Atlantic Technology SBT-1000
By Jim Wilson
The subject of this review is the Atlantic Technology SBT-1000
. The SBT-1000 has a pair of 12" drivers arranged as a dual-opposed configuration housed in an enclosure that measures 23"x22.5"x22.5" (HWD) and weighs 110 pounds. The drivers are motivated by a 1000 watt amplifier. Stated frequency response is 27-300Hz in the Max SPL setting and 20-300Hz when configured for Max Range. Finished in either matte or gloss black paint, the SBT-1000 retails for $2,499.
sells product from their website or through a dealer network so whatever your preferred method is they can accommodate it. Since I live in a pretty rural area I always search to see just how wide a company's distribution system is, and much to my surprise they actually have an agent within 25 miles of me. If I expanded the radius to 50 miles there were 11 places I could buy from, a far larger number than I expected to find. There is free ground shipping and a 30 day in-home trial period with the SBT-1000.
One thing Atlantic Technology offers that I don't recall seeing before is interest free financing. The longer I thought about it the more I wondered why no one else does that. The logical answer would seem to be everyone has a credit card so you can just use that, and I wouldn't argue the reasoning. But there's interest on those purchases and most people are saddled with a double digit rate. On an expensive purchase that can add up quickly. The provider Atlantic Technology uses to underwrite this service is called Klarna
With Klarna the payments are automatically deducted once a month from either your debit or credit card. That means for some the charges will still land on their Visa or Mastercard which seemingly defeats the purpose. However, since the total amount doesn't hit your card all at once it would make staying on top of the payments easier and keep you ahead of the interest. It's a novel option to offer their customers.
The SBT-1000 came double boxed, which is good because it was readily apparent this thing had a very rough journey (gee, what a surprise). Somewhat unique was the fact Atlantic Technology used a 1" foam pad on the top and bottom of the inner box as cushioning between it and the outer box. As if that weren't enough, they also include L shaped vertical slates made from thick cardboard situated in each corner to prevent the outer box from being crushed. The foam surrounding the subwoofer inside the second box was soft but it still had those annoying tiny static orbs you get from hard styrofoam. It was several inches thick in a few spots, molded and contoured to fit the SBT-1000 perfectly. Once you finally do reach the subwoofer you'll find it neatly wrapped in a white cloth bag. One thing I found a bit interesting was when I opened the cloth bag I was greeted by the unmistakable smell of mothballs. The scent disappeared after the subwoofer was in my room for a short while, which was good, but I don't recall that ever happening before.
I like different
By now all of you probably know that, but when we're talking about subwoofers how much difference can there be? For most consumer systems there's a driver, amplifier and a square or rectangular box. Not many ways to differentiate your product if you follow that formula, right? There are some companies that have veneers - mostly black - and there are others who can do different paint finishes; gloss or matte, almost all black of course. A few even offer white paint, if you're into that. There's not much variety however, so when something unique does get sent to me I'm instantly drawn to it. Atlantic Technology has just such a system with their SBT series.
The configuration is dual-opposed which means there is a driver on both the right and left side of the enclosure. That's not very common, but it's not terribly uncommon either. Where things become noticeably different is the cabinet itself; let's start with the fact it sits on a pedestal base which is enclosed on 3 sides and open at the rear. You won't see that too often. The front and rear vertical panels have 45 degree angles on all 4 edges, tapering down the further it extends from the enclosure. The grills have a slightly rounded shape that neatly tie into the chamfer of the front and rear panel. The grills also have a scalloped edge on top, making for a very fluid and balanced look. The test unit was finished in the matte paint that was smooth and not reflective.
The grills are made of a plastic composite and have a honeycomb pattern. For additional rigidity there are diagonal ribs crisscrossing the latticework. Six large round pins securely attach them to the cabinet. Stretched across the frame is an acoustically transparent material. It's evident the SBT-1000 was designed as well as engineered, it has a nice synergy to the whole thing. This is not a subwoofer you'll want to hide in a dark corner, that's for sure.
That doesn't come as a surprise to me though because the 444SB I reviewed over 7 years ago had similar characteristics, including a unique look. It wasn't quite as distinctive as the SBT-1000, but you could still tell thought went into appearance as well as sound. Uncommon touches like the feet being part of the vertical panels and not just rubber discs screwed into the bottom of the cabinet, the large volume knob on the front panel and the contoured grill (a heritage feature seemingly carried over to the SBT-1000).
