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ATC SCM 11 on home demo - thoughts


DomT
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Hello everyone I have some ATC SCM11 on home demo and whilst I am listening in my system it would be useful to get opinions from long term users as well especially what combinations of kit work well.

My system is very revealing but smooth sounding. As I don’t have internet until next week I am using a MacBook Pro/Audirvana/Benchmark DAC2 playing downloaded and ripped FLAC albums as well as MP3 versions of the ripped albums. Amp are Audio Research SP17 (valve) and D130 (S/S).  Speaker cables are Tellurium Black 2, Atlas Hyper 3.5 and Chord Sarsen.
 

For the past four days I have been listening to QAcoustics 3020i and the combination was stunning. More detail, better textures, more smooth sound than I remember having at home in the main system. So far so good.

I plugged in the ATCs and was initially underwhelmed. After all of the hype on here about ATC I was expecting a huge jump in quality over the £250 3020is. The ATCs don’t have much more detail and the extra detail isn’t revealing any more musical prowess it’s more about revealing ambient sounds and slightly better instrument detail but nobody seems to be playing better. I was expecting the ‘fast bass’ to make some musically meaningful entrance but not really.

The ATCs are much less forgiving that the 3020i. My amp takes at least 2 hours to warm up and is a bit strident until then. No problem on the 3020i but a bit painful to listen on the SCM11. Now that four hours have passed the smoothness of the past few days has returned. But switching from listening to MP3s to FLAC of the same album ripped from the same album on the same ripper a bit of harshness has returned.

I will persevere and listen more. Tonight I shall change cables to the Atlas (same as I have at home) and after a 12 hour warm up overnight shall have a listen again tomorrow. 

The ATCs remind me a little of my Neumanns; just the facts and not really emotive. The SHL5 and P3ESR are probably as detailed but draw me in more. The ATC midrange reminds me of a Yamaha NS10 where you can really hear the snare drum and it’s just what you want for mixing. But this isn’t mixing it listening. 

The thing is that with the QAcoustic 3020i I was gushing with praise on here about them but with the ATCs I am yet to be impressed by them. They had a tough act to follow. They might be technically better than the 3020i but are they more enjoyable? Not sure. Maybe Harbeth 30.1 is just what I need?

To all of the ATC fans what am I missing? How have you optimised your setup?

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Interesting insight.

FWIW. Having followed your previous posts, where/how you describe the sort of sound you look for and the components you have owned.....I am not that surprised the ATC SCM11s leave you a little cold. Maybe you will come around to their sound - but I think that is less, rather than more likely.

My view - is that the M30s will be more to your taste.....detailed, yet musically engaging.

Edited by CnoEvil
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I have looked into the ATC's before as I do prefer (need) smaller speakers with easy placement and in some ways they have at least on paper seemed to tick some of the right boxes. But it's for the reasons you mention above that I have so far avoided actually trying them. Might get round to a demo some time but I feel they are probably not for me, I like a warmer / fuller, less analytical  sound..... Be nice to actually try some and see for myself though.

Edited by Rayymondo
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11 minutes ago, Rayymondo said:

I have looked into the ATC's before as I do prefer (need) smaller speakers with easy placement and in some ways they have at least on paper seemed to tick some of the right boxes. But it's for the reasons you mention above that I have so far avoided actually trying them. Might get round to a demo some time but I feel they are probably not for me, I like a warmer / fuller, less analytical  sound..... Be nice to actually try some and see for myself though.

If you are close to Nottingham pop round

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1 hour ago, DomT said:

Hello everyone I have some ATC SCM11 on home demo and whilst I am listening in my system it would be useful to get opinions from long term users as well especially what combinations of kit work well.

My system is very revealing but smooth sounding. As I don’t have internet until next week I am using a MacBook Pro/Audirvana/Benchmark DAC2 playing downloaded and ripped FLAC albums as well as MP3 versions of the ripped albums. Amp are Audio Research SP17 (valve) and D130 (S/S).  Speaker cables are Tellurium Black 2, Atlas Hyper 3.5 and Chord Sarsen.
 

For the past four days I have been listening to QAcoustics 3020i and the combination was stunning. More detail, better textures, more smooth sound than I remember having at home in the main system. So far so good.

I plugged in the ATCs and was initially underwhelmed. After all of the hype on here about ATC I was expecting a huge jump in quality over the £250 3020is. The ATCs don’t have much more detail and the extra detail isn’t revealing any more musical prowess it’s more about revealing ambient sounds and slightly better instrument detail but nobody seems to be playing better. I was expecting the ‘fast bass’ to make some musically meaningful entrance but not really.

The ATCs are much less forgiving that the 3020i. My amp takes at least 2 hours to warm up and is a bit strident until then. No problem on the 3020i but a bit painful to listen on the SCM11. Now that four hours have passed the smoothness of the past few days has returned. But switching from listening to MP3s to FLAC of the same album ripped from the same album on the same ripper a bit of harshness has returned.

I will persevere and listen more. Tonight I shall change cables to the Atlas (same as I have at home) and after a 12 hour warm up overnight shall have a listen again tomorrow. 

The ATCs remind me a little of my Neumanns; just the facts and not really emotive. The SHL5 and P3ESR are probably as detailed but draw me in more. The ATC midrange reminds me of a Yamaha NS10 where you can really hear the snare drum and it’s just what you want for mixing. But this isn’t mixing it listening. 

