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Hands-on: Atlantic Technology PowerBar 235

Geoff Morrison checks out a soundbar that actually sounds good at CEDIA 2011.

Atlantic Tech PowerBar 235
Atlantic Tech PowerBar 235 Geoffrey Morrison

I don't like soundbars. I'm not impressed easily. I admit to phasing out a bit during the press conference for this product. A soundbar that's "groundbreaking?" Uh-huh.

Then they turned it on. Where's all that bass coming from?

Well that's what I get for being jaded. A soundbar that actually sounds good? Interesting...

The PowerBar 235, on paper, has sound quality stacked against it. It's got a small cabinet with only four drivers: two tweeters, and a pair of 4-inch woofers. Amazingly, it's rated down to a subwoofer-low of 47 Hz. To do this, the cabinet employs Atlantic Tech's H-PAS, or Hybrid Pressure Acceleration System, technology. As Atlantic Tech explains, H-PAS combines "acoustic suspension, bass reflex, inverse horn, and transmission line" speaker designs. Its claim is that this allows for better bass performance from traditionally bass-unfriendly cabinet sizes and drivers. You can read more about H-PAS here.

It seems to work really well. The press conference was held in a room much larger than you'd find in a normal house, yet the PowerBar 235 was able to produce deep bass that filled the room. My interest piqued, I went to their booth's sound room for a better listen.

Atlantic Tech PowerBar 235
Geoffrey Morrison

The first demo track, a jazzy, electric bass riff sounding not unlike the Night Court theme song, was both deep and strong. Much better than I'd heard from other soundbars. I'd liken the sound to a decent pair of big bookshelf speakers, yet the PowerBar is no larger than any other soundbar. The sound room was perhaps slightly smaller than the average listening room, but as it filled the press conference room just fine, I'm not concerned about the PowerBar filling a normal room. Even more impressive given its rating of 40 watts per channel.

A few other tracks demonstrated its low bass prowess, but what was perhaps more impressive was its ability with dialogue. As the glacier split apart during the opening scene of 2012, the ice cracking didn't drown out the dialogue. As many people complain, and rightly so, of the poor dialogue intelligibility from their TV, this is a huge improvement.

What makes the PowerBar 235 worth checking out is how much bass comes from this single bar, without a subwoofer. Strong with music, clear dialogue, one box. Very, very cool.

The PowerBar 235 is expected before Christmas for $500 to $600 (though $499 was mentioned as a possibility). It will have two analog inputs on the back, and one on the front for connecting an iPod. Currently there's one digital input (optical), though there was discussion of adding another before production starts.

You can contact Altlantic Tech for more info at its Web site:

Atlantic Tech PowerBar 235
Geoffrey Morrison
Atlantic Tech PowerBar 235
Atlantic Technology

Also check out my CEDIA expo coverage of the Sony OLED head-mounted 3D display.