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A visit to the Atoll Electronique factory

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique entréeAtoll Electronique is, unquestionably, one of France’s leading hi-fi manufacturers. Established in September 1997 by Stéphane and Emmanuel Dubreuil, the brand’s catalog includes a wide variety of hi-fi equipment designed to meet the needs of both seasoned and novice audiophiles. Awarded numerous times for the quality and musicality of its products, the brand has adopted a 100% Made in France philosophy since the beginning.

This year, Atoll Electronique is celebrating its 20th anniversary by inaugurating nearly 2,000 ft2 (over 600 m2) of additional space in its Normandy-based factory. For this special occasion, the Dubreuil brothers welcomed us to visit their headquarters. Here’s a recap of our visit to Brécey (Manche).

At Atoll Electronique, designing a new device begins with a long phase of research and development. This stage is overseen by Stéphane and Emmanuel Dubreuil with the assistance of two engineers. Computer-assisted circuit board design, microprocessor programming, computer-assisted chassis design and prototype measurements: each step of the development process happens at the factory. A significant amount of work which, on average, takes two years for each new device. However, for optimal results, this process can take even longer. Such is the case most notably for the Atoll 400 range (the brand’s very high-end range), which took nearly 5 years to develop.

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique R&D

The R&D department is equipped with a device used to measure intermodulation distortion (IMD).

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique R&DPrototypes may also be tested in real operating conditions in the factory’s new auditorium. Acoustic treatments and a pair of ppfff AVA floorstanding speakers ensure optimal listening conditions. Once a device’s final prototype is approved, the device is ready for production.

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique auditoriumThe Normandy-based brand has chosen to make its products in France, and most of its components are produced in the country (95%). This includes chassis made in Brittany, facades made in Lorraine and circuit boards printed in the Pays Basque.

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique

The Atoll IN200 integrated amplifier’s motherboard.

Every component can be easily traced back and quality is the result. In fact, Atoll’s devices are made-to-order. Assembly begins with welding components onto the motherboard. Straps, resistors, capacitors, transistors… all are welded into place by hand. Four circuit boards are processed at a time and each takes one hour to complete. During this stage, precision and attention to detail are crucial. Hand-assembly increases the lifespan of the soldering and maximizes the reliability of each device.

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique soudure composants

The Atoll Electronique factory has four stations where components are welded onto cards.

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique placement composants

Placement and welding of electronic components.

In addition, Atoll Electronique provides after sales care for all its products and an operator is specialized in After Sales Service. Should an older model stop working, the brand will be able to repair it.

Once all the components are placed on the circuit board, a first test using the oscilloscope is undertaken. If all the circuit board’s functions are working, it proceeds to the next step. Otherwise, it returns to Step 1 so that the weld joints and components may be verified.

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique test oscilloscope

On the right: circuit boards ready for testing with an oscilloscope.

Components are also placed inside the chassis by hand. These include the circuit board, heat sinks, one or more transformers, and possibly terminals on the back of the chassis.

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique

Workshop principally dedicated to placing components inside the chassis.

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique mise en chassis

Placing components inside the chassis.

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique bornier enceinte

A speaker terminal destined for an Atoll IN300 integrated amplifier.

After the components have been placed in the chassis, the device’s resting point is adjusted. A second test is then undertaken with the device connected to an audio source (turntable, CD player, FM tuner, computer) and speakers. If the test is conclusive, the device is then packaged and shipped.

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique courant repos

The test bench where the resting point is adjusted takes international voltages into account.

Visite Usine Atoll Electronique test

Area dedicated to the second round of testing.

Today, Atoll Electronique has 12 employees and a catalog including no less than 41 products. Each year, the manufacturer builds nearly 5,000 devices. A large part of this production is destined for export. At the head of the list are Germany, Poland, Canada, the USA and Japan. In addition to designing and manufacturing electronics, Atoll has two other activities. The Norman brand makes circuit boards for other brands as an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). The innovative speaker manufacturer La Boite Concept is one of its most notable clients. In a bit of a different domain, Atoll Electronique makes on-board electronics for boats.

Browse all Atoll Electronique products at Son-Vidéo.com.

This post is also available in: French

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Mikaël Joly

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