When breaking in a new pair of bookshelf speakers, I always take a look at the drivers and make an observation (OK, actually I bet myself) whether or not they meet the manufacturer’s specifications for frequency response. You see, the Atlantic Technology AT-2 Speakers fall right in line with this because they use a single 5-1/4″ graphite polymer woofer and claim to go down to 41Hz. But what’s different about the AT-2’s is that they use Atlantic Technology’s H-PAS system…and that I’m familiar with. H-PAS came out back in 2009 and I got to see the original AT-1 tower speakers which packed an incredible amount of low end into some pretty narrow speakers.
Atlantic Technology AT-2 Speakers Features
But back to the AT-2’s. These speakers are definitely not prototypes. These H-PAS bookshelf speakers look refined, though a bit elevated. The baffle of the silk dome tweeters are nicely nestled into the woofer So you don’t get a gap or lobing between the two drivers and the sound reaches your ears as a cohesive element. In terms of design, Atlantic Technology did away with the standard rectangular box and curved out the sides of the speaker with a beautiful piano black finish no less. There’s even this subtle metal fleck thing going on that I like a lot. The rest of the speaker is covered with what looks like a thin leatherette covering. On the back you’ve got biampable 5-way binding posts and a 3-way toggle control that gives you the ability to tweak the tweeters to raise or lower the output and compensate for bright or dampened rooms.
And really, these speakers definitely live up the their low frequency hype. I tested them with the Rives Audio test tone CD and got these to play back 40Hz without breaking much of a sweat. And while I geeked out on test tones, I also played some tracks I’m very familiar with that have frequencies that really shouldn’t be reproducible by a pair of bookshelf speakers…and yet they were. A good example of this is the subsonics present at the end of Seal’s “Crazy”. And while I’ve definitely heard more punch in larger tower speakers when playing that song, the Atlantic Technology AT-2 H-PAS Speakers took those frequencies and gave them some real presence. Lastly, Atlantic Tech included cord holders that can bolt onto the rear of the speakers to help route cabling and keep it out of sight. This is a good call since they had to mount the binding posts so high up on the enclosure.
Atlantic Technology AT-2 Speakers Listening Tests
Imaging on the AT-2’s is what I’d call above-par. You aren’t just able to place the instruments in the width of the front sound stage, you can also get a sense of depth as well. This was very noticeable with the SACD version, of Pink Floyd’s intro to “Money”–everything was exactly in its place and you could really get a feel of the effects existing in the 3D space. That’s great imaging–you don’t always hear that kind of definition.
Playing back “Blackest Eyes” from Porcupine Tree, while a bright mix, yielded a nice wide spread of backing vocals during the chorus. On speakers with less imaging, this track can really just turn to mush. Also, this song sounds awful on speakers where the tweeter distorts and simply can’t handle the onslaught of frequencies. The 1-1/8″ silk dome tweeters did none of that. The next track, “Trains” begins with an acoustic guitar on the left with a double on the right. Steve Wilson’s vocals were pinned right dead center, and the gentle, sibilant style he uses really revealed the delicate nature of the AT-2’s silk tweeters. I’m not going to pull any punches on you—these speakers are excellent…but they cost $900/pair. If you’re into high end audio and you intend to play back some high quality sources, you won’t be disappointed. If that price made your significant other look at you like you’re crazy…well, go work some overtime–it might still be worth it. Atlantic Technology has several systems that it worked closely with THX to develop. This isn’t one of them, but it appears that the company learned how to take the best of its 4400 series and it’s H-PAS technology and wrap it together to make an exceptional product.
About the only bad thing I can say with regard to these speakers is that I have to send them back!