Atoll IN200SE Integrated Amplifier


Review - Atoll IN200se Integated Amplifier – Bigger is not always better.

Ok - so I have finally reached audio nirvana in a small box. A little over a year ago I had a chance to listen to a compact sized integrated amplifier. The Atoll IN200SE.

Background: Over the years I have made several good friends in the audio business. It is through one of those friends that I had a chance to listen to some Atoll gear. From time to time he asks me to live with, break-in and give him my feedback on different products. (Who would turn down this request?) I think sometimes he wants a second set of ears or maybe he’s just got audio overload.

This time it was a product from Atoll. Who? I new nothing about them. Specifically, the IN200SE integrated amplifier.

The ONLY downside to having gear to audition no strings attached is that you have to actually pull apart your existing audio rack to change out equipment, cables, etc. I must admit, in my living room, my homemade audio rack was a giant mess. My wife loves to share her opinion; “why do you need all this stuff just to listen to music...”


Living room system:

Speakers: Dynaudio Confidence C1 II

Preamps: Eastern Electric Avant (Tubes), sometimes Odyssey Audio Tempest Extreme (SS)

Amps: 2 giant mono block amps (not going to mention manufacturer cause I love the product, know some people that work there, but they are really large... ~ 200w each, freaky huge power reserves, now sold – cost ~ 35% more than the IN200SE and a great value)

Turntable: Rega Planar 25 w/Van Den Hul “Frog” cartridge

Phono Pre: Eastern Electric Mini-max

DAC: Schiit Audio Modi Multibit (amazing DAC for the price – not just for the head phone crowd)

Dish Box and an old CD player that never gets used.


The IN200 is only 4 inches high, but I had no room for it in my audio rack. So I pulled out a preamp and in went the IN200. Then I decided, what the heck, pull everything out for a good cleaning. Anyway, I fired up the IN200 and sat down for a quick listen. Nice. I really wasn’t expecting too much, I have been happy with my system for some time. My Dynaudio C1s need high quality, clean power to really shine. My amps drive them effortlessly. Though my rack now looked nice and had a lot of room, the IN200 was just so puny compared to the stack of stuff it had replaced. So connections are all good, I left to do some other things.

A few hours later, armed with a cocktail, I sat down for a listen. My first thought was Wow, this thing has promise!” Wow. Very, very good right out of the box. Time to learn about what I was listening to.

From the web:

A true dual mono design with two large torodial transformers that provide power, control and an effortless dynamic presentation. The impressive topology delivers a healthy 200 X 2 watts in 4 ohms with power to spare; transient peaks of 300 watts per channel !

The top level discrete components offer a clean and very detailed presentation with a large soundstage and pinpoint imaging. The IN 200 is designed to be without equal not only in quality, power and performance but in elegant design.

Featuring the flexibility of 5 analog inputs, a separate Home Theater bypass and two sets of analog preamp outputs make the IN 200SE easily expandable and scalable.

Adding an amplifier like the highly respected AM 200 can make bi-amping or tri amping easy while still maintaining an aesthetically pleasing and balanced package.

Retail price: $2500.


That explained some of what I was hearing. Two discrete amp sections. Plus a decent amount of power. Maybe not mono block reserve power, but quite a bit for the size (only 4 inches high). I spent several hours listening that night. One of those pieces of gear that just make you want to re-visit your favorites. Lots of smiles of appreciation to go with the cocktails.

I popped the top off the IN200. It does appear to be 2 totally separate/discrete amp sections. I tried to post a pic here, but can’t figure out how to do it (seriously Audiogon?)

Break-in notes:

Over the next several days me and the IN200 became good buds. Seriously good piece of equipment. In some ways, absolutely crazy, are you kidding me!!!, freaking good. The IN200SE is just plain fun to listen to. Sound stage not as wide as with my EE Avant tube preamp, but the string instrument and vocal transients were just getting better and better with every listen.

On the downside, something was not quite right with the bass. I was expecting the low end to be there but take a while to firm up, tighten up, feel fast, etc.. With the IN200, I had a sense that the lower end just wasn’t complete. Not exactly right, maybe Atoll chose to skimp on the lower end to be able to focus on mid range and highs?

