To bring those who are new to H-PAS up to speed here are a series of informative links that explain some of the concepts involved in the H-PAS process:
How H-PAS Works – A graphic introduction, etc.
AT-1 Tech Tip
AT-1 Sound & Vision Review – October 2010
AT-1 H-PAS Video Tour
In 2009 I was so impressed with the sound produced by the H-PAS prototype that I asked Peter Tribeman, the President of AT, to place me on a waiting list to purchase any eventual product that would ensue – and that product became the AT-1. I envisioned using two AT-1 towers as the basis of a two channel sound system to breathe new life into not only my vinyl collection, but also to listen to 2 channel SACD and other 2 channel sources. AIX records produces DVD-Audio discs with both surround and 2 channel mixes and soon HD media such as Blu-ray music discs will increase the offerings.
During the year that followed CEDIA 2009 my health issues took center stage and I only followed most HT matters in a peripheral fashion. However, even though I had to withdraw from active participation in CEDIA I vowed to passively remain involved especially on three fronts:
- [*] Windows 7 and Windows Media Center as a whole house solution to CableCard TV distribution – especially the CETON PC Card and all that it promised [*] H-PAS and Atlantic Technology [*] 3D implementation
The other two items on my “Top 5” list were either too expensive for me (The Cinepro “Ultimate HT” regardless of cost) or not worthy of an in depth follow-up: Accell’s locking HDMI cable – ingenious and in the “why didn’t anyone think of that before?” category.
The three topics listed above will be the subject of threads that I will be starting in the appropriate sections over the next couple of weeks. This is the H-PAS thread (obviously). The next topic I will tackle is the CETON/CableCard Windows 7 Whole House DVR implementation. That has been a tremendous success as far as I'm concerned. Look for the upcoming discussion in the Hi-Def Source Hardware Section. Back to the topic at hand....
When I first got wind of the AT-1s becoming a realized product I called Peter and asked him where I was in the distribution queue. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I would be receiving the speakers that I ordered around the same time that CEDIA 2010 was taking place 900 miles away from my home. And, in fact, two large and heavy (~80 lbs each) boxes arrived as CEDIA 2010 began. I eagerly unpacked the very sturdy and well-constructed towers and set them up in a two-channel mode using Outlaw Audio’s Retro Receiver as my power and distribution source. I quickly assembled an assortment of two channel source material and connected a SONY turntable to the phono preamp section of the receiver to play vinyl. During the 2009 prototype demo one of my favorite things was to sit in the back of the demo room as Peter demonstrated the H-PAS prototypes for the first time to many varied groups, including both regular show attendees and a wide assortment of industry insiders, critics and writers. The almost universal response when the first really low notes reared their beautiful heads was to look around for the sub-woofer. Of course there wasn’t any – merely the enclosures described in the earlier links that I have provided in this article. It was enjoyable to see some folks insist that what they had heard was physically impossible (that “iron law” of speaker design) and yet, there it was.
Rather than continue to describe what I saw and heard at CEDIA 2009 (and what I know was repeated at CEDIA 2010 with the AT-1s and the AT-2 prototypes) let me stop right here and turn the floor over to HTF members. I now have a fully working set of AT-1s in my living room and have been listening for the past 2.5 weeks on a daily basis. The nature of my illness calls for a lot of rest and there’s nothing better than to have some nice 2 channel music playing in the background as I tend to things. In fact I’m surprised at how often the music goes from being in the background to becoming the focal point of my day as I put down my work, close my eyes and listen to what’s playing. I have rediscovered old friends in my vinyl collection (going back to the first day of Stereo in the mid 50’s). Everything from RCA Dynagroove to Command 35mm originals and even Vox Boxes (anybody remember those?) Yes, vinyl doesn’t have the same dynamic range as today’s digital sources and that’s apparent at the low and the high ends but what it does have is extremely smooth and infinitely continuous. This results in the “presence” of sound that some vinyl heads espouse (no, I don’t wish to open up the vinyl/digital wars again thank you. I’m just stating what I’m hearing).
And what I’m hearing is definitely ear opening. The H-PAS system does things that some of my neighbors and friends find hard to believe using “conventional” hi-fi wisdom. 5.25” drivers should not be able to go down that low with such clarify and spot on definition (29Hz at +/-3dB). No, it’s not the ultra-low 12-16 Hz of my sub-woofers in my Home Theater but it does make for some great music where we are talking about tones and not explosions and other sound effects. A place for everything and H-PAS is, I predict, about to carve out its place in the world of music. At a time when miniaturization has led to iPads and iPods and iPhones along with 192 KHz sampling rates (ouch! The inhumanity!) it’s time to reintroduce big sound from (relatively) small packages. And H-PAS can help this become a reality. A central theme of CEDIA 2010 was to get the “younger” generation to start putting away the headphones and listening to music over speakers. When they listen to some of the low sample rate music that sounds “acceptable” over some headphones on quality speakers and compare it with digital songs recorded at higher bit rates they realize what they have been missing. Another theme running through CEDIA 2010 (and through just about every phase of most industries) is the “greening” of America through energy conservation. H-PAS doesn’t use any active amplification and, therefore uses far less energy than a sub-woofer based system. In other words H-PAS is both a low frequency provider and a low energy user – to me a winning combination and one of the major reasons that I consider this technology to be certainly “Best in Show” two years running. I eagerly await 2011 to see how Atlantic Technology fine tunes the AT-2 bookshelf H-PAS unit. I still haven’t figured out how this will be accomplished in an even smaller cubic volume. But I’m still marveling at the AT-1. There’s nobody behind the curtain.
Here’s where we turn it over to you, the HTF membership. I’m sure that some of you are intrigued by the whole concept of H-PAS and that you probably have some questions. Ask away and I’ll try to field them as best as I can. Just be aware that I’m undergoing chemotherapy so that I have good days and not so good days so there will be times when I don’t get back in what some might consider timely fashion. And to those who are wondering what 2 channel sound discussions are doing in what is mostly a 5.1/7.1 configuration area, I have to believe that even theater buffs often still love to listen to pure two channel music. In fact some people who I’ve discussed this with are considering AT-1s for the Left Front and Right Front speakers in a 5 or 7.1 HT system – often with a separate sub woofer. For HT sound they turn the sub woofer on. For two channel sound only the two AT-1s are active. Peter Tribeman points out that with a careful choice of speakers this is feasible. He also mentions that within a short period of time at least five other companies will be introducing H-PAS systems licensed by AT. At this point he’s not at liberty to disclose who they are but I would imagine that Outlaw Audio will be one of the first for obvious reasons.
Ladies and Gents: The ball is in your court….