Why Does This Thing Torment Me So?

February 25, 2012
2 mins read

For some unknown reason, I’ve developed a bit of a thing for a piece of audio gear. This is nothing new, after all, I’m known to wax lyrical and even rhapsodize about anything from power cables to my “one of twenty five ever made” power amps and anything on either end of them and in between.

So why do I keep contemplating ATC’s SIA2-150 integrated amplifier (reviewed here) with more than a fair degree of acquisitive lust? I rate my three-box Sachem power amps highly. Make that very, very highly. If you want a clean, fast sound, then there’s no way to do it as well for anything approximating the money these originally sold for but despite all my preamplifier experimentation, I’m still not one hundred and three percent convinced that I’ve got the perfect preamp in front of them, even with the StereoKnight in place.

After living out of a suitcase since May last year, I reckon I’m up for some simplicity in my life. Less is more they say. I’ve got a bet going that I can clean out about half of the junk in my storage locker, and it’s a bet I’m going to win because a) I want that stuff out of my life and b) if I lose, I’m out of pocket to the tune of a bottle of best (best!) bubbly and that’s just not going to happen.

With this thinking uppermost in my mind, in the hi-fi realm, less boxes would also seem to be a good thing. The right integrated amp can theoretically replace the three Sachem boxes, the preamp, my headphone amp, phono stage and could even give me DAC and streaming functionality, while getting rid of a shoebox full of interconnects and power cables (TradeMe, here I come).

The ATC doesn’t come close to ticking (or replacing) all those boxes – there’s no phono stage and no DAC. It runs hotter than the tempers inside the Ozzie Labor party headquarters at the moment, which means it’s a beast to live with in summer and will spin the electricity meter like a merry-go-round all year long. It also needs at least half an hour to hit its stride and an hour to properly find its voice and that doesn’t suit my listening style at all. Even the bloody headphone jack is parked exactly where it shouldn’t be – round the back like some kind of afterthought, although the way it sounds makes me think it’s anything but.

So with that list of qualifiers, objections and outright bits of silliness, why do I want one? I’ve given this considerable thought in the long, dark hours of my recent jet-lagged nights and I reckon it’s the combination of simplicity and the way the review unit sounded. I was blown away by the way it did things sonically – at no time while I was reviewing it did I wonder if it could use more of anything; not dynamics or detailing or weight or….

So I’d put it in and just enjoy, except when I was sweating my butt off or fiddling with an external DAC and phono stage. Damn.

Step one has to be to get the full system as it stands back in place. Then step two is to borrow ATC’s top of the range preamplifier and see how that sounds with the Sachems. Step two point five is to have an SIA2-150 in place at the same time.

Before step three comes along, I’d probably need to arrange time with a few other integrated amps from the likes of Micromega, Plinius and Perrueax to name but a few and then it will be 2013 and I won’t have actually actioned a damn thing, so maybe I’ll skip all the steps and just get another SIA2-150 in here and see how I go.

Thoreau said: ‘“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.” Wise man!


  1. These ATC amps interest me as well Ash. A high quality one box amp that can handle tough loads and sound great at the same time is very appealing. A bit far up the $teeple for us at the mo though however if it delivers on sound quality then you may not be spending anymore on an amp for quite a while.

  2. Craig – this would the “final” amp for me (although I thought the same about the Sachems – and still do actually – damn preamps 🙂 )

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