Atlantic Technology has always offered great-sounding speakers but with bland styling that left something to be desired. However, with its latest generation of speakers, Atlantic's gone for a Swan-like makeover--and better still, the upgrades are more than skin deep. In short, the System 1200 satellite/subwoofer system, which retails for $1,200, not only looks good but sounds amazing, too. Atlantic Technology's System 1200 models look like miniature versions of the brand's high-end marvels. The basic System 1200 package includes five two-way satellites (one you use as a center-channel speaker) and a matching full-size subwoofer. Our review samples were finished in a lovely light maple trim, but the 1200 models are also available with sleek metallic-silver or gloss-black side panels. The painted versions add $120 to the price of the package, and the satellites' curved perforated metal grilles give the speakers a high-end aura. Wall mount these 10.4-inch-high satellites, and they'll look great flanking a flat-screen TV. They weigh 5 pounds each.
The Model 212 SB subwoofer measures 15.25 inches wide, 15 inches high, and 16.9 inches deep; this bad boy weighs 37.5 pounds. System setup was fuss-free, and straight out of the box, the sound was excellent. The satellites' 1-inch soft dome tweeter and 4.5-inch GLH (Graphite Loaded Homopolymer) woofer are based on the drivers used in Atlantic's $20,000 system. The 1200's cabinets are solidly constructed from medium density fiberboard and fitted with heavy-duty, five-way binding posts.
The 212 SB subwoofer features a front-firing, 10-inch long-throw composite woofer, backed up with a massive magnetic motor assembly. As with all Atlantic Technology subwoofers, the 212 SB is a sealed (nonported) enclosure design. Stereo line-level inputs and outputs are provided, plus a crossover bypass option for easy setup with A/V receivers. If you have an older receiver, you can take advantage of the 212 SB's adjustable 40Hz-to-140Hz crossover. A large heat sink cools the 125-watt amplifier. Classical music is the roughest test for "lifestyle-friendly" subwoofer/satellite systems; their smaller designs tend to result in a steely or harsh sound when attempting to reproduce the sweet sound of strings. But the 1200's purity and natural tonal balance demonstrated rare finesse on chamber and symphonic CDs. We credit the satellite/subwoofer's perfect blend with the system's affinity for classical music. Don't worry, they can rock out, too: their highly detailed sound with the Rolling Stones Four Flicks concert DVD was first rate.
The little system's visceral powers came to the fore when the rolling thunder of cannon fire lit up the Master and Commander DVD; the sound was truly awe-inspiring. Even as we pushed the volume higher and higher, the sound remained clean and clear. The five speakers' seamless surround field produced a grand panoramic scope that added excitement to these auditions. The 212 SB subwoofer's presence wasn't buoyed by bloated or booming bass--no, its deep bass extension, purity, and pitch definition were top notch. It's one of the better 10-inch subs we've heard, and the system is potent enough to fill even fairly large rooms with sound.
Note: As reviewed above, the System 1200 is an exceptional package, but Atlantic lets you, at time of purchase, substitute individual speakers for its $2,000-list System 2200 counterparts. We auditioned the 2200 LR front speakers (add $170), and they sounded bigger and richer than the 1200 LRs. The 2200 center speaker (add $230) fleshed out male voices a bit while the 2200 V- shaped surround speakers (add $170) dispersed a more enveloping sound field. Lastly, the step-up 12-inch 422 SB subwoofer (add $230) pumped out a slightly deeper bass response. The quoted additional costs are for the maple finish; the metallic-silver and gloss-black finishes are slightly more expensive.
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