The French audio brand Atoll began building electronics in the late 1990s, which was a tough time to carve out a niche in the audio marketplace. Simply surviving the last decade and a half means Atoll is officially On To Something, and this is evidenced by its integrated IN200.
In fairness, one of the big feathers in Atoll’s cap was not an issue when the brand began in 1997, but it is worth stating today. The company designs in France, and builds in France. It out-sources its circuit-board build like many small electronics companies, but chooses to use technology specialists within its own country, rather than half a world away. Whether this is worthy of praise is perhaps a moot point, but such is the change within the electronics industry in general and the audio industry in particular, that this mode of construction is rare enough today to be worthy of note.
Atoll’s IN200 is an attractive if understated 120W per channel dual mono amplifier with a nice curve in its 8mm thick aluminium fascia. To keep the lines clean, however, it uses buttons in place of knobs and dials, which form the ergonomic brief of other integrated amps in the Atoll line. However, the IN200’s control surfaces (shared with the IN400 flagship) are well laid out with volume and balance buttons laid out in a logical diamond configuration. It’s tempting to throw in the ‘Gallic flair’ cliché here; the combination of its curves, ovals, and graphics gives the Atoll line a common, almost Art Nouveau look.
Apart from the volume and balance button diamond, the IN200 has a row of buttons for each input. There are five line-only inputs – a phono stage can be added to one line input at a small premium – and a sixth marked ‘by-pass’. This allows you to use the power amp side of the IN200 only, which is useful in shared stereo/multichannel systems, or if you are upgrading to a pre/power system in stages. The IN200 also sports a fixed line input and output for a tape recorder (should you still own one) on the rear panel, and a solid ¼” headphone socket on the front.
The display in the central oval window shows input and volume level, the latter avoiding the rather obtusely technical decibel scale and instead going for the more intuitive ‘bigger is louder’ numbering system. There are no options to name inputs nor adjust the gain of each – features that might not enhance sound quality, but improve ease of use. The display has two settings, on or off, accessible from the multifunction remote. This handset can operate any piece of Atoll electronics, and is great if you have an all-Atoll system, but there are a lot of extra functions on the remote that do nothing if you only use the amplifier.