards of loose wires going this way and that. In the case of B&K, you also had two fuses for each channel, on the boards inside the amp. I think I had a Hafler XL600 at the time, and when I opened it up to compare, it looked DIY by comparison.

    I also toured the ATI factory at the time; they still had a stack of old SAE parts in racks that was about the size of my house (I'm not kidding), and one guy at a bench in the corner still fixing them. I am fairly confident that you will not replace these amps in your lifetime due to failure - they are a proven design, very well executed. Good choice, though you may not be able to brag about them to your audiophile friends...

  3. #3
    Senior Member edgewound's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    2,739
    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium Dome View Post
    I had business in Alhambra, CA, which is north of Montebello, CA, home of Amplifier Technology, Incorporated, or ATI. My meeting ended early, so I decided I'd try to find the ATI factory and see what's going on there. It wasn't the easiest quest in the world, and once my GPS got me to the address, I still couldn't figure out if I were in the right place or not.

    Eventually, asking questions of nearby corporations and persistence and a little exploration paid off, and I was inside ATI.

    Over the course of several posts, I'll explain what transpired there. The end result: I've got two brand new ATI amps driving my K2 S9900s, and I love them.
    ATI acquired the assets of BGW when it closed down.
    Edgewound...JBL Pro Authorized...since 1988
    Upland Loudspeaker Service, Upland, CA

  4. #4
    Senior Member DavidF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Sonoma County CA
    Posts
    939
    Quote Originally Posted by edgewound View Post
    ATI acquired the assets of BGW when it closed down.

    And most recently did the same with B&K Components Ltd.

    Siefreid Linkwitz recommends ATI amps among others and has used them on demos of his active xover designs.

    http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/ces....ew&&&&&&&RMF08
    David F
    San Jose

  5. #5
    Senior Member HCSGuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Bend, OR
    Posts
    716
    And they bought Theta a couple years ago (and bought the SAE name back some time ago)- don't know what they're going to do with all of these...The basic ATI amp business, while not that exciting (no new technology story), is stable, the designs are good, the amps are extremely reliable - in short, a pretty good business model for a private company that wants to stay profitable but isn't trying to conquer the world. I don't know what BGW brings, but Theta and B&K both bring serious support issues, as both had quasi-upgrade programs with continual re-engineering to keep their older models workable. I think those programs are all gone, and I don't see Theta coming back - it requires a big company to engineer a current HDMI equipped processor, and even with all these brands I don't think they have the market to do it. And buying up brands just for the power amplifier share doesn't make sense either - B&K ruined their own name, why spend money to resurrect it? Morris Kessler has been in the business long enough, and has been successful enough that he is entitled to whatever Bob Carveresque brand exploration he wants, I just think all of these bought brands need a huge investment to re-establish themselves, which I don't think they're all going to get.

    Anyway, back on topic - enjoy the amps!

  6. #6
    RIP 2021 SEAWOLF97's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    in "managed decline"
    Posts
    10,125
    most nfo on the web doesnt answer my question:

    "When BGW went out of business, Barbara Wachner sold it to ATI (Amplifier Technologies Inc). ATI purchased the assets of BGW Systems. Morris Kessler (Mr. ATI) hired Steve Lyle who was the last engineer from BGW."

    did ATI just purchase BGW's inventory or the intellectual design rights too ? How close were BGW's designs and ATI's after purchase ?

    the web does note tho that the newer BGW gear doesn't measure up to the 1980's offerings.
    Some kind of happiness is measured out in miles

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Central Coast California
    Posts
    9,062

    Where?

    The south side of Montebello is a commercial and industrial area with the typical dead end streets, missing street signs, security gates, huge fences, clogged truck traffic, fork lifts in the road, hard to find addresses, etc. My usually trusty GPS guided me through all this and took me to the address I gave it.

    I found a place to park, went to what I supposed was the front door since there were no signs, but there was an address on the building, and I tried to enter. Locked. No bell or buzzer. Knock, knock, knock, knock... no answer.

    After six or seven minutes, obviously no one was coming. I drove to the building next door and asked,"Is this ATI?" "No, it's over there," pointing to where I'd just been. "Thanks."

    So I drove back, walked around a bit, knocked on the door again, then noticed the loading dock was wide open. I walked over to the big dock and called out, "Hello? Hello? Anyone here?" No answer.

    I noticed a pallet of JBL Synthesis® amps, some Crestron stuff, Theta, B&K, and more. Since I didn't think companies like you entering unannounced through the warehouse, I waited and called some more. Eventually a friendly worker came over with a big pallet of Crestron amps and invited me to climb up the stairs to the factory floor, where he talked to someone who talked to someone who took me deeper inside.
    Out.

