Thinking about my end game speaker and seriously considering one from either brand. On the Tidal camp looking at either the Contriva G2 or Agoria and on the ATC camp the SCM150 or SCM300. Any thoughts on this battle? The tidal I know is a truly amazing speaker. The contriva g2 is the best I've heard and has an amazing finish. But I see insane praise from ATC for being a very accurate and extremely well made speaker. Only issue is I have no local dealers for ATC in canada. Maybe after the pandemic is over I'll fly to USA to hear them... but honestly even that makes me a bit nervous with all this going on. Any thoughts?
I should add the future listening space will be 20x30 feet, like having subs for low end duties below 40 hz (big PSA or JTR subs). I listen to acoustic, jazz, classical, celtic, techno mainly. I value a detailed sound with powerful bass and great imaging/holography.
The Tidal speakers do have an amazing finish, and I'm sure from what I have read that they sound very good too, but I haven't heard them, The SCM 150 I have heard, and for a good long audition at a dealer in Connecticut. I think that they are two different animals, from what I have read about the Tidals. They are both supposed to be accurate and transparent, but I don't think that the Tidals will be able to match the dynamics of the ATCs. This past summer, I went to the Scottsdale Speakerfest with a friend, and we both agreed that a smaller ATC floorstander was the star of the show. I can't recall the model number, but I think that it was around 7k.
roxy54 is likely referring to the ATC SCM 19A at 7K which is the smaller brother to my ATC SCM 40A. As I've stated here several times, I'm mystified that more do not seriously consider active speakers.
The cost argument is rendered moot when amplification and speaker cables are eliminated.
The immediacy, dynamics, timbre and slam are shockingly good. Hope your results are satisfying.
That is a very big room to deal with.....Keep in mind that the Tidals will be a clear lens for everything that comes before them. Imo, that means that your amps and source will need to be of very high quality. An amp that will be required to fill that room will be costly....If you want to spend the dough on the required source and amplification ( and cables ) to match the resolution of the Tidals then you will have a stunning system. On the other hand, a pair of big, active ATC's with a great source may be more cost effective...In either case, a forum like this one will be of little help at this level of investment- you need a good dealer and in home demo imho. Good luck!
Never heard the ATC, but if I were in that market, Tidal is where I'd look first. I heard them at the CA Audio Show last summer; I think the model was Contriva G2, powered with Bricasti. It was the best sound of the show by far for me.
Have heard both. Am very familiar with the Tidal speakers and have spoken at length with Jorn Janczak. They really are two different animals. Tidal gear in general is beyond over engineered and can literally handle anything you can throw at it. There is no input signal it can’t accurately reproduce at almost any volume.
Which goes to prove that speaker designers dont know what they're doing. A speaker needs to accurately reproduce a signal. If two speakers sound vastly different, at least one of 'em must be horrifically WRONG. DO NOT BE DUPED.
Big active ATCs are awesome speakers. I haven't heard Tidal. In my opinion you should consider having a couple of pairs. One pair that excels at big dynamics and that you can play loudly, and another pair that excels at reproducing acoustic music that isn't extremely loud and doesn't have massive amounts of very low bass. That's what I ended up doing and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. I've got a pair of active ATC 110s that I can crank up without any hint of strain or distortion. I've got another pair of Thiel 3.7s in another system and they excel at acoustic music. Imaging is incredible and the presentation is incredibly natural. The Thiels are clear winners at the things they do best but can't hope to compete with the ATCs in the areas they excel in. And I didn't spend a fortune on either pair, got both pairs for 12k total.
They are all obviously very good though for a significant cost. The end sound will depend on the whole setup not just the speakers of course so take all that into consideration.
Everyone’s ears and preferences are different but at least a practical approach can be applied to matching gear and integrating that into the space in which it will be used. In the powered ATC case the amp speaker integration has been addressed by pros so that’s one less thing to have to address.
