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A New Canadian Loudspeaker Designed With Passion For Music
As I walked the halls at last year’s TAVE (Toronto’s audio show), one of the better sounds I encountered was in the Reev Design room, where a Bryston integrated amp drove a pair of large bookshelf loudspeakers called Aatma. The backup components were a CD player and a turntable. I asked for a short audition and really liked what I heard, spoke with the designer — a gentleman named Jugveer Randhawa — and asked if he was interested hearing the speakers connected to high-end amps, including the big Bryston 7B SST Squared (monoblocks). Well he was, and a couple of months later he and the Aatma loudspeakers arrived.

I was told that the loudspeakers took over a couple of years to complete and that it was extremely difficult to find, match and implement a harmonious driver, crossover and enclosure design. After countless trials and thorough assessments JR settled for an unusually solid and handsome cabinet design, which holds a thoroughly customized driver and crossover arrangement.


These enclosures are unlike most conventional designs as, in addition to the six-sided norm, they sport “ribs” on their sides. These “ribs” are a very handsome element of the speakers’ appearance, but also act as external braces for the entire structure, thus greatly reducing vibrations caused by resonance (more about this in the technology section). The enclosures stand 254mm high, 227mm wide, 302mm deep and weigh in at a hefty 35 pounds each. Finished in cherry wood, the Aatmas appearance is rather striking and hints that they are not run of the mill.

The Sound
The loudspeakers sounded good to me at the TAVE (show) at Toronto where it was connected to a Bryston integrated amplifier. In my house, I had some pretty awesome electronics and — I assumed — they should sound even better. They did, and they did so with all system combinations, which included the Bryston 7B SST Squared monoblocks (700 watts/channel), The Allnic T-2000 tube amplifier (70 watts/channel) and the BelCanto monoblocks (at 200 watts/channel). And then, just in time, the Tenor 175 watts/channel hybrid stereo amplifier arrived.

All amplifiers were driven with the Allnic L-3000 preamplifier (thanks to Hammertone Audio’s loaner). The DAC, world clock and transport CD playback shall remain unnamed, as it served as a source component, not relevant to this review. A pair of my lead-filled speaker stands helped elevate the Aatmas 27 inches off the floor almost directly aiming at my listening chair.

I began my listening session with the Bryston monoblocks and Argentum cabling — and I instantly became drawn into the system and caught up in the music. A good thing! I used my regular auditioning material, which includes the best ever recorded Beethoven’s 5th with Fritz Reiner conducting the Chicago symphony on JVC….. This CD literally bombarded the Aatmas with the most demanding music — demanding for the whole system, of course. The third movement begins with a barely audible pianissimo segment, then gradually swells to piano, then forte´ ending with fortissimo with cellos and basses stage right, with the kitchen sink and all other instrumental activity clearly defined on a sound stage that accommodates about 50 musicians. In this system, the loudspeakers revealed, in addition to tonal subtleties, the instruments’ timbre, the musicians’ temperament, the powerful Bryston amps’ presence. I recognized the 7Bs sonic signature and noted the synergistic system complement that allowed a full-bodied presentation of a large orchestra without diminishing detail, space and harmonics. I detected the occasional high frequency “bite” at fortissimo passages with large-scale string arrangements and I also noticed the limitation of very deep bass, although bass energy to about 38, 39 Hz was admirably resolute. I changed cables from the lower-priced Argentum to the very high-end XLO Purple Reign and this changed the sonic makeup to richer, more potent harmonics, significantly smoother highs and mids as well as extension to the bass. The cable change improved the music’s essence/spirit, introduced what I’d call musical soul and augmented resolution at bottom frequencies. I swapped cables a few more times when I auditioned the system with some of my most challenging jazz and blues material and found that the system never missed important detail, always rendered well balanced tonal equilibrium, and recreated harmonic essentials that identified voices and instruments. Had I not listened to the XLOs in the system, I would have been quite happy with the Aatma’s performance, but with the expensive cables in the set-up, the musical presentation improved by about 20 to 30 percent — quite a lot considering the diminishing return factor of audio components.

Next up, I connected the Aatmas to the Allnic T-2000 amplifier/L-3000 preamplifier/Argetum cables system. The tubed T-2000 75 watts/channel easily drove the loudspeakers and —as expected — introduced a nice musical glow across the whole frequency spectrum. In this system combination, I really liked the speakers’ accomplishments with solo instrumentals featuring guitar, double bass, horn and percussion. Small ensembles such as trios, quartets up to ten-piece bands did especially well, while large orchestras, though musically pleasant, didn’t achieve the ultimate dynamic impact, in my opinion. However, tenors, sopranos — in fact all voices — sounded wonderfully melodious, with a touch of sweetness and refinement for which the Allnic T-2000 is certainly responsible (have a look at its review). Further listening tests with various piano recordings (a Yamaha, a Steinway, a Baldwin and a Boesendorfer) revealed that this system faithfully reproduced the instruments’ timbre and the necessary harmonics across the entire frequency range. Bass wasn’t quite as potent as with the Bryston amps, but midrange and high frequencies sounded superb. I changed cables (from the Argentums to the XLO) a couple of times and — again — noticed all-round improvements including bass resolution.