BTW, mids and highs were coming together brilliantly. For a new piece of gear, pianos were tight – my go to for evaluation. When piano tracks sound right, you are on a roll. (Wife plays piano, have a baby grand in the same room.) And holy shit, piano is really good on the IN200. Perahia, Barenboim, Lyle Mays, pretty close to jaw dropping. Certainly in the category of sounds freaking good. Horns? The timing is really good. Coltrane’s My Favorite Things – spot on. Sound stage and spacing are very good. On the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s ’Take Five’, drums and sax are exactly where they should be, and the transient edges – spectacular. The decay of notes natural and the extension breathtaking. Seriously shocked at a box a few days old at this price point. Also, the IN200 is really good at low volume! Way better than my Mono/Avant system.

It took a couple of weeks, then my concerns disappeared. Like a long forgotten friend, the IN200s picked up the phone and put a smile on my face. I was streaming some Rush and realized, wow, the envelop is no longer missing anything. Everything is tight, accurate, VERY fast, no bloat whatsoever. (Sounds kind of like a good woman... political correctness – bite me). I am on the bandwagon. I’ve listened to 2 channel integrated amps from Anthem, NAD, Arcam, McIntosh (sp?), Bryston, Simaudio and probably a few others. Great sounding? Yes. I have never wanted to buy one until now. The IN200 is better than any integrated I have heard under $5,000. The low end is tight, transparent and fast. Very revealing about what is in the music rather than trying to overwhelm. I must admit, this improvement kind of snuck up on me. Very musical, refined, harmonics just as they should be. While I not have done a side by side with my mono blocks, I think the IN200 is overall more revealing. It has a surprisingly quiet amp section. Went back and listened to some of my favorites. Best of The String Cheese Incident, Alanis Morrisette Jagged Little Pill acoustic version, to name two. Wow. I spent a good part of the next weekend going through my music collection.

Friends/family have asked me why I spend so much money to get a little more detail from music. My answer – it’s not just detail. It’s how the detail comes across, how it leaves. How it flows through senses. How you begin to feel the music in a similar sense to viewing northern light colors flowing on a night sky. Walls disappear. If a piece of equipment does not impact my senses, it does not stick around long.

I have no doubt that the IN200 would shine in an audio friendly room. My living room is kind of an audio challenge. 23Ft x 15ft. Hardwood floors with throw rugs. 8 Ft ceilings. Audio equipment on a long wall due to doors, etc.. The IN200 is well suited for use in an audio challenged room. Being very quiet, it excels at digging deep into the music, revealing and engaging without needing to reach for the volume button. The IN200 and Dyn C1s are really good together. With my Dyn C1s, the IN200 leans maybe a little toward the mids/highs, which I like.



Ok, what don’t I like about the IN200SE? Some of my gripes are probably why Atoll can sell the IN200SE for $2500:

Crappy feet, crappy power cord.

Remote is fairly cheap feeling.

Only RCA connections. Not an issue for me but worth a mention.



What do I like about the IN200SE?

Amp section is outstanding. Really, really fun to listen to.

Mid and Highs are scary good, low end is very tight and fast.

Transients and harmonics better than ANYTHING I have heard in this price range.

Headphone jack

Runs cool

Really quiet

Awesome at all volume levels – low level detail is outstanding.

Volume very adjustable. While it may take a while to get from quiet to loud, ability to fine tune volume appreciated.

Size – 4 inches high piece of gear that continues to make me smile.

Besides the feet, build quality is excellent.


Synergy. Add a preamp, don’t add a preamp. The amp section in this thing is alone worth $2500++ IMHO. I tried using my 2 preamps through the IN200’s By-Pass mode. Dead quiet. Which means it would integrate nicely into an existing HT system. For fun, I dropped it into my HT system which is is a much larger but audio friendly room. It drove my Dynaudio T2.5 floorstanders to way past concert levels without breaking a sweat.

After living with the Atoll IN200SE for about three weeks, I decided to buy one. I loved the price/performance, but Atoll has a big following in Europe, not so much in the US. I am fortunate to have the means to have some nice gear. However, $2500 is a lot of money. After weighing the risks of possibly having to deal overseas with any problems and not seeing a big re-sale market, I pulled the trigger and am glad that I did. Still makes me smile and my wife is happy with less clutter in my audio rack (although I have kind of filled up that free space with albums, lol).