When one thinks of a sealed subwoofer with a 12" driver they usually envision something pretty small, but the SBT-1000 probably doesn't qualify for that designation. Or does it? Dual 12" drivers have roughly the effective cone area of an 18" driver so when you think in terms of what a sub would look like having a driver that size it sudden doesn't seem out of proportion. One thing Atlantic Technology made sure of is the SBT-1000 would be structurally sound. It's practically inert, with no discernible panel resonance. It feels like a tank. In spite of several brutal, high volume torture tests I felt no vibrations. When I pulled a driver to take pictures I found out why.
The cabinet is made from 1.5" MDF and has window bracing running side-to-side and front-to-back, intersecting in the middle of the enclosure. The perimeter of every brace was secured with a thick bead of glue. I was a little surprised to find no damping material, but it didn't seem to have a negative impact. So impressed was I at the lack of vibration that I decided to do something I haven't done in a while.
It's been a few years since I performed the 'ol bag test. What's that you say? Frequently companies will slip their owner's manual into a plastic bag before tossing it in the box. On occasion what I've done in the past is take the manual out, put the slippery plastic bag on top of the sub, place the manual on it and then proceed to find the most difficult material I have and play it at a ridiculously loud volume. The intent is to see how solid the enclosure is; if the bag slides to the edge and dumps the manual onto the floor I know the cabinet is resonating and probably coloring the sound. That's bad. If the bag doesn't move than all you're hearing is the driver, or drivers in this case. That's good. With the SBT-1000 the bag didn't move, not an inch. That was a little surprising to me because you have slick plastic on a smooth painted surface so I expected some movement, but there was nothing. It was as though it had been glued in place. During one rather punishing episode I went over and placed my hand on every panel and felt almost no sensation. Even the left and right sides, where the drivers are mounted, were rock solid. Considering how much bass this thing was pumping out that's impressive. While I'm (sort of) on the topic of documentation...
For those who do read an owner's manual you'll get a clear indication this is not a budget subwoofer. Atlantic Technology includes an 8.5" x 11" booklet with almost a dozen pages that pretty much covers everything. There is a section that describes all the controls on the amp and what they do, detailed information about how to hook it up, placement options to provide the best response, full specifications and a troubleshooting guide. Organized and well written, you can tell someone spent time on this.
The amplifier Atlantic Technology uses for the SBT-1000 dominates the rear panel, half of which is taken up by a large row of heat fins. The name of the subwoofer hints at the power rating; 1000 watts. There are two dials, one for Volume and the other for Crossover Frequency (40-140Hz, curious given the 300Hz upper range). To the right of those are 4 inputs, two each RCA and XLR. There are also 4 toggle switches; EQ, Low Pass, Standby and Phase. Phase can be set for either Normal or Inverted, likely 0 and 180 degrees but the manual makes no mention. Standby is a three-way with Off, On or Auto. This switch controls the power modes. Low Pass has settings for Bypass or Normal; the former disables the subwoofers crossover while the latter works in conjunction with the Crossover dial to set the upper limit the SBT-1000 will play to. The slope for the crossover is 24dB per octave so it gets out of the way pretty quickly. The EQ switch allows you to configure the output for Max SPL (total volume) or Max Range (lower extension). Can you guess which of those settings I used during my time with the SBT-1000? Yup, Max Range.
Regardless of the EQ setting used you'll find the drivers up to the task.
This thing is heavy and feels like an anvil in your hands. It's long-throw composite cone has a slight texture and some type of coating making it very rigid. There's a vented motor with a 2", 4 layer voice coil. Motivating it is a huge triple stack magnet assembly. It certainly has all the right ingredients to get the job done.
There is one thing I'm not thrilled with and ironically it has nothing to do with the actual subwoofer, it's the warranty. My assessment of a product - my entire
assessment - is based upon how much something costs. If it's inexpensive then I'm less critical, but as the price climbs so do my expectations. The SBT-1000 comes with just 90 days on parts and labor. If you fill out the included warranty card you can extend that to 1 year. For a subwoofer with a $2,500 list price I don't feel that's sufficient. The bare minimum should be 1 year and if the user fills out a warranty card then perhaps another year gets added on top of that. The booklet Atlantic Technology includes makes it quite clear you only have a 90 day warranty unless you send them the purchase information, but how many people actually read the documentation? I do, because I have a review to write and it's part of the process for me, but my guess is few others take the time to go over this stuff as thoroughly me. That leaves the potential for people to only have 3 months of warranty on a sub that costs two and a half grand? I have a hard time getting on board with that.
