ATC


I heard some ATC studio speakers to see what the fuss was about. I was not that impressed by the midrange performance. Is better midrange possible? would magico do it? what speaker produces even better midrange?
kenjit
The only ATC speakers that impressed me were the active ones.
Scm25a were the ones i heard
Kenjit ATC Speakers are universally praised for their natural midrange.

The question would bear how were they setup? What kind of dac or preamp was running with them?

If you are comparing them to Audiophile speakers such as Magico you are not going to like the ATC.

The ATC are very neutral in the midrange and many audiophile speakers will provide a bit more of a forward sound. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ ATC dealers
I only heard passive SC19s.  One of my criteria was sounding good at low-levels (NYC apartment levels, in my case).  They only impressed me played loud.
I own the SCM19's and think they are brilliant.
The midrange/vocal sound from these speakers is one of their best qualities IMO - in fact it convinced me to buy the ATC'S
The 3-way models with the famous ATC dome midrange are supposedly even better, but I have not heard them.
I moved to the ATC's after owning various Harbeth models over a 10 year period. 

@kenjit what didn't you like about the ATC mids? 
Jeff Bagby did a writeup of the ATC midrange and included a lot of information about it.  He thought it was about as good as it gets.  I can understand why ATC wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, though.  Their overall balance is best at higher, more realistic volumes.  

"As you can see the nonlinear distortion is extremely low, with 3rd order in the neighborhood of -70dB at my low crossover point. These levels are very close to the noise floor in my room and I would consider this to be in the state-of-the-art range for midrange distortion. "

http://studio-hifi.com/images/ATC75-150S_JeffBagby.pdf
Proac has remarkable studio speakers I was very impressed when I heard them punchy bass, natural mid and high .
I don’t wish to hijack this thread but it started me wondering if ProAc and ATC were designed for studio accuracy rather than music reproduction in the home?  I have heard neither, just wondering 
Post removed 
I am about 2 months into owning a pair of brand new ATC SCM40 v2 speakers and I really could be happier with their sound top to bottom. They are not as “warm” sounding as my previous Tannoy XT8Fs but in every regard they are superior (other than efficiency of course). In particular the midrange is just spot on to my ear with my equipment and in my room. Best speaker I have owned by far.

They do do like some volume to sound their best and they might be a bit analytical sounding depending on gear around them. I heard them prior to audition with really good Naim gear and just didn’t buy the combination. 
@kevinhughes77
What are you driving them with? I have new (to me) ATC SCM40's and am using a Benchmark AHB2. I'm wondering about adding a 2nd AHB2.
@tgrisham  whats your definition of studio accuracy?


if the midrange performance of the ATC dome is as good as it gets, why are audiophiles interested in speakers like magico, tidal and wilson? what more do these much more expensive speakers offer?
@audiotroy i agree the ATC are universally praised. The problem is so is magico, kef, ygacoustics, wilson, tidal and many others. They all sound different. How do we know whats closest to the truth?
The signal on the cd is fixed. It doesnt change. So there can only be one unique and correct way of turning that signal into soundwaves. Thats what many audiophiles seem to want including me. 
A very appropriate question. The studio engineer will typically want something true to the musicians performing. That can be altered depending on the musicians goal. I see studio monitors as flat across the frequencies which can be altered to the producers tastes. Inthe home environment we wish to reproduce the artist’s music as they wish or how we want it to sound. Trickybusiness. 
heres one thIng i dont understand about ATC. Their cabinets even in their high end speakers are just mdf boxes. This is hardly groundbreaking. Magico spend a huge effort on their cabinets. No mdf used. So which approach is correct? is a standard mdf box good enough? or is ATC skimping on their cabinets? 
@mktmkt

I am using a Hegel 160 and a Primaluna Dialogue Premium depending on mood. Both drive the ATCs very well. The Hegel is probably my next item to upgrade to get something with a little power behind it.