Fully broken in, the IN200SE is IMHO, an incredible value. A year later, I’m still impressed. A purchase I would gladly do again.

So now I have broken in two IN200s. Same initial concern on the lower end for the first few weeks. Then after that – big time audio nirvana – in a small package. If you get a chance to listen to the IN200SE, make sure its fully broken in. In my opinion, stellar value and performance.

Most of my casual listening is done from vinyl or streamed from Tidal to a Google Chromecast then adapted to the digital input on my DAC.

From my notes - Recordings/Artists that made me smile and decide to buy the IN200SE:

Alanis Morrisette Jagged Little Pill – Acoustic, Sara Bareilles – Live at the Variety Playhouse, Allison Cross and Union Station – Live, Grateful Dead – Reckoning album, Chris Botti in Boston – When I Fall in Love (lots of stuff going on), Santana - Amigos

Pearl Jam, Nancy Wilson,, Coltrane, Miles Davis,, String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic, Aaron Watson, Susan Tedeshi / Trucks Band, Pat Metheny, Natalie Merchant, Rolling Stones, Brothers Osborne, Joan Armitrading, Katie Melua, Led Zepplin, Yes.

I’m a mid 50’s dude who has always liked to listen to music. I don’t write many reviews, only when I think value maybe has gone unnoticed. If the IN200 cost $6,000, I wouldn’t have bought it. But it doesn’t. Hope this helps anyone considering an IN200SE, an integrated amplifier, or is preparing a short list regarding what to go listen to. Thanks for reading.


Don


I also spent some time with the Atoll AV500. Great little AV 5 channel amp that is sweet for music as well.

Also, the PR300SE and AM200SE separate pre-amp and amp respectively. Fantastic combination. Slightly better in some ways than the IN200SE. I don’t remember what these cost, but for me personally, the performance and value of the IN200SE made it a no brainer.

My rack is still cable/wire challenged... but love the small footprint and performance of the Atoll IN200SE.


musky_don
Awesome write up. I was attending a trade show in St Louis this week, had a few hours to kill and dropped by “music for pleasure” a nice shop with some very nice Boulder, Dynaudio, Naim and Atoll and lots of additional stuff. I spent a few hours there listening to the 6/7 rooms they had nicely setup and fell in love with the Atoll AM400 amp. I was not really in the market, but I got hooked with this gem. Bought it and my Focal 1037 be’s are excited for it to arrive here in SC for my listening pleasure. 
The atoll build construction is first rate. I will break it in and then post a much more detailed report. There seems to be very little review info on the Atoll stuff available. 
Hi Don, which brand of power cord cable and interconnects should I use with atoll in200? I needed to upgrade mine which currently I'm using AQ sidewinder interconnects, stock power cord and AQ type 4 speaker cable (Dynaudio Special Forty). Your suggestion greatly appreciated, thanks
Thanks for your detailed review. There are FA reviews on the interweb .. maybe a ton in Francais, but there we go. 
I'm driving over to northern France from UK soon, so plan to buy this amp-  maybe even from factory(if its possible), which is not far from Rouen. 
I agree wholeheartedly with the review! I'm in Denver,CO and have an Atoll dealer who is also the only Dynaudio dealer in Colorado. Since I have the Dynaudio Excite X36's I thought I would give it a listen. Every bit surprised that I had to start doing more research on the IN200. 
I bought one used ( IN200SE) that had upgraded caps to Nichicon Gold Tune and boy is it silky smooth! Compare to the Mundorf caps in the new IN200, The Nichicons are amazingly musical. Low level detail is truly amazing. Fuses were upgraded to Audio link.
My setup:
PS audio Plus power cable.
Audioquest Silver Extreme Interconnects.
Kimber AGDL silver digital coax out from OPPO BDP 103D to Schiit Bifrost DAC.
8 Guage custom Silver plated speaker cables. 
I've never heard my speakers sound/or disappear so well! 
The soundstage is massive, depth and width. 
I changed out the speaker cables the other day for Audioquest type 6 and an optical digital cable and the soundstage completely collapsed....
Quickly reverted back to the original setup, voila! audio bliss!This Integrated punches well above it's price point in stock form and with the Nichicon caps..... Sublime!
It's very sensitive to cables for sure!
Happy listening!
Thanks to all who posted, and for the OP's great review. I'm also in Denver.