I've grown to like Atlantic Technology and how they go about their business. I've only heard two of their products - both of which were subwoofers - yet on each occasion I have come away impressed. They mix things up in the looks department and they nail the sound quality. In my book that's called a home run.
For me a subwoofer should never take center stage, it shouldn't stand out (kind of, read on). I want it to blend in, to reinforce a soundtrack but not dominate it. That is until the soundtrack wants to reach out and kick me. Then, and only then, do I want my subwoofer to... well, reach out and kick me. That isn't easy to do however, showing restraint when not called upon is tough. Thankfully for me there are companies like Atlantic Technology. I watch a rather substantial amount of sports - car and motorcycle racing in particular - and with those broadcasts there are a lot of voices. An unrefined subwoofer makes almost everyone sound like James Earl Jones. That's fine if you actually are James Earl Jones, but not so good if you happen to be anyone else. One of my favorite pastimes, auto racing, affords me an excellent opportunity to test finesse.
The Mercedes AMG GTR and Corvette C7.R have a singularly distinctive baritone snarl and that's exactly how I want to hear it, thank you very much. However, when a Lamborghini Huracan EVO flashes by it should have that signature V10 howl, which doesn't sound anything like the Benz or 'Vette. The SBT-1000 knew the difference and portrayed each brilliantly. To some a detail like that may seem insignificant, but for me it's anything but. If you've ever been to an IMSA race and have experienced firsthand the glorious noises the various GT3 and DPi cars make you know exactly what I'm talking about; there is a very big difference in their sound profile as they roar past doing 150+ MPH. I know those sounds well so to have a smaller version of it in my own home theater is a treat. The SBT-1000 knows how to differentiate those sounds.
I went back to my review of the Atlantic Technology 444SB to see if I could include the same movies I used then to test the SBT-1000 and tie the two together, but that was a no-go. All of them have appeared during the ensuing years in other reviews, most of them several times, and I just wasn't feeling it. Can't keep treading over the same ground so that theme went out the window. Just because one theme was a bust doesn't mean there isn't a theme. In this case there's actually two of them; movies with heavy bass scenes punctuated by lulls and films I like to watch.
The first trait allows me to see how a subwoofer handles subtilty when it's only contributing some background, playing a supporting role if you will. That's an important attribute for a sub to have because it needs more going for it than the ability to pound, it has to be a team player as well. The second point - a movie I like to watch - might sound like an odd thing to say, but that too is important (and becoming increasingly so the more of these reviews I do). The majority of my standard movie tests are centered around specific scenes, carefully chosen to torture-test the product being evaluated. I frequently go out of my way to come up with content I think might expose a weakness, an attempt to push the envelope and find a breaking point. In so doing it's not uncommon for me to purchase a movie I don't necessarily like simply because it has attributes I feel could be useful in uncovering a flaw. Then there are times that I think to myself "what if I want to use a movie because I just feel like watching it that night?". Can I incorporate any of those into an article? Why yes, I can. This time I picked movies I fancy, ones that I'd watch even if there wasn't anything to be tested. Note that I didn't deliberately choose flicks with long intervals where the subwoofer was just loafing along, it was merely a coincidence that subsequently became a theme. That doesn't mean I let the SBT-1000 off the hook though, I'm not that nice. Quite the contrary, I did something with this subwoofer I have never done before. You'll have to wait until the end of this section to find out exactly what that was, but I'll let you in on a little secret; I beat on this thing more than once. Case in point...
Because I wasn't going to feature movies with lengthy scenes containing extremely difficult material I decided to have some fun one evening. I wanted to see what would happen if I really tested the limits, or in this case the limiters. There wasn't any pressure on me; no extensive notes to be taken, no paragraphs to write, merely jot down a few thoughts and bang out a couple of sentences. Easy peasy. I could get used to this. So what movies made the grade? Nothing but acronyms, something this industry has become famous (infamous?) for; the EoT intro, WoW Pod Emerges scene and Red Deaths plummet to earth from HTTYD. You know them all, and you know how hard they can be on a subwoofer. What you don't know is how loud I played them. Let's just say I thoroughly tested the aforementioned limiters Atlantic Technology incorporates.
