Surround Sound Speaker Systems

Atlantic Technology 4400 Speaker System

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

All the AT speakers have a very neutral midrange - some consumers mistakenly think this is a "dry" sound, preferring certain types of coloration such as bright highs or forward midrange. It really depends on your tastes. The high end is crisp and clear, even at loud volume.

The 4400 system has excellent depth to the soundstage. Sounds effortlessly extend behind the speakers with a lifelike quality. This is where the AT speakers really shine and to me it was their best quality. The width of the soundstage was adequate, but does not seem to extend to the right or left of the LR speakers much. I also noticed that there is no "height" to the image. If you imagine a straight like from tweeter to tweeter, every instrument and vocal sits on this line.

The 4400SR surrounds are built well and sound terrific. They do an excellent job of creating the surround experience without distracting from the main soundstage. I can easily recommend the 4400SR if you need a solid set of dipole/bipole speakers for your system.

The system is designed as a satellite/subwoofer and that's how it should be treated. A subwoofer is definitely required for the full range experience. With the 444SB being a sealed design, I expected the bass to be quick and tight, with plenty of detail. In actuality, the bass is a bit too intense in the upper region for my tastes, and I found myself having to turn the gain down on it to less than halfway. Some of this could be due to room placement, but I tried a few different locations and didn't have much luck in improving the tightness. If you look at the room response in the On the Bench section, you can see that there is an increased response in the 60 Hz - 80 Hz region, and that is what I was hearing.

The Atlantic Technology Engineers are sending me the Model 642e THX Select Subwoofer to try in place of the 444SB. So, check back in a few weeks for an addendum to this review, reporting on the results of adding this subwoofer to the system.

Batman

The Dark Knight - A great scene to test out the ability of the AT's to recreate explosions and the rumble aspect of home theater is the batmobile/batbike section. I crank the volume when i watch movies or listen to music, so its very important to me that a set of speakers can play loud without distortion. The 4400 system is THX certified so you would expect them to be able to play loudly without a problem.. This is certainly the case! I was able to crank the levels for the batmobile scene and the 4400 speakers didnt miss a beat. The sound of vehicles moved from speaker to speaker, left to right, front to back with ease. Something the AT engineers set out to do and accomplished in spades. The 4400 is a very cohesive system and sound FX feel planted no matter where they are coming from. The weakest link in the system is most certainly the 444SB. It just can't keep up with the speed, clarity, and detail of the speakers. It can recreate the kabooms and rumbles, but I get that feeling of only hearing one bass note coming from it. With it being a sealed design I really expected the bass response to be tighter.

Watchmen

Watchmen - The opening fight with the Comedian has some great surround FX in it. I found the 4400SR provided terrific atmosphere and space to the rear soundstage. Set in dipole mode and placed to the sides of my couch it was hard to locate where the speakers were, even with them being so close. Much different than my standard direct radiating surround speaker which is easy to detect where the chirps, glass shards and rain are coming from. Dialog throughout the movie was clear, relatively full and never drowned out.

The Piano

The Piano (Michael Nyman) - Track 9 "The Scent of Love" - I like this track because it is mostly solo piano, and beautifully written of course, with good atmosphere around the featured instrument. On the 4400LR's, the piano was anchored in the middle with a definite presence behind the speakers. Hard keystrokes would carry nicely beyond the speakers themselves, allowing myself to sink into the music. When the strings enter about midway, the 4400's open up with very nice dynamics and a clean tonal quality. Something seems to be missing for me in the midrange though. The sound of the piano just seems a bit empty for my tastes.

Chesky

Chesky Ultimate Demo Disc - Sara K. - "If I Could Sing Your Blues" - Used to demonstrate true recorded depth, not engineered "echo", this seemed like a perfect disc to test out the 4400LR's ability to recreate depth in the soundstage. The track begins with a muted trumpet standing in the distance to the right and that's how it comes across on the Atlantic Technology speakers. If you close your eyes, its not too difficult to imagine your living room being larger than it is. Not nearly as convincing as my reference LS6's, but pretty dang good. Sara K's voice is very crisp and clear, maybe too much so. I am used to a little more fullness when it comes to vocals. There is no doubt in my mind that her voice is coming from a set of speakers and not from Sara K herself. The depth and soundstage is definitely there once again on the 4400LR's, I just wish they had a bit more midrange.