@kenjitThe cabinets are very well made and heavily braced. I am certain better or at least more modern cabinet materials are available at a price but ATC and many other British brands make the old stuff work in their systems. 
Cabinet made of mdf doesn’t mean that ATC doesn’t make an effort on their cabinets !
Proac,PMC,ATC and other fine brands make mdf cabinets that absolutely doesn’t mean that their speakers can not be considered as high end they just preferred to invest on other components such as drivers,twitters,crosseover and so on.
If money is no object for you and you are willing to spend huge amount of money you can look for the Magico but if you  are looking for high end speakers on reasonable cost ATC,Proac ,PMC,Spendor,Bryston and so on can offer great value for money without compromising on sound quality.
@kenjt, ATC made some metal cabinet speakers 15-20 years ago.  There were metal 10, 20 and 70 models.  I think I remember reading somewhere that they stopped because they didn't think it was worth the money.  I don't think the EL 150 could be mdf but I'm not 100% sure.   IMO Wilson, magico and YG are all vanity first brands.  They're more oriented towards talk.  Exotic technologies, space age materials, etc.  I don't know how much those things actually improve performance and neither does anyone else.  I don't think it matters.  They're sales features.  I'm not saying that I think those products are bad.  I would never consider buying any of them even if I had a billion dollars because I don't admire the approach.   
@itzhak1969  Atc may think mdf is good enough but magico does not. They cant both be right. Who is right?
Everybody that buys a magico thinks its better than an ATC. Who is right?
I dont care what you prefer I want to know whats right and whats wrong. The signal contained on a cd is fixed. So there has to be a fixed way that it should be transformed into soundwaves. you cant have two different sets of soundwaves coming off a single cd. 
Every single speaker made produces the sound waves from recorded music differently. What exactly is the judge of what is right or wrong when it comes to reproducing these sound waves? There will never be consensus on this, and there is no perfect speaker. IOW, they are all wrong in one way or another. Find what sounds right to you, not what some one else tells you is right.
I didn’t say that I prefer ATC over Magico in the contrary if you can afford buying Magico go for it. Everybody who buy Magico prefer them over ATC of course but everybody who buy ATC preferred them over other brands so I don’t understand what you are trying to claim here it’s a matter of personal taste and not that Magico is better than ATC or vice versa. Magico can say what they want regarding mdf but that doesn’t mean that they are right.
Actually you can build a cabinet out of very thick mdf and the cabinet will be very innert, companies such as Avalon and Usher make suberb cabinets out of mdf.  In the case of Usher the cabinets walls around 2 inches thick and a pair of BE 20 weigh almost 300 lbs.

Aluminum can make an excellent cabinet, it is monotonic and will ring unless it is damped. 

The sound of a speaker is just that we have heard very life like recreations of the studio from ATC loudspeakers,

The only person who knows exactly what sosmething sound like was the person in the room who heard the original performer.

As Itzak said it is a matter of personal taste and what you like.

We sell Kef, Dali, ATC, Quad, Elac, Paradigm monitors. These range in price for $2,500.00-$8,000.00 they all can sound wonderful and each loudspeaker has it strengths and weaknesses:

The Elac Adante hits hard with a lot of bass, good treble detail a bti more forward then the ATC SCM  11 with way more bass.

The ATC SCM 19 sounds smoother and more refinded then the Elac with a bit less coloration and a huge soundstage

The Kef Reference One has more upper ocative detail then the ATC through a bigger soundstage and have greater bass, with a clean midrange and a bit more detail

The Paradigm Personas have the most 3d image, less bass then the Kefs, have a cleaner midrange, and tend to have the more prescence of all of these loudspeakers.

Which is better? Comes down to taste, most people will prefere the Kef Ref or the Paradigm over the less expensive speakers.

Some people prefer the Kefs other prefere the Persona B

Long story short loudspeakers are a personal choice. There is no better only what you prefer, and the matching electronics will also have a huge part to play.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Elac, Kef, Quad, Paradigm, Dali, ATC dealers
what about the legacy calibre? how do they compare?
ATC has never been renowned for their cabinets in the same way that B&W is. The differences in cabinet design are numerous.
But magico takes it even further by using other materials.
The Atc speakers are all just rectangular boxes. How can the ATC be so good when they are just using plain rectangular mdf boxes ?
Even the way the driver is mounted is much more carefully designed in many high end speakers whereas ATC just screw their drivers in which is hardly optimal.