I did 3 passes of each test scene, increasing the volume as I went, but I was unable to break the SBT-1000 with either WoW or HTTYD. Sprinkled among the meager notes I did take were words like "poised", "substantial" and "composed". The Pod Emerges scene does have sustain notes that can drone if your subwoofer is not up to the task, but no such issue here. The pavement buckling was particularly enjoyable, with clearly defined cracking and popping sounds. The battle with Red Death was another non-issue; from the first shelling of the mountain by the Vikings, to the beast's final plunge into earth, everything sounded terrific. I did notice the very deepest bass notes seemed to be rolled off, but not to the point where you were robbed of the experience. I felt the typical rumbling sensations a powerful subwoofer provides, it just seemed like a few less things in my room were rattling than I'm accustom to hearing from the burliest of subs.
I was able to upset the SBT-1000 somewhat with one thing; the intro of EoT. The initial few seconds of the pulsing was fine, as was the last part of it, but I did hear a noise from what I believe was the suspension during the middle portion. The extraneous sound wasn't mechanical in nature - so I don't imagine it was associated to reaching the drivers physical limit - but it was more than bass I heard. It sounded a bit like a scaled-down version of the chuffing you sometimes get from a ported subwoofer, but this being a sealed unit means that's not the case. Whatever the movie engineers put into this piece of the soundtrack must be terribly brutal because there are subwoofer manufacturers that specifically mention in their owner's manual to be cautious with the volume during this opening scene. Speaking of owner's manual... it was during this mini-torture session that I did the 'old bag test mentioned earlier.
The Atlantic Technology SBT-1000 handles volume just fine, so does that mean it's a one trick pony? What happens when you're in "night mode", a situation when you aren't able to push the volume? When the amplifier is not in the meat of its power band sometimes a subwoofer can sound weak, lose its presence. After my ears cooled off I played those exact same scenes again, only this time the volume was much lower. No worries here; even when you have to back it down the SBT-1000 will remain true to form and won't lose any of its character. OK, it's movie time for me.
Clive Owen plays Interpol agent Louis Salinger, a man who becomes obsessed with tracking a global conspiracy tied to the IBBC (International Bank of Business and Credit). They're involved in all manner of nefarious acts; trafficking of weapons, money laundering, murder for hire, you name it these folks are active participants. Trying to come up with something to indicted them for, evidence that will hold up in court, Salinger tracks one of their couriers from Europe to New York City. The IBBC's messenger is meeting a hitman at the Guggenheim Museum to give him info on his next contract. Little does Salinger know at the time, but he's the intended victim.
For those who have seen the Guggenheim in person you know how unusual a building it is. I've been on that stretch of Central Park East (5th Ave) countless times yet the uniqueness of that place never ceases to amaze me. Nestled among some very impressive old-world architecture, this art deco structure causes one to stop dead in their tracks. As you walk inside the foyer it's even more impressive; a multi-story grand entrance which is both massive and futuristic, a compliment of sorts considering the building was designed about 8 decades ago. The uncommon layout proves pivotal to the scene I used for this test.
There's subterfuge afoot as it turns out Salinger is not the only one tailing the courier or the hitman. As the double-cross starts to unfold, and becomes known to all involved, a gun battle breaks out. If you want to test a subwoofer that's a good thing. The first shots hit the assassin, which initially seems kind of odd. He's wearing a vest so he escapes that virtually unscathed. Things quickly get chaotic as the hitman, Salinger, NYPD detectives and an assortment of villains start to unload on each other. There are handguns, semi-autos, automatics, you name it someone is packing one. In real life each would have its own sound signature, something the SBT-1000 seemed to understand as they all carried their own weight and intensity. Every time someone pulled a trigger there was a percussive kick, and when a lot of people were squeezing off rounds that kick began to pulsate. The SBT-1000 impressed by staying on top of the situation, never allowing the mayhem to overwhelm it.
