My experience with ATC SCM 12


I drive them with 100W class AB amp (Music Hall Maven).
What I am not happy with is their sound stage or "realism" effect. A-B test with KLH Signature monitors (similar volume, 2-driver design)reveals that KLH has more "realism" & presence in it's sound. You feel like musicians playing in your room. With ATC the sound is very even and bass is better (probably due to sealed cabinet design and superior driver), but treble is recessed and hidden behind. There are no spikes of treble when it is called for. It could be characteristic of ATC suitable for sound mastering (what do I know?) but it is not exciting. Overall ATC sound is too polite and mellow.
I am leaning towards trying something else may be from Triangle, may be someone could suggest something else.
BTW I had similar impression of Dynaudio monitors.
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&rotate=exif&w=128dkzzzz
If you had similar results with another speaker is it not possible your problem is somewhere else in your system? The longer I am into this hobby the more I realize tweaking is everything. You can be so close to nirvana and not know it unless you make the right change.

just a thought
Overall ATC sound is too polite and
mellow.

They are that. Flattish midrange with rolled off treble and bass is not everyone's
cup of tea. Tonality/timbre is more ATC's forte - especially in small models.
Most listeners like more bass and treble emphasis. Your comment about also
disliking Dynaudio suggests that your tastes are more towards B&W ported
designs of similar size - I think they will work much better for you - more
emphasis in the presence region and better bass extension (bigger soundstage).
You probably will be happier with a small monitor that "sounds big" - look for
those kind of comments in the reviews.
You may well like the Triangles based on your stated preferences. They are more in the direction you indicate relative to Dynaudios. I have both Triangles and Dyns in my house.
System matching including interconnects and cabling as well as provision for room effects are important to get the sound that you like. I have ATC SCM11's, Audio Research LS3 and Bryston 4BST and my most used source is a McCormack UDP-1 Deluxe. With Kimber KCTG interconnects the sound is very treble oriented and the bass is light but with Kimber Hero's (copper), there is better top to bottom coherence and the bass is much better and the treble smoother. I have had other systems, however, that favor silver interconnects. Member Philojdet's comments about tweaking are valuable.
ATCs love big, clean power. The Maven is just not to their level IMO. Mikecohen's system is perfect for ATCs. ATC's entry level speakers are deceiving in that they entice people to use budget amplification with them.

If you use an amp like the Bryston 4BSST, they'll sound magical. If you use lesser amplification, they're flat, dull and boring. The first time I heard ATCs, all I thought was why does anyone like these things. Then I heard them bi-amped with Naim monoblocks and totally got what they're all about.

I almost made the mistake of buying a pair of SCM11s to pair up with my Bryston B60. I thought they matched price wise and, and both had that studio honesty sound to them. Bringing my B60 into the shop for a demo saved me some money and aggravation.

If you shove a rocket up their backside, the ATCs will come alive in a spooky way. ATC's integrated amp is a perfect match if you can afford it.

They're very similar to Totem Mani-2s in that they deceivingly need huge power behind them for such a small speaker.

Try all the free stuff like proper placement before spending money though.
I have had a similar experience with the ATC 12's. I am driving them with Classé Audio CAP151 integrated... They are little beasts but sound dull in the upper registers... and to my ears they don't image very well at all. For now they have been relegated to storage and replaced with Thiel PCS... which image very well but have no bass to speak of. I was thinking of selling the 12's; but as the amplifier has provisions to allow I may hold onto them for a little longer and possibly try for supplementary amplification.

Any suggestions for a power amp to couple with my integrated to drive them properly would be most appreciated...

