Aesthetix Eclipse Linestage vs. Atma-sphere MP-1

ferrox

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Jun 16, 2016
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Jakarta, Indonesia
www.primes.asia
preamp.jpeg

I have been listening and comparing both great preamps for more than a month with great enthusiasm. My front end is a vintage Forsell Air Reference CDT, LDM server, Lampizator Pacific Balance, Atma-sphere MA-1 and Audiokinesis Azel Tower.

The Aesthetix Eclipse comes with dual power supplies (optional) and remote control (optional). Atma-sphere MP-1 comes with all the optional packages like, volume control, V-Cap for Linestage and throughout, caddock resistor package, phono, low output MC, damping package. The only option excluded was the caddock for the volume control.

Advantage of Aesthetix: this is suitable for tube rolling freak. It needs a total of 24 tubes to function. Each PS has 2 x EL34 and 6 x 12ax7. The Linestage itself has 2 x 6sn7, 2 x 12ax7, 4 x 6922.
Sudden loss of power / blackout won't post any harm to the whole systems. I lost count on the tube rolling with this preamp.
Not so sensitive against microphonic tubes, at least from my personal observation.
Looks more appealing in my taste, though this is truly my subjective views.

Disadvantage of Aesthetix: takes up more shelves space, more power cords. There are a total of 4 boxes, 2 power supply (the standard version is single PS), the linestage itself and the smaller box for motor controller of the volume control.
Very heavy and need two guys to carefully place them on the shelves, to be safer.
Tube replacement would be costly judging from the number of tubes used.
Need to purchase another phono stage in case that I will delve into analog.
Never ever unplug the umbilical cord on the Linestage immediately after power off. It will take about 20 minutes of more before you can unplug the umbilical cords otherwise, the whole unit needs to be shipped back to factory for repair.

Advantage of Atma-sphere: simpler designs. You need 6 x 6sn7 and 10 x 12at7 (for the phono section).
Though it's physically wider but in overall, it's smaller and lighter. So one man can easily move it into position.
Only one PC is needed to power up the PS and unit already come with its single dedicated umbilical power cord.
Optional feature includes the phono stage which is still affordable.

Disadvantage of Atma-sphere: this is more sensitive towards the tube quality. Once you have a microphonic tube, when turning the volume up and down, the noise will come out from the speaker.
Tried rolling 6 x 6sn7 NOS tubes and finally, I returned to its standard Chinese tubes for better result.
During start up, the instruction is clear, never ever turn on the amp before the DC offset LED disappeared. Though never happen, I'm quite worried about unexpected blackout where my amp will automatically up when power is on but the preamp is still neutralizing its DC offset. Knock on wood what would happen if such possible scenario takes place.

Characteristic of Aesthetix: more relax, deeper sound stage, with multiple layers behind the front wall. Better bass slam and almost SS like type of sound.
Characteristic of Atma-sphere: crazy dynamic and very explosive attack, bass is solid yet not as deep as the rival. Master of pin point. Lush vocal without veils or whatever you call it. Sounds more direct and slightly forward on certain tracks.

Similarity of both : both are holographic and musical. Both presents the detailed yet liquid sound. Throw in any kind of music genre, they will do their job well.

Verdict: both are pleasant to listen to even for a very long listening session. I could listen to my systems for more than 6 hours straight. Aesthetix is almost SS like in terms of slam and bottom end while Atma-sphere is more tube like sound with sufficient LF. I can't decide which is better because I love them both.
 

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
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Very nice write-up - thanks for that. Having owned both MA-1s and the MP-1 w/ phono for several years in the past, I found your descriptions largely consonant with my own experience.

I haven't tried the Aesthetix - its known for its many many tubes and the expense required to get it to sing its best. As you suggest, a similar key to get the best from the MP-1 is a tuneful set of 6SN7s and 12AT7s. It is the most tube-sensitive unit I've tried because its OTL and OCL circuit is so incredibly revealing. Its like you're right there, riding the cantilever across every ridge and valley. The stock Chinese tubes are quiet but nowhere as melliferous as NOS.

