Atomic CLR - Not all it's cracked up to be?

  • Up until this point I had been playing using my computer speakers and I was interested in getting something that could potentially be louder and more portable in a form factor that actually makes sense for guitar. After almost 6 months after first sending the email out to get on the waiting list my Atomic CLR (powered cab) is finally here today!

    I set it up how I had planned to use it, flat on the ground, but since I'd be sitting at least 6 feet away on a fairly low stool anyway I figured this wouldn't be a problem, as many reviewers rave about the wide projection the atomic offers. The first thing I noticed is that the sound pretty drastically changes if you're than about 15 off axis. Not a good start! I grabbed some shit I had laying around to propped up the front to angle more towards my head.

    Sound quality wise I was pretty immediately underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it sounds bad, I had a bad FR amp before the CLR and I know what bad sounds like, but I guess with all the hype surrounding it I was just expecting more. My computer speakers (Logitech Z-2300s, the legendary original version) that I've been using for such a long time have completely ruined me. Because of the popularity of the Z-2300s people have done all kinds of graphs and analysis on them, and I knew the frequency response of that system was supposed to be pretty flat with the speaker grills removed, so I was expecting a similar sound out of the CLR, but alas, no dice.

    Before everyone gets their pitchforks and tears me a new asshole with the obvious complaint that the Atomic CLR sounds correct and it's the Z-2300s that are wrong, or colored, or incorrect somehow, let me explain a bit further. Like I said the Atomic CLR doesn't sound bad, but to me the best way to discern how much detail and accuracy and clarity there is in a speaker is to listen to different tones through it and determine how distinct they sound from each other. The flatter the frequency response of the speaker, the less the characteristic formants of that speaker are entangled with the FR of the tone and the more distinct it will sound compared to other tones through the same speaker. If different tones tend to sound similar and less distinct, what you are hearing are the formants of the speaker moreso than the formants of the tone.

    In my testing I was using high quality TAF profiles and I wasn't making any judgements at all was to which speakers I thought sounded "better" whatsoever, I was simply checking for distinctness from each other and the Z-2300s won hands down. If there was a game you could play called Name That Profile! where you listen to listen to a random profile on your Kemper and had to guess which one it was, I would do substantially better on the Z-2300s, and if I WAS making judgements about which sound better, I think the Z-2300s would also win that as well. On the Atomic CLR a Fender Bassman might not be mistaken for a Marshall, but it sounds more similar than it should.

    Has anyone else used Z-2300s with their Kemper? I'm honestly considering trying to find a set on Ebay and building a custom cab for them because god damnit if a $1K speaker can't sound better than I don't know what to even do.

    On an unrelated note: Anyone want to buy an Atomic CLR powered cab? ;)

  • Have you tried this test? Full range music turned up really loud? I have the wedge CLR, and when compared to my DXR10 or QSC K8 in this circumstance, the CLR fails misably. Turn it backline position, and it's even worse! Shockingly bad. Everyone who listened picked the other two speakers in my tests (without knowing the price and weight difference). And yes, I know about the bass switches on back and speaker placement. Gamma pads were used and all speakers were tested in multiple locations and positions.
    They claim it's flat response, but there's no way mine is turned up loud. Totally falls apart. But it does sound good with just a guitar going thru it. Or at living room listening levels with full range music, people liked the sound of it and most would pick it over the other two. Turn them up, and no one picks it.

    From the one CLR example I've heard, seems like lots of Internet hype TO ME.
    I'm guessing something with the tweeter out in front of the woofer that gives it a unique (in/out?) phase sound that people are drawn to. Almost a stereo presence from one speaker.

    As I said before, I do like it with guitar. I currently have no plans on selling it.

    But if someone asked to borrow a speaker/pa for a loud house party, it would be my last choice!

  • Hi, Atomic CLR Active Wedge here.
    When I first set it up the best thing was that it sounded more "guitar amp like" than for example Yamaha DXR10, which I didnt like at all (hi frequence was very unpleasant, harsh sounding).
    But I think CLR sound also quite good when listening music through it. It has very clear lower mid, mabe a little lack of deepest bass.
    Anyway, pleasant sound.
    Now the funniest thing: because I wanted to try stereo setup I ordered Behringer Eurolive F1320D and tried it with the Atomic, as a stereo pair.....
    Little confused at the moment...Im not so sure is it wise to put nearly 1000 euros to Atomic CLR... :S

  • The CLR's high end is less brittle than my other two speakers for sure. One of its strong points.

    Here's something to try: Ever get those flat advertising magnets? Delivery places give them out where I live. Place one or two on the metal grill over the tweeter to act as a diffuser.

