Test Report: Atlantic Technology AT-1 H-PAS Speakers

I’ve seen plenty of loudspeaker “breakthroughs” in my half-a-lifetime around the audio sideshow, including speakers shaped like ears, tubas, and croquet balls. And there have also been “revolutionary” new driver designs that resembled stars, chafing dishes, and origami.

Yet somehow, even here in the 21st century, serious hi-fi is still delivered overwhelmingly by cones and domes mounted in boxes, be they vented bassreflex or sealed acoustic-suspension cabinets. Why? Because these hoary inventions, well over 5 decades old, are, properly optimized, still what work best.

So when Atlantic Technology’s Peter Tribeman invited me to hear a preproduction sample of a new speaker with an important new enclosure design, I remained — Boston-born though I am — from Missouri (the “Show-Me State”). Countering my skepticism, both inherent and acquired, was the fact that Tribeman has had a hand in establishing at least four A/V firms: AudioPulse, NAD, Proton, and Atlantic Technology itself, each of which has introduced at least one important innovation. And in some cases, the innovations have been game-changers.

What I found at Atlantic Tech’s no-nonsense headquarters just south of Boston was a version of the company’s new AT-1 speaker: an attractive, seemingly ordinary enough midsize floor-standing tower, the configuration most popular among serious two channel listeners. My initial inspection revealed conventional drivers, a conventional crossover, conventional size and shape; the only thing unusual about the AT-1 was the huge rectangular port gaping from its front baffle’s bottom.

But the AT-1 stopped seeming ordinary shortly after Tribeman pressed Play. The conventional-looking speaker produced deep bass, including bottom-octave orchestral sound to well below 30 Hz, with the power and impact of a well-sited 12-inch subwoofer or a dual-10 “power-tower” pair. My jaw may not have visibly dropped, but I was impressed.

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