There are 2 things you never talk about; politics and religion. The events that form the basis of this movie fall into the former category so I'm not going to do one of my typical long winded lead-ins for this piece because my opinion may differ from yours. As far as the movie goes I did like how things were portrayed, I found the acting to be very good and the main characters believable. This is a flick I can sit back and watch from start to finish, which was an important criteria for me this time around. That, plus there had to be some punishing material. After all, I do need to test the SBT-1000.
In 2012 Bengazhi, Libya is considered by military experts to be one of the most dangerous places on earth. Every nation has already pulled their diplomatic resources out of the country except the US which still maintains facilities protected by a private security team. On the anniversary of 9/11 they come under attack from the local militia. The movie title is derived from that evening; 13 hours during which 6 members of the security detail attempt to fend off a relentless assault by the rebels.
The US actually maintained two outposts, a diplomatic compound and something the CIA referred to as "the Annex". The diplomatic building comes under attack first, then the Annex shortly thereafter. Between the Americans and subversives there are a number of different weapons at play, all of which were unmistakable. There was a solid pop from the automatic weapons, while the RPG's and hand-held rocket launchers went off with a strong kick. Explosions from various munitions rang out with authority. The rumbling from a fire set at the diplomatic compound was meaty, helping establish a clear sense of its severity. The biggest challenge for a subwoofer is from the mortars that rained down on the Annex; there was the initial explosion and then a sustained effect that grumbled for another few seconds. The SBT-1000 portrayed all of it beautifully, being forceful yet controlled. The heavy undertones from the soundtrack kept it busy too, so at times there was a lot going on.
The Hurt Locker
Another movie about war? Yes, another movie about war. It was serendipity that lead me to The Hurt Locker
, not a conscience choice. I happen to enjoy both films and since this time that's how the choices were made I didn't concern myself with any parallel between them.
Jeremy Renner stars as EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Staff Sergeant William James. Sergeant James has attained mythical status because of his unparalleled ability to defuse explosives, but the strain of the job and daily life-or-death decisions have taken their toll on him. He's alternately delusional, apathetic and volatile. Rash and foolhardy, seemingly indifferent to death at times, everyone around him find themselves in the line of fire. His security team - Sergeant JT Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge - are assigned to keep James safe and cover his 6 as he's clearing bombs. Both are by the book military folks unaccustomed to working with someone this impulsive and unstructured so things between them are anything but smooth.
While out on patrol in the desert the trio come upon a group of military bounty hunters who have a flat tire and are struggling to change it. As James, Sanborn and Eldridge assist them insurgent snipers suddenly begin shooting, picking off several of the bounty hunters. The Americans dig in and a standoff commences during which long periods of inactivity are punctuated by quick bursts of action. During the skirmish mortar rounds launched by the enemy exploded with a mighty blast, but despite that you could still hear individual rocks as they landed back on the ground. The 50 cal mounted on the Humvee spit out rounds with a wallop, easily identifiable between the slight pause that punctuates them. A Barret M107 the Americans use to pick off the bad guys produced a resounding thud, a testament to its firepower. While the action may not have been too vigorous during this stretch of the movie the SBT-1000 performed wonderfully when called upon.
Typically I check the amp to see how hot it is right after watching the movies I'm using for the assessment but for this evaluation I did my inspection immediately following the series of heavy-hitters mentioned at the beginning of this section because they represented more of a stress test. In this instance I guess "how hot" is a bit of a misnomer as there was no heat to speak of, the amplifier wasn't even warm after 45 minutes of me beating the living daylights out of this subwoofer. To be honest, I felt about as much heat coming off this thing as I've gotten from some other subwoofers that were in standby mode. What the heck?
Looking over the information Atlantic Technology provides I noticed this snippet: High-efficiency 1000 watt amplifier. The digital output stage is capable of very high current delivery for exceptional driver control and headroom while ensuring cool, reliable operation.
Over the years I've grown wary of what can be perceived as marketing hyperbole, casting a suspicious eye at fancy ad copy. That's unfortunate for Atlantic Technology as now I feel there's a challenge being presented to me, something I'm loath to back down from, so it's game on. Since my normal movie tests were anticlimactic I decided to up the ante with something totally different (this is the test I alluded to earlier when I said "wait until the end of this section").
