SCM20's and ATOM SW260 subs

Category: Speakers

Reviewing the following;
2 linear power supplies ULN-1 and ULN-2 for the Anti Mode Dual Core 2.0
ATC SCM20 ATSL & ADAM SW260 MK3 Subwoofers

Source; CAP’s server running JRiver 18 media server, Oppo BDP105, NAD M51 DAC
AC: 2 dedicated circuits one through a Power plant Premier
Source connects to DSPeaker Anti Mode 2.0 via SPDIF input or USB. DSpeaker works as a room correction device, a DAC (or as a pass-through) and a preamp, then RCA and Balanced outputs to the ATC’s and the SW260 subs. No speaker cables are needed.

I'll start out by stating that this review started out by determining the differences between 2 linear power supplies for the DSpeaker anti mode 2.0. Scroll down if you don't want to read differences in power supplies.

While waiting for another good set of ears to show up my wife and I played Sarah Brightman as we had recently attended her concert in San Jose. Going back and forth between the supplies we thought the ULN-2 had more air and a bit more drive but really strained to hear differences in the midrange. Vocals as well were difficult for me to catch any subtle difference but my wife thought the ULN-2 supply a winner in this contest as it gave her a greater sense of space and excitement.

My guest arrived so we changed music to Sarah McLaughlin “Laws of Illusion”. McLaughlin’s CD’s we found over the years can be a bit difficult at the higher frequencies with the wide variety of equipment that have gone through our rooms. Knowing this I thought it would be interesting to note the differences between the power supplies. With 3 sets of ears we came generally to the conclusion that the ULN-1 supply was simply more musical in that it tamed some of the brightness by rolling off the extremes. It wasn’t as concise as the ULN-2 nor did it have the attack. Scott thought that the drums were more one note-like and I felt that the drums simply went lower with the ULN-2 supply. We moved on to spinning up Seal Soul, a good disc to hear texture in the vocals as well as very good dynamics and space. It was challenging for me to hear differences between the supplies to due to level matching but being patient we noted that the ULN-2 supply was simply more extended with deeper bass and more articulated highs.
Sting found his way into our listening session and here again, attack was simply greater more incisive but did not sacrifice any listener fatigue when played at volume levels that destroyed some very expensive monitors we owned years ago. We are just amazed at how high a level we can play music in this setup with no breakup. Crazy. Drums and percussion had a bit more texture while not leaning towards etched or that fake overly detailed sound I’ve heard so often. This was a really good system!

Jr, our 3 year old, requested Muse’s 2nd Law. We thought that a good choice so on it went. It turned out to be a great choice. This CD challenges the extremes of your speakers, your system (and your hearing). Playing through these tracks really outlined the difference in supplies. The air between notes was breath taking. The attack, the sense of space, textures, dynamics, wholly crap. It was laughable just how loud these speakers will play when configured with the dual core and a clean power supply. Steve Winwood’s Nine Lives had also been difficult to listen too on some systems that I'd put together over the years. We like to play loud or shall I say, at realistic levels and the song Dirty City can sound great on one system and a bit over-taxing on another. Playing through the ATM’s and Atoms it was dynamic as can be, exciting, airy and easily listenable at any volume level.

The ATC’s proved to us one of the most capable speakers we’ve ever listened to. My buddy and I agreed that these speakers deliver like few others in this setup. What was so interesting in this test was how articulated the music was and perhaps why they are used in recording studios. I never bought into a “studio” monitor as opposed to a home speaker. I mean, aren’t we all trying to get into the truth of the recording, the musical event, the recreation of what the artist intended? I know for many, maybe most, their ear maybe tuned for a softer more “analog” sound. I just sold my mostly tube system which we loved and have our goal on a very different system. The ATC's are just passing through. I mean after all, we are audiophiles. I have an $8K dollar amp that sits silently. Two highly regarded DAC’s that didn’t play a role and weren’t missed. My Pain in the ass USB reclocker card sits next to my little server. Heck I’m using SPDIF optical in! OK so the computer power supply (there we go again, power supply) costs 3 to 4 times what I have invested in the computer server. But we summed it up that the diminutive anti mode is just ridiculous at what it does. Adding a good power supply just makes it better and it’s already great.

This system speaks of greatness. It’s not for everyone. Its minimal intrusion on the source took us closer to the musical event, the studio, than any system I remember hearing. The cable investment in this system in no speaker cables, two $15 optical cables, 2 analog cables to the speakers, and your typical assortment of power cables. All one needs is a good source, the dual core anti-mode, a good power supply and some power and SPDIF cables. Come to think of it, the speaker amplifiers are connected to the regular house outlets as I don't have power cables long enough to reach my 10awg cryo'd dedicated circuits!

For my wife and me, as much as we love the music this system and these speakers produce, we are too entrenched in other gear such as amplifiers, and the fact that we are constantly fiddling about with all manner of components it would be difficult to keep this setup. After all, this is our hobby. Having a good source and these speakers is sort of end of road, you’re done. Listen to music, find a new hobby. Buy music.