- Manufacturer & Model
- Atlantic Technology Gatecrasher 1
Impressive build quality and unique physical design, simple onboard and app-based controls, broad connectivity and whole-home capabilities, impressive bass output.
Gatecrasher 1 is Atlantic Technology's first wireless speaker offering. It sports a stereo array of drivers paired with a single woofer/passive radiator, possessing impressive bass performance. Endowed with broad streaming capabilities and whole-home connectivity, the speaker has lots of user-friendly touches. Overall sound output is north of neutral, which should appeal to music lovers that want a brighter sound.
The wireless audio segment is littered with hundreds – seemingly thousands – of models, ranging from inexpensive miniature Bluetooth speakers to exotic whole-home systems that reap the benefits of app-based control and Wi-Fi connectivity. With lots of quality options hovering in the $100-$200 range, you might be surprised to know the herd is nearly as healthy as you approach the $500 price point, which is where today’s featured review product resides. Atlantic Technology’s Gatecrasher 1 ($499 MSRP) keeps company with higher-end offerings from the likes of JBL, Klipsch, Yamaha, Bose, and NAD, standing as an intriguing break from more commonly found systems and models.
Gatecrasher 1 is Atlantic Technology’s first foray into the smart speaker market. Originally introduced during June 2018 and launched later in the fall, the Massachusetts-based company used its new Wi-Fi speaker to spearhead a prodigious new product offensive. That offensive was spun into full motion with a massive CEDIA 2018 presence featuring Gatecrasher 1 and 13 other new models, including a range of SKAA enabled wireless audio products and more traditional non-wireless speaker and subwoofer designs.
Earlier this year, Atlantic Technology was kind enough to furnish AV NIRVANA with two Gatecrasher 1 units – one finished in Gloss Black and the other adorn in an elegant wood grain Gloss Makassar Ebony – allowing for a complete evaluation of the speaker’s standalone and whole-home capabilities. I’ve had the speakers up and running for a handful of months, and have quite a bit to share. So, without further ado, let’s dive deep into the world of wireless audio and take a closer look at Gatecrasher 1’s technologies and real-world performance.
Gatecrasher 1 is crafted to be more than just a convenient wireless speaker. It is, in fact, a self-contained compact stereo system housed in a high-quality cabinet. Design-wise it carries a traditional array of drivers positioned across the face of the speaker, where left and right channel tweeter/midrange pairings flank a centrally mounted bass driver.
While removing the speaker’s front-mounted grille isn’t suggested, I did manage to get a look behind the curtain, and my eyes weren’t disappointed. As you can see in photos (above/below), signs of quality craftsmanship are readily apparent, with hard-anodized aluminum dome tweeters positioned proudly over polymer-coated paper cone midrange drivers. The channel-shared bass driver, which is complemented by a bottom-mounted passive radiator, features an injection-molded co-polymer cone, rubber surround, and a ferrite magnet with an extended center pole for improved linearity when driven hard. And, according to Atlantic Technology, the down-firing radiator also carries noteworthy design attributes, which the company says includes “a complementary symmetry dual surround, with pressure relief venting of the inner surround to reduce non-linear rocking of the radiator and improve its effectiveness.”
The rest of the speaker’s exterior is also impressive, punctuated by a beefy MDF cabinet that feels robust in the hands. It's strong, presenting a weighty brick-like nature that confidently absorbs a swift knuckle-wrap, especially when resting on its machined metal isolation feet. Both available custom finishes exude an appealing wetness and sheen as they wrap from the top side, down the back, through to the bottom of the speaker. And the wraparound metal mesh grille is both rugged and fitted for a clean look. As a whole, the speaker is an attractive package loaded with fine physical details – definitely one that can be proudly displayed in high-traffic areas of a home.
Sized at a manageable 12.4” wide x 6.5” deep x 5.7” high (12.4 lbs), Gatecrasher 1 has a rounded front side that fans away from the middle of the cabinet. While its footprint is significantly wider than space-conscious Wi-Fi speaker options, it isn’t ungainly or intrusive. In fact, I found its low profile height pleasing to the eye on flat surfaces (such as a countertop) while also allowing it to fit on shelves with limited height.
The speaker’s only physical drawback is a rather ungainly external power supply adapter (1.25” x 4” x 2”) that resides between two power cables, one of which has a rigid connector that adds another inch to the adapter’s 4” length. While fully recognizing that most owners will simply hide the adapter behind the speaker or inside a cabinet, this isn’t always possible if space is compromised. Thus, the adapter is something buyers should consider before purchasing.