The BelCanto monoblocks/Allnic preamp was used for the next listening tests. The powerful switching amplifiers introduced a few unexpected elements, beginning with the most obvious — dynamic and dynamic range. The Aatmas sounded punchy with the music of large orchestras, but very much in accordance with the nature of the (musical) signal. The system also did a fine job handling the range of volume levels — from the softest to loudest — with the sort of realism, one can only find in great system combinations. Top frequencies were a bit harder sounding than with the other system combinations, but they were not dissonant or inharmonious. Midrange was clear, smoother than expected and utterly revealing midrange-based important detail. Bass, well, there it was lots of it, resolute with a firm grip on anything below 150Hz. What came to light is that the Aatmas will reproduce the electronics used to drive them. This system was a good matchup — and at a reasonable price.

I saved the best for last, not because I liked it the best, but because the Tenor Audio amplifier was delivered last. I didn’t fool around a lot, connected the amplifier with the XLO Purple Reign cables, fired up the system, sat back and listened and listened and listened . . .

The $55k Tenor amplifier transformed the $7K Aatmas to $17k worth of sound — rather stunning.
Two elements emerged: the Tenor provided the final answer to the question of compatibility and clearly showed the loudspeakers’ ability to reflect the quality of its back-up system. They will sound great many good amplifiers and they can and will reveal all tweaks or changes one makes to improve the sound of the system in which they are employed.

It would be easy to connect a pair of speakers to existing electronics, sit back and enjoy great music. However, great sound cannot be achieved by simply inserting a component into a system chain and hope to have a synergistic complement. It is for this reason that I like to use various amplifier/speaker combinations to determine compatibility and to “extract” the best possible end-result — the sonic precision and musical competence. The Reev Design speakers passed the tests with flying colours as they showed that their strength and/or their limitations are directly related to the strength and limitations of the electronics with which they are connected. They sound best on heavy speaker stands, about three or four feet from the rear wall, firing straight. Toeing in isn’t necessary to achieve a “sweet spot”, though this may be a personal preference. They set up a very realistic sound stage with plenty of space, focus on instruments and voices; and they have what it takes to disappear (sonically, of course) and allow listeners to enjoy a multi-dimensional, space/time correct musical event.

What we have here is a pair of fine loudspeakers that will convey quality and likely also potential weaknesses of the backup components. When all is right we can expect superb sound featuring the smoothest highs — sweet but not sugary — immaculate midrange — clear but not brazen — sufficient bass — a little shy of the ideal, but very firm; and all that with outstanding tonal equilibrium and correct musical poise. Poise you say? Well, I believe it is the exact word to describe its musical personality that can or should be defined as graceful, elegant, balanced and in control of the signal at all times. The Aatmas’ personality/sonic signature can be described as relatively neutral, for what they do best is getting out of the way in favour of the music. If you are in the market, have a listen to the Aatmas. The price is right and the performance is great — a spot on example of the proper ratio in the high-end high performance category. Dealers, consider adding these loudspeakers for your high-end customers. Audition them at American Sound. Great job JR.

Aatma Reev Designs

American Sound of Canada
Richmond Hill Ontario, L4C 6Z9

$7,000.00 / pair


The Aatma loudspeaker system is a 2-way bass reflex system consisting of a 5 inch woofer and a 1 inch tweeter. The drivers were carefully chosen and modified to specifications to harmonize with the all-round design. The woofer cone is made of a wood-pulp composite, while the tweeter is a dome type featuring a silk coating. RD states that they do their own modifications to the woofer motor structure to improve woofer-tweeter coherence, increase mid-range purity and increase dynamics in the bass spectrum. An OEM tweeter is employed with a resonance frequency of 680Hz — well below the operational frequency in this system.

The crossover is a hybrid design employing a 2nd/3rd order filter with film & foil capacitors and litz coils. It is assembled, connected and tested then potted in a resin to create a single component in order to prevent micro-phonics to enter the audible range, thereby deteriorating performance. The system has point-to-point wiring all the way to the external binding posts —and they are the premium kind, rhodium-plated from Cardas™. All this is housed in what I consider to be extraordinary enclosures that barely produce or spawn vibrations. RD calls the design the I.R.C.S. technology (Integrated Resonance Control System). It is an integrated arrangement of internal and external bracing that not only guarantees a firm cabinet surface, but also limits resonance in the crucial lower voice and bass region. The thickness of the baffle measures up to 38mm thick on the front and rear. These baffles are diffraction optimized to deliver accurate musical and spatial presentation. The rear-mounted port is made from machined aluminum to keep air velocity low and eliminate port contribution to the mid-range frequency also referred to as “tooting”. Internal damping is achieved through asymmetrical enclosure geometry as well as two types of damping material, one in the lower section immediately behind the woofer and one in the upper enclosure surrounding the port area.

The cabinet finish is the same as used in the high-end furniture manufacturing process. They are covered in Yorkite, which is a synthetic veneer to provide a protective layer to the underlying MDF — four coats of paint then buffed to a lustrous shine. The ribs are manufactured out of solid cherry wood that is cut from selected pieces for their grain pattern and set in a series to give an optimal visual appeal. They are lock mitered into the sidewalls to form an integrated system.
The specifications seem somewhat conservative with the frequency response cited from 56Hz to 22kHz with a -3dB point at 42Hz. (I think that at -3dB, the system will go down to about 38Hz or better0; efficiency is 86 dB (1w - 1M); nominal impedance is 8 ohms, minimum 4 ohms; crossover point is at 2.3 kHz.
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