Claims versus reality

To Doug Schneider,

I would like to refer you to "Atma-Sphere MA-1 Mk II.2 Mono Amplifiers: Measurements" published by SoundStage! in February 2002.

Might I ask why the absolute gross disparity between Atma-Sphere’s claims and the actual measured performance was never pointed out in any narrative found in the article? This does not appear to be a matter of specsmanship, no matter how misleading nor deceptive. In my opinion, it is outright fraud, and for the price of this equipment, on a grand scale.

I have done an engineering analysis of the circuitry used in this amplifier and what BHK Labs measured is the predicted performance. What Atma-Sphere claims goes far beyond exaggeration; it is lying, pure and simple.

If Atma-Sphere wants to claim this thing sounds like the voices of angels from the heavens and pays SoundStage! in the form of advertising to do the same, sadly, that is permissible. However, to knowingly make technical claims that are objectively false is not.

The foundation of journalism is truthfulness and objectivity. When a matter involves an advertiser or other party with a particular interest, then exceptional attention must be paid to such objectives.

Should anyone at Atma-Sphere or SoundStage! wish to dispute anything I have said here, please have them contact me. I have the data (as do you, by the way).

Mike Grant

It’s been a long, long time since we reviewed and measured this product, but I do recall that at the time the discrepancy between some of Atma-Sphere’s technical claims and our own measurements was concerning, particularly in regards to power output and output impedance. Still, as concerning as it was, we certainly didn’t cover anything up. In fact, we did quite the opposite -- we published the results of the measurements as is, which is exactly what you’re drawing attention to. We certainly wanted readers to see this. 

I suspect that what you want to see is commentary on the measurements within the review -- more or less the "missing link." Why there is nothing in the text pointing out the discrepancy is simple: The listening impressions are done separately from the measurements. The reviewer listens to the product, writes about it, and then submits his article to us. Likewise, BHK Labs measures the product and supplies us with the results in text and graphical format. The two sides of the story meet only when the review gets published. This is always the way we’ve done it. But your criticism is valid, and we’ve long been considering changing the way we do things by providing commentary on the measurements that might be related to the listening impressions in the review to give readers a better understanding of a product’s performance. . . . Doug Schneider