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Stand mount mega shootout


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Super Wammer

:pop:

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19 minutes ago, radiant red said:

:pop:

You enjoying that popcorn J?

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Super Wammer
2 minutes ago, DomT said:

You enjoying that popcorn J?

Waiting for your Proac 1 and 2 verdict!

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And the winner is……..

Its been an interesting day to say the least. And I got caught in a seriously bad hail storm without a coat. Was to add a video but the file is too big. Never in my life have I seen anything like it. 

I will do a write up later. 

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Super Wammer
57 minutes ago, hiesteem said:

My money's on the Graham's:pop:!

DB9DF408-10B2-4C78-8B14-9E0F34CD431A.jpeg.918efe68d25052b0b205aaea13a21b49.jpeg

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2 hours ago, DomT said:

And I got caught in a seriously bad hail storm without a coat.

Helmet?

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1 hour ago, tuga said:

Helmet?

He’s alright 😀

E255D0B6-C953-4B6E-8E30-65DA7D153F44.jpeg

Edited by Iceman 16
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The big stand mount subjective, comparative, conclusion. Sorry for the long post but I am trying to be helpful to others.

Firstly I have you lot to blame/thank for this speaker odyssey, so, thank you! And thanks to @ChemMan for showing how a speaker quest should be done and how I failed to meet his high standard of execution!

I got to listen to the following:

ATC SCM11, Dali Rubicon 2, Harbeth P3SER, Harbeth M30.2XD, Marten Duke 2, Neat Iota Alpha, Proac DB3, Proac DB1, Proac D2, QAcoustics 3020i, Rogers LS5/9 and another that I can’t remember. ALL of the speakers were well run in and also they were positioned as they would need to be at home ie close to the rear wall. And if they didn’t work well in that 'close to wall' position then too bad; the Marten suffered the most from this which was a shame - or a relief as they were £7k

The amp used at the first dealer visit was a Marantz PM10 (that sounds similar to my PM11S2) At home an ARC SP17 and D130 was principally used and briefly a Quad Artera Stereo power amp used in case the ARC D130 was doing anything weird - it wasn’t and it was more neutral than the Quad.  At the final dealer session we tested principally using a Luxman E380 and finally on Hegel 390 and Norma Riva IPA 140. Dealer streamer was my Auralic Altair G1 and at home streamer an Innuos Zen Mini mk3 with Innuos p/s and Wave Stream Premium cable. Speaker cables at home were Atlas Hyper 3.5 and Tellurium Black 2.

A recap so that the conclusion makes sense. I own Harbeth P3ESR and SHL5 and I wanted a physically smaller speaker than the SHL5 but bigger than the P3ESR and a smaller profile than the Harbeth M30 that could also work close to a rear wall and be used in a room that has a big bass node.  To be used with a Marantz PM11S2 or maybe my newly acquired ARC SP17/D130 or maybe an Accuphase E380. And a decent t/t and streaming front end.

People like to know what is the 'best speaker' but in reality it just depends on a lot of things and so this is a comparative assessment is based only on these items in my room and using my ears; your room, kit and ears are not mine and you may get different results and prefer other things. hopefully I have written in a way that will be helpful to others.

This speaker quest didn't go as expected.  And during the process I was leaning heavily in a certain direction ie the BBC sound.  Let's get right to it.  

The ATC was a real pain initially to get working with my room. It really needs everything else in the chain to be right for it to sound good (or it just reveals rubbish) otherwise it can me 'too much of a good thing' as the midrange is a little more pronounced and detailed than others. The initial problem was using the laptop as a source and not having a rug on the floor and I strongly suspect that the speakers were not run in fully. But once the Innuos was installed the ATCs run in there were some really great moments especially on vocals and any midrange instruments. The SCM11 were super coherent, diction was really clear, clearer than Harbeth, fast and deep bass (enough for me), great tone, and easy to position. And a really appalling grill design and ‘sticky’ woofers and the veneer finish isn’t as good as Harbeth.

Harbeth M30.2XD and Rogers LS5/9 didn't sound right to me in this comparative group.  I found that weird as I love my Harbeths. The M30.2XD was great in many ways with all of the usual Harbeth midrange magic.  But using the E380 they lacked the rhythmic cohesion that they had had on the Marantz; although this still couldn’t match the ATC. The other speakers didn't suffer the amp change to the same degree. And so whilst I was secretly hoping that the Harbeth's might pull through they didn't.  And the Rogers on the first visit also lagged behind (pun intended) as the bass really lagged compared to the others.  