My truck was due for an oil change so I pointed the cable box to a channel that streams nothing but heavy metal music, cranked the volume to a level I couldn't personally tolerate for too long and went outside to do the needful. Let's see how the SBT-1000 deals with outright neglect. 68 minutes later I was back in the house, hands now clean, and I'll be darned but the amplifier still didn't register any warmth. Disappointed, again. I guess in this case no one will be able to accuse Atlantic Technology of exaggeration, their amplifier does run cool no matter how hard it's being used. Why does it feel like I've lost a bet?
La Villa Strangiato, Rush
And then there was one. Perhaps my favorite drummers of all time are (in no particular order): Keith Moon, John Bonham, Cozy Powell, Neil Peart and Mike Portnoy. As of January 7th, 2020 only one person from this elite group is still alive. On that day Neil Peart succumbed to brain cancer after a 3 year battle. Given Neil's untimely demise it should be of no surprise that a Rush song was going to be in this review. Everyone knows he was a virtuoso, a man of almost unequalled talent, but how many are aware he wrote the majority of the band's lyrics? Often referred to as The Professor
, Neil also did most of the mixing and production on their songs. Despite being introverted - some might say reclusive - Peart could easily be considered the backbone of this Canadian power trio.
How does one honor the memory of a legendary drummer in a simple review? The easy answer would be the 20 minute groundbreaking title song from their 1976 album 2112. A true rock masterpiece - and a daring gamble from a band about to lose their recording contract - 2112 became Rush's signature, an apogee to a lot of their faithful. 2112 was Rush's 4th studio album and the rumor is it might have been their last. The bands label was not happy with the sales from their previous 3 albums; Rush, Fly by Night and Caress of Steel. They were given an edict, come up with something commercially successful or else. Rush raised the proverbial middle finger and set about to do what they wanted to.
As I said before, 2112 is the obvious choice to make but I don't do obvious. I did listen to it several times while I had the Atlantic Technology SBT-1000 hooked up, and was duly impressed each time, but the song wasn't used in this evaluation because that would be expected. Instead I went with La Villa Strangiato
. Loosely translated that means "the strange village". This was Rush's first instrumental, and like their song YYZ it was considered by the band members to be one of the most difficult to play live. If they thought it was a challenge then that's all I need to know.
La Villa Strangiato
starts out slow, with guitarist Alex Lifeson playing a riff on his acoustic that sounds like something you might hear on a veranda somewhere in Portugal. Shortly thereafter the drums and keyboard leak in and almost instantly it becomes a typical Rush song. What does that actually mean, "a typical Rush song"? Fast changes, odd time signatures and sharp notes. If you've ever seen this band play live you know what I'm talking about. The Atlantic Technology SBT-1000 faced the challenge and conquered it with ease, displaying poise and precision in the face of adversity. This song is over 9 minutes long and I played it repeatedly while writing the last few paragraphs, increasing the volume each time. It did become a bit distracting as I tried to concentrate on my wording, but that was because the sound from this subwoofer was so good that I kept getting sidetracked. Neil likely would have approved, at least I hope he would have. It felt like a fitting tribute to a wunderkind, someone who took his talent and left us far too soon.
A Nightmare to Remember, Dream Theater
And this is that one. Mike Portnoy is the only member of my five favorite drummers club still with us, so did you anticipate I would include a Dream Theater song? There was no chance he wasn't going to make the cut. The only question is, which DT song should I use? Tough call.
Dream Theater is a difficult band to categorize, mostly because there aren't any others quite like them. At least none I can think of anyway. 15 minute songs are commonplace for these guys, and when played live they often extend much longer. Changes abound, exploration is their stock-in-trade. For sure they're an acquired taste, but there's certainly no questioning the musicianship. It's really amazing to see them play these songs live. You assume it's not possible, but it is.
A Nightmare to Remember
is 16 minutes long, fairly ordinary for Dream Theater. It starts off with thunder in the distance, an effect that had a nice throaty rumble. Within the first minute Portnoy begins pounding out a steady stream of triplets on the kick drum, something he does repeatedly throughout this song. The SBT-1000 never fell behind, faithfully reproducing each one with distinction. There were times the staccato pulsing Mike creates would cut right through the rest of the instruments. Like many DT songs this one has unexpected twists and peculiar rhythms. That's part of this bands charm, but also a reason some people can't connect with them. To an extent that helps when testing a subwoofer because things are always different with these guys. Bass player John Myung has to keep up with Portnoy, no easy feat. He does it of course, and the SBT-1000 never lost track of him no matter how chaotic the song became.
