“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

Atlantic Technology FS-7.1/SB-900 Surround Bar/Sub Preview

Atlantic Technology FS-7.1/SB-900

Atlantic Technology FS-7.1/SB-900


  • Product Name: FS-7.1/SB-900
  • Manufacturer: Atlantic Technology
  • Review Date: September 27, 2011 08:35
  • MSRP: $950 (FS-7.1), $350 (SB-900)
  • First Impression: Mildly Interesting
Model FS-7.0 SB-900
Type 7-Channel Soundbar Powered Subwoofer
   Woofer (2) 4 x 6” (102 x 153mm) dual voice coil 8” (203mm) long-throw
   Tweeter  (3) 1” (25mm) soft dome N/A
   Surround (3) 3 1/4"  (83mm) triple voice coil N/A
Frequency Response 75Hz – 20kHz ±3dB 32-200Hz ±3dB
Nominal Impedance 8ohms N/A
Crossover Frequency 2.5kHz 55-200Hz, variable; or bypass setting
Sensitivity/Peak Output 89dB 103dB SPL into 2000 cubic feet
Recommended Amplifier Power/Amplifier Power-THD 10 – 140 Watts RMS 125 RMS @<.5% THD
Dimensions w/ grilles (W x H x D) 40 x 4 3/4 x 5 1/4"
1016 x 121 x 134mm
11 x 13 x 13"
280 x 330 x 330mm
Weight (ea) 37bs; 17kg 28lbs; 12.7kg

Sound bars and surround bars are here to stay. There is just no getting away from it. Even the hardcore Audioholic may find themselves the owner of one for installations that just can't handle a true surround setup. The question is, which? Just about every speaker company these days has one and many new companies are popping up trying to make their name with their proprietary solution.

Speaking of solutions, there are really only two ways to get the sound from the front to the back of the room. Either the phase of the drivers can be modified with a DSP to "trick" the listener's ear into thinking the sound is coming from somewhere other than the front of the room, or the speakers can be angled or otherwise bounce the sound off the side walls to reflect the sound. The former solution tends to be easier to implement and is less room dependent but also less convincing. In our experience, the sound gets to maybe a bit past your ear but never really behind you with the DSP phase solution. Reflecting the sound can actually get the sound behind you but, if your room and/or your speaker placement isn't ideal, it tends to fall flat.

Atlantic Technology released the FS-7.0 a while back and they've reported success with the unit. For CEDIA this year, they've released an updated version of the unit, called the FS-7.1, with improved voicing, a new enclosure, and an upgraded companion subwoofer, the SB-900. First the surround bar.

The FS-7.1 has eschewed the boxy enclosure of the FS-7.0 for angled sides. This places the side drivers at an angle into the room rather than pointing straight out to the side walls. This angling is designed to improve the surround effects by lessening the reliance of the FS-7.1 on the side walls. The speaker uses two 4" by 6" drivers on the front baffle are paired with three 1" tweeters. On the sides they have a single 3.25" driver. Each of the woofers are a dual voice-coil driver that handles more than one channel. The two on the front handle the left (or right) front channel and "half" of the center channel. The woofers on the sides handle both the side and surround channels.


When you look at the back of the speaker, you'll find seven speaker-level inputs (binding posts) indicating that you'll need a receiver to power this speaker. These are the push-type terminals so you'll need to employ a bare-wire connection. Atlantic Technology has included adhesive rubber feet for either shelf mounting (they have larger ones for angling the speaker) or to attach to the back if you wall mount with the keyhole mounts. Threaded inserts are included which can be used for suitably equipped flat-panel TV mounts. 

The SB-900 is the successor to the SB-800. The SB-900 has an 8" long-throw woofer in a ported enclosure that dips down to 32 Hz. The FS-7.1 has a low end response down to 75 Hz (well within the recommended 80Hz crossover point suggested by THX) and should mate well with the SB-900. The SB-900 sports a 125 watt amp in a 13" by 13" by 11" box. This should be small enough not to offend the sensibilities of most spouses. The SB-900 is rated for medium sized rooms which Atlantic Technology defines as 1800-2500 cubic feet. Out of the box you'll need a wire to connect a wire from your receiver to your SB-900 but Atlantic Technology does offer an optional wireless solution (WA-50) for $200.

There are a few issues we noticed from the press release:

"The original seven-channel FS-7.0 soundbar was an instant hit," said Atlantic Technology's president, Peter Tribeman, "because it was (and still is!) the world’s first and only seven-channel soundbar.  Customers loved the simple hook-up and the sound was great, but a few thought it relied too much on side walls for surround. Well, the new design resolves that and it looks even better.

Okay, let's get serious here, there isn't a statement in this passage that isn't either irrelevant or false (save, arguably, one). "Instant hit?" We'll have to take your word on that one. Let's face facts, though, having seven channels on a soundbar is like having five wheels on a car. Sure, for people that count wheels, it is impressive. For people that care about performance, they know that that extra wheel (or extra channels in this case) aren't indicative of increased performance and very well may do the opposite. Also, saying that angling the speakers on the side in any way alleviates the reliance on the side walls is ridiculous, especially when you include this graphic in your press release:


Maybe I'm not seeing something here but it looks like the side walls are still pretty much in play. Sure, the angled speakers are at least pointed into the room but it isn't like they don't need the side walls to operate correctly. This graphic also, ironically, shows just how irrelevant the surround back channels are in a surround bar. Given that the two channels are coming from the same driver, bouncing off the same wall, and reaching the ear at the same time, if anything, the surround back channels would confuse the listener's ear even more than having the side channels alone. Plus, for those that might use those channels for a powered Zone 2, you've just unnecessarily tied up two amps in their (most likely) budget receiver that doesn't have amps to spare.

The price of the FS-7.1/SB-900 is also an issue. At $950 for the bar and $350 for the sub, it is a $1300 solution. Yamaha has surround bar solutions that cost less and have built in receiver functionality and a DSP that takes measurements of your room to make sure the sound is being bounced properly. Sans that, you can switch to a phase surround solution, something the Atlantic Technology FS-7.1 can't do. The sub might not be as good but without having to purchase a receiver, you are coming out way ahead.


Atlantic Technology has revoiced and redesigned the enclosure of their FS-7.1 Surround Bar. They promise the angled sides will reduce the reliance of their speaker on side walls to get the sound around the room convincingly. This remains to be seen (or, rather, heard). The $350 SB-900 sub reaches down to 32Hz and looks to be a pretty good value. But at $950, the FS-7.1 Surround Bar faces some pretty stiff competition. Time will tell how well the market accepts this entry into a very crowded market.  Personally we find their new H-Pas Soundbar more appealing.

For more information, please visit www.atlantictechnology.com.

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:
author portrait

As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

View full profile