For your room, given your equipment and MY taste*, go for the ATC 150 ACTIVE or you’ll be spending unnecessary time & money trying to drive them properly. The Agoria are excellent speakers but the ATCs will give you the excitement of classical, the immediacy of rock, and the beat (?) of techno, in one package. The 300s are too big for your room, I think. *obviously: it's objective only to the extent of my own preferences!:)
I don't have a problem with low bass, I just think it's difficult to impossible to have a speaker excel at everything. The ones that can play extremely loudly without distortion need stronger, heavier drivers that in my experience aren't as convincing on small scale acoustic music at low/mid volume. My Thiels are an example of a speaker that is incredible within their capabilities but they won't play anywhere near as loudly as the big ATCs will. Both speakers are very good at everything but definitely have areas where they are especially outstanding.
smodtactical.....I have had my Contriva Dicer-SE speakers for 7-8 years. I bought them new as my 'last speakers'. I could easily purchase one of the upper Tidal models ..G2...Agoria etc but the Contrivas are just so great that i don't have the desire to upgrade.They are exactly that.I have been to many audio shows..RMAF..Axpona 4 times...and CAF on 2 occasions and have not heard a speaker i would trade for.They are the most natural sounding speakers in my opinion. I have met and even had dinner with Jorn and he is absolutely one of the most brilliant designers. Tidal has great service both in the states and abroad.
Actually I have. I spent a few days at the USA distributors home last Summer. I had a chance to listen to the G2 and Akita Tidal speakers. The G2 is great but.. as I said.. my Contrivas are so good that they will be my last speakers... happily... if you have a chance to buy a used pair of Contrivas .. that would be a great price if in great condition.
I was an ATC fanboy for a long time. Fantastic speakers.
The one caveat with them I'd say is they like to play LOUD. Like, the louder you play them, the better they sound. They only sound their best when played at "realistic" volume - i.e. the same volume as the original sound. If you listen at lower volumes they can sound underwhelming.
They're also very neutral, so if you like a bit of warmth to your sound, you'll have to partner upstream equipment very carefully. (They're also extremely transparent though - if your upstream gear is warm, they'll sound warm.)
Oh, and the active speakers are sensitive to output impedance of the preamp used, so you have to take some care there - an impedance mismatch will lead to frustration.
Go for both Tidal and ATC! My room is 30’x20’x9’ and I sit 20’ from my ATC300 towers firing down the long axis of the room using a Tidal Preos preamp/dac, fed by a Melco N10 player/streamer. With these ancillaries fronting the big ATCs, they are as musical at ANY level, not just loud. Though if you like your music loud, The Wall by Pink Floyd at 120db is something else, the Contrivas just cannot match them. I too also use 3 15” ATC subs in this system just to correct a small low frequency dip at my listening seat. Also, regarding costings, here in the UK ATC300s are £38k and this includes the matching active amps. Beware though that the amps are fan cooled and really need to be in a different room! With the cost savings add some ultra 5 Stillpoints under the speakers and they totally disappear for such a large, wide baffled speaker. They will not be too big for your room, believe me. I have lived with these speakers for 14 years now, they just get better and better with each front end upgrade. Truly superb value for money if you have a large room and like to “wind it up”. You can’t even damage them, push ‘em too far (after several pints) and the amps just go into standby ready for you to stagger into the next room and press the standby button again!
Very different critters (the speakers, that is)! ;)
Briefly, I have heard both companies products several times at shows and Tidal has been impressive, while ATC has been precise, but not as emotionally involving. I have thought of reviewing Tidal several times, but never ATC. I know I could build kick ass systems with both. The ATC strikes me as a much more in your face speaker, like the Vapor Audio Joule White (reviewed and owned), a laser sharp speaker with outstanding resolution, imaging and transients.
Take your pick/poison: Tidal: more options to contour sound with outboard amp, cables, etc. but likely much more expensive to achieve superior/gratifying result.
ATC: easier, all inclusive, but fewer options to contour sound and mange issues in achieving gratifying result.
Not overly impressed by the bass extension specs of either speaker you mention. :( I didn't see any frequency response discussion in the specs of the Tidal, and a not too impressive 25Hz -6dB. for the ATC. The Tidal has twin 9" ceramic drivers, so I'd guess it's going to be in the same zone as the ATC, about 32Hz +-3dB. Ok, not horrible, but certainly not what I would call end game for myself in that price category. I would want more prodigious bass if I was going to be chasing The One. That's a pretty harsh, strong assessment, and I do not mean to disdain them, but I am a reviewer and will see weaknesses as well as strengths. I require an ultimate speaker to be closer to 20Hz +/-3dB than 30Hz or higher. For some that is not absolutely necessary, but it is for me.
