atm audio I recently reviewed the ATM Audio Llebeig-A preamplifier and as announced, here is the review of the ATM Audio Garbi 60 power amplifiers by Jesús Alejos Pérez. I have already written about the origins of ATM Audio and the impressive and interesting background of Jesús Alejos Pérez, but for those who have not read the review of the Llebeig-A, here are some insights into Jesús Alejos Pérez and how ATM Audio came to be.
atm audio is a proud venture of Jesús Alejos Pérez, who has quite an interesting background.
In the eighties, he worked as a technician for Panasonic, Technics, and Samsung. Later, in 1990, he started working for a multinational electromedical company, managing the technical service for anesthesia and monitoring equipment.
Here, Jesús Alejos Pérez came into contact with high-tech and reliable electronic components that he later used. In the meantime, he built amplifiers for his family and friends. In 2006, Pérez began using Class D modules from some manufacturers, and in 2014 he designed his first 25-watt Class A amplifier.
For this amplifier, a monoblock aluminum enclosure was designed with a very unusual and little-known heat dissipation system that has become the hallmark of atm audio.
Gradually, Jesús Alejos Pérez added different designs of amplifiers, line, and phono preamplifiers, using this aluminum chassis as his distinctive mark and employing the medical line components mentioned above. Later, the designer included hybrid Class-D amplification in the atm audio catalog, using the Korg Nutube tube in some models and the 12AU7 in others, managing to eliminate the characteristic coldness of Class-D amplifiers. The portfolio will also be expanded to include a preamplifier, streamer, DAC, and integrated amplifier. All of these products will be unveiled at the Munich 2022 high-end audio show.
Atm audio is also dedicated to producing equipment tailored to customers’ needs. They collaborate with some Spanish loudspeaker manufacturers and develop amplifiers according to their specifications. Admire-audio is one of these companies for which ATM Audio has developed a 10W amplifier for their high speakers.
Atm audio is a family-owned company based in Valencia. Jesús Alejos Pérez and his two children run everything from start to finish. All atm audio products are handmade, using the best components on the market.
atm audio was supposed to launch internationally in 2020, but due to the pandemic, everything was postponed to 2022.
The Garbi 60 is a typical Class A amplifier that operates in single-ended mode. It has a pair of Mosfet transistors at the input that operates in differential mode.
The output (drain) directly drives a set of power Mosfet transistors. The bias current in these transistors is about 2A and the consumption is about 150W.
|Final step with paired mosfet transistors
The power supply consists of a 200W low dispersion toroidal transformer. The secondary of the transformer is connected to a high-speed diode bridge (Schottky) and a CRC filter with Mundorf capacitors with a capacity of 132,000uF, providing a large power reserve.
High speed Schottky diodes
Given the number of final power transistors and their consumption, the transistors are housed in a very sophisticated, ingenious, and efficient heat dissipation system.
Instead of the traditional cooling fins (very bulky and heavy), a system based on a solid aluminum block (which is pleasant to the touch) was designed, in which hundreds of holes of a specific diameter were drilled, allowing airflow by convection, which quickly and efficiently dissipates the heat.
|Mundorf capacitors (132.000uF) and Panasonics metal oxide resistors
In this way, a uniform and stable long-term thermal inertia is achieved. The temperature of the aluminum housing does not exceed 50ºC even after several hours of work. Since the inside of the case has been machined independently, atm audio has also managed to separate the different PCBs to avoid possible interference.
|Audiophile-grade Nichicon capacitors and mica capacitors
The amplifier delivers a power of 60W into 8 ohms and 85W into 4 ohms with a frequency response that goes up to 100KHz.
Here are some the highlights of the Garbi 60 power amplifiers and what makes them unique, special, and stand out.
- all the power, less space minimalist design the design of the devices is up to the sound quality. Beauty and elegance outside, robustness and perfection inside.
- patented heat dissipation system. atm audio unique heat dissipation system based on the architecture of beehives drastically reduces the temperature of the amplifiers.
- lowest distortion. atm-audio amplifiers are housed in a specially propriety-designed vibration-damping chassis made from a solid block of aluminum to ensure seamless performance.
- atm-audio’s products are customizable. customers can choose connectors, cables, input buffers from the best brands, and a variety of colors.
- top-quality components
atm is proud to work with the finest brands and selected components to produce high-end audio equipment. Hypex modules, Mundorf and Wima capacitors, Furutech connectors, Sonic Imagery op-amps, Sparkos Labs regulators.
Like its minimalist, no-frills design, the Garbi 60 power amplifiers are straightforward to use. The curved front panel houses only the on/off switch and a handsome gold logo badge.