The Legacy Calibres are a different flavor they are warmer and puncher then most of the other monitors. We kind of hold them as a system approach with the Wavlet so they  get compared less to the other passives. 

As per ATC the box is very well damped, and the speakers  sound fantastic.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ ATC, Legacy, Kef, Paradigm, Quad and Elac dealers
http://www.transaudiogroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ATC_Engineering_Goals_and_Approaches.pdf

ATC is certainly a well designed and engineered speaker. Attention to detail is paid in all aspects of their designs and it shows. 
Yes ATC speakers are rectangular boxes same as Proac, Spendor, PMC, Harbeth and others, all are wonderful brands I don't understand what you are trying to claim here. You are correct B&W uses more sofisticated boxes design but their speakers sound awfull .
If you decided that ATC are not good speakers because they are designing rectangular mdf boxes (totally false assumption by the way) move on to other brands nobody is forcing you to buy ATC speakers.

kenjit OP110 posts03-24-2019 5:33amThe Atc speakers are all just rectangular boxes. How can the ATC be so good when they are just using plain rectangular mdf boxes ?
Even the way the driver is mounted is much more carefully designed in many high end speakers whereas ATC just screw their drivers in which is hardly optimal.
The 'rectangular boxes' comment is mostly true - perhaps to accomodate the pro market - though the domestic orientated entry series have curved sides.
ATC seem to put most of their money into their rugged/low distortion drivers and do all manufacture/QC 'in house'. 
Comparing the mid-bass driver of my SCM19's to my previous similarly priced Harbeth m30.1's is like comparing a gavel to a sledgehammer.
To me, ATC speakers, in general, are great speakers and a bargain at their respective price points. I don't care how they produce the music---all I know is it is always well produced.
@kenjit

Quote”The Atc speakers are all just rectangular boxes. How can the ATC be so good when they are just using plain rectangular mdf boxes ?”

The magic with ATC is their low distortion, dynamics and balance even at high SPL. The designer is both an audio engineer (real engineer from a University) and a performing jazz pianist. The magic is in the transducers - entirely built in house at ATC. The transducers are costly to make and are of higher performance capability than anything else.

The designer’s goal was a speaker with the accuracy of the Quad ESL but with the dynamics of American horn speakers. There are very few speakers that are designed with this goal in mind. They play very very loud and dynamically with extremely low distortion. Larger ATC are rated at 0.3% distortion full range up to 121 dB SPL - this is unique performance capability - nothing comes close.

ATC became the main Monitor of choice to replace large studio horn speakers in the 80’s and this continues to this day. Genelec was ATC biggest competitor. Genelec remain relatively unknown to audiophiles. The user list will tell you that they are one of the top speakers used by professionals and musicians to mix and monitor music. This means ATC don’t necessarily make a track sound beautifully euphonic and warm and engaging (what you might be looking for - a “hi-fi” larger than life sort of sound that usually has exaggerated highs and lows). ATC are ruthlessly neutral and remarkably truthful, revealing and accurate even at crazy SPL levels. Professionals want the truth so they can get the job done. Many Professionals don’t want coloration and only a few audiophiles will appreciate this kind of neutral sound.

http://atcloudspeakers.co.uk/client-list/

ATC are like having a high powered microscope with precision lenses. At low listening levels or low magnification the benefit is not overly obvious versus a normal microscope. However, turn up the volume (magnification) and you can more easily hear every single fault or the incredible beauty contained and captured within a recording. It is very simple really, our ears can function up to 120 dB, so a speaker that starts distorting heavily at 95 dB (the majority of audiophile speakers) means you have lost 25dB of dynamic range. Remember the noise floor sits around 40 dB so a typical speaker has only 55dB of useable dynamic range - that extra 25dB from a large ATC speaker makes a huge difference.