Mauger, may I ask what you compared the Atoll with? There are several brands that have caught my eye (PS Audio, Parasound, Schiit) but I'm still figuring out whether to go tubes or not.

My price point for the units is probably a bit lower than what you're used to -- I want to cap my integrated at $2500 at the most for now. The rest of my system is still pretty tame/small. Thanks for any thoughts you have. 

Dave (hilde45)
Dave (hilde45),
I compared the Atoll to DK design integrated, Hafler 9290 amp with yamaha preamp, and a friends NAD (not sure the series..) and when I heard the Atoll initially driving dynaudio speakers, I was blown away. I decided to go with the Atoll. 
I saw a great deal on a Parasound Halo Integrated and bought it by accident(that's what my wife knows..). I figured that's the best way to really compare 2 powerful integrated. The Atoll with the schiit bifrost non multibit was outstanding at lower levels and low level details. Silky smooth in all areas. Would get a little "shouty" when turned up to 12 O'clock. I could have lived with that Atoll for a long time had the Halo Integrated not popped up on eBay. 
The parasound halo integrated only beat the Atoll by a short bit. The halo I feel has more punch and depth within the soundstage. Better instrument placement. So I decided to keep the Halo Integrated. I sold the Atoll and kick myself now and again thinking about how great it was. If given the opportunity, I would probably buy the Atoll again, however, I would prefer the Atoll IN300. Output at 260wpc at 4ohms. 
My friend is currently using a Primaluna dialogue premium that is absolutely fantastic. Component matching is critical in any system and he's using the schiit bifrost with stunning results. 3D imaging. 
I can say that the reason I went with the Halo was because I wanted to downsize a little and use it's onboard Dac. It's not very good. Very edgy and harsh, at least on my Dynaudio excite x36's. I find the best sound in my system right now is the Halo with a California Audio Labs Sigma 2 24/96 using a blue sound node 2i. The lower level dynamics are nowhere near as good as the Atoll, but it gets up and rocks with punchy bass and great dynamics.
Hopefully the helps. 
-Chris
hilde45,
The cal sigma 2 dac is tubed. 
@mauger2069 and all, Just coming back to this thread because I'm going to listen tomorrow to the Atolls as well as some Quicksilver gear. (Both at Crescendo Audio in Wheatridge, CO.) I had a listen to the Parasound pre/amp (P6, A23+) but with different speakers (Spendors) at another shop. It is very hard to make determinations when speakers are also changed. So, right now, I'm reading reviews of Atoll and will go do some comparisons with the Dynaudio Evoke 10's as a constant in the equation. If I still have the Parasound in mind after listening to the Atoll and QS, I will seek to bring one of them (Atoll or QS) home and also bring the Parasound home. (A lot on my credit card, but something will go back!) I'm also interested in the PS Audio separates (Stellar GCD and S300).

I like the idea of keeping DAC's separate. I've gotten some recommendations on DAC's at a reasonable price from an audiophile friend who knows I want to operate at a more modest pricepoint for DAC's. He suggested these options:

G-D Audio (his preferred)
Denafrips (highly recommended)
M2Tech
Soekris
Metrum Acustics
Schiit
iFi
MDHT




Thanks for the review. Very fun to read and very detailed. I’ve always been curious for Atoll but unfortunately the dealers are too far away for me.
Just to chime in -- after months of deciding, I got some tube amps -- Quicksilver Mono 60s and their linestage. Love them. But I still had a hankering for a SS amp.

After looking for a while, I found someone selling an Atoll INT200 here in town, used, for $1100. I picked it up and it has both a pre-out (in case you want a different amp) and and a bypass (in case you want to use the Atoll as the amp only). With it's hefty dual mono power units, it's a great solution for me right now to run with my tube preamp. Plus, if I ever want to, it's a stand alone integrated. 

So -- thanks again for this review. It helped me before and then, months later. Rock on!

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@mauger2069, I bought the Atoll from you and really enjoying it a lot. Not sure really how much more you need to spend to get better performance? It is way more than good sounding integrated amp. Those French know a thing or 2 about wine, cheese, fashion and hi end audio!