About a year ago, Secrets reviewed Atlantic Technology's
8200 speaker system.
Now comes the 4200 series THX Select system, and while it’s Atlantic
Technology’s least expensive THX certified system, I cannot bring myself to
use the words “entry-level.”
The 4200s are another example of trickle-down technology, which might not
work as an economic theory but is a wonderful thing for consumers of home
theater products. The 4200 system incorporates many of the same features
found in the flagship 8200 system, including the “C.O.R.E.” technology that
lets you tweak the system to account for listening room characteristics and
The 4200LR and C speakers contain toggle switches,
allowing you to compensate for either overly damped or bright rooms, and a
boundary compensation switch that counteracts placement of the speaker in a
cabinet, or, in the case of the 4200C center-channel speaker, on top of a
The 4200 front speakers (4200LR) share the same driver technology (and in some case
the identical drivers) to those found in the 8200 system. The
4200LRs are two-way D’Appolito designs, consisting of a 1-inch
silk-dome tweeter sandwiched between two 5 ¼” midrange drivers.
center-channel speaker uses the same drivers in a horizontal array, with the
tweeter slightly offset above the two midrange drivers. Because both the
horizontal layout of the 4200C’s drivers and THX requirements tend to limit
vertical dispersion, the 4200C comes with an adjustable swivel base that
allows you to point the speaker directly at the listener’s head. Both the
4200LR and C speakers are magnetically shielded, and use a single set of
five-way binding posts. And for the all-important S.A.F. (Spousal Acceptance
Factor), the front and center channel speakers can be ordered with a variety
of removable side panel finishes: High gloss black, silver, or maple.
wedge-shaped 4200SR surround speakers use two sets of 1” silk dome tweeters
and 4½ inch midrange drivers, offset at a 90 degree angle. The 4200SRs are
rated at the identical frequency response (80 Hz - 20 kHz) as the
front/center speakers, making both setup and listening a pleasure (more on
The 4200SRs are switchable from dipole to bipole mode with a
flick of the front-mounted selector, for those of us (myself included) who
prefer to watch movies using bipole surrounds but prefer the more
directional sound of direct-radiating speakers for music listening sessions.
One significant difference between the 4200s and their big sibling is in the
subwoofer department. The 8200 system, being THX Ultra 2 certified, uses four
separate subwoofer enclosures (mounted directly under the left, right, and surround speakers),
powered by a separate amplifier module.
The 4200 system uses a more
traditional single box subwoofer, the THX Select certified 642SB. This subwoofer is
a sealed-box design, using a front-firing 12-inch composite cone driver,
powered by a 300 watt amplifier. The 642SB connects to the receiver/SSP
using line-level inputs (no speaker-level inputs are provided), and has a
defeatable low-pass crossover adjustable from 40 Hz to 140 Hz. The front panel
of the 642SB has a removable grille to access the volume control, while the
back panel contains the phase switch, three-way power function, and
line-level outputs in case you want to daisy chain a couple of 642SBs.
Configuring a THX speaker system eliminates a lot of guesswork. Set the
crossover on your receiver/SSP to 80 Hz for all five speakers, bypass the
variable low-pass crossover on the subwoofer, calibrate volume, set
distance, point and shoot. The 4200’s C.O.R.E. technology switches on the
front speakers did add another layer to the setup process, but it was a
welcome one. I set the toggle switches to “reverberant” to counteract the
somewhat bright nature of my listening room (one can only throw so many rugs
on hardwood floors), and set the 4200C’s boundary compensation switch to
“On” since it was sitting on top of a 50 inch RPTV. I made sure to adjust
the front speaker stands (not supplied) so that the 4200LR’s tweeters were
lined up at ear level. Then it was off to the movies.
The 4200’s did a superb job of creating an immersive movie experience. The
five matched speakers completely enveloped me in sound, with
seamless pans throughout the soundstage and clear, intelligible dialogue.
The system had excellent horizontal off-axis response, creating a wide sweet
spot for the viewer regardless of their position on the couch. And I caught
more than one visitor craning their heads around in an attempt to locate the
source of effects coming from the 4200SR dipoles, a testament their ability
to create a diffuse soundfield.
The 642SB subwoofer integrated well into the
package, rendering tight, controlled bass and authoritative slam when the
source material called for it. As a THX Select certified speaker system, the
4200s are capable of reproducing 105 dB SPL in a 2,000 cubic foot room
(roughly a 20’ x 12’ room with 8’ ceilings).
While I didn’t push them that hard, the 4200s never
sounded stressed or compressed. Music, either two channel or 5.1, was
reproduced with a wide, expansive soundstage and fine imaging. The placement
of instruments throughout the soundstage was slightly less defined than I’ve
heard on some other systems.
The Atlantic Technology 4200 system is a winner. The C.O.R.E. technology
allows the user to tweak the system to fit the listening space, and the
4200SR’s one-touch switch from dipole to bipole operation provides yet
another level of user flexibility. The 4200s will put you right in the middle of
the Pod Race. Definitely recommended!
- Ross Jones -