  8. #8
    RIP 2021 SEAWOLF97's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    in "managed decline"
    Posts
    10,125
    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium Dome View Post
    The end result: I've got two brand new ATI amps driving my K2 S9900s, and I love them.
    so, what got replaced & improved upon ?
    Some kind of happiness is measured out in miles

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Central Coast California
    Posts
    9,062

    Inside

    Through some doors, down some hallways, past offices and rooms, eventually I ended up in a room chock full of Theta CBIII units getting upgraded to HD. It was in fact stunning to see inside these venerated units, bristling with cards and slots, and seeing the new cards that were going in to upgrade these beautiful units. While the Casablanca is outside my interest and price zone, it's amazing nonetheless that ATI is following through on keeping these long-lasting beauties current. Those who bought earlier CBs and followed the upgrades over the years spent some $$$, but this is a case where the manufacturer really kept its word on upgradability.

    There I met Jeff and Jordan, busy with these and other tasks, including working on a Theta Intrepid amp and, what's that, a JBL Performance Series AVA-7 I see? I have one of those.

    They took the time to listen to why I was there, what I had, what I'd already tried with the K2s, what I liked/didn't like, why I was interested in the amps they produced, etc. They have some knowledge of Levinson, Krell, Parasound, Bryston, McIntosh, Pass Labs, etc., so there was some interesting discussion.

    What I wanted:
    • First class build quality
    • plenty of power to drive and control the efficient K2s
    • long warranty and available service
    • ability to deliver full power across the full bandwidth with all channels driven
    • ability to run off one dedicated 20 Amp circuit without tripped breakers and whole house brown outs
    • balanced inputs
    • remote triggers


    What I did not want:
    • expensive billet faceplate adding $$$$ to the price
    • proprietary, hard-to-find connectors
    • big power ratings that only apply to one channel at 1kHz
    • fans
    • a plethora of lights or illuminted meters or Cylon-inspired eyes
    • 220-230V circuit requirements
    • shelf-scratching, floor-scratching, or component-scratching sharp feet
    • enclosure colors or finishes that demand attention: "Look at me!"
    • jewelry
    Out.

  10. #10
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    10,971
    Quote Originally Posted by HCSGuy View Post
    And they bought Theta a couple years ago (and bought the SAE name back some time ago)- don't know what they're going to do with all of these...
    They also bought Audio Access from Harman... for those who don't know, Audio Access was a brand that made excellent sounding though expensive distributed whole house audio systems and were slow to keep up with their industry and became rather obsolete... ATI seems to like buying good but rather obsolete brands.

    Quote Originally Posted by SEAWOLF97 View Post
    so, what got replaced & improved upon ?
    He hasn't finished describing the loading dock... be patient he'll eventually get to the point.

    Congratulations Dome... the ATI stuff is very good quality gear with no frills or wasted money spent on glossy ads or machined face plates. So, did you get the 2000 series or 3000 series? I guess I need to be patient too?


    Widget

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Central Coast California
    Posts
    9,062
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget View Post

    He hasn't finished describing the loading dock... be patient he'll eventually get to the point.

    Congratulations Dome... the ATI stuff is very good quality gear with no frills or wasted money spent on glossy ads or machined face plates. So, did you get the 2000 series or 3000 series? I guess I need to be patient too?


    Widget
    You know the author.
    Out.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Central Coast California
    Posts
    9,062

    Discussion

    Based on my wants, we tended to go in two directions, both ending with ATI, either the 2000 Series or the 3000 Series. There were some exceptionally nice amps from the Theta line, but they had too many things that were on my don't want list, plus the biggest deterrent of all: price.

    In fact, to characterize this long process in a few words: I don't want to waste money on an amp.

    There are a lot of high end, beautiful looking amps that are amazing, but they aren't so amazing that their cost is justified to me. Somewhat like a beautiful woman (or man), the beauty only takes you so far, then you really have to deal with what's inside. High maintenance, high demand relationships with amplifiers just aren't on my to-do list.

    In order to avoid a war about various amps that many of us think are the best, I'll just skip the analysis and opinions expressed during the free flowing discussion at ATI. I will write that on the inside these amps are beautiful, and being able to see the internal assembly compared to some of the more expensive amps I tried was eye-opening! I've looked into amps costing many times more that looked like an explosion in a spaghetti factory by comparison. Just a final comment: Parasound and Bryston were real contenders, too, but some of the more revered amplifier brands were not on the final list. (See my don't wants above, and you'll know why.)

