Atlantic Technology’s AT-1 tower-type loudspeaker with distinctive HPAS (High Pressure Acceleration System) bass loading system was previewed at last year’s CEDIA Expo, then shown again in pre-production form at CES. At both venues, the bass performance of the AT-1 was quite promising, as was midrange performance. Upper midrange and high frequency performance on those pre-production prototypes seemed a little too rough and raw vis-à-vis the overall sophistication levels achieved in the rest of the speaker, so that I frankly wondered how well the AT-1 would fare in this keenly contested market segment.
Now that the AT-1 has finally gone into production (priced $2500/pair) I am pleased to tell you it has received two changes that have dramatically improved its performance as compared to those initial pre-production prototypes. Specifically, the AT-1 has benefitted from a new 1 1/8-inch fabric dome tweeter from Vifa (called the LRT for “low resonance tweeter”) along with a revised crossover network. Together, these changes help smooth out the speaker’s upper mids and highs while improving transient response and overall extension. As a result, the production version AT-1 offers a powerful yet sophisticated sound that offers greater openness and superior top to bottom balance relative to the AT-1 pre-production prototypes I heard several months ago. For this reason, I suspect the AT-1 will become one of the strongest players in its price class.
Also shown at CEDIA was a prototype of Atlantic’s upcoming AT-2 HPAS-equipped stand-mount monitor. Pricing is TBD, but was humorously described in the Atlantic booth as “Not Free” (a good guess, of course, is that the AT-2 will sell for significantly less than the full size AT-1). As students of HPAS technology already know, one of the coolest aspects of the HPAS enclosure system is that it can, in principle, allow quite small loudspeaker cabinets to support seriously extended bass at surprisingly high volume levels and with low distortion. Imagine, then, a 16-inch tall “bookshelf” speaker that uses the HPAS system to produce powerful bass that extends down to 39Hz (and maybe even to lower frequencies than that by the time the speaker is ready for production). Who wouldn’t like the idea of what is essentially a sensibly priced, near full-range bookshelf monitor that sounds huge but doesn’t take up much space at all? Watch for a final production version of the AT-2 to enter the market in Q1/ 2011.
B&W’s CM-series loudspeakers enjoy a special position in the B&W product line because the deliberately combine three threads of influence. First, their conservative styling and lovely construction details provide deliberate reminders of B&W’s heritage and hard-won reputation for fine, traditional, old-world craftsmanship. Second, they incorporate many technologies drawn from B&W higher end (but often more adventurously-styled) loudspeakers. Third, they are—at least relative to the quality on offer—value-priced and thus make a rewarding and refreshingly accessible “gateway” to the world of higher-end B&W sound.
For CEDIA, B&W announced a new flagship model for the CM-Series—the CM8 three-way, four-driver, tower-type loudspeaker (priced at a manageable $2200/pair). The CM8 features a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter mounted in a tube-loaded housing featuring B&W’s signature Nautilus technology, and 5-inch Kevlar midrange driver, and two 5-inch paper pulp/Kevlar woofers.
By design, the CM8 can be used as a standalone stereo speaker, or combined with other elements of the CM-Series family to create decidedly classy-looking, upscale home theater surround systems. B&W had the CM8 on static display only, so comments on sound quality will have to wait ‘til later, but if the CM8 runs true to form with other members of the CM-Series family it should be something special.
The Cambridge Minx has already bee then subject of an AVguide news post, so we’ll just provide a recap here. In a nutshell, Minx is an extremely compact, but exceptionally high performance sat/sub speaker system offered in several different variations on 2.1-channel and 5.1-channel packages. Pricing for stereo sat/sub packages prices start at a low $549, while 5.1-channel bundles start at $799.