The thing is that with the QAcoustic 3020i I was gushing with praise on here about them but with the ATCs I am yet to be impressed by them. They had a tough act to follow. They might be technically better than the 3020i but are they more enjoyable? Not sure. Maybe Harbeth 30.1 is just what I need?

To all of the ATC fans what am I missing? How have you optimised your setup?

I've got the 11s and also benchmark dac3 and used an Hegel h360 and also got the q accoustic 3020 😂😂

Your thoughts are the polar opposite to mine. 

I don't really know what to say. 

All I can say is that replaced kef r700s and to me blew them up, especially the dynamics.

Could also be going from warm to more neutral sounds.

What's the power of the amps? While you don't need huge current as they won't dip lower than around 5.5 ohms but they do like some power.

Edited by Bokke
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The ATCs are only 85db efficient.  The recommended power amp is 75 to 300 watts .. Personal view is with the amps in your profile you are lacking the current needed to drive them.  However say you are using an ARC SP17 and D130 amp so I am surprised at the sound quality you are getting from the ATCs. I would have expected them to be a good match.

At the end of the day you need to follow your ears, if they are happy then you are.

When did you change to the ARC stuff ? - you were looking for another amp not so long ago to use as an alternative to the Quad 909 - what made you choose the D130?  Also if it is now a permanent fixture with the preamp please update your profile.

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1 hour ago, CnoEvil said:

Interesting insight.

FWIW. Having followed your previous posts, where/how you describe the sort of sound you look for and the components you have owned.....I am not that surprised the ATC SCM11s leave you a little cold. Maybe you will come around to their sound - but I think that is less, rather than more likely.

My view - is that the M30s will be more to your taste.....detailed, yet musically engaging.

Thanks for the thoughts. I think it’s important to try out what other people on here like as you never know. And maybe tomorrow with a different cable they will sound different. I am keeping an open mind. 

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27 minutes ago, uzzy said:

The ATCs are only 85db efficient.  The recommended power amp is 75 to 300 watts .. Personal view is with the amps in your profile you are lacking the current needed to drive them.  However say you are using an ARC SP17 and D130 amp so I am surprised at the sound quality you are getting from the ATCs. I would have expected them to be a good match.

At the end of the day you need to follow your ears, if they are happy then you are.

When did you change to the ARC stuff ? - you were looking for another amp not so long ago to use as an alternative to the Quad 909 - what made you choose the D130?  Also if it is now a permanent fixture with the preamp please update your profile.

Uzzy I created a signature with all my kit because there is not enough room in my profile to list the three system that I am running.

I used to have ARC and so have gone back to them and am very pleased that I have. The D130 was totally refurbished with quality parts and as there are so few ARC S/as amps secondhand it was a punt but a great one.  They are to replace the Creek OBH-22 and Quad 909 once I am in Portugal April next year.

And as you say the amp is more than enough for the speakers but they sound too much like a studio monitor for my listening tastes. I already have the Neumanns that are very much in the same camp as the ATCs. I think that what this shows is what a bargain the 3020i is!!

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44 minutes ago, Bokke said:

I've got the 11s and also benchmark dac3 and used an Hegel h360 and also got the q accoustic 3020 😂😂

Your thoughts are the polar opposite to mine. 

I don't really know what to say. 

All I can say is that replaced kef r700s and to me blew them up, especially the dynamics.

Could also be going from warm to more neutral sounds.

What's the power of the amps? While you don't need huge current as they won't dip lower than around 5.5 ohms but they do like some power.

Wow what a coincidence!! Would be good to know how you differentiate between the speakers. How have you placed the SCM11s? Maybe you have some tips so that I can get the best out of them.

My amp is as listed above and it’s 140 watts. These ARC amps drive large Wilson speakers so the amp is not the issue and it’s just had a total refurb. 

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Am listening to a well recorded Chaka Khan track Love me still. Her voice is often strident and I am wincing a bit. On her The End of a Love Affair she is singing more softly and deeper and it sounds great; in a studio monitor type of way. 

Another example would be Bowie’s John I’m only Dancing 1972 version is ruthlessly shown up for the poor recording that it is.

This is a studio monitor just doing it’s job and also showing up any deficiencies in the chain. In this case the laptop might not be helping, and I don’t normally use it for playback, but I don’t have internet yet to use the Auralic.

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And by way of contrast Herbie Hancock’s Come Running to Me 192k HD Tracks download sounded stunning. But Indont have anything else at 192k and most of the music is listen to is funk and New Wave and was not always well recorded. 5% classical and 5% Jazz. 

Classical fares a little better. Listening to some Prokofiev 

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46 minutes ago, DomT said:

Am listening to a well recorded Chaka Khan track Love me still. Her voice is often strident and I am wincing a bit. On her The End of a Love Affair she is singing more softly and deeper and it sounds great; in a studio monitor type of way. 

Another example would be Bowie’s John I’m only Dancing 1972 version is ruthlessly shown up for the poor recording that it is.

This is a studio monitor just doing it’s job and also showing up any deficiencies in the chain. In this case the laptop might not be helping, and I don’t normally use it for playback, but I don’t have internet yet to use the Auralic.

IMV. For the ATC to shine, everything in the chain that they are connected to, has to be right - including Source Quality/Resolution, Cables and Mastering quality. If there is any problem, or any edginess, you will hear it. On the other hand, when everything is right - they will also portray that.

Edited by CnoEvil
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Was thinking about why I would use this as studio monitors and kept thinking snare drum. I just put on some early Police tracks and whilst not all of the recordings were well recorded the songs had energy. It was fun.  

Enough for today. Atlas cables tomorrow. 

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