  • I would say when I got my DXR10 I had a while with the same initial reaction.But dont forget your rigs have alll been tweaked using a different setup.Things that i though sounded great using my old Behringer Truths just needed to be looked at again.My guess is that the Logitechs are simply colouring your rigs in such a way it seems pleasing to your ears.Your challenge is to work out how the CLR is replicating these sounds.Give your ears a chace to accustomise to the CLR by dropping the comparisons for a while.

  • Thanks for curing my gas guys. I have an Atlas coaxial mounted in a Mesa 1 12 cab and have been experiencing the same issues as you with the CLR. I had been contemplating making the jump for the CLR but no more! Thank you again! My new Axis A L2 will feel that much more welcome under my feet!

    Buying drum pedals with your speaker savings? :)

  • :rolleyes:

    Get it up to ear height and make sure you're using the right settings.

    I suppose I could do that, but shouldn't I be able to use it on the floor angled correctly using the tilt setting? Should sound similar to the wedge in this configuration.

    What's the size of your room ?

    This is a medium sized room, the ratio of room size to listening distance in this case was about 2:1.

  • parlance, when I first tried the CLR my rigs sounded worse than they did using my K10. That's because they were tweaked to account for the K10's response. Try retweaking or starting from scratch, live with it a bit and then decide what you think.

    ur2funky, your experience with music playback is surprising. Did you check to make sure you weren't clipping the input? And you misunderstand the point of having a coincident tweeter. It's not to have a "stereo presence from one speaker," it's so that the crossover transition is undetectable throughout the angle of coverage.

  • I suppose I could do that, but shouldn't I be able to use it on the floor angled correctly using the tilt setting? Should sound similar to the wedge in this configuration.

    If you're using the tilt setting on the floor you shouldn't need to prop it up. If you're comparing it to monitors at ear height then it needs to be at ear height for a fair comparison.

  • ur2funky, your experience with music playback is surprising. Did you check to make sure you weren't clipping the input? And you misunderstand the point of having a coincident tweeter. It's not to have a "stereo presence from one speaker," it's so that the crossover transition is undetectable throughout the angle of coverage.

    No clipping in the CLR.

    You say surprising...I'm guessing you've cranked the CLR with full range music? Maybe I got a lemon.

    And I didn't say the array was to get a stereo presence, I was just trying to describe what I'm hearing. Maybe you misunderstood my misunderstanding ;) The effect is even noticeable in youtube clips (Ingolf's for example). Switching from the DXR10 to the CLR, a wider image exists. I only guess that it is due to the "coincident" arrangement.

  • Sell it, get a lair of Yamaha Dxr 10s, be happy :) I'm only half kidding, but alot of things do tend to be hype in this business I think. I sure wasn't about to pop out 1k for a speaker I couldn't even try out. The yamahas are by far the best I've tried( own 2 dxr12s now) and couldn't be happier.on that note, I barely ever use them live, the Kemper has ruined me and turned up the laziness factor immensely. I rely on the house, and am never let down. I dial in my sounds at home on my Adam a7x studio monitors, and they translate perfectly everytime.

  • To the OP: the diffusion pattern in the CLRs is full at a solid angle of 90 degrees from 650 Hz on. The freq response is 70-18000 +/- 2.5 dB.

    There might be three issues i can think of w/o being phisically there:

    1. The CLR's response creates specific resonances in that specific room, given that specific placement;

    2. The physical distance between the two cabs given the placement creates comb issues;

    3. Something is wrong/broken with one or two of the cabs.

    I'd try them one by one in a different room if possible.

    As for the quality Vs. hype issue, I'd say this is not the case. The CLR have been compared by several professionals against devices of symilar or higher price. If there was any spexific issue it would haves howed off at the time.
    Furthermore, jay mitchell is one of the most rewarded loudspeaker systems designers worldwide, and the CLRs are crammed with good ideas and the best compromises for the application.

    Of course personal taste can't be discussed, but I believe that any *measurable* issue could only be due to unit fault or user error.

    Don't hesytate to email tom king, the guy is great and he will most likely call you to help you troubleshooting the issue :)

  • This issue comes up sometimes, as it did for me.

    When I first got my CLR, I was extremely underwhelmed and thought I made a mistake as my previous EV ELX112P sounded better.

    After 2 weeks of trying to dial it in, I called Tom King and we tried a few things as it just sounded thin and lifeless to me.

    Eventually after 2 conversations with Tom personally, he got me a new cab and I returned the old one.

    Immediately I was floored and could tell that my first one was defective.

    It still took around 6 months for me to really get this whole FRFR/Kemper thing figured out, but it is without a doubt the best FRFR monitor out there IMO.

    I only use my Kemper for "live" playing, no recording or direct stuff so my experience may be different than yours but just giving my $.02 to try and help.

  • I posted this earlier today over at TGP: