ATI AT6002 Multi-Channel Power Amplifier Review
Best of 2014 Awards
Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity
by Chris Heinonen
ATI AT6002 Multi-Channel Power Amplifier Review Highlights
The ATI AT6002 is a fully balanced amplifier that produces 300 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 450 watts into 4 ohms. The fully balanced design reduces THD while increasing SNR, and it is an innovative amp that offers incredibly high performance.
ATI AT6002 Multi-Channel Power Amplifier Highlights Summary
- Two-to-seven channels as a choice
- 300 watts into 8 ohms, 450 watts into 4 ohms
- Fully balanced, dual-mono design
- Incredible power reserves with dead silent backgrounds
- Very heavy to move
Introduction to the ATI AT6002 Multi-Channel Power Amplifier Review
You may be familiar with Amplifier Technologies, Inc. (ATI), but perhaps not with its founder and designer, Morris Kessler. Since Morris started building amplifiers at age 18, he has been designing some of the more innovative amplifiers in the A/V world. ATI also builds amplifiers for other companies, such as Theta Digital, Dynaco, Adcom, Aragon, Crestron, and more.
Now comes the first amplifier to bear his signature on the front panel, the ATI AT6002. A fully balanced, dual mono amplifier with high-end build quality, the ATI AT6002 feels like a statement product. Even better, it sounds like one as well.
ATI AT6002 MULTI-CHANNEL POWER AMPLIFIER REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
- Design: Multi-Channel Power Amplifier
- Inputs: RCA, XLR
- Outputs: Five-way Binding Posts
- Output Power: 300 RMS watts/channel into 8 Ohms, 450 watts/channel RMS into 4 Ohms
- THD+N: 0.03% at Full Output
- SNR: 128 dB
- Size: 9.5" H x 17.25" W x 18.5" D
- Weight: 88 Pounds
- MSRP: $3,995 USD (Two-Channel Version)
I've never felt as bad for my FedEx delivery person as I did when the ATI AT6002 arrived. It isn't the largest package I've ever received, not by far, but it might be the most dense. It took the two of us just to get it from the truck to the front steps. Moving the amplifier from the living room into the basement was much easier by utilizing the rack mount handles on the front panel.
Design of The ATI AT6002 Multi-Channel Power Amplifier
The ATI AT6002 design is unusual for ATI. For one, it is a true dual mono configuration. There are two amplifier modules, two power cords, and even two power switches. There are also dual toroidal transformers in the front, which help contribute to the massive weight of the ATI AT6002. The modular nature of the ATI AT6002 puts the two amplifier channels on their own cards. This allows ATI to use less point-to-point wiring, which can be a common point of failure, and rely more on PCB boards for reliability. It also allows taking a single channel of the amplifier out and replacing it if necessary.
This daughter-board design allows the AT600x lineup to support between two and seven channels. The $3,995 ATI AT6002 has two channels, capable of 300 watts into an 8 ohm load and 450 watts into a 4 ohm load. The $7,995 AT6007 delivers the same power, but into seven channels instead of two. With dual AC inputs, each capable of a 20 amp load from an individual circuit, there is plenty of power to drive the AT6007.
On the outside, the ATI AT6002 is simple. Finished in a powder coat black, the front has rack handles to let you position this incredible beast. Each channel has RCA and XLR inputs with a switch to choose between them. A 12V trigger input lets you have it power on with your preamp or receiver. Five-way binding posts for each channel accept banana plugs, spades, or bare wire.
Impressively, the ATI AT6002 design lets you update it down the road if you desire. Additional channels can be added for $800 each, with the work done at ATI. Since the upgrade requires new transformers and a new rear panel, it cannot be done at home. With no price penalty, other than shipping fees for doing the upgrades down the road, it provides you with security if you want to start with fewer amp channels at first.
I did most of my testing of the ATI AT6002 with a pair of Revel f208 speakers. I used a wide variety of source components to test both RCA and XLR inputs. A Marantz AV7005 and Anthem MRX 510 was used with RCA inputs, while the AURALiC Vega DAC, AURALiC Taurus Headphone Amp, and Oppo BDP-105 Blu-ray player were used with XLR inputs.
The ATI AT6002 Multi-Channel Power Amplifier Review In Use
No matter how much power any amplifier has, there is a limit to how loud we can listen to it at. Despite this limit, the ATI AT6002 has the largest dynamic range of any amplifier I have ever heard, because when it is quiet, it is dead silent. I could place my ear next to the tweeter of the Revel f208 and hear nothing when the system was idle. Not even a slight hiss. No amplifier has ever been this quiet in my system. The amplifier itself is also as quiet as can be (no noises made by the physical structure). There are plenty of amplifiers that produce a slight sound in use, though it is usually buried under the music. The ATI AT6002 is so quiet, you wouldn't know it was on if not for the LED light up front.
Using the AURALiC Vega to deliver the new Led Zeppelin high-resolution masters, the ATI AT6002 pounded through these classic re-releases without issue. From the opening chords of "Whole Lotta Love" to the final notes, every note was clear and precise. The dual 8" woofers of the Revel f208 strain receivers, even high-end ones, when pushed to high output levels. The ATI AT6002 had no problems here, and there was no harshness or break-up as it powered through the best of Plant, Page, Bohnam and Jones.
ATI also states that the design of the ATI AT6002 is for the demands of modern film soundtracks. So why not push the volume all the way to reference levels (85dB with 105dB peaks) and listen? When the opening Kaiju attacks San Francisco in Pacific Rim, a deep guttural roar filled my listening room and scared the hell out of me. Having seen this film a dozen times, it shouldn't surprise me anymore, but it managed to do so by filling my room in a way it hadn't been done before. The roar even managed to wake up my kids, sleeping two stories above.
With female vocals, the ATI AT6002 brought out the clarity of their voices. Compared to my Parasound Halo A31, the ATI AT6002 removed a layer of granularity. Like a pale warm sky at dusk, vocals were a little bit smoother than before. Natalie Merchant's vocals in Carnival offer a bit more than I've heard before, and I listen to the track at least once a week. The A31 is already a good amplifier, but the ATI AT6002 offers just a little bit more resolution than it does with the Revel f208.
A unique aspect of the ATI AT6002 is how much reserve power it has. Even after I switch the amplifier off, it will continue to play music for a good 10-15 seconds just off the extra current stored up. This amp is as overbuilt as a 110 pound movie starlet with 6 pounds of breast implants. With the ATI AT6002, you worry about the glassware falling out of the wine rack, not the amplifier running out of slam.
I tried to push the ATI AT6002 as much as I could, including tracks from the metal band of all metal bands, Metallica. No problem. Massive Attack and their repeated 40 Hz notes into the Revel f208? Child's play for the ATI. Miles Davis and a double bass? Why don't you keep turning up the volume, I don't mind. Morris Kessler plastered his name on the front of the ATI AT6002, so I knew I could put the pedal to the metal. I just could not make the amplfier lose its cool.