Nice post, Shadorne. And helpful. Thanks.
I’ve listened to Magico A3’s in two different places. First at an audio show where the speakers were set up in a hotel room by the dealer and a Magico rep. I thought they sounded excellent. I then auditioned them in the dealer’s showroom with the same source and amplification and they sounded dull. Why? The dealer’s room had acoustical panels on the side walls to limit reflected sound. Speakers need to be auditioned in the room in which they will be used and with the music one likes most to get an accurate sense of whether they suit one’s needs. 

I’ve also auditioned the smaller ATC speakers (SCM 11 and 19) in a different dealer’s showroom and thought they sounded excellent.  I agree they sound better at higher volumes comparable to a live performance. I also agree with the prior comments regarding the highly subjective nature of speaker preferences. I don’t care a great deal about the design, only the result. 

BTW, if you like a speaker, but find it lacks enough midrange at low listening levels, but otherwise like it at moderate to high listening levels, one can always use an equalizer either with software or hardware. (Some will view this as heresy, but what do you think recording engineers sometimes do when they mix a recording?)

You are missing the whole point when you say "ATC may think mdf is good enough but magico does not. They cant both be right. Who is right?"

They ARE both right. Different designs and different goals. It's like saying "which is better, a Lexus or an Acura, they can't both be right."  Uh, yes they can.

Everybody has different tastes and listening environment demands, and different budgets of course. 

ATC are usually very true to the source, some would say a little bit "too much" truth for a home environment. BTW, the SCM25a you heard is a studio monitor; probably the least 'impressive' ATC speaker for a home environment, especially for price.


The magic with speakers is that they all present the signal very different in your  room (a little less when you apply room correction). The joy is to have several different but high-class speakers to choose from. ATC is a wonderful reference to all the other. But if you don't turn up the volume you may not experience this. As said above the SCM25a is probably not the best choise outside the recording studio.

@shadorne


Larger ATC are rated at 0.3% distortion full range up to 121 dB SPL -
distortion levels are not stated by ATC on their website.

and how much cabinet resonance do you think we would be getting at such ear splitting levels? You would be getting extrene distortion, i would have thought given that youre trying to contain such high amounts of sound energy within a flimsy mdf box. The midrange dome would be even worse since all that rear energy has nowhere to go. 




"I would have thought given that youre trying to contain such high amounts of sound energy within a flimsy mdf box. The midrange dome would be even worse since all that rear energy has nowhere to go. "

Totally false assumption.
@kenjit   

That was a direct quote from the owner of ATC. He was referring to ATC SCM 300 in a typical studio setup and not your typical home audio setup! You can check the user list - these speakers are in nearly every famous multi-million studio facility. An extremely popular main monitor for the reasons I gave above. 

What you heard is the near-field SCM 25A. Clearly you don’t like then and that is OK because there are plenty of golden eared folks who do love these speakers. You should concentrate on finding something you really like. The fact you don’t like the sound from them is probably a matter of your taste rather than a poor or flimsy design. The fact that the speaker design and particularly the mid range are lauded and almost universally held in high regard suggests more about your individual hearing preferences or the source/setup you heard than anything else.






@itzhak1969 why?

@shadorne 

The fact that the speaker design and particularly the mid range are lauded and almost universally held in high regard suggests more about your individual hearing preferences or the source/setup you heard than anything else.


The same reasoning applies to ATC users. It could just be a preference.

Abbey road uses B&w. Why dont they rid of them and use ATC instead of the 800 series?


I believe ATC stuffs their boxes full of some type of fiber to absorb a lot of the sound.  The light weight 3" midrange has a 20 lb magnet and that alone is enough mass to keep any box flex from impacting the transients.  The problem here is that none of us know how much difference various types of boxes make.  Manufacturers do, and an engineering driven company is using what they think is the best solution from an engineering standpoint.  Marketing driven companies have different priorities.  I had B&Ws for a long time and when I switched to Thiels my eyes were opened.  The number of talking points doesn't translate to improved performance.  
Kenjit your anti ATC rant is just silly. ATC makes fantastic speakers, are there sound for everyone no, but there are fans of all different loudspeakers here. 

