If we would like to visit the Atoll-factory in Brecey to take a look behind the scenes. Of course! Together with Luc Van Hecke (Belram hifi) and José Loro (New Music) we take the TGV to Rennes, in the heart of Normandy, and then drive the car to the company itself. In the train we think again how beautiful France really is.
Atoll was founded in 1997 by the brothers Stéphane and Emmanuel Dubreuil. So it’s a real family business and that hasn’t changed. Two years ago, the capacity of the plant was doubled. This has been realized at the same site in order to be able to work better and more conveniently. The factory itself is located on a hill with beautiful green surroundings. There are worse places to work.
Once arrived, we are warmly welcomed by co-founder Emmanuel Dubreuil and Laurent Mansion, sales manager. Because we are in the holiday period not all employees were present but there was no lack of professional explanation. After a short tour of the desks we ended up in the workshop itself. What immediately caught the eye was the amount of light that penetrated everywhere. Sufficient daylight in a workplace is essential to perform well as an employee and is often overlooked. Clearly this was not the case here.
It is fascinating to see a product develop from A to Z in a workshop. From the chassis to the circuit boards, everything has its fixed place in the production process. Building amplifiers, CD players and streamers is done step by step and at Atoll it’s no different. What does not happen everywhere are the different control phases during the production process. Not only is the end product frequently tested, but several checks are already carried out in between. This eliminates a lot of problems along the way and you rarely get error messages during the final test.
Every employee has his or her specialty, but at Atoll there is also regular cross-pollination. This is how the technicians learn from the programmers and vice versa. And some employees perform different tasks in the production process to enrich their knowledge and expertise. This way of working creates a lot of variety in the tasks of each employee.
Also striking was the fact that there are no large machines to be seen in the company. Really everything is assembled, soldered and installed by hand. The chassis is made by a specialized company in the neighborhood, but everything else is done at Atoll itself. Before a part ends up in an appliance, samples from different manufacturers are tested and the best sounding samples are retained. In this way, the component that meets the strict requirements of the technicians and owners is searched for within a certain budget.
In addition to a strong European market, Atoll Electronique also exports to countries such as Japan, Indonesia and Canada. This results in about thirty active dealers all over the world. This shows that Atoll not only markets a European product, but also has sufficient affinity with the global needs of hi-fi enthusiasts worldwide.
The philosophy of Atoll Electronique is clear and refreshing. Only release a new product if significant improvements are possible. Don’t follow the delusion of the day but quietly build a quality assortment with a number of clear series. I have already tested two devices from the new 200 series, namely the IN200 Signature integrated amplifier and the ST200 Signature streamer. Both aircraft made an impression and now that we have seen how everything is made, our respect has only increased. Only now do we realize how much time and work goes into making a single device.
We would like to thank Atoll Electronique for the warm welcome and, if the opportunity arises, we would like to visit these friendly and professional people again. Merci à vous!