This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

This review first appeared in the June 2010 issue of hi-end hifi magazine High Fidelity of Poland. You can also read this review of the Air Tight ATM-300 in its original Polish version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with publisher Wojciech Pacula. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of High Fidelity or Air Tight- Ed.

Reviewer: Wojciech Pacuła
CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Prime 
Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC
Preamp: Leben RS-28CX 
Power amp: Luxman M-800A
Integrated amp: Leben CS300
Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann
Headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 600 Ω
Interconnects: CD-preamp Wireworld Gold Eclipse 52, preamp-power amp Velum NF-G SE, speaker cable Velum LS-G
Power cords: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 (CD) and 2 x Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC7100 (preamp, power amp)
Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip
audio stand Base
Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD, turntables change continuously, as do cartridges
Review component retail: zł 32.000 in Poland

Machines from A&M Limited founded by Mr. Atsushi Miura and marketed under the Air Tight brand evince typically Japanese obsession over detail. At the 2009 High End Munich show, I had the pleasure to meet Mr. Miura in person. Like most Japanese, he wasn’t very tall. He no longer was very young either but incredibly friendly and openhearted. When he realized that I was from Poland, he got excited. While we exchanged a few pleasantries only, this meeting remained alive in my memory as a kind of archetypical encounter with a Japanese  - one not not already Europeanized and assimilated by the West but full of cultured esteem, great care for detail and a pleasant lack of hurry. This is quite tangible in the best of Kondo/Audio Note Japan, 47 Laboratory, Leben, Reimyo and even larger Japanese companies like Accuphase or Luxman. Air Tight is special because of its founder’s personality and their incredible manufacturing quality as well as generally good taste. Here’s a brief company history in bullets:

  • 1956: Mr. Atsushi Miura joins Luxman.
  • 1961: Atsushi Miura marries the oldest daughter of K. Yoshikawa, the company owner.
  • As part of the family, he becomes head of sales as well as general manager of the Tokyo office by 1968.
  • From 1977-1980, he works in the New York office of Luxman leading its American division Lux Audio of America .
  • In 1985 (the Air Tight catalog quotes year 1986) he retires and together with Masami Ishiguro founds A&M Ltd, and starts manufacturing the ATM-1 amplifier which received The Absolute Sound‘s Editors' Choice Award in 2007.

I used the following discs for this review:
June Christy, Something Cool, Capitol Records/EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-90033, HQCD; Julie London, By Myself, Liberty Records, MCR-1, LP; William Orbit, My Oracle Lives Uptown, Guerilla Studios/Linn Records, AKH 351, 2 x 180g LP; Ariel Ramirez, Misa Criolla, José Carreras, Philips/Lasting Impression Music, LIM K2HD 040, K2 HD; Firenze 1616, Le Poème Harmonique, dyr. Vincent Dumestre, Alpha 120, CD; Jean Michel Jarré, Equinoxe, Dreyfus Music/Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 647, CD; Kraftwerk, Tour The France Soundtracks, EMI Records, 591 708 1, 2 x 180g, LP; Dominic Miller & Neil Stancey, New Dawn, Naim, naimcd066, CD; Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here, Capitol/EMI, 5 29071 2, CD; Art Farmer and Jim Hall, Big Blues, CTI/King Records, KICJ-2186, CD; Depeche Mode, Fragile Tension/Hole to Feed, Mute Records, CDBONG42, SP CD.

Testing an amplifier of this class built around heavily codified technology, it seemed most reasonable to compare it to other similar machines. I actually know a lot of them and reviewed some for like the JAG 300B, Art Audio Jota Sentry, Trafomatic Audio Experience Two and Reimyo CAT-777. Although some were integrated amps, others power amps, the technology remains the same - fully tube-based circuits based on the 300B direct-heated power triode or equivalent working in class A single-ended with a valve rectifier.

In audiophile circles such amplifiers are worshipped like deities and regarded as the absolute top of what’s currently being offered. I do not wish to engage any virtual discussions whence I’d only have to argue with myself but I do confess that even though I don’t agree 100%, there’s a lot of truth in those beliefs. The 300B tube offers assets which, to my knowledge, are not available elsewhere.