Saturday, 30 September 2017

Amplifier Horoscope eCommerce Service

Today I am pleased to announce my latest offering to the audiophile community.
  • Are you looking for a new way to give your system that "edge"?
  • Do you already have the best cables connecting your system?
  • Are your CD players already on isolating feet? 
  • Have you already traced the edges of your CDs with the special pen? 
  • Does your turntable weigh more than a small car already?

Have you experienced the crushing disappointment when you describe all the audiophile tweaks you've made, only to find someone else who has already done exactly the same?

Here at ATR Audio Designs, we feel you. The frustration is real. If only there was something more you could do, to give your system an extra advantage.

Well now, there is. At least for those of you with valve/vacuum-tube based amplifiers, that is.

For the first time ever, we have brought the benefits of the ancient art of astrology to the audiophile community. 

Using a patented process combining astrology with hysterio-magnetic resonance analysis and flux emission tomographic spectral emissivity coupling, we can now offer horoscopes for individual amplifier components with unprecedented accuracy.

In simple terms, here's how it works:
  1. Sign into our website and create an account for yourself (or use your Google or Facebook ID)
  2. With your amplifier cool, unplug the valves/tubes one-by-one, and make a note of the tube type, manufacturer, and the date stamp or code on the tube
  3. Using a compass, determine the magnetic heading your amplifier is pointing to
  4. Input this information into our site 

That's all it takes! Our patented algorithms will get right to work, calculating the optimum time to listen to your amplifier, based on the manufacture date of the tubes and the influence of the Earth's magnetic field at your given location, in the electron emissions inside the tube.

We will then produce a report which amounts to a horoscope for your amplifier. Complete with predictions for the next 3 months of which days you can expect the best results from your amplifier.

You will also have the option of subscribing to our site, this will add you to our mailing list and every three months we will automatically send you another horoscope as long as your subscription is active. 

Price list

Amplifier Type: Single Ended

Output tube type: 6550, KT66, KT88, 6L6GC, EL34 etc:
Initial Report: $US 1995.00
Monthly Subscription: $US295

Output Tube Type: 300B
Initial Report: $US4995.00
Monthly Subscription: $US495

Output Tube Type: T1610
Initial Report: $US19,995.00
Monthly Subscription: $US1995.00

Amplifier Type: Push-pull

Output tube type: EL84, 6550, KT66, KT88, 6L6GC, EL34 etc
Initial report: $US99.00
Monthly Subscription: Please make a donation to the Onion or Clickhole

Thursday, 28 September 2017


A few words about my position regarding audiophile cables and the mentality behind them, since audiophiles and valve amps tend to be quite closely coupled.

First, some history: until the late 1960s, vacuum tube/valve amplifiers were not the exclusive audiophile commodity they are seen as today. This was because there was no alternative at the time, it was the only technology available. They were mass-produced, margins were slim, and they were manufactured to a price. Quality was variable and short-cuts were taken in the interests of cost-containment.

In the late 1960s the first solid-state (=transistor-based) amplifiers became available. The increased reliability, smaller size, and greater power capabilities of the new technology quickly won favour and by the late 1970s it looked like valve gear was relegated to history.

For some reason however, around the 1980s there began a resurgence of interest in valve gear by audiophiles, and as a result it began to move up-market.

Fast-forward to the current day and we now have amplifiers like the huge (both in size and cost) Kronzilla SX and the like, using hugely expensive tubes like the T1610. Try buying these, a snip at €3500 a pair.

Complementing this is the hi-fi cable industry. It's possible to spend €9000 on a 1.5 metre power cord. Interconnect cables and speaker wire runs to similar prices (and higher).

All of these excesses appear to be excellent at their primary design objective, if that objective is to relieve audiophiles of their money as quickly as possible. 

The claimed technical benefits of audiophile-grade cables are either unverifiable with current measurement technology, or more often quoted in pseudoscience terminology.

I venture that there is no human alive who could discern – in a repeatable, scientifically-administered test – the difference between a standard IEC power cord and something that costs more than most people earn in a month.

This is where science and philosophy part ways though. While it's true that most of these hyper-expensive enhancements to an audio system wouldn’t pass a double-blind test, or register any difference on the test bench, it's equally true that looking at them purely in terms of their supposed technical improvements misses the point.

These enhancements go to the philosophical question of whether the purpose of audio is just to sound good, or to make its owner feel good about their system as well.

If you feel good about your audio system, you’ll want to use it more, and you’ll get a better connection with your music as a result.

As an analogy, there are some features that don’t contribute anything to the performance, handling or economy of a car, yet they enhance the enjoyment of the driver and passengers, so they add value. (The stereo, for example...)

This is why we have hyper-expensive cables, or turntables that weigh as much as a car, DACs that cost into the five figures, and various other expensive and exclusive enhancements.

For my own part, I look at these as “audio jewellery”. It serves two purposes: to add a visual appeal, and to provide a feelgood factor. I don't kid myself they will make any kind of sonic improvement though. And, as with jewellery, it's a personal choice. Some people like lots of it, some don't care. If it helps connect you with your music collection, that's got to be good, right?

Where I am particular though, is the design of my amplifiers. I will use established best-practice circuit topologies, quality components, and test and measure at every stage of the design and build process, prototyping circuits as necessary to achieve the optimum result.

As a result, I tell people they can use one of my amps with simple sources such as mass-produced Japanese turntables, CD players, Chromecasts or other cheap digital sources… or if they have a DAC that costs into the five figures and a turntable that needs a forklift to move it… either way, it’s gonna sound great. Use an $8 power cord, or go and spend $20k on a high-end one. Just enjoy the music!

I call it the "Sheryl Crow Principle":

If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad.

Not surprisingly, I also reject the label "audiophile" for myself, preferring to call myself an "Audio Enthusiast"