Professionally many top studios, producers, mastering houses and top musicians all use ATC loudspeakers

http://atcloudspeakers.co.uk/client-list-pro/

As per Abby Road they are on ATC list as well, so perhaps Abbey road also uses ATC? 

As per cabinet construction, again Usher, Avalon and others use 2 inch thick MDF in a very well braced cabinet don't think too many people here won't agree that Avalon makes excellent loudspeakers.

The total sound of a loudspeaker is the drivers, cabinet and crossover.

The ATC cabinets are very dense and non resonant. the speakers perform very well and produce a very well balanced sound.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ ATC dealers

@kenjit   

Definitely it is just a preference. I tried to explain why there would be a preference for ATC from a few people. That doesn’t make ATC suitable for everyone. Certainly B&W is far more popular domestically, so you may want to stick to them. I would say B&W has that “hi-fi” sound - a bit larger than life and extremely impressive sounding with just a little more bass and highs than neutral.
Shadorne,

You don’t have to be so polite. I will say it, B&W are very far from natural sounding. They are one of the most colored speakers I have heard.

 That does not mean someone can’t like them. But no brand wears my ears out like B&W. Something about the midrange shreds my ears...

Sorry, back on topic. I think a lot of people think they want a flat natural sound until they hear it and it is not what they thought it would be. So many of us are used to a colored sound that something seems missing when it is finally not there. 



You don't compare ATC with Magico j would say. Magico is at a higher Level
The final goal of every brand that respect itself is to be as most as possible faithful to the original recording ,B&W is doing the opposite they are speakers which design to impress with overeffect sound much larger than life .at short demo they can certainly impress but on long session their sound is fatigue .B&W can hardly be considered as hi high end, however can be considered as nice furniture to impress your guests...
Itzhac1968 - B&W 800s are in many of the studios at Abbey Road, so I don’t think your anti-B&W rant holds much water. For the OP’s reference: Abbey Road also use ATC. I work up there at times and the mastering room I work in uses PMC monitors, made of mdf.

There are a lot of well written informative replies regarding ATC on this thread.  Hopefully they dispel the misguided concerns of the OP regarding MDF.  I have heard their 150 active speakers at the Munich high-end Hi-Fi show and it was the second best sounding room in the show to my ears, and the source was their £3k CD player/pre-amp combo. So it was one of the lower-priced rooms and one of the best sounding - far better than the magico room for what it’s worth. ATC had the volume cranked up though, and that helped.


I recently went to the audio show and heard the ATC SCM40 (V2) with the ATC new SAI 100 -2 integrated amplifier and with their latest CD player. Before the above I have read a lot about the ATC components and have been looking forever to upgrade my small system.  When I heard the above system I knew I found the 'sound presentation' I liked which was a blessing because I don't have to look at other brands anymore (at least with speakers).  What that experience showed me that ATC makes you listen to music in more than one way.  I heard fast detailed instruments and at the same time I was hearing how the instruments were played, when the pace or rhythm changed by god I heard it and felt it!  The listening to music was a complete and comprehensive pleasure, not any more just enjoying the music but also enjoying every inflection and every change in the musical piece.  And the bass was just simply right there, no over hang, just appeared when required.  I now understand a lot better the specific philosophy of ATC, and that their background originates from studio monitors supplied to studios.  I have not heard their active speakers, for me just to get the SCM40 passive variety is all I will ever need  in a HifI system to play most genres of music.
I think this is the speaker Kenjit heard but hated. The ATC SCM 25A.

http://atcloudspeakers.co.uk/2019/03/

Definitely there are very different preferences around and that is probably a good thing or else we would all be robots!
@ Kenjit,

back to your original question. As an ATC fan I also have other darlings. Actually I often use only the basses in the ATC 150asl and active xover (Lyngdorf) the mids and tops from about 250Hz to e.g Audiovector SR1 Avantgarde Arreté, Lipinski L707, Tannoy DC10a or some Quested monitors. Gives me a bit different presentation and great joy. The Lipinskis have the best imaging and dynamics I think. ATC can play louder though. Would like to try some horns with the ATC basses but don’t know which yet. Maybe a diy JBL combination. Thoughts welcome :-)