Product Round-Up:

Atlantic Technology System 170 5.1 Speaker System
September, 2002

Brian Weatherhead



Model 171LR Front: Cabinet (H/W/D) 5.5 x 13.5 x 6.5"; Drivers: 1" Tweeter, 2- 4" Mid-Woofers, Internal Crossover; Freq Response: 190Hz - 20 kHz ± 3 dB; 8 Ohm Impedance (4/6/8 Ohm Receiver compatible); Sensitivity: 87 dB.

Model 173C Center: Cabinet (H/W/D) 13.1 x 6.1 x 6.7"; Drivers: 1" Tweeter, 2- 4" Mid-Woofers, Internal Crossover; Freq Response: 90 Hz - 20 kHz ± 3 dB; 8 Ohm Impedance (4/6/8 Ohm Receiver compatible); Sensitivity: 87 dB.

Model 174SR Surrounds: Cabinet (H/W/D) 10.2 x 9.1 x 5.2"; Drivers: 2- 1" Tweeters, 2- 4" Mid-Woofers, Internal Crossover; Freq Response: 190 Hz - 20 kHz ± 3 dB; 8ohm Impedance (4/6/8 Ohm Receiver compatible); Sensitivity: 87 dB.

Model 172PBM Subwoofer: Cabinet (H/W/D) 113 3/4 x 20 3/4 x 14 3/4"; Drivers: 12", 2" voice coil; Variable Crossover (50 Hz - 150 Hz), Integrated 150 watt RMS Class-G amplifier; Freq Response: 25 Hz - 180 Hz ± 3 dB.

MSRP: $1,396 USA

Atlantic Technology; Phone 781-762-6300


Atlantic Technology has been in the speaker manufacturing industry for many years. I've heard most of their systems, but not this one, until now. Atlantic Technology is known for great build quality and fantastic sound. But, I was a bit skeptical of a system in this price range, even if it was from them. After all, everyone realizes that compromises have to be made at low prices. So, I wondered . . what compromises would they make?


The fit and finish of the System 170 is on a par with their other lines of speakers, so they definitely didn't skimp on the details to accommodate the price. The black simulated wood that came on our demos was very nice. If I could find any complaint in the finish, it would be that the speakers might have a softer look with some lighter simulated woods (see the PSB review). Overall, though, it has a great build job at this price level. They seem to have a high-tech look and feel. Something a bachelor pad could definitely use.


System 170 has a high frequency sound much like the Velodyne Decos. But, the 170s offer better midrange and better midrange definition. At times they seemed like they emphasized the 6 kHz range. I don't want to say "bright", but definitely emphasized. 

The measured frequency response is shown below. The midrange roll-off starts at about 300 Hz. The peak at 5 kHz - 6 kHz that I heard is there, and, along with the rise above 8 kHz, this gives them a detailed feeling for the upper octaves.

The 172PBM subwoofer was the best sub that I listened to in this review. The 12" driver really did yeoman's duty, and was the largest in the seven systems of this round-up. Don't expect SVS-style output from it, but it's clean and will play fairly loud. The sub was certainly a surprise in this review.

In the other systems I tested here, I would have felt compelled to upgrade to a larger sub at a later date, but the 172 did well enough that I would concede that an upgrade would be unnecessary. Anything louder would simply overpower the rest of the system. Well done indeed.

Out of all the systems in this review, the Atlantic Technology System 170 had one of the best distortion measurement results. At 0.58% THD (90 dB, 2" from speaker), it  sounds clean. Even at higher volumes where other speakers in this review headed into the 2% - 3% range, the 170s were among the lowest.

Imaging from the system was spot on. The dipole surrounds created a good dispersion of sound for action movies. Dipoles are among my favorites for surround sound, giving a very nice listening experience for those of us who haven't taken the plunge to 6.1. The tonality of the system was well matched, since all the drivers are essentially the same. This system would lend itself to a small to moderate room. The dipoles can help when speaker placement isn't optimal.


The Atlantic Technology 170 system is among my favorites for this review group. It has good clean sound from a speaker that can play at a descent volume. Many of the smaller speakers in this review suffer from output/distortion limitations. The 170s seem to defy that. They sound more like larger speakers, with build quality and appearance for a price class well above their own.


- Brian Weatherhead -

Related to the article above, we recommend the following:

Speaker Primer

Misunderstood 0.1 LFE Channel

Nature of Equipment Reviews

A Big Dig into Bass Reflex

What we Hear

Big Bass in Small Places

High Fidelity


Accuracy, Distortion, and the Audiophile

© Copyright 2002 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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