Even the odd and magical Tri-Art Audio Series B 5 Open Speaker, with open baffle is 27Hz +/-3dB. That speaker system, with it's outboard crossover and attenuated full range I prefer to many of the more expensive box speakers I have reviewed and owned, even ones $15K+
Maybe you can really "have it all," by keeping current speakers and adding another pair of different genre. Perhaps OB, panel, horn hybrid, line array, omni? The variety, done up at a nice sound quality level, is the end game experience for me. :)
@douglas_schroeder I think a gradual rolloff starting at a higher frequency is better in most situations. Most rooms will provide too much gain in the bass and a speaker that's flat to 20 hz will have massive humps. A speaker that starts to roll off at a higher frequency will cause far fewer room problems. Speakers with huge drivers like the ATC 300 provide massive punch, scale, and dynamics but are also forgiving of room placement, partly because of that gradual roll off in the bass. You don't want to be have to compromise the ideal speaker placement because the room interaction is causing unbearable bass problems.
The Tidal speakers have put a lot of effort into their cabinet technology. ATC have done nothing. They just use a basic square mdf box. Tidal use different materials and shapes.
The Tidal has a superior cabinet. The ATC advantage is supposedly the drivers especially the mid dome. But there is no evidence provided by ATC on their website showing that their mid dome is audibly better. So its all hearsay.
Neither TIDAL or ATC is custom tuned to your ears which of itself is a problem.
The ATC is also a 2 or 3 way design and this means it will never be anywhere near as good as a perfect 1way full range driver if such a thing existed.
@kenjit It's better to let the main speakers roll off, use a sub or subs to fill in the bottom. Most people would prefer to not have an eq in the main signal path and one that is transparent will be expensive. It's better to eq sub frequencies only, where the quality of the eq doesn't much matter and a cheap one is fine.
Apples and oranges. I was the only ATC dealer in California for many years. They have advantages over a passive speaker. The main one is that active ATCs like the flagship SCM 300 has an amplifier carefully matched for each driver. Surely, the most critical and difficult factor in an audio playback system are amp and speaker. It could be said the two hands clapping in any system. ATC has spent decades addressing this issue. A main result is they have created a speaker line, especially in their upper line powered, that has been embraced by professionals around the world. In performance venues like the Sydney Opera House, The Disney Concert Hall and many of the top studios. A high point and pro opinion I well remember and value is when the engineer of the Star Trek Movie soundtrack at Skywalker Sound/LucasFilm heard its main theme in my living room through my ATC Anniversary 50s and said it was the best he had ever heard it! That speaks to the main point; The upper line ATCs are primarily a pro speaker. If you seek the accurate and clear reproduction of what was recorded, go for ATC. Ultimately, I personally realized that critical listening was not to my liking. If it is to yours, buy or look for used ATC Anniversary models. The matching of the internal amps are most absolute and all class A. The finish is also a beautiful burled walnut. The SCM 300 is a monster really only designed for a very large room and does not stand up to the sound of an Anniversary model. I don’t have any personal experience with a Tidal but respect their reputation as one of the best consumer lines. I believe a Steve Hoffman listens to them in his main system. Steve is one of the few great pros who have great experience in the consumer world. I respect his taste and opinions. The bottom line in HiFi is that you need to develop a system that suits your taste. Assuming a good amp match, a speaker does not necessarily need to be very expensive like the upper line ATCs and the Tidals.
I have no experience with Tidal. I do have experience with ATC, but it’s limited to their smallest (and passive) professional monitor, the SCM12 Pro's. So my comment may or may not be relevant to this thread.
But here’s the thing: I’ve had 4-5 powered and/or passive speakers in this nearfield listening system (home office) with electronics that are well above average. And the ATCs are orders of magnitude above anything else I’ve heard. When I first got them, paired with a big class D amp (Wyred4Sound ST-500), they blew the roof off this place, not just in volume, but dynamics. tonal/timbral realism, mid-bass, and top to bottom believability.
Here’s the other thing: they sound extremely good at low volume. It may be a revelation when they’re cranked, but they give me the same crystal-clean window into music at low volume as high. This has not be true to this extent with anything else I tried.
FYI, I’m very brightness-averse, so was kind of stunned to like these so much. They might be accurate and detailed, but they’re also quite musical. If I was looking for big $$ speakers, active ATCs would be high on my list.