The center back panel houses RCA and XLR inputs and Furutech speaker binding posts. Between the RCA and XLR connectors is a gain selector switch that provides an additional 6 dB of gain for the RCA input.
On the side, away from the inputs and speaker terminals, is the IEC power connector.
The Garbi 60s may look compact, but as soon as you lift them, you can feel the massiveness of the CNC-machined chassis milled from a solid block of aluminum.
Each amplifier is much more robust and sturdy as it might appear, and you get the feeling that it was built to last for years.
As usual, you can find a few reference tracks here that show ATM Audio Garbi 60 special sound qualities and general sonic characteristics.
It seems that Marvin Gaye’s – What’s Going On can be played infinitely without repeating itself. There are timeless classics that are very well produced, composed, and recorded, and What’s Going On is certainly one of them.
The album is characterized by vibrant lightness and yet strong, powerful messages. that are still relevant today. The songs evolve naturally and are far more complex than the easy-listening vibe would suggest.
The album is lush, vibrant, no-frills yet sophisticated and the Garbi 60 amps have the air and power to render What’s Going On with lush strings, percussion, Gaye’s vocals, background vocals, great drumming, and subtle yet ever-present bass.
Garbi 60 did a great job of layering the instruments and preserving the radiant, compelling narrative from track to track with surprising authority.
The Cranberries – Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can not We? The 180-gram vinyl version was mastered by Sean Magee from the original stereo tapes at the legendary Abbey Road Studios.
Dolores O’Riordan sadly passed away in 2018, but her presence will forever be remembered in music history for her unique mezzo-soprano, voice, and distinct Limerick accent.
These songs have so much depth and the way they were produced, played, and recorded by the iconic engineers and producer (Stephen Street) provides that familiar alt-rock feel.
The whole album is emotionally charged and has just the right dose of everything. “Linger” still makes me shiver every time I play it, and I think it reflects the situation many of us found ourselves in one way or another.
The unique interplay between lead guitarist Noel Hogan and O’Riordan runs throughout the album, followed by a pulsating, ever-throbbing interplay between drums and bass.
Atm Audio’s Garbi 60 amplifiers managed to hold it all together without the usual focus on a particular sound or frequency spectrum that is perhaps too often noticed even in some far more expensive amplifiers.
This outstanding, cohesive Garbi 60 quality was further cemented with another iconic classic album, Jethro Tull – Aqualung.
Aqualung offers a wealth of impressions that were easily retrievable with the Garbi 60 power amplifiers.
Power chord, acoustic elements, jazz reflections, constant pauses, song breaks and so much more, with of course music itself offers so much material to critically evaluate.
Atm Audio has once again managed to pull it off by letting Aqualung alike cinematic quality fill the sonic space with the expansiveness needed to realize the familiar holographic presentation.
The guitars had enough sharpness and grip, the gritty main vocals were firmly placed, and the pianos and a plethora of other instruments not only had their exact place on the sound canvas, but they never deviated from the necessary and spot-on tonal, timbre and color correctness. With Aqualung, the flute can easily lose its airiness and presence. Not with Garbi 60. Much needed aura and actuality were unerring.
To call the presentation of Garbi 60 well organized would be an understatement, as there was much more going on at all times.
For some differently ambitious material and organized chaotic sonic madness, I pulled out Nine Inch Nails (NIN) – The Downward Spiral to see how the Garbi 60 power amps responded with Lock and Load.
Downward Spiral may be too bitter a pill for many to swallow, but this conceptual album (which became a success nonetheless) challenges any amp.
The destructive, poignant, yet subtle nature of the album is so changeable that it requires constant listener attention and extremely instantaneous amplifier response and control, and to be honest, I was very nonplussed at how well Garbi 60 performed in this regard.
Downward Spiral, a chaotic but well-orchestrated collage of sounds, samples and live playing, can push any amp to its limits, even on the more relaxed and slower “Piggy.”
Once again, the Garbi 60 has proven that its inner core is far more capable and powerful than its wattage would suggest.
But it’s not just about control. If the amp does not have the right voicing, and ability to “rise and fall” within the music the soul is lost, and there’s no better album than Yamamoto, Tsuyoshi Trio – Midnight Sugar to test that.
Midnight Sugar certainly needs no special introduction. Some call it an audiophile classic, for me it goes far beyond that, and Yamamoto’s piano playing is far from being called bar piano music.
His sublime feeling for the music is always most enunciated and articulated, and I believe it is this part of the “magic” that has captured so many minds and hearts of music lovers.
The Atm Audio Garbi 60 amplifiers brought out Yamamoto’s mellifluous playing and unique atmosphere exemplary well. When listening to the Three Blind Mice recordings by Yamamoto, and Tsuyoshi Trio, I know what mood this album exudes and what’s needed to make it engage on all fronts.
