Is there an overall philosophy in the way you design and build products?
In all the products I've designed-even going back over 40 years-the focus is on value and performance. While ATI products aren't inexpensive, the user always gets his money's worth. They don't get a box of hype.
What do they get?
Solid engineering and high performance. We use huge transformers and separate power supplies for each channel. And we use massive heat sinks to assure reliable operation. Some brands use cooling fans to save space, weight and cost but fans make noise and noise detracts from performance. We also ground all of our amplifiers at a single, central point instead of grounding them in the transformer. Our improved grounding lowers noise but it requires extra rectifiers in the power supply. Overall this creates a weight issue. Heat sinks and big transformers are heavy, so we use an extremely sturdy chassis. Skimping on any of these key elements would save cost, but performance and reliability would suffer and the end product would not be as good as I want it to be.
You seem to take your design cues from Henry Ford, "you can have any color amplifier you want as long as it's black".
People should get what they pay for. Using a fancy face plate that costs as much as the rest of the amplifier doesn't make sense to me. An amp's chassis should be sturdy and have a nice design. That's all.
How do you assure that all of your products achieve the quality standards you set?
Well, we manufacture or assemble everything right here in our own factory. I do have an office there, but my real office is on the production line. I spend most of my time right there making sure everything is running right.
How has ATI evolved over the years?
I've been making amplifiers since 1967 when I started SAE. I sold it in 1988 and retired. But in 1993 I became interested in computer aided design [CAD] and built a stereo amp for fun and caught the bug, again. I took the new amp to CES to see if I could drum up any interest and ended up getting requests to build amps for other companies. We've since built amplifiers for at least a half-dozen companies whose brands you would definitely recognize and started building ATI amps. Those first ATI amplifiers were very successful and we've expanded the line greatly.