Philosophy

Welcome to the philosophy page, Here you can learn a little about our philosophy and values at ATRAD Audio.

Our mission is simple: We strive to build audio amplifiers that will delight their owners. This is the first and most important requirement of any amplifier.

No two customers are alike. Much like buying a car, high-end audio equipment is usually acquired not only for its technical qualities, but also its aesthetics.

As an analogy, in cars, there are some features that don’t contribute anything to the performance, handling or economy, yet they enhance the enjoyment of the driver and passengers. It’s the same with audio: In high-end audio setups you’ll often find expensive cables with magical properties, turntables that weigh as much as a car, and various other expensive and exclusive enhancements.

Do these make it sound any better?

This is where science and philosophy part ways. Most of these enhancements wouldn’t pass a double-blind test, or register any difference on the test bench. But, looking for purely technical improvements misses the point.

These enhancements go to the philosophical question of whether the purpose of audio is just to sound good, or to make its owner feel good about their system as well.

If you feel good about your audio system, you’ll want to use it more, and you’ll get a better connection with your music as a result.

Our editorial position is that we don’t endorse any specific type of “audio jewellery” over any other, since this is entirely a matter of personal taste, governed by criteria beyond those that can be measured on the workbench.

However, where we do pride ourselves is on the pragmatic design of vacuum-tube amplifiers, using best-practice circuit topologies, quality components, and backed by a robust development and test regime.

If you want to use one of our amps with simple sources such as mass-produced Japanese turntables, CD players, Chromecasts or other cheap digital sources… or if you have a DAC that costs into the five figures and a turntable that needs a forklift to move it… either way, it’s gonna sound great. Use the $8 power cord we supply, or else go and spend $20k on a high-end one. Just enjoy your music!

Our attitude to audio jewellery is easily summarised by the so-called Sheryl Crow Principle:


“If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad”


However there is one line we won’t cross, concerning amplifier topologies:

The amplifiers we offer are all of the “push-pull” design.
Some audiophiles prefer the sound quality of the so-called “Single-ended” (“SE”) design. From a technical perspective, Single Ended amps are inferior to push-pull amps, in terms of sound quality, distortion, and power. 

Back in the days when tubes were very expensive, Single-Ended amplifiers were developed as a short-cut to reduce the complexity and number of tubes.

The trade-off was lower power, less bass, and higher distortion. However much like an Instagram filter, some listeners found they actually liked the distortion the “SE” design produced.

As a result, the SE design amps are now sought after by some audiophiles and as a result, more expensive than their push-pull counterparts.

Our position is that since this is a hobby rather than a commercial enterprise, we have the luxury of choosing what we want to build, so there will not be any SE amplifiers in our line-up.