Garbi 60 fixated Midnight Sugar with just the right amount of control, subtlety, and charisma to define the seductive and mystical consonance of Yamamoto, Tsuyoshi Trio.
And to explore the ability to reproduce the live feel, Phish – A Live One, which is beautifully recorded and captures the mood of Phish, felt most appropriate for the task.
There is so much energetic differentia on this album, ready to be unleashed when the high-end audio system is properly balanced and when the amplifiers are ready to reproduce the music as intended.
Garbi 60 set the necessary beat and maintained it throughout the album with just the right dynamic ratio and control.
I would not have expected the sheer energy transfer and impressive lower foundation from the still compact and moderately powerful monoblocks. But the Garbi 60 perfectly nailed the real element of what makes Phish stand outlive.
The “Stash” band’s back and forth interaction with the audience is one of those moments where the magic is unleashed and I liked and loved how Garbi 60 was able to not only capture, but also preserve such interactions at all times.
There can and is always speculation about the role and use of preamplifiers, which I addressed in the Llebeig-A preamplifier review. But. There is no speculation about power amplifiers as there is no substitution for them.
The beginning of the twentieth century, actually the end of the nineteenth century, was the cornerstone of tube modern amplifiers. But the early 20th century was groundbreaking not only in terms of tubes.
While the history of Class A tube amplifiers goes back more than a hundred years, the history of solid-state amplifiers, interestingly, is not as recent as many might think.
Interestingly, the MOSFET, or metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor, was conceptualized as early as 1925 by Julius Edgar Lilienfeld for digital and analog circuits.
Later in 1955, Richard F. Shea of the General Electric Company (GE) introduced the very first transistor high fidelity audio system at the first Solid-State Circuits Conference. The first Class D amplifiers also date back to the late 1950s.
From the beginning, solid-state amplifiers were considered extremely inefficient and were not popular. While the efficiency of Class A amplifiers is very low and therefore generates enormous heat at large currents where efficiency/heat is lost, there is something about the sound that still captivates music lovers and audiophiles today.
Concerning this Jesús Alejos Pérez did not want to give up Class A virtues, so he designed an ingenious chassis for ATM Audio Garbi that dissipates heat in a very efficient way.
The configuration of a Class A amplifier is still considered the optimal mode of operation and is therefore still widely used and popular. Even in the AB class, most amplifiers always use the first few watts or up to 20-30 W in class A, depending on the design.
Transistors were/are considered cheap to manufacture, more optimal in dealing with distortion, and much smaller than tubes, but the result is not necessarily good, not to say great sounding amplifier.
Transistors amplify the signal by altering the voltage of the audio input via semiconductors. The transistor is usually never turned off, creating minimal distortion while providing maximum amplitude to the output signal. In theory, this means that the complete absence of turn-off distortion should ultimately result in better sound.
But this is not quite the truth, as many of you have experienced with the various Class A amplifiers. Especially with Class A, it’s not so easy to find the right mix and right balance of natural warmth and transparency/speed.
And here is where the difference between the atm audio Garbi 60 and many other Class A amplifiers is immediately apparent. Like the atm audio preamplifier, the Garbi 60 allows the trimmest details and their changes to be reproduced with greater density, presenting the sound sphere with exceptional horizontal and vertical width.
Garbi 60 provides a more resourceful and graphic acoustic presence of performers and instruments in the virtual aural space than many similar amps. It follows the music as it is, without distraction and in sync with the tempo.
Timbre, tone, and color are just right. The atm audio Garbi 60 escapes the false, warm character that some Class A amplifiers can yield. Especially when paired with the ATM Audio Llebeig-A preamp, which is a perfect companion, this lock-and-load utmost synergistic pairing, reproduced the music in a flamboyant way.
When properly designed and tuned, the amplifier can coax the listener into a long, fatigue-free listening experience and stimulate curiosity to discover new sonic and musical frontiers or rediscover the old familiar. And the atm audio Garbi 60 amplifiers are of that quality, to say the least. More than a great compliment I can give to any amplifier, regardless of type and price. ⧉
- Retail price: 18.000,00€ per pair (exc. VAT & shipping)
- Input impedance: >10 kΩ (RCA), >25 kΩ (balanced)
- Output power: 60 W @ 0,07% THD, 8 Ω (85 W @ 4 Ω)
- Frequency response: 2 Hz – 100 kHz (–2 dB)
- Gain: 20 dB (balanced), 26 dB (unbalanced)
- Damping factor: 50
- Power consumption: 200 W
- Fuse: Slow 2 A (230 VAC)
- Dimensions (W x D x H): 460 x 360 x 90 mm
- Weight: 25 kg
- Warranty: 3 years
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