Review: Atoll SDA 200 Signature DAC Amplifier- Stéphane and Emmanuel Dubreuil had a good reason to found the French Atoll Electronique in 1997. The two brothers from Normandy wanted to fill a gap in the market and offer reasonably priced high-end audio for price-conscious audiophiles. They got the name of their company from the ring-shaped islands in the Maldives, called atolls, which are particularly popular with surfers and divers. You will find those round shapes in the design of all their designs. Elegant and original, immediately recognizable.
It’s not the first time I’ve been confronted with an Atoll. The Atoll CD Drive DR200 Signature, the Atoll ST200 Signature preamp/network player/DAC and the Atoll DAC 300 D/A converter were previously reviewed. And that to great satisfaction. And let it be exactly that ST200 Signature preamp/network player/DAC that Atoll has housed together with the Atoll IN200 Signature integrated amplifier in one device: the Atoll SDA 200 Signature.
Atoll SDA 200 Signature
The SDA 200 consists of a preamp section with discrete components in pure class A and a power amplifier section. Two powerful toroidal transformers provide a separate power supply for the analog and digital parts of the SDA 200 so that the two circuits do not influence each other. With its power of 2 x 120 Watts into 8 Ohms or 2 x 200 Watts into 4 Ohms, the SDA 200 is powerful enough to drive demanding speakers. Nevertheless, thanks to the pre-out, it can easily be connected to a power amp such as the Atoll AM200se. For the DAC part, Atoll uses the renowned Burr-Brown PCM1792 chip from Texas Instruments. The SDA 200 is also a DLNA and UPnP compatible network player and streamer. It not only streams all audio files from your network, but also supports most streaming services such as Spotify, Qobuz, Tidal and Deezer. And it can also stream music from a smartphone, tablet or PC via the built-in Bluetooth. The SDA 200 Signature reads a variety of files such as DSF, LPCM, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, WMA, OGG, WAV, AAC and MP3. It supports PCM resolutions up to 24-bit/192 kHz and DSD 64 and 128. The files are played in gapless mode, which ensures continuous playback without any loading time between titles. A very handy function, especially for live albums. The SDA 200’s Airable System provides access to over 100,000 radio stations and podcasts around the world.
Looks of Atoll SDA 200 Signature
The beautiful, rounded aluminum front of the Atoll SDA 200 Signature with the distinctive milled ‘wave’ running from left to right, is dominated by a large and clear LCD display that not only shows the characteristics of the tracks being played but also the album cover shows. To the left of the non-touch screen display, there is a large rotary knob to scroll through the menu of the SDA 200. To the right of the display, a second large rotary knob serves as a volume control and on/off switch. The SDA 200 Signature looks modern and stylish and is instantly recognizable as an Atoll. At 440 x 320 x 90 mm, it meets the usual dimensions for hi-fi devices. But when you lift Atoll out of the box, you notice that it is built quite robustly with its 11 kg dry on the hook. The finish quality is impeccable. The SDA 200 is available in silver and black. With the handy supplied remote control you can operate multiple Atolls such as a streamer or CD player.
In & out
The SDA 200 Signature has a respectable number of inputs and outputs. In addition to two analog inputs, it has two S/PDIF coaxial (PCM 24bits/192kHz), two S/PDIF optical Toslink (PCM 24bits/192kHz) inputs and two USB-A ports, one on the back and one on the front wherever you are. the headphone output. Of course there is also the input for a network cable and two antennas for the bluetooth module. The decent RCA outputs for the speakers are positioned on the far left and right of the SDA 200. In between are a pre-out, an SPDIF coaxial, an S/PDIF optical Toslink output and a 12V output trigger.
The Atoll isn’t Roon-ready, but that doesn’t really spoil the fun. Via the Atoll app you have direct access to Qobuz, Tidal and Deezer and via the display of the Atoll and the supplied remote control you also get on your way to browse through your music library. Installation and configuration is a piece of cake. The SDA 200 starts up immediately as soon as the network cable is connected.
Atoll SDA 200 Signature – The set
For the test, I let the Atoll SDA 200 Signature control a set of Sonus faber speakers. The Atoll CD Drive DR200 Signature, the CD drive of the house, is of course also present. The cabling is from AudioQuest.
Jazz at the Pawnclub
The Atoll SDA 200 Signature has a warm and pleasant character. He undoubtedly owes this to the high-end transistors and capacitors that he has on board. This is immediately noticeable when listening to the album ‘Jazz at the Pawnshop’ by Arne Domnérus. The SDA 200 manages to evoke the cozy atmosphere of the jazz club in the living room and outlines a spacious stage on which the musicians are given the necessary space to do their thing.
Barbara Pravi, the amiable Frenchwoman who unfortunately did not win the Eurovision Song Contest, has a moving but powerful voice. Pravi’s crystal-clear voice, richly topped with an Edith Piaf sauce, pops out of the speakers. Here you would expect sharp edges, but they do not appear. What you hear is the rich detail with which the Atoll reflects Pravi’s achievement. Voilà is a beautiful song, the SDA 200 feels at home with it.
With On your mind from Kaskade, the low end of the SDA 200 is tested to the limit. The American DJ and producer pumps the deepest possible bass into the listening room, but the Atoll does not flinch. He knows how to master the almost excessive electronic violence. Turn the volume knob up sharply, but first warn the neighbors. You no longer imagine yourself in a jazz club but in a disco.
Blue Coast Collection – The ESE Sessions
It would obviously be a shame not to connect the Atoll SDA 200 Signature to the SDA 200. Bitches who claim that the CD is finished, just have to listen to this combination. Engineered by the French legend Jean Claude Reynaud of JMR Audio, the disc is a textbook example for analyzing the acoustic properties of a set. The definition of the SDA 200 is nothing short of stunning. This is pure enjoyment.
Conclusion – Atoll SDA 200 Signature
With the Atoll SDA 200 Signature, Atoll has brought together the very best components from its own house in a special all-in-one. The result of a well thought-out and careful combination of high-quality components. The SDA 200 excels not only in the technical field and ease of use, but also – and perhaps especially – in the musical field. This Atoll is a suitable partner for all-in-one enthusiasts who still require excellent sound quality. With the SDA 200 Signature, the Dubreuil brothers have succeeded very well in offering a ‘reasonably priced high-end all-in-one for budget-conscious audiophiles’. Atoll has once again pleasantly surprised me.