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Atlas Element Achromatic review

Looking for neutrality and transparency? This could be the interconnect for you Tested at £97 (1m) / AU$210 (1m)

Interconnect: Atlas Element Achromatic
(Image: © Atlas)

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Atlas’s Element Achromatic is a ‘do no harm’ cable. It simply steps out of the signal’s way and lets the rest of the system take the limelight

Pros

  • +

    Impressively transparent

  • +

    Even-handed balance

  • +

    Will work well in a wide range of systems

Cons

  • -

    Some rivals make our system sound more exuberant

Atlas’s entry-level Element interconnect has long been a favourite of ours. It has gone through numerous iterations over the years and never failed to impress. This Achromatic version continues that fine tradition.

Build

Interconnect: Atlas Element Achromatic

(Image credit: Atlas)

The most obvious change over previous generations is in the RCA connector, which is now a low-mass, non-magnetic design that is solder-free and cold-welded to the conductor. Atlas feels that this type of air-tight connection is better at maintaining signal integrity than the more traditional soldering method of joining the plug to the conductor.

The conductor material isn’t typical either, being OCC (Ohno Continuous Casting) copper that stands out for minimising the number of grain boundaries. The thinking goes that the fewer crystal boundaries that the music signal has to pass through, the purer it remains. This conductor is coated with a gas-foamed polyethylene dielectric that Atlas claims is more inert and consistent than standard polyethylene. Lastly, the Element Achromatic is a shielded design in order to reduce noise and interference to a minimum.

Sound

Interconnect: Atlas Element Achromatic

(Image credit: Atlas)

Physically, there’s very little that’s flashy about this cable. It just looks and feels like a high quality but functional design. That’s the way we like it. That dedication to doing the job at hand at the expense of cosmetic embellishment applies to the sound too. Achromatic means ‘without colour’ and that’s pretty much how this cable sounds to us. It doesn’t have much of a sonic signature and just seems to let the music signal pass through relatively unimpeded. 

It starts with an impressively even-handed tonality that avoids the brightly-lit nature of some rivals and continues with a level of sonic precision and composure that’s hard to better for the money. It’s possible to buy alternatives that are livelier and more obviously entertaining – Chord’s Clearway comes to mind – but it’s hard to think of anything that makes our system sound as neutral and pleasingly hands-off as this.

Atlas Element Achromatic tech specs

Interconnect: Atlas Element Achromatic

(Image credit: Atlas)

Conductor material OCC copper

Length 1 metre

Dielectric material Foamed Polyethylene

Connector options RCA

This balanced approach to music replay means that this cable works well across all genres. When plugged into our reference system this Atlas sounds as comfortable replaying Eminem’s classic Marshall Mathers set as it does the slinky jazz of Melody Gardot’s The Absence. This is thanks to a pleasing level of resolution coupled to strong dynamic contrasts and a surefooted way with rhythms.

There’s a good level of refinement for the price point too, with the cable revealing the hard edges in the Eminem set without blowing things out of proportion. This is a clean and precise sounding performer that simply gets out of the way of the music signal, letting the rest of the system take the spotlight.

Verdict

If the rest of your set-up is up to scratch then we have no doubt that the Element Achromatic will impress. If your system’s sound doesn’t involve you in the music, don’t blame this cable. The fault lies elsewhere.

SCORES:

  • Sound 5
  • Build 5
  • Compatibility 5

MORE:

Check out our Chord Clearway review

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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  • nopiano
    Getting out of the way is exactly what a cable should do, as you say. There’s no higher praise really. (All this ‘lower noise floor’ guff really doesn’t make much sense, so thanks for a great review).
    Reply