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Atlantic Technology 44-DA Atmos Elevation Speaker Module Preview

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The Atlantic Technology 44-DA

The Atlantic Technology 44-DA

Summary

  • Product Name: 44-DA
  • Manufacturer: Atlantic Technology
  • Review Date: August 29, 2014 09:00
  • MSRP: $499/pr
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now
  • Type: Sealed-box, Concentric Driver Array (CDA)
  • Drivers: Woofer: (1) 5 ¼” damped polypropylene

               Tweeter: (1) 1" dome-silk damped

  • Frequency Response: 150Hz – 20kHz ±3dB
  • Nominal Impedance: 6 ohm
  • Crossover Frequency: 3.5kHz
  • Crossover Type: Optimized 1st order Butterworth
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 10 – 100 Watts
  • Available Finish: Satin Black and Gloss Black
  • Dimensions w/ grilles (H xW x D): 5 1/2" 8 3/8" x 9 1/2" / 141 x 211 x 242mm
  • Weight (ea): 7 lbs; 3.2 kg

If you’ve been keeping track of Audioholics’ Atmos coverage, one thing you know we’ve been a bit skeptical of has been the release of some fairly crummy looking Atmos Elevation speakers. The big example we’ve been lambasting is the Onkyo SKH-410, which utilizes a single 8cm paper cone driver to create a virtual height channel. Going beyond our curiosity of how well Atmos elevation speakers will work (we’ll get to hear them in short order), it’s fair to point out that an 8cm paper cone has obvious limitations in dynamic capability and top end output/fidelity (the latter being important for Dolby’s HRTF DSP processing that simulates elevated sound). As such, some of the initial offerings in the Atmos Elevation speaker department have left us…let’s just say less than excited.

Enter the Atlantic Technology 44-DA. Priced at $499/pair, the 44-DA is to the aforementioned Onkyo what a two-way bookshelf speaker is to a Bose cube. Instead of using a single full range driver, Atlantic Technology developed a concentric unit featuring a 5.25” damped polypropylene cone mid/woofer and a 1” silk dome tweeter. The crossover is at 3.5kHz, and is a 1st order Butterworth design. One initial concern with this arrangement is whether cone breakup is adequately damped, though a polypropylene cone isn’t likely to be as offensive in this respect as a metal cone. Rounding out the package, the 44-DA employs a sealed enclosure, and measures a compact 5-1/2”H x 8-3/8”W x 9-1/2”D, perfect for fitting on top of the Atlantic Technology 4400LR speakers.

44da Driver shot

Shot of the 44-DA's concentric driver array. Note the foam around the edges used to reduce diffraction effects.

Moving on to the 44-DA’s specifications, it has a rated frequency response of 150Hz - 20kHz +/-3dB. For those wondering about the lack low end extension, we would note that this is by intent. Atmos Elevation speakers are meant to be high pass filtered around 200Hz in order to help pull off the illusion of height and also reduce the frequencies that are more localizable. On the electrical side of the equation, Atlantic Technology rates the 44-DA to have a nominal impedance of 6 ohms, but unfortunately no sensitivity was provided to give a rough idea of how difficult of a load these speakers will represent to a partnering amplifier. However, power requirements are listed as being 10W-100W, suggesting that these speakers don’t require high powered amplifiers for best results especially since they are so bandwidth limited by function anyways.

Conclusion

We’ll be frank: the initial offerings on the Atmos Elevation speaker market gave us some grave concerns that manufacturers would be running with the idea of quantity over quality in the Atmos era. Offerings from Onkyo and Def Tech, as well as some “prototype” photos that have been floating around the web have been suggesting that these speakers would almost solely consist of a cheap 3-4” full range driver. The one exception to this was Pioneer Elite’s speaker offerings which offered a concentric 4” mid/woofer / 1” tweeter top firing driver array. With the announcement of Atlantic Technology’s 44-DA, we’re starting to breathe a bit easier with the addition a standalone Atmos speaker module boasting concentric drivers which should offer better performance over lesser designs, both in terms of dynamic capability and high frequency reproduction.

In terms of availability, Atlantic Technology expects the 44-DA to roll out in the 4th quarter of 2014 (i.e. any day now), with the initial debut being at CEDIA. Suffice it to say, we’ll be paying the Atlantic Technology booth a visit.

Update: CEDIA 2014 Impressions

We caught up with Atlantic Technology at CEDIA 2014 and got a hands on look a the 44-DA. The tweeter was movable on the pre-production model they had on display, but it will be fixed on the production model. We thought that it looked good sitting atop the 4400 LR bookshelf speaker. Unfortunately, they didn't have the 44-DA hooked up, so we couldn't get a live demo. However, we suspect that it will perform similarly to other Atmos speakers we've heard.

44-DA grill off         44-DA on 4400 LR

The 44-DA in-person at CEDIA 2014

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

About the author:
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Steve Munz is a “different” addition to Audioholics’ stable of contributors in that he is neither an engineer like Gene, nor has he worked in the industry like Cliff. In fact, Steve’s day job is network administration and accounting.

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