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Atlantic Technology H-PAS PowerBar 235 SoundBar Preview



  • Product Name: PowerBar 235
  • Manufacturer: Atlantic Technology
  • Review Date: September 12, 2011 18:10
  • MSRP: $699-899
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!

Atlantic Technology revealed their new H-PAS PowerBar 235 which, like their H-PAS tower speakers debuted at last year's CEDIA Expo, is said to defy the laws of physics producing deep rich bass beyond conventional speakers in its size class.   

Using the company's patented H-PAS™ bass technology, Atlantic Technology is so confident in this product that they are marketing it as the world's first Soundbar that doesn't need an external powered subwoofer to provide satisfying bass output. The PowerBar 235 does sport a subwoofer out to be mated with their SB-900 subwoofer for those wanting even more bass impact.  The H-PAS PowerBar 235 is a two-channel powered sound bar with digital surround processing for 3 & 5 channel simulated output, all contained in a single 42- x 5¼- x 5¾-inch cabinet with stated frequency response down to 47 Hz at -3dB.  The built in amplifiers provide 2 x 30 watts to a pair of 4" midbass drivers and 1/2" tweeters.  It has two analog inputs and 1 digital toslink input.

The Atlantic Technology H-PAS PowerBar 235 can be wall mounted beneath a video display or inverted for shelf mounting. To accommodate these different modes, the control panel display can be electronically rotated for correct view in either configuration. Alternate display labels are also provided for both orientations.

Atlantic Technology's H-PAS technology, which has been shown by the company's AT-1 speaker to deliver deep, rich, low-distortion bass from cabinet sizes far smaller than previously considered possible, is now showing its potential in a much smaller systems. The AT-1 floor-standing speaker is now available at retail, a smaller AT-2 bookshelf speaker will ship this Fall, and the H-PAS PowerBar 235 is expected to follow before the end of the year. Atlantic Technology is also in the process of licensing H-PAS technology to a range of loudspeaker and consumer electronics manufacturers.

"The H-PAS PowerBar 235 is the first sound bar where the subwoofer is truly optional," said Atlantic Technology's president, Peter Tribeman. "The high levels of exceptionally clean bass emanating from such a small cabinet are almost disconcerting until you get used to it. With its built-in digital amp and DSP surround processor, it sounds great as a stereo or theater system in a bedroom, dorm or small apartment." 

H-PAS technology is the result of a collaborative effort between Atlantic Technology and Phil Clements of Solus/Clements Loudspeakers, who first recognized that there were ways to beat the old "Iron Law" of acoustics, which for over 50 years has established a fixed relationship between the cabinet size and bass response of loudspeakers. Working jointly with Clements, an engineering team at Atlantic was able to mathematically model Clements' discoveries and make it possible to apply H-PAS design parameters to a wide range of speaker designs.

The characteristic performance of H-PAS allows exceptionally deep bass response with very low distortion relative to speaker size. The H-PAS-enabled low frequency reproduction is notable for its power, clarity and impact, with none of the often muddy, indistinct mid- and lower-bass anomalies that characterize many other designs.

Our Impression

Powerbar DemoPeter was so pleased with the results of this product that we had to take a few minutes out of our busy schedule covering CEDIA 2011 to take a listen.  Needless to say, my wife absolutely loved the demo.  Her comments were that it sounded quite enveloping and she actually forgot she was listening to a soundbar during the demonstration.  I must admit walking into this demo skeptical until after only a few moments when I heard the products true potential.  The demo room was packed with other interested enthusiasts, so I crept around the back of the room listening at various positions.  No matter where I was, I found the bass extension was satisfactory and the vocals were nice and clear.  I did hear some driver lobing when shifting my position from left to right but that is to be expected with any mid/tweeter array horizontally mounted.  This is an something virtually all soundbars suffer from since they don't have the real estate to place the drivers vertically.  I did ponder if one day Atlantic Technology could use a coaxial driver to completely eliminate this issue.  However, considering the sound output the H-PAS Powerbar 235 was producing in the demo room, I'd certainly take one as is for a secondary bedroom and surely be quite satisfied.  Peter asked us to guess at the retail price.  I shouted out $900 and he came back with a price tag targeted to be a couple of hundred lower.  WOW!

After the demo, we even checked under the Soundbar to search for a hidden sub but instead we found old Outlaw boxes used to prop up the product.  Good one Pete :)

I was unable to take pictures with the PowerBar 235 grille cover off since it was a prototype design which was a bit finicky to be handled.  Do expect a detailed review of this amazing and unique product coming from us soon however!  Getting this product in our own acoustical environment on familiar source material will really help us understand the product's true potential.


Editorial Note about the 235’s horizontal dispersion by Steve Feinstein of Atlantic Technology - Updated 9/13/11

One of the side benefits of H-PAS is that it requires the use of high-resonance, low-mass drivers. That means that the woofers of any given H-PAS speaker system are light and quick, and therefore very capable as far as handling the midrange, where quick transient response is a prime requisite. Fine, but what has any of that got to do with the 235’s horizontal dispersion and its less-than-ideal side-by-side mounted woofers and tweeters?

It’s this: since H-PAS requires the use of light, low-mass drivers, the 235’s 4-inchers are just that—very low-mass, ‘quick’ drive units. But the side benefit of their small 4-in diameter means that they have excellent dispersion for a good octave above where the typical 6 ½” or 8” 2-way woofer in a bookshelf speaker would need to be crossed over.

For a 6 ½” woofer, yes, you have to cross it over at no higher than around 2000-2500 Hz to avoid beaming at the upper end of the woofer’s range. And, yes, you have to orient the tweeter in a vertical line with the woofer to avoid interference in the horizontal plane in the crossover region.

However, the 235’s 4-in woofs have excellent dispersion well past 4000 Hz, so we can cross the tweeters over very high, just to add a little sparkle. The entire midrange region of the 235 is unsullied by a crossover network, so there is actually no crossover-induced, phase-related “picket fencing” between two drivers operating concurrently in the heart of the midrange (1000-4000 Hz).

We’ve thought about this, and actually contemplated putting the tweeters diagonally above the woofers’ mid line, just to improve things—theoretically—a little bit. But the 235 is designed to operate either with the control pod above or flipped ‘upside down’ so the control pod is below, depending on whether it will be mounted on a flat-screen wall-mount or on a table-top/shelf. (The display readout flips electronically to read correctly in either orientation.) So we decided to go with the tweeters exactly centered on the woofers’ midline, because we wanted to retain identical radiation patterns in both usage positions. Since the tweeters do not cross over in the critical midrange region, there ended up being no real-life acoustic penalty to doing it this way.

Thanks for coming by, and thanks for your close attention to detail.

About Atlantic Technology 
From its inception in 1989, Atlantic Technology's mission has been to produce home entertainment products that exemplify the very best in both performance and value. The company specializes in complete high-performance multi-channel speaker systems, state-of-the-art home theater electronics components, and products for custom audio/video installation.

For more information on Atlantic Technology and its many fine products for home theater and custom audio/video installation, visit: www.atlantictechnology.com or call 781-762-6300.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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