Country of Origin



This review first appeared in June 2024 on fairaudio.de. By request of the manufacturer and permission of the author, it is hereby syndicated from the German original to reach a broader English audience. Ed.

Writer: Jörg Dames
Digital sources:  CanEver Audio ZeroUno SSD, Norma HS-DA1 PRE, Keces, Melco N50-S38, SOtM sMS-200 ultra & SOtM sPS-500, Volumio Primo

Integrated amplifier: Abacus Ampino
Preamplifier: Funk MTX Monitor V3b-4.3.1 & V3b-4.2.1 & LAP-2.V3
Power amplifier: Bryston 7B³, Norma Revo PA 150
Loudspeakers: Wilson Audio SabrinaX, Sehring 903 Series 2
Cables: Kimber Carbon 16, HMS Armonia, WSS Platin Line LS4, Real Cable BW OFC 400, HMS Fortissimo, AudioQuest Pegasus RCA und XLR, Supra Cables Sword Excalibur RCA, Straight Wire Virtuoso RCA und XLR, AudioQuest Carbon und Diamond, Boaacoustic Silver Digital Xeno, BMC Pure USB1, Kondo KSL-ACc Persimmon, HMS Energia Suprema, Supra Cables LoRad 2.5 CS-EU Mk2, Tellurium Q Black, Quantum-Powerchords, Swisscables Reference

Power delivery: HMS Energia MkII, AudioQuest Niagara 5000
Rack: Lovan Classic II
Listening room: 29m², 3.3m ceiling
Review component retail price: €44'990/pr

"Panel radiators? Uh, not really my thing." This opinion I've heard routinely. Whilst electrostatic and magnetostatic speakers—the latter group includes today's Airtech ATS01—have their loyal fan base, they still polarize. The Airtech ATS01 from the same Tuscan house that produces the familiar Audio Analogue electronics not only wants to do a lot better than other 'flat men' but above all charm those who until now could only fall in love with commercially available direct radiators. The first time I crossed paths with Airtech's ATS01 was almost exactly two years ago at Munich's annual High End. However, the brand has been around since 2013 and its sister brand Audio Analogue since 1996. Sometimes it's just a gut feel but to me it was clear quite early on that these Italian Magnepans ought to visit Berlin for a test despite the usual upfront reservations or foreboding almost telephone-booth-sized wooden crates with net contents of 52 kilograms and 143cm height. Filigreed resolution and blazing dynamics were to be expected and would easily reward all involved labour..

Stable: Only the ported woofer housing and frame of the diaphragm under the fabric cover are MDF. The rest of the mechanical construction including the separate crossover box are aluminum.

What's more, a typical albatross bothering many listeners promised to be conspicuous by its absence. Whilst the 2½-way Airtech's bass comes from a conventional woofer, their Stefano Blanda emphatically declared that their small Morel cone by no means lags behind the thin-film diaphragm when coherent timing was one of their R&D's priorities.

Last but not least, the comparatively narrow 250Hz bandwidth of the 16.5cm/6.5" woofer should contribute to this integration. 2½-way? Yes, in addition to the conical Morel, there's a planar mid/woofer and tweeter section on this 25x104cm rectangular Mylar membrane with separate 7N OCC copper voice-coil traces. The narrow vertical tweeter marked in yellow occupies an area of 67x3cm.

Magnetostats basically work like conventional dynamic drivers¹ in that permanent magnets, in this case neodymium, attach to a separate brace. Together with the crossover in its isolated aluminium housing, we're promised 87dB/W/m sensitivity. Compared to my 87dB Wilson SabrinaX however, I estimate the actual in-room value rather lower as judged against the extra turns of my wireless MTX preamp's volume control for equivalent SPL.

¹ There's also serious divergence in that this planar has no flexible suspension of surround/spider to involve stretching its fixed film membrane like a drum skin rather than approaching pistonic behaviour; applies zigzag voice coil traces directly to the transducer rather than as windings on a former which attaches at a 90° angle to a cone or dome; requires very different magnet geometry; and in today's dipole mode involves effective cancellation of sidewall reflections due to the so-called 'figure 8' dispersion pattern. Ed

The non-slip terminals from Propeller Post are made of gold-plated pure copper.

Before we maneuver the Airtech ATS01 into the listening room, a few advance notes. Magnetostats often work as open-backed dipoles whose rear emissions are 180° out of phase with the frontal direct sound. Speakers with rear-firing in-phase tweeters like Nubert's nuPyramide 717 are called (partial) bipoles.