Control-wise, Gatecrasher 1’s top-side houses a back-lit rubberized control panel seated within a brushed metal inlay. Here, owners can quickly access one of three preset favorites, initiate Bluetooth, toggle sound modes between "Stereo" and “Wide," adjust volume, and control playback. The inlay extends down the back of the speaker, where a unit reset, stereo/left/right toggle switch, and an auto-sensing 3.5mm AUX jack reside.
Unboxing and Set Up
Gatecrasher 1 ships in standard packaging – nothing too exotic. Our review units arrived double boxed, internally wrapped in a black cloth sack and cocooned by form-fitting foam. Included is a buffing cloth, the aforementioned power adapter, a mini-stereo connection cable, and physical user and quick start guides, all of which are packaged in a separate internal box.
Setting up the speaker involves a handful of steps beginning with downloading Atlantic Technology’s free Gatecrasher app (iOS/Android), a process that’s expedited by QR codes conveniently printed on the front of the quick start guide. Once downloaded, simply power on the speaker and follow app instructions for linking the speaker to a home network, creating a custom speaker name, and assigning the speaker to a group. The entire process is fast, straightforward, and in line with home integration procedures associated with other popular connected devices. Factory reset procedures are also simple, allowing owners to have a speaker quickly up and running following changes to a home Wi-Fi network.
You can watch Gatecrasher 1 get unboxed in the video below.
This review used version 1.1(6) of the Gatecrasher app, which is important to note because the app has undergone quite a few revisions over the last eight months. Based on a discussion with a member of Gatecrasher’s design team, the company is actively addressing minor bugs and developing further improvements. So, I feel confident that good things are in store for owners in the months ahead.
The app, itself, is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to streamlined performance. As briefed above, it provides an excellent framework for set up in addition to managing playback. It’s also exceedingly easy to integrate various music service accounts such as TIDAL, Qobuz, and Spotify, while also setting presets that can be accessed from the top of the speaker (three) or within the app itself (ten). Those are all noteworthy positives. The app also gives owners access to speaker-specific equalizer controls for both Bass and Treble, in addition to setting streaming audio quality (options include Low, Normal, and High).
In those regards, the Gatecrasher app is slick, modern, and user-friendly.
The app also makes switching between sources quick and painless. Sources are listed under a tab, presenting options ranging from Internet Radio to streaming services (TIDAL, Qobuz, Deezer, and Spotify), shared media, music stored on a device, Bluetooth, and the backside 3.5mm input.
The app’s integration with TIDAL, Qobuz, and Internet Radio can use some polish, however, as searching for music or browsing through favorites and playlists introduces pauses that are slightly atypical. These delays are typically several seconds long, accounting for my “mixed bag” assessment. This is not the case for Spotify since it's controlled by the Spotify app. Hopefully, future firmware updates will address these delays and make searching and selecting an instantaneous experience.
Beyond the app, Gatecrasher can also be voice controlled via Amazon Alexa or Google Home (not tested for this review). In fact, Atlantic Technology is currently running a promotion that includes a free Amazon Echo Dot with the purchase of any Gatecrasher 1 speaker.
Playback and Sound
Before we jump into the sound department, let’s talk whole-home integration. Gatecrasher 1 is designed to perform as a standalone speaker or as part of a group of speakers spread around the home. Owners can even create a stereo pair out of two Gatecrasher units, assigning one to be a left channel and the other to be the right.
The left/right stereo pair option is actually quite intriguing and proved its worth while listening to noteworthy tracks such as David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” which presents distinct channel separation. I can certainly see a scenario where an owner deploys a stereo configuration on a small console or shelving unit (perfect for apartment dwellers!), reserving the ability to separate the speakers into different rooms for parties or social gatherings.
Gatecrasher also proved to be a very competent whole-home speaker. You can, in fact, lump multiple speakers into groups, select which speakers you’d like to play within a group, or operate the speakers individually. The process of selecting speakers and controlling playback is smooth and straightforward. It’s a nice feature that makes Gatecrasher competitive with other whole-home models.
Informal in-room measurement of Gatecrasher 1's output, Bass EQ settings maximized.
