Prices listed in CA$.
Many exhibitors at this year’s Toronto Audiofest were showcasing panel-style loudspeakers, including electronics manufacturer Atoll Electronique, who was presenting the North American launch of the company’s SDA300 Signature Streaming, DAC Amplifier ($6,999, and hence the SDA in the model name), paired with a pair of Final Audio Model 7 Hybrid electrostatic speakers ($12,999/pair). While the standard Model 7 is a panel only, the Hybrid option adds a 10″ subwoofer that, during my audition, offered smooth and seamless bass integration with the rest of the frequency range. The Model 7’s panels are made of Teonex, an aerospace material, coated in indium tin oxide (ITO), a conductive compound said to result in reduced distortion.
The 150Wpc (hence the 300 in the model number) MOSFET-based Atoll SDA300 integrated amp uses a preamp stage that employs no negative feedback and operates in class-A. The unit was playing downloaded hi-res files from an external hard drive fixed to a rear USB port. One thing I found clever about the SDA300 was its additional front USB port, which bypasses the need to reach at the back of the unit to try to find the port — excellent for those spur-of-the-moment music needs. This system was laced together with Atohm cables.
For me, what separated these panels from the others I heard at this year’s show was the scale of the soundstage they projected. It was huge. Vocals and instruments exhibited a life-like presence and transparency which made the speakers disappear. Despite the room’s awkward, asymmetrical shape and the paucity of room treatments present (that tiny tree did not count!), these dipole panels presented an enveloping, smooth, and realistic-sounding picture.
The combination of the Atoll Electronique SDA300 Signature and Final speakers, the latter with their elegantly thin, narrow profile and relatively small footprint, offer what I consider a physically attractive, reasonably-priced, and great-sounding system. The Finals are also available in a variety of gloss-colour options.