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Rogue Audio Atlas Magnum Power Amplifier Review Print E-mail
Thursday, 10 June 2010
Article Index
Rogue Audio Atlas Magnum Power Amplifier Review
Listening Continued
Mark OBrien Interview

I had a stack of new discs I had just received from Amazon and was eager to put the Rogue through its paces. First up was the new album from Shelby Lynne, Tears, Lies, and Alibis. Lynne's voice is a thing of beauty, and through the Rogue her delivery was presented in a lifelike, three dimensional space.  She tends to favor classic recording gear, and close miking which only heightens the illusion. The spare, tasteful arrangements were also wonderfully rendered, with acoustic guitar and other instruments having tons of texture. The Steve Miller Band's super classic Fly Like an Eagle, 30th Anniversary Edition sounded huge and rocking through the Rogue. I was even able to compare the mid 90's Steve Hoffman mastered Gold Disc version, and easily heard the differences. The recent remaster is a bit louder and slightly more detailed, yet the Gold Disc was a bit more analog. It definitely held its own.

Another reworked oldie I picked up was the SACD hybrid of Elton John's Madman Across the Water, an all time favorite of mine.  Unfortunately, I no longer have an SACD player on hand, so I was not able to hear the high resolution layer, but none the less, the Redbook layer sounded excellent. This was one disc that really showcased the Rogue's huge soundstaging. Vocals, string arrangements, drums, piano, and guitars all occupied rock solid positions in the mix. And the quieter passages and piano interludes flowed with delicacy and with realistic dynamics. Quite stunning, actually. This is why we love tubes!

Front View

While evaluating the Rogue, I received a pair of Thiel CS2.4 floor standing loudspeakers for review, (forthcoming). These are quite different than my Harbeths, offering a 4 ohm load (but with similar sensitivity), bass response down to 33hz, and metal dome tweeter. I did manually change to the 4 ohm tap in the procedure I described earlier. It was actually a snap, by the way. If you know how to use a screwdriver and a wrench, it is a seven minute procedure. The Thiel offers very high resolution, tremendous bass weight, and it showed me the Atlas Magnum can play with the big boys .If anything, the Thiel's power demands were easily handled by the Rogue, showing me I had previous barely scratched the surface of its reserves.

I also decided to install the Rogue in my bedroom system, driving my Spendor S5e floor standers. I thought it was a perfect match. I had never heard my beloved Spendors come alive like that. They have plenty of dynamic range but can sound polite with tamer solid state amps. I spend quite a bit of time listening to my music server with the Rogue and really enjoyed every minute. I really was not looking forward to the day when the Atlas Magnum had to go back! My FLAC files sounded awesome, and many evenings were spent bouncing between the server, listening to discs, and my Revox A77 reel to reel tape machine to boot.

I would say I enjoyed the Rogue's overall performance across multiple systems more than any other amplifier that I have had in my home. I think this is important in that I am sure it will mate well in many users systems. Rogue as a legitimate, extended dealer network, and an audition will allow you to see if it works with your speakers and set up.

Rear Panel

The Rogue Atlas Magnum, an upgraded, turbo version of the Atlas power amplifier, was one of the best values I have come across as a reviewer. I’m still not sure how Rogue offers such a well built, wonderful sounding amplifier for $1895, and manages to hand build it at their facility in Pennsylvania.  There are a number of manufacturers offering similar products, with manufacturing outsourced to China, at even higher price points. My personal preference is that when there is a similar product available and it is made domestically, it is usually gets preference.  Geo political ramblings aside, the audio product in question must sound great, and give me confidence that will work for a significant number of years. The Atlas Magnum fits that bill. I used it with several speakers, preamplifiers, and cables, and its versatility is impressive. The most striking thing, as mentioned above, was the huge soundstage, along with superb bass weight and articulation, and control. It is not finicky with set up, and worked without a hitch. It does produce some heat off those KT90 tubes, so ventilation is recommended. I must all add that not once did the KT90 tubes drift from the specified bias setting, always a sign of a good circuit.

Above all, the amp was very fun to have around, much like the Manley Labs Mahi™ mono blocks I had in house last year. As a bonus it looks cool, and will fit into any décor. Now, I have not heard the standard Atlas, but it seems to me that for a very reasonable premium, you get a tremendous upgrade. Clearly, the parts quality is higher, including the binding posts etc. Of course, you may prefer El34 tubes and not need the extra power, but that is up to you to decide.  The Atlas Magnum also leaves me wondering what the Rogue stuff higher in the line can do. A tip of my hat to Rogue Audio.


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