I've found no combination of amp and preamp that better resolves information from the groove. On "It Feels Like Rain" from Aaron Neville's Warm Your Heart album hidden amongst the line of female backup vocalists, there is a guy named Willie Greene Jr. He can hit notes below the bottom C on a piano! The Atma-Sphere pairing pulled his bass voice to the surface better than any other gear I've heard. Pretty amazing when you hear just how low a human voice can go.
 

dan31

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Jul 22, 2010
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SF Bay
Lucky guy. Hard to choose between them. Almost depends on your mood. I have a single power supply Aesthetix Io Signature and it offers so much. I don’t consider a second power supply. Maybe some day.
 
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Lagonda

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Nice write up. I own a Io Eclipse with two power supplies, wonderfully sounding
phono, that matches your description perfectly. It stopped working in one
channel and i decided to have it upgraded with an extra phono input and volume
control as it had to be send for repairs in the US anyway. I must say i am not
impressed with Aesthetix service at this point. It’s been 4 months and still
no Io ! The distributor has sent emails apologizing, but nothing from Aesthetix.
My direct email when i placed the original order where never answered and at
this point i am somewhat disappointed :mad:
 

Kcin

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Mar 27, 2016
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Canada
Nice write up. I just refreshed my MP 1 memory last week at a friend's house. Very nice pre amp .. It can be extremely sensitive to tubes, noise and placement. When set up correctly with the right tubes its is just as you explained.

I do have the Io Eclipse with Volume controls which is magical for me.

@Lagonda , sorry to hear about your experience with Aesthetix. The folks there have always been very responsive to me directly and my distributor. My upgrade to Eclipse took almost 3mos. Perhaps it is your distributor?

I would call them.
 

Lagonda

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Nice write up. I just refreshed my MP 1 memory last week at a friend's house. Very nice pre amp .. It can be extremely sensitive to tubes, noise and placement. When set up correctly with the right tubes its is just as you explained.

I do have the Io Eclipse with Volume controls which is magical for me.

@Lagonda , sorry to hear about your experience with Aesthetix. The folks there have always been very responsive to me directly and my distributor. My upgrade to Eclipse took almost 3mos. Perhaps it is your distributor?

I would call them.
The Scandinavian distributor responds very fast, but direct contact with Aesthetix has been ignored. Maybe the market is to small and not a priority.
To bad, it is a great sounding product and i hope it will be reliable upon
return. At this point it’s been of for repairs longer than i have actually enjoyed
it :rolleyes: On the plus side my 34 year old SS danish preamp has a very
adaptable phono section that sounds great. The first high end product i ever
purchased and it still impresses me all these years later.
 
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tima

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Nice write up. I own a Io Eclipse with two power supplies, wonderfully sounding
phono, that matches your description perfectly. It stopped working in one
channel and i decided to have it upgraded with an extra phono input and volume
control as it had to be send for repairs in the US anyway. I must say i am not
impressed with Aesthetix service at this point. It’s been 4 months and still
no Io ! The distributor has sent emails apologizing, but nothing from Aesthetix.
My direct email when i placed the original order where never answered and at
this point i am somewhat disappointed :mad:

Do you have evidence that Aesthetix actually has your unit and agree to repair it?
 