    What was surprising was the final verdict was in favor of the 2000 Series, rather than the more powerful and expensive 3000 Series. I eventually left with two ATI 2003 amps. That's 3 x 200W.

    Each amp drives a K2 and an S2S sub, so 200W to the K2 HF/UHF inputs, 200W to the K2 LF input, and 200W to the S2S. While technically this is the same power to the K2 and less power to the S2S than I was using before, it's clear that not all power ratings are equal.
    Out.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Wardsweb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    841
    I flew out there about 10 years ago and met with Morris. He let me go through the whole room of stacked SAE boxes and pick out what I wanted. I ended up buying a whole pallet of gear. He showed me his first SAE amp built in his bedroom. It was real DIY piece. Then he showed me several items that never made it to production and a amp he was building for Outlaw Audio. It has optically isolated outputs. Short the outputs only put it into protection. Remove the short and the amp started playing again. The guys on the warehouse floor were assembling Adcom amps at the time, right along side one of Morris' Ferrari's.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Central Coast California
    Posts
    9,062

    Unhappy First Impressions

    The quick set up at home was with single-ended RCAs from the pre to the amps. With the trigger cables installed and the amps plugged in, it was a breeze to get started.

    The Outlaw 990 I'm using has two triggers out: perfect. The ATI's "pure balanced" architecture includes soft startup, so there's no tripped breakers or brown outs in the house. The giant, twin toroidal transformers in each enclosure provide impressive capacity and stability. Each unit can be configured with up to seven channels, so these are big transformers.

    My first impressions were of a deeper, wider soundstage, improved localization within the soundstage, notably better bass, and a sonic character that within minutes seemed so annoying and fatiguing that I literally wanted to box them back up and throw them through ATI's front door. (You know, the locked one.)

    Perhaps the fact that they're way over 100 pounds boxed and my back already hurt kept me from doing that, so I retired, disappointed and frustrated. And embarrassed.

    All the next day, I pondered what to do. I even polled some of my AVS buddies to see if they had any ideas, but they were all traditional cures like lower the treble, get an EQ, buy warmer amps, get better cables, use a tube pre. So at the end of the day, I was still about the whole thing.

    One guy had mentioned "breaking them in." Being an agnostic in the whole burn in religious war, I didn't think much of it. I always thought it was more listener adjustment that equipment transformation. But I was desperate, so I loaded in one of the most annoying disks I have and ran it all day. When I came home, I turned it off, worked out downstairs, watched a movie with Huiky, and went to bed.
    Out.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Central Coast California
    Posts
    9,062

    Second chance

    The next day, a Saturday, I reconnected the amps using balanced XLRs. Luckily, the 990 has two balanced sub outs.

    I put on the heretofore annoying disk, Vital Idol, and was struck by how much better it sounded. In fact, it sounded fantastic. I switched back and forth between analog audio bypass (Oppo BDP-83SE analog out to the CD inputs) and digital in (Oppo via optical cable out to DVD inputs) and really couldn't discern any difference. They both sounded great, and I listened to the whole darned CD without flinching my ears once.

    Then I tried classical, dance, acoustic guitar, the ever faithful Heart "The Road Home" live set, jazz, Buble, Groban, Sade, Keys, Lady Antebellum, Beatles, ... couldn't find a thing that didn't sound wonderful.

    Did the amps change? Did I change? Did the balanced cables make the difference? Don't know; don't care. Don't plan to spend time worrying about it. The amps are effortless, boundless, silent workers creating high quality amplification with no fuss or bother. This camper is happy!

    So there it is: Made in CA amps with a seven year warranty attached to Made in CA speakers with a five year warranty. If I could find a Made in CA pre and a Made in CA source that I both liked and could afford, well wouldn't that be something?
    Out.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. JDF/JMF amplifiers
    By dazzdax in forum Professional Amps
    Replies: 36
    Last Post: 09-02-2019, 07:23 AM
  2. Parasound amplifiers?
    By scott fitlin in forum General Audio Discussion
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 09-25-2010, 05:11 AM
  3. How are amplifiers are made
    By JBL 4645 in forum General Audio Discussion
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 03-04-2010, 01:12 PM
  4. 4311Bs - amplifiers
    By mnd in forum Miscellaneous Gear
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 11-08-2007, 09:30 AM
  5. Amplifiers are more significant than you may think!
    By PSS AUDIO in forum Lansing Product General Information
    Replies: 119
    Last Post: 11-02-2004, 10:16 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •