HOME THEATER & SOUND -- www.hometheatersound.com



November
2009

Reviewed by
Rob Mead

 


Atlantic Technology
System 1400 / 224 SB
Home-Theater Speaker System

Features SnapShot!

Description

Model: 1400 LR main speaker
Price: $470 USD per pair
Dimensions: 10.4"H x 6.4"W x 7"D
Weight: 6 pounds each

Model: 1400 C center speaker
Price: $305 USD
Dimensions: 12.4"W x 7.1"H x 6.6"D
Weight: 8 pounds

Model: 1400 SR-z surround speaker
Price: $425 USD per pair
Dimensions: 12.25"W x 8"H x 5.4"D
Weight: 7 pounds each

Model: 224 SB subwoofer
Price: $550 USD
Dimensions: 14.25"W x 13.25"H x 15.4"D
Weight: 31 pounds


Description (cont'd)

Warranty: Five years on all passive components, one year on subwoofer.

System price: $1750 USD

Features

  • Low Resonance Tweeters (LRT)
  • Graphite-Loaded Homopolymer woofers
  • MDF enclosures
  • Magnetically shielded
  • Boundary compensation switch (1400 C)
  • Tweeter level switch (1400 C)
  • 10" long-throw woofer (224 SB)
  • 180W amplifier (manufacturer rated) (224 SB)

Peter Tribeman, president of Atlantic Technology, has two goals in mind for the company he founded in 1989: to bring quality home audio to the masses at a decent price, and to create complete home-entertainment speaker systems that deliver superior surround sound when hooked up to most of the A/V electronics on the market today.

But while focused on delivering quality speakers to the home-theater enthusiast, the Atlantic engineers know that most consumers use their systems to also listen to CDs, MP3s, and Internet radio; so they design their speakers with the typical music lover in mind as well.

Atlantic Technology states that they were the first audio company to create "compact, totally self-powered systems," beginning in 1989 with the Pattern 100 and Pattern 200. The Pattern 200 featured as a selling point onboard Dolby Pro Logic -- very few speaker systems ever offered that feature. That sort of innovation is good evidence that Atlantic actually does think outside the proverbial box.

Description

The System 1400 speaker system ($1200 USD) comprises five speakers in three models: two 1400 LRs, a two-way sealed box; one 1400 C, a two-way center speaker, and two 1400 SR-z surround speakers. Atlantic also sent along one of their 224 SB subwoofers ($550). On removing the speakers from their boxes, I noticed that their jet-black cabinets all had an ultraslick finish usually seen only in much more expensive speakers. This system doesn’t look "budget" at all.

The 1400 LR ($470/pair) measures 10.4"H x 6.4"W x 7"D and weighs 6 pounds. Each speaker has a 4.5" Graphite Loaded Homopolymer (GLH) woofer and a 1" Low Resonance Tweeter -- a soft-dome design that AT claims makes the System 1400 sound clean and dynamic. The 1400 LR’s claimed frequency response is a respectable 90Hz-20kHz, +/-3dB, and its nominal impedance is 8 ohms. The crossover frequency of the third-order crossover is 2.25kHz, and the recommended amplification is 10-100W.

The 1400 C center-channel speaker ($305) also has that 1" Low Resonance Tweeter, crossed over at 2.25kHz to two 4" GLH cones. Its frequency response is 95Hz-20kHz, +/-3dB, its nominal impedance is 8 ohms, and its recommended amplification is 10-125W RMS. At 12.4"W x 7.1"H x 6.6"D the 1400 C is fairly narrow, and should be easy to fit into smaller home theaters, even bedroom systems. It weighs 8 pounds.

The 1400 SR-z surround speaker ($425/pair) measures 12.25"W x 8"H x 5.4"D and weighs 7 pounds. It has two 3.5" full-range drivers, a frequency response of 110Hz-20kHz, +/-3dB, and a nominal impedance of 8 ohms. It can be switched between bipole and dipole operation. Depending on your room, surrounds placed close to your ears might sound better in the more diffuse-sounding dipole mode.

The 224 SB subwoofer has a 10" long-throw composite cone, a 180W RMS amplifier, and a frequency response of 33-250Hz, +/-3dB. It measures 14.25"W x 13.25"H x 15.4"D and weighs 31 pounds. When I powered it up, I saw that a faint small green light illuminated behind the fabric cloth of the subwoofer’s front end. An indicator that the subwoofer is powered up is great if your listening position is across the room and you’re wondering if it’s turned on.

Listening

Champing at the bit to see how much of a difference the System 1400 would make in my system, I inserted the Blu-ray edition of The Bank Job in my Sony PlayStation 3. I skipped through the chapters until I got to the main action sequence, in which a small group of London thieves recruited by Terry Leather (Jason Statham) starts using jackhammers to tunnel into a Lloyd’s bank. A well-defined and sonically precise center-channel speaker is an important element in any home-theater system, but the 1400 C somewhat blurred the dialogue in this action sequence. Even turning the center channel’s volume all the way up didn’t help.