Thank you all for your comments.
You should hear the active speakers matched to their pre-amps. Much better representation of their true potential. They are not very forgiving of outside firm's gear, which tends to be emphasized for all the wrong reasons. Dull to warm. The active speakers have 250 watts of A/B power. I love their neutrality, and when compared to other speakers, they over-deliver on price to performance. I am upgrading to the Model 25s in 2012.
I wondered about ATC's philosophy re active Vs. passive loudspeakers:
What if you like push-pull tube amp amps, let alone SET amps? (A2 SET, not your flee powered ones).
Personally I find most solid state amps to sound a bit dry and not as holographic and/or emotionally involving as some tube designs, especially compared to SET's and OTL's.
I tried ATC 12 SCM with analogue source and all tube gear (45W/Channel 300B/805 SET) and got glorious mid range and very good response top to bottom with slight softening/roundness in the bottom end (not objectionable though).
In a smallish room, the ~60Hz lower response is deceiving as the bass is surprisingly deep and full and has no added artifacts due to the sealed box design.
I found that imaging and focus improved with deep toe-in (tweeters facing your ears). I would not call these speakers dull.
They just don't add "spectacular-ness" to the sound and are more "matter of fact" than most speakers which may be designed with "loudness" effect (emphasis on upper midrange and midbass to create a sensation of liveliness and open sound).
To my ears with proper source and amplification they are crystal clear without being analytical (dry) or peaky and they have close to perfect tone.
The 3" dome midrange driver is very, very good (full bodied, has smooth response and is very fast and detailed all at the same time).
So YMMV with room matching, placement and proper amplification but the potential is absolutely there.
I wondered about ATC's philosophy re active Vs. passive loudspeakers:
What if you like push-pull tube amps, let alone SET amps? (A2 SET, not your flee powered ones).
Personally I find most solid state amps to sound a bit dry and not as holographic and/or emotionally involving as some tube designs, especially compared to SET's and OTL's.
I tried ATC 12 SCM with analogue source and all tube gear (45W/Channel 300B/805 SET) and got glorious mid range and very good response top to bottom with slight softening/roundness in the bottom end (not objectionable though).
In a smallish room, the ~60Hz lower response is deceiving as the bass is surprisingly deep and full and has no added artifacts due to the sealed box design.
I found that imaging and focus improved with deep toe-in (tweeters facing your ears). I would not call these speakers dull.
They just don't add "spectacular-ness" to the sound and are more "matter of fact" than most speakers which may be designed with "loudness" effect (emphasis on upper midrange and midbass to create a sensation of liveliness and open sound).
To my ears with proper source and amplification they are crystal clear without being analytical (dry) or peaky and they have close to perfect tone.
The 3" dome midrange driver is very, very good (full bodied, has smooth response and is very fast and detailed all at the same time).
So YMMV with room matching, placement and proper amplification but the potential is absolutely there.
I use atc scm20, and like others said, the amp is just not up to par. Put them on some high bias class A or high current amps like byrston, and you will hear what the atcs are all about.
I've been using the 12's for about a month. Bought used so broken in. I concur that bass was lacking and they were flat... that is until I spent a week placing them. Now they are anything but that. Amazing monitors -- very 3D, neutral (in a good way, ie engaging with the full picture being presented in an unbiased fashion) but bass is the standout here. Their specs are conservative, I'm hearing as much quality bass as I had with previous speakers rated at ~40hz. The point is that proper set up is key, and room treatment. Doubt anyone would be impressed with them otherwise. Tip: Toe them out more than you may be used to and a bit closer to the wall. With those caveats, these speakers absolutely perform. Driving them with 250 watt @ 8 ohm Class D monoblocks.
More power Scotty!!!
I have to add that ATC were replaced by Triangle towers (no holographic micro-detail, but better stage and spiky engaging sound). ATCs are phenomenal speakers, but I’ve noticed two things with them: 1. Digital source always produced better sound in treble register. 2. They will not play well unless they are pushed in sound-volume or unless they are sitting in-front of you on the table, 1 mete away from your ears. I do not listen my music loud enough for ATC to come alive. No amount of power will move them beyond certain volume, you can plug 1000W amp into them but unless you turn the volume nob to “loud” nothing will ever happen with ATC. That is why they are sound-mastering marvels and not a consumer bookshelf speakers.
Dkzzzz

More amp wattage does not equate to automatically being louder. It provides for more headroom and allows one to turn the volume up without clipping. With speakers rated at 85dB @ 1W @ 1M as these are, one can assume that they require a decent amount of power to perform their best.