Lagonda

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Do you have evidence that Aesthetix actually has your unit and agree to repair it?
I have forwarded emails between the distributor and Aesthetix, they have responded to his emails, mine have been ignored. I have paid nothing in advance
and did not include the power supplies as they were working perfectly.
I doubt there is anything fishy going on, except maybe priority, or a back order
part. A specific update would have been nice ;), i came to the conclusion
that they prefer dealing with the distributor instead of the customer.
 

christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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I have forwarded emails between the distributor and Aesthetix, they have responded to his emails, mine have been ignored. I have paid nothing in advance
and did not include the power supplies as they were working perfectly.
I doubt there is anything fishy going on, except maybe priority, or a back order
part. A specific update would have been nice ;), i came to the conclusion
that they prefer dealing with the distributor instead of the customer.
Sorry to hear about your tale of woe :eek:
 
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tima

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Mar 4, 2014
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I have forwarded emails between the distributor and Aesthetix, they have responded to his emails, mine have been ignored. I have paid nothing in advance
and did not include the power supplies as they were working perfectly.
I doubt there is anything fishy going on, except maybe priority, or a back order
part. A specific update would have been nice ;), i came to the conclusion
that they prefer dealing with the distributor instead of the customer.

Yes, I didn't mean to suggest something fishy. Lag time could be a function of delivery or when it was sent, etc. I am sure it is very frustrating but they're a good company, been around a long time. Best of luck going forward.

And yes, lots of manufacturers avoid end users as best they can.

"I hear a strange noise in the left channel"
What kind of noise?
 
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Lagonda

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Yes, I didn't mean to suggest something fishy. Lag time could be a function of delivery or when it was sent, etc. I am sure it is very frustrating but they're a good company, been around a long time. Best of luck going forward.

And yes, lots of manufacturers avoid end users as best they can.

"I hear a strange noise in the left channel"
What kind of noise?
It was sent from Sweden, maybe
Greta took it with her on the sailboat !
Hope she did not realize it consumes
400 W in idle, she would dump it
in the ocean :eek:
 
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Lagonda

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BruceD

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I have forwarded emails between the distributor and Aesthetix, they have responded to his emails, mine have been ignored. I have paid nothing in advance
and did not include the power supplies as they were working perfectly.
I doubt there is anything fishy going on, except maybe priority, or a back order
part. A specific update would have been nice ;), i came to the conclusion
that they prefer dealing with the distributor instead of the customer.

Email Jim White directly -he will answer back

jim@aesthetix.net

BruceD
 

Lagonda

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ferrox

Well-Known Member
Jun 16, 2016
259
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113
Jakarta, Indonesia
www.primes.asia
I have a habit to make direct phone calls even when I have to stay late due to different time zone. I hope your problem will be solved very soon.

Nice write up. I own a Io Eclipse with two power supplies, wonderfully sounding
phono, that matches your description perfectly. It stopped working in one
channel and i decided to have it upgraded with an extra phono input and volume
control as it had to be send for repairs in the US anyway. I must say i am not
impressed with Aesthetix service at this point. It’s been 4 months and still
no Io ! The distributor has sent emails apologizing, but nothing from Aesthetix.
My direct email when i placed the original order where never answered and at
this point i am somewhat disappointed :mad:
 

Lagonda

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Feb 4, 2014
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I have a habit to make direct phone calls even when I have to stay late due to different time zone. I hope your problem will be solved very soon.
Yes i am sure the new year will bring my Io back, i doubt Santa will make it for
Christmas, i have probably been to naughty anyway :rolleyes:
 

ferrox

Well-Known Member
Jun 16, 2016
259
50
113
Jakarta, Indonesia
www.primes.asia
The only complaint about my Aesthetix vs. Atma-sphere preamp is the handheld remote control. Atma-sphere comes with metal and elegant looks, pretty heavy while Aesthetix came with a plasticky one. Few days ago, I contacted Jim and he told me, he has the new metal handheld remote control and costs about $400.
 

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Lagonda

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Feb 4, 2014
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The only complaint about my Aesthetix vs. Atma-sphere preamp is the handheld remote control. Atma-sphere comes with metal and elegant looks, pretty heavy while Aesthetix came with a plasticky one. Few days ago, I contacted Jim and he told me, he has the new metal handheld remote control and costs about $400.
There are decent very inexpensive remote sensor/repeater systems
that let you control all your remotes
from your smartphone/tablet.
I control everything including lights
and curtains from my iPhone, even
if I am not home.
 

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