I was hoping the 1400 SR-z surrounds would do a better job of delivering surround effects than the 1400 C had done with dialogue. As the musical score accelerated in tempo as the thieves broke through the concrete floor of the main vault, the surrounds did an impeccable job of replicating the music’s brilliantly orchestrated midband, and I was thoroughly engulfed in the lower bass to upper midrange. The 1400 SR-zs sounded right on the money -- when the jackhammer finally smashed through the floor, I heard a very loud and natural crunk as chunks of concrete flew around the vault and plowed into the walls. I could hear no distortion as the scene progressed, nor any muddiness in the overall sound. During this intense action sequence, the 1400 SR-zs did not sound small.

Like most home-theater buffs, I prefer deep, impactful bass, and a really good test of a subwoofer’s performance in a home-theater system is an explosion -- any muddiness or dull decay in the low end will ruin the effect. I was very pleased with Atlantic’s 224 SB subwoofer. I was amazed at the amount of low-end energy it delivered as the thieves got into a lethal shoot-out with some local thugs. The bass exploded into the soundstage with excellent clarity and fullness. The clean, vivid imaging of the System 1400, coupled with the bass contributed by the 224 SB, added an edge to the urgency of this intense gun battle as the thieves narrowly escaped death. The 224 SB never disappointed me during The Bank Job.

No speaker review would be complete without examining the cleanness of the midrange. I inserted Ted Nugent’s Weekend Warriors (CD, Epic EK 35551) into my PS3, listened to the title track of this hard-rock classic, and was blown away by the 1400 LR’s ability to replicate the intricate tenor of Nugent’s twangy guitar while delivering the full impact of the track’s bass elements, including the hard-driving percussion.

But while Nugent’s guitar is obviously the centerpiece of "Weekend Warriors," the 1400 SR-z surrounds did a fine job of transitioning all the other instruments that are vital parts of this track into the overall soundstage. This good blending resulted in the music sounding much more alive, no matter the output level.

The 1400 C center speaker did a much better job with Dolby Pro Logic-processed CDs than it did with the Blu-ray sound of The Bank Job. This was a major relief to me; I’d been worried that the center speaker wouldn’t be able to handle the more raucous elements of the hard-driving "Weekend Warriors." But the 1400 C handled Nugent’s voice with aplomb, delivering him with good clarity.

Next I listened to Nugent’s "Good Friends and a Bottle of Wine." The treble produced by the lead guitar was dropped into my listening area with a precision that expertly presented Nugent’s fluid style, while accentuating the clean low end of the bass guitar with an incisiveness that showed what the 1400 LRs could bring to my overall listening experience.

Comparison

A similarly sized 5.1-channel speaker system that retails at the lower cost of $1200 is Definitive Technology’s ProCinema 800. The DefTech system features 4.5" aluminum drivers that project a strong midrange and a precise soundstage, but the system didn’t make nearly as much of an impact in the low bass as did Atlantic Technology’s with the 224 SB, which is a major highlight of the system under review. The ProCinema 800 didn’t sound as tonally well balanced during certain musical passages of the Blu-ray edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. I began to hear more of what I truly like with the System 1400: a deeper low end and a much more vibrant midband. And the treble sounded cleaner overall -- Atlantic Technology’s Low Resonance Tweeter seems nicely extended.

The only advantage that DefTech’s ProCinema 800 had over AT’s System 1400 was the former’s center speaker, which delivered much more detailed dialogue than did the 1400 C. As reproduced by the DefTech center, the tonal naturalness of speaking voices in The Return of the King spoke volumes about this system’s ability to present cleaner, less boxy sound in a film’s quieter sequences.

I was not as impressed with the more mundane appearance of the ProCinema 800 speakers’ basic black cabinets, which would not fit varying décors as well as the finishes of the bolder-looking Atlantic Technology System 1400.

Worth the money?

For someone looking for a complete 5.1-channel speaker system to enhance his or her audio listening experience without going broke, I recommend Atlantic Technology’s System 1400. A larger center-channel speaker with clearer dialogue and lower bass response would be nice, but otherwise, the System 1400 / SB 224 has a lot going for it: a relatively low retail price, an attractive and compact appearance, and the extremely powerful and dynamic 224 SB subwoofer. Every audio component has strengths and weaknesses to varying degrees, and the System 1400 is no exception. Overall, it’s a well-balanced system whose strengths might find favor with many listeners.

Review System
Speakers -- Definitive Technology ProCinema 800
Receiver -- Onkyo TX-SR506
Source -- Sony PlayStation 3
Cables -- Monster cable
Display device -- Sony XBR
 

Manufacturer contact information:

Atlantic Technology
343 Vanderbilt Avenue
Norwood, MA 02062
Phone: (781) 762-6300
Fax: (781) 762-6868

Website: www.atlantictechnology.com


PART OF THE SOUNDSTAGE NETWORK -- www.soundstagenetwork.com

All contents copyright © Schneider Publishing Inc., all rights reserved.
Any reproduction, without permission, is prohibited.

Home Theater & Sound is part of the SoundStage! Network.
A world of websites and publications for audio, video, music and movie enthusiasts.