Atlantic Technology AT-1 Loudspeaker Page 2
I started my listening with the AT-1s set up in my den (about 13 by 16.5 by 8.5 feet), a room with open doorways on three corners that let it breathe like a much larger space. The front end was a vintage Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray player connected via a coaxial digital cable to a new Onkyo TX-SR608 A/V receiver ($599). All equalization and tone controls were off, and the program material was two-channel stereo from standard CDs.
I tested two pair of AT-1s. The first was from an early production run. It did everything that the final version did in the bass, but it was a little too aggressive in the midrange and low treble. Following a similar observation from one of its reps in the Midwest, Atlantic modified the crossover network and sent me a second pair. The comments here refer to the latter samples, which Atlantic says are representative of the AT-1s now on sale. Atlantic tells us that these early units didn’t make it to any dealers or customers.
The results in my small space were amazing. The AT-1’s bottom end rocked—it was deep and solid without ever turning boomy. It constantly amazed me how much traction the speakers achieved with the modestly priced Onkyo AVR, and not just in the bottom end. The midrange and top end were impressive as well. Thanks to the presence of a large Pioneer plasma between and slightly behind the AT-1s, the imaging and depth were somewhat compromised, but they were nevertheless more than satisfying.
When Atlantic’s president Peter Tribeman visited following the arrival of the first set of AT-1s, we first listened to them in my smaller room. But in my larger home theater space (approximately 15.5 by 25 by 8 feet), the AT-1’s bass was a no-show in the positions I normally use for left and right speakers—about 7 feet out from the wall behind them, 3 to 4 feet from the side walls, and 10 feet from the listener.
I recognize that this setup isn’t typical (although it has worked well with other speakers), so I eventually settled on a potentially more suitable location in the same room. The Atlantics ended up about 8 feet apart and 3 feet from the back wall (measured from their fronts), and I moved the listening seat forward to keep the listener-to-speaker distance approximately the same as before. I angled the speakers in toward the listener, with the tweeterlevel control still centered. The system’s front end consisted of an Integra DTC-9.8 surround processor in two-channel Direct mode (no subwoofer, tone controls,
or equalization), two channels of an Outlaw model 7125 power amplifier, and a Marantz BD7004 Blu-ray player connected to the Integra via an Accell digital coaxial cable. The analog cables were vintage designs from Monster Cable (speaker) and Cardas (preamp to power amp).
The performance of Atlantic’s first H-PAS design was now even more impressive than it was in the small room. The bass continued to pile up points. It still didn’t go much below 30 Hz, but it sounded strong well down into the low 30s based on both subjective listening and rudimentary in-room measurements. The latter indicated some peaking around 40 to 50 Hz (very likely a room issue—our HT Labs Measures results show what the speaker can do on its own without room effects). But that rise didn’t compromise the Atlantics’ performance in the least. Every bass challenge I threw at them came up aces. Bass drum, synthesizer, and double bass (both classically bowed and plucked) all convincingly played the “where’s the subwoofer” card—without a subwoofer. The bass was tight and detailed, whether the source was Enya, the Japanese Kodo mega-drummers, or the potent, synthesized bass effects present on some of Telarc’s releases from the Eric Kunzel–era Cincinnati Pops—not to mention the signature whacks from that (in)famous Telarc bass drum. Even at relatively high levels (C-weighted peaks up to 95 dB), I never heard the AT-1’s two small woofers complain.
Fans of organ spectaculars may find the lack of response down into the low 20-Hz region a handicap, but that limitation is common to any speaker I can think of short of big, full-range designs or the very best subwoofers. The AT-1s were satisfying for me on organ spectaculars, even if they can’t quite energize the room in the same way as larger, more complex, and pricier alternatives.