Surf Medley, Little Buddy
Little who? Little Buddy. Since the Atlantic Technology SBT-1000 bucks convention why not conclude this review with something from a band nobody has heard of, one with enough stones to mash-up a bunch of California surfer tunes and play them at a blues festival in PA during the middle of winter. Somehow that seems fitting. So obscure are these guys that you'll likely find few references to them even on the interwebs. That's right up my alley.
For several years I went to a multi-day blues festival in Lancaster, PA. It was a really neat concept, but sadly the execution and management were flawed and it subsequently folded. I attended all 4 years it was in existence and easily saw 40 bands during my time there. The musicians played in various venues within a 1/2 mile radius so with a little walking you could see just about anyone. The organizers supplied a schedule and a map of the halls so you came and went as you pleased. I saw some astonishing bands play, people I had never heard of before, but that's my passion so I was in heaven. If a band I liked sold a CD I bought it, assuming the price was right of course; you'd be amazed how many groups were selling discs for an absurd sum of money. Little Buddy had their Bridgeport Train
CD on sale for $10 so I picked up a copy. It was mostly for the song I'm reviewing now, Surf Medley
. Seeing them play that one live was a blast. Total party tune, which was perfect considering I had consumed a few cold ones by the time I got to the place these guys were playing (hey I'm off the clock, don't judge me).
Little Buddy - the man (Mark Kormanik) and the band - are about as nondescript as you can possibly be. These 3 guys could disappear in a room of only 10 people, becoming completely invisible, so I wasn't expecting much when they hit the stage. I was wrong. They weren't playing in one of the bigger venues but they lit the place up nonetheless. The band was smooth, tight and totally professional. There were a lot of typical blues songs in their set list but Surf Medley
jumped out because of how unorthodox it was. Even though it probably seemed out of place to some, for me it worked.
The entire Bridgeport Train
disc is recorded with a lot of bottom end, like a good blues disc should be. Surf Medley
is an almost 5 minute jam that changes tempo and rhythm as it seamlessly segues between various California surfer rhythms from decades back. I'm definitely not a beach bum, but this song resonates. The Atlantic Technology SBT-1000 did a fantastic job and replicated the energy and excitement I got that night almost 5 years ago when I heard Little Buddy play it live. This subwoofer supplied deep, rich bass that never lacked for detail. Naturally the volume was cranked, and naturally the SBT-1000 had no problem handling the load. I must have listened to this song 10 times in a row and it never got old. If the house is rockin' don't bother knockin'! Go out to a club in your neck of the woods and support local bands. These people toil away in obscurity but there are gems to be found, trust me.
In October of 2012 I reviewed the Atlantic Technology 444SB subwoofer. After completing this article I went back to that review just to see how similar (or dissimilar) my assessment was between the two products. Here is an excerpt from my previous Conclusion section: "Simply put, the Atlantic Technology 444SB does what it's supposed to, how it's supposed to and when it's supposed to. There isn't a whole lot more to it; virtually everything about this sub works and works well. I honestly have a hard time recalling any subwoofer that had better composure, dynamics and clarity. It's not the least expensive unit available, but it's a quality one."
As I started to write this Conclusion section it dawned on me that my assessment of the SBT-1000 is all but identical. Atlantic Technology essentially created a 444SB on steroids, they kept what they do best and just added to it. I honestly don't have anything more to say.
These measurements were taken using an Omnimic. The SBT-1000 was positioned in the center of my room with the microphone 1 foot from the driver. Note that this is a two driver subwoofer but the measurements can only account for one of them. The controls were set as follows: volume to Max, lowpass (crossover) to Bypass, phase to Normal.
Frequency Response (Max Range is blue, Max SPL is red)
Don't be alarmed by the roll off beginning at 70Hz. I inadvertently left the crossover enabled in my AVR and didn't notice until the subwoofer was boxed up and ready to be returned so I wasn't able to take another measurement. While I had the SBT-1000 I did use it for a time at 100Hz and there were no issues so I'm confident it can comfortably play at least that high.
Spectrogram, Max SPL
Spectrogram, Max Range