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Reviewer: Joël Chevassus
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Apple iMac, Squeezebox Touch modified + Welborne Labs PSU, Jadis JD2 Drive, Yamamoto Sound Craft YDA-01, Audio GD Ref 5 [on loan], Totaldac, Trends UD-10.1
Amp/preamp: Wyred4Sound STP-SE, SPL Volume2, Orpheus Lab Three M, Stormaudio RI-70 [on loan], Trends TA-10.2, Hiraga Le Monstre
Speakers: Triangle Magellan Duetto, Atohm GT1 & Rafale V38s [on review]
Cables: Legato digital cable, Naturelle Audio digital cable, Naturelle Audio interconnects Live 8 MK2, Audio Art SC-5 SE speaker cables, Legato Precision speaker cables, Legato Fluidita interconnects
Power cords: Audio Art Power 1 SE.
Stands & room: DIY stuff, Triangle TS400 stands, Vicoustic panels
Review component retail in France: €2,500/pr + €890 for subwoofer (prices may vary according to country and VAT)

Context. Atohm was founded by designer Thierry Comte and is based in France’s Eastern part of Besançon. Atohm speakers are fully designed and manufactured in-house like those other more famous French players Focal, Triangle, Cabasse and Davis. In fact Atohm remains one of the few small manufacturers who still fabricate their very own transducers. Atohm also markets those for DIY and sells complete speaker kits which the end user merely needs assemble. In this area Atohm has won a solid domestic recognition as is the case for Davis in Europe or Usher in the US. Other French manufacturers currently relying on Atohm drivers are Waterfall and Show Max.

subwoofer cutaway and rear panel of monitor

Thierry Comte started his career in the loudspeaker industry as technical director for Triangle Industries from 1995 to 2000. In 1996 Thierry Comte met Cedric Aubriot (current CEO of Waterfall) and developed a great friendship and technical partnership. With Triangle Comte had acquired experience and technical background in loudspeakers manufacturing. By early 2000 he decided to explore new horizons. After a short joint partnership with Onix/Asia he founded Welcohm Technology, then registered the Atohm trademark.

Again, the company began in the drive unit OEM/DIY sectors and for finished speakers focused mainly on kits. Its main OEM clients were Waterfall and Onix but also more famous brands like Triangle or Elipson. By 2004 Thierry Comte decided to enhance sales of kits to make Welcohm Technology a complete loudspeaker company of also finished speakers. For a few years Welcohm Technology marketed very competitive affordable products that were available finished and as kits. Some of the latter became rather ambitious models in their own right like the year 2005 Atohm Diablo [right] whose price must have driven the competition insane. It was a real bargain for the happy few who enjoyed the performance of this full-range loudspeaker.

The range of product which cannot be sold in kit form was the last release of the Bizontine (originated from Besançon) company. The Grand Thrill series of GT2 and GT3 floorstanders and GT1 bookshelf is Atohm’s current flagship offering [above left].

Thierry Comte’s lab is equipped with the most modern tools available to conduct and achieve high-quality design work and engineering for drivers and enclosures to make the GT line a very competitive proposal in the high-end sector.

As a serious designer Thierry Comte generally takes his time before releasing a new transducer or speaker. It took him three years to launch the new Atohm GT series. When high-end prices became more and more exclusive boosted by growing upscale Asian imports, a few domestic manufacturers kept an eye on the local market potential. Atohm belongs to these. Thierry Comte likes direct relationships with customers and resellers. If you’ll allow this writer a few proud nationalist comments, simplicity, honesty and accuracy are salient features of the Eastern French. One day I would like to take the opportunity and present some other plain Eastern guys who are involved with truly accurate high-end products such as the Fusilier family of JMF Audio or Jean-Jacques Bacquet with Klinger Favre and who have built up solid reputations amongst the most demanding professional studios around the world.

Eastern France has always been dedicated to accurate production of watches and crystal glass. Many generations have anchored this focus in the traditional industrial Franche-Comté region and their know-how is jealously protected and preserved. That's true also for the loudspeaker industry which counts amongst it a significant number of manufacturers. Thierry Comte decided to pursue a less exclusive market than recording studios and Asian high-enders but his consciousness and seriousness of design and manufacture follow the same ‘Eastern’ precedents.