Atlantic's H-PAS Bar Is Fit to Kill

Atlantic Technology's Peter Tribeman was in no mood to mince words about the divergence of the video and audio industries. TV makers, he declared, "have thrown our industry under the bus." The occasion—and the solution—is a soundbar with killer bass that will "take the den and the livingroom back for the audio industry."

The Atlantic H-PAS PowerBar 235 has just a pair of four-inch woofers and a pair of half-inch tweeters in its 42-inch-wide box. But bass frequencies are routed through a four-stage enclosure that combines the benefits of acoustic suspension, bass reflex, transmission line, and inverted horn. The ported subenclosures run the entire length of the bar, with the left driver associated with the right port and vice versa, and are stacked atop one another. The result, as we could hear, was a soundbar that produces subwoofer-like bass without a subwoofer—down to 47 Hertz, Tribeman said. He underscored the point by sweeping away the curtain below the exhibit to reveal table legs and not much else.

As the model nomenclature suggests, the PowerBar 235 can output two, three, or five channels from a Dolby Digital or PCM input signal (no DTS or lossless), simulating surround with a Trident DSP chip. The self-powered unit is rated at 30 watts times two with external power supply. Controls include bass, treble, and "voice intelligibility control." Input jacks include Toslink, RCA stereo analog, and stereo mini-jack. There is also a sub-out in the unlikely event anyone will want one. The unit can be inverted to place the controls and display at either bottom or top.

In the pubic demo, I sat three rows back with bodies blocking the bar. Even under these conditions, the bar mustered high bass output with good harmonics and fearless extension. The bottom end was plump but well controlled, the top end more than listenable. However, I said when asked, there was some top-to-bottom unevenness in some (not all) demo selections.

After the bodies walked off, the Atlantic folks gave me an unobstructed private demo. The unevenness was greatly mitigated, attack was stronger, and the overall presentation was less plump. Please note that the 10,000 cubic foot demo room was larger than the product is designed to fill, yet it dominated the room seemingly without effort.

In the course of the second demo, the bar literally blew off its grille, giving me a chance to feel the wind coming out of the ports (mostly) and woofers. That also gave me a chance to snap a few nude pix including the one shown.

The product may ship in time for the year-end holiday shopping season at a price roughly estimated at $500-600 depending on cost of parts. It will appear under three brands: Atlantic Technology, Solus/Clements (whose Phil Clements is the father of H-PAS), and Outlaw Audio (with whose management Tribeman has a nodding acquaintance). The developers also hope to license it to TV manufacturers, should they ever wise up.