Atlantic Technology FS.7.0 Soundbar and SB.800 Subwoofer


Audio gear is now expected to be just as slim as flat-panel HDTVs, and for many people this means buying a soundbar and maybe a subwoofer rather than a cumbersome six- or eight-box speaker package.

Some soundbars have all of the audio processing and amplifiers required for multichannel sound built right inside. This may be convenient, but it leaves little room for personalizing the system to fit one's own needs. Atlantic Technology's FS-7.0 takes a different path by packing multiple passive speakers into a single box that you drive with a traditional A/V receiver. The result is a lot more flexibility, even if it can't quite match the simple single-wire hookup of an all-inone solution. 

As I extracted the FS-7.0 from its protective cloth stocking, I immediately noted just how chunky and reassuringly solid it felt, with its beautiful high-gloss black finish. The rear panel sports an impressive-looking row of recessed, gold-plated speaker connector pairs, although I was a bit disappointed to discover that they only work with stripped wire or pins. Keyhole slots let you hang the FS-7.0 on the wall, while small rubber feet can be added for tabletop use.

By popping off the grille, you'll find a grand total of seven drivers, but don't let that fool you into thinking that the FS-7.0 simply uses one driver per channel. Three equally spaced softdome tweeters deliver high frequencies for each of the three front channels, but the clever part comes with the four remaining drivers, which are designed to do double and even triple duty. Two 4-by-6-inch woofers with dual voice coils are positioned

between the tweeters; these handle bass for all three front channels, with centerchannel bass split evenly between both woofers. The wide-range 3¼ -inch drivers mounted on either end of the FS-7.0 are even more clever in

their operation. By using triple voice coils, these are able to deliver their respective side's surround as well as back surround channels, adding in a dash of the front left- and right-channel information to make the front soundstage even more spacious.

Atlantic Tech refers to the FS-7.0 as a sevenchannel surround bar, and sure enough, there are enough terminals on the back to connect an A/V receiver's full seven channels. To be fair, however, with separate voice coils running a single pair of drivers, there's not much differentiation going on between the output of FS-7.0's side and back surround channels. (From what I could hear, at least. Our measurements told a slightly different story; see Test

Bench on page 54 for details.) The upshot is that there's little sonic benefit to using a 7.1-channel surround receiver; any recent-vintage model should work fine with the FS-7.0.

By using oval woofers with significantly more surface area than a round driver of similar height, the FS-7.0 has better bass extension than its slim height might suggest, but you'll still need to add a sub if you want any real lowend impact. At just over 1 cubic foot, the ported SB-800 sub, which uses an extra-long-throw 8-inch woofer, can move a surprising amount of air for its size. Rather than being dedicated specifically to the FS-7.0, it's a universal sub with a pretty comprehensive feature set, including a bypassable crossover, adjustable phase control, and an automatic power-on mode.