In terms of output, Atlantic Technology claims Gatecrasher 1 is capable of playback down to 45 Hz. For purposes of discussion, I recruited Room EQ Wizard, a UMIK-1 microphone, and the speaker’s AUX jack to get a visual of in-room output. While standing as an informal measurement subject to the influence of my home office’s particular environment, results show the speaker is more than capable of bass down to the 45 Hz range. During measurements, I had the speaker’s Bass Equalizer maximized (which is how I ran the speaker for the duration of my review). Of course, audible impressions are undoubtedly important, and Gatecrasher 1 certainly delivers noticeable depth and warmth when it comes to the low-end.
Overall, Gatecrasher’s sound lands on the brighter end of the spectrum. While I wouldn’t label the speaker as bright, its out-of-the-box sound presentation carries a certain sharpness that fans of brighter speakers will appreciate. Of course, owners can attenuate high-frequency playback using the app’s treble control.
My listening tests found Gatecrasher sounded best when not used as a near-field speaker. By that, I mean: scenarios such as placing the speaker on a desk and sitting within 2- to 3-feet. The speaker’s sound and unique character really shine when the speaker is placed in a room and enjoyed at slightly further distances.
Over the past several months, I’ve pushed hours upon hours of music through the speakers, impressed with their ability to confidently handle aggressive bass-heavy tracks such as Whethan’s “Good Nights” and Jon Bellion’s “80s Films.” Gatecrasher’s nuanced low-end capabilities deliver excellent character, revealing detail I’m familiar hearing on reference-quality systems. As mentioned, the top-end is exacting, making the speaker super-friendly for playback of pop and rock favorites.
Gatecrasher carries two playback modes (Stereo and Wide) selected via the top-side controls. Initiating Wide mode disperses mid- and high-frequency content, creating a cloud of sound that effortlessly hovers over and around the speaker, expanding upon the Stereo mode's more narrow presence. It’s a rather neat effect that invokes the experience of listening to a dialed-in 2-channel system while making playback sound a tad bit lighter and less bass-heavy. The standard Stereo mode is no slouch either, ultimately proving to be my preferred way to listen to music as it delivers a more natural-sounding experience.
Volume-wise, playback can be taken to levels easily approaching 90dB + (measured at 6 feet from the speaker) without any breakup or audible distortion. That’s quite impressive for a speaker of its size. The speaker can be pushed beyond that level, but most music sounds best just shy of maximum volume levels. I found the speaker’s onboard 65 watt Class D amplifier was perfectly happy delivering music sourced via music services or through Bluetooth (4.0 with aptX). And onboard support for a range of file types (mp3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, ALAC, and WAV) gives owners guaranteed access to ultra clean and detailed music.
Gatecrasher 1 stands as one of the wireless segment’s newer and lesser-known whole-home speakers, making it a unique option in the $500 and under price range. It presents well, sporting quality build characteristics and a super attractive external finish. And it carries all the necessary technologies to allow for a modern wireless whole-home system. My experience with the speaker has been overwhelmingly positive, with the exception of some in-app search delays. That’s correctable though, and most likely will be addressed with future firmware updates.
Anyone on the hunt for an attractive good sounding wireless speaker system should have Gatecrasher 1 on their radar, especially if they want gear that's flexible and capable of playing a more traditional stereo role. It's a solid first entry by Atlantic Technology.
Click below to watch a full video review:
Atlantic Technology Gatecrasher 1 Specifications
- Free Gatecrasher iOS & Android app for convenient system control
- vTuner Internet Radio (20,000+ free stations and Podcasts from around the world)
- Multi-room and stereo paired capable
- Bluetooth 4.0 A2DP with aptX audio
- Spotify Connect, Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz
- DLNA Version 1.5: Dual-band (5Ghz/2.4Ghz) Wi-Fi 802.11 ac stream music from your PC/Mac or NAS
- Gatecrasher Music player app allowing easy navigation and playback from a network-share library
- Auto sensing Aux input to seamlessly integrate TV or smart voice devices from Amazon Alexa or Google Home
- Supported Formats: mp3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, ALAC, WAV
- Class D digital amplifier: 65 watts total RMS system power
- Frequency Response : 45 Hz to 20 kHz
- Custom digital signal processing and automatic software updates over Wi-Fi
- Wide” sound mode increases apparent spatial stereo separation
- 2.1 speaker system featuring two 2.5-inch woofers, two .75-inch soft dome tweeters, one 4-inch Subwoofer and one 5-inch auxiliary bass radiator
- Includes one 42-inch/ 106 mm 3.5mm to 3.5mm stereo mini-plug cable
- 12.4-inches W x 6.5-inches D x 5.7-inches H
- 12.4 lbs