The winning speaker at the June 2019 Scottsdale Speakerfest was the passive ATC SCM40. It was driven by the ATC CDA2 CD Preamp DAC (playing both CDs and music files from an Apple laptop) into the ATC P1 stereo amplifier. The speakers were placed on AV Room Service EVP isolation pads.
You know whats on my mind. Tidal Sunray G1... sometimes they have prior gen ones out there for cheap. When I move to my bigger listening space this would be a very compelling option like at a massively reduced price from msrp. @sedgewick7 The sunray would be a good opponent to your mighty SCM300! :)
Well, well, well, the Sunray, eh? Now we're talking big boy speakers! I have heard them, and they are in a word magnificent! To do it up right you need to part with some serious green to do the amps, cables, etc. Sonic Impact T amp won't cut it with those! ;)
It was at RMAF in 2013, so it was likely G1. Quite impressive, I must say. They were not in a huge room, so they had to moderate the level.
Another thought for you to consider; I reviewed the also prodigious Legacy Audio Valor Speaker System for Dagogo.com. I would classify it also as a "will not take a back seat" type of speaker. It also would easily fill your large listening space. Like the Sunray, it's the designer's best effort at SOTA. You will get quite a bit of insight into it from my review. Do not be thrown off because it was reviewed in a smaller room. This is a speaker that can do justice to big environments. I have heard the larger Legacy speakers in the large ballrooms of shows and they have no problem generating appropriate sound to flood the space.
I especially enjoyed the enormous 15" mid-woofer/midrange coaxial driver. I have heard nothing like it, and the utter ease of such a midrange presentation is alluring. The fact that it is coaxial is also unusual. The Valor does imaging quite like a full range speaker, something that I have not seen in too many big floor standing speakers. Though I did not get to hear them in direct comparison, I believe the Valor would be able to compete well with the Sunray in terms of LF, both in quality and extension.
You may have your mind made up, but I thought I would mention it as there is a dealer, Audio Excellence, in Ontario. At least might be able to hear it if you have not previously. Legacy is also very good about working with customers to do custom orders. You may enjoy reading the several articles I did for Dagogo.com in regard to the development of my Legacy Whisper speakers. They were taken from stock to being given upgraded internal wiring with upgraded caps, and finally reworked entirely to become what I call "crossover speakers", that is, fitted with 12 binding posts allowing for use as 1. fully passive with internal crossover and as little as two channels of amplification with Triwiring (can be configured that way without the Wavelet DAC/pre/room correction), 2. Hybrid with active x-over bass with four or six channels of amplification, or 3. Fully active x-over and six channels of amplification. The last two options use the Wavelet DAC/pre/correction. The room correction would likely be very important in your installation.
I have had these speakers with four 15" bass drivers each running with a pair of Legacy XTREME XD Subs, for a total of twelve 15" bass drivers. That proved plenty of easeful LF, at least for me. So, that is yet another option, the Whisper with subs. No problem generating enormous sound, however it doesn't have quite the openness of the big midrange of the Valor. If I was not limited in terms of cost, I would go for the Valor. As it is, I try to simulate some of the same characteristics with the Whisper and subs. :)
Hrm maybe the Tidal is a better choice then since its suited to true listening and not necessarily analysis? Sunray g1 or contriva g1 are both really interesting choices. Either way probably getting a ton of value. @douglas_schroeder I've read lots of good things about the sunray but seen at least 1 prior owner who really hated them and said they were awful. So it makes me a little nervous. Another option is to wait until I can get a used or demo current gen for a good price. Actually there is a current gen agoria on for sale but they are asking too much ($65k). I also am looking for only piano black.
I have used active ATCs for about 15 years. The first pair a classic 50s then anniversary 50s - I now have a pair of the tower 100s with the anniversary amp packs I purchased as a special order, together with a C6 sub. I have not heard the Tidals. I got them initially because they are cost effective with built in amps and active speakers makes sense to me. I have a dedicated room which has been carefully acoustically treated. No problem with bass - I had Ben Lilly from ATC come over to fit the new tweeters - he recalibrated the speakers to match the new tweeters he also measured the room response. The graph showed a pretty flat line from 20Hz to 19kHz - he said the the room measured as well as a good studio. They are very accurate, dynamic with excellent imaging - they respond to a high quality input signal, showing up any deficiencies in the source. The music sounds very real, a friend played his saxophone along with an art pepper track it was pretty seamless. They sound good with any sort of music, the better the recording the more real they sound. Would be best to hear them yourself though.
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