PRE_AMP for ATC- actives??

I am running the AC-100's for my main speakers( full 7.2 ATC for movies) would like to separate 2 channel and movies- I am using the Meridian 861 for everything now and was thinking about getting a pre just for music- I have heard that ATC has problems with tube Pre-amps??- Was thinking of the AR REF3 to soften the sound?- any rec. would be very helpful- thanks
Tube pres have a reputation regarding bloom which is no longer their exclusive domain. SS pres CAN provide better flexibility. For instance, at a much lower price you CAN get remote control of volume, balance, input selection AND polarity control. Polarity is often miscalled "phase". Correcting phase is essential to listening enjoyment as it removes veils from the music. Also, you are more likely to get a fully balanced design, HT pass through, and of course no loss of sonics due to tube slowly losing their magic. A great choice would be PS Audio Gain Cell preamp- GCP. They don't come up often. Also heck PS website classifieds, or Audio Asylum
Doshi Preamps work great with these speakers. I own a pair of ATC SCM 20-2 speakers, and it is a special combo.
Assuming you have an excellent two channel source already then EMMLabs gear seems popular with ATC's - any chance you could audition a Switchman?

This would allow you to select any combinations of analog signals. Only issue is that it is not you would inevitably be 3 channels short for full 7.2! However, some people use this just for two channel.

Also have you considered a tube CD player such as a Wadia?

I can't help more because SS seems to work fine for me and i just don't have the experience. I currently have an acoustically treated and carpeted room - it works fine with response set flat. However, I can imagine what you mean about softening the sound. Previsouly I had ATC's in a large room with wooden floors (Gymnaisum and also a large open plan living room) and it was definitely bright/harsh sounding within such a reflective solution, at that time, was a -3db EQ filter at 4 Khz, as the wife just adored the wooden floors and carpets were NOT an option.

Good Luck! - It would also be nice to see your system pics?
I have heard that the ATC because of their built in amps that only certain PRe's will work with them? does that make sense and what are the guidelines??
Pretty much anything works as far as I know....provided it is XLR balanced. If you use an RCA only preamp then there is a small risk that you can't play them as loud as they can go before the pre-amp runs out of juice.
I thought that because of the 10 ohm impedance on the ATC that only pre's that have roughly 100 ohm output and low gain would work well- I thought I read that somewhere- is this not true??
ATC works well with preamp has high output gain. Make reference to the ATC preampm which would give you good hints of whatÂ’s required.

I have personal experience in matching ATC to a tube preamp (Jadis JPS8s) and it sing me the best opera. Some matched ATC with First Sound tube preamp and reported good result.

That must be 10 Kilo ohm input impedance which is pretty much standard.
ATCs work fine with tube preamps too if our customer's reactions are any indication- of course our preamps have balanced outputs and plenty of drive (not that the ATCs seem to need it).

My experience with active 20s was that output impedance mattered, but gain did not seem to. Both the Joule Electra LA150MkII (8db gain) and the Blue Circle BC3000 MkII (20db gain) worked very well. Both were also balanced in my case, but I personally preferred the Joule. On the other hand, the higher output impedance BAT VK42SE and Art Audio DM-VPS did not work as well in my system. I would think both the Atmasphere and the Sonic Frontiers would also be good choices for ATCs.

The Audio Research is probably at the higher end of what I would want for ATCs (ARC's website suggests 20kohm minimum load), but I have heard from at least one person that it works well.

By the way, in addition to the usual reasons, balanced is helpful with active speakers since many single-ended tube preamps invert phase and you can't fix this by reversing speaker wires as you could with passive speakers.