Proac DB3 became the early front runner and I had the DB3 on home demo for 5 days.  They were a great speaker but ultimately didn't have a sufficiently fleshed out midband.  The treble was very open (in an amazing way) and very slightly a little bit forward but ‘ok’ and not particularly fatiguing. I understand why people like the Proac treble.  The DB3 also compared to the ATC didn't have enough bass but it was a really great speaker, easy to listen to, and would suit a lot of people and so I needed to audition the DB1 and D2.

In the meantime the ATCs came back on home demo for four days before going to listen to the Proacs at the dealer and so I had a really great idea of how they sounded; they sounded great and it was difficult to fault them.

At the dealers we started with ATCs as their amp and room were different. Once I had acclimatised to the sound we then put on the DB1.  The dealer had sold the DB3 that I had previously listened to and so it was just a comparison vs the ATC.  The great news was that the DB1 had a fleshed out midrange.  Not quite as much as the ATC but there was less of a gap than there was with the DB3.  So far so good.  But on bass they struggled as had the DB3.  A great sounding speaker but I really wanted a deeper bass, physics count, and so they were out. (Sorry @radiant red).

Next up were the Proac D2 (with dome tweeter and not the ribbon) More bass! Great! Not really.  Sorry to say that the bass was flabby and a bit boomy compared to the ATC. Given that a) I can’t reposition them in my room and and they must work near a rear wall and b) my room has a bass node they had also to be counted out. Nothing else about them mattered.  All of the Proac speakers had a very similar high frequency response.

I was hugely disappointed that the Proacs hadn’t worked better for my circumstances.  They are great speakers and I recommend that they are on your shortlist but we all have our own criteria and preferences. 

Hmmm what now? Lets try the Harbeth M30.2XD again even though they are physically a bit wide.  Start with Earl Klugh and its wonderful.  And some chilled Herbie Hancock from his Sunlight album and again great.  Then Pretenders Talk of the Town.  I wanted to get up and slap the M30s! They just couldn’t pull the performance together in a way that the ATCs and Proacs could.  And so they were out; I couldn’t believe it!

I had wanted to listen to the Graham LS6 but was let down by two dealers and still have not got to hear them. And I had also wanted to listen to some Falcon IMF100s but they are not available for demo at the manufacturer or at home right now.  But based on my Harbeth and Rogers experience I am seriously doubt that they will be ’the ones’. The LS6 are described as 'warm'.  The ATCs are not warm. And if the LS6 will obscure some detail then that’s not going to be great.  They cannot be warm and yet as detailed as the ATC, especially if the Proac, which isn’t warm, isn’t as detailed as the ATC.

Back on go the ATC SCM11. Do you know the Police song Bring on the Night from Reggatta de Blanc? At 27 seconds the guitar part is really interesting.  On the Proac DB1 and D2 the playing style was a little obscured. On the ATC it was very clear. Wow that was a complete surprise. The ATC has a way of making things very clear and precise without falling into non-musical; so long as the rest of the chain is feeding it well as I can imaging that it could sound a bit ’non-musical'. The other thing about the ATCs in particular is that diction is also much clearer.  This lyrics that you were slightly unsure of are now more obvious.  Being a keyboard player and bass guitar player I don’t listen to the words of my favourite songs just the vocal melody and all of the instruments.   But I actually found myself listening to and paying attention to the actual lyrics. That’s never happened ever. The interesting thing also is that compared to the Proac the treble is not so open.  Some people will prefer the Proac for this reason alone but the ATC treble presentation is one that I am more used to.  

What effect did the amps have on the ATC? Compared to the Accuphase E380 the Hegel 390 had more bass and a less tonally rich sound.  The extra bass in the dealers room tipped the bass to being ’too much bass’. At home in Nottingham it would not be a problem but maybe in Portugal it would be.  Regarding tonality some may say that the Accuphase was coloured and therefore incorrect but I think that the Hegel was coloured in that it didn’t have enough of it.  However we were using an Auralic Altair G1 and if we had used an Innuos the results may well be different (The ATCs will be used with my Auralic Altair G1). The Norma was also like the Hegel ie a great amp.  Right now I really can’t remember that I didn’t like about it but in comparison to the Accuphase it lacked something.  Having said that we were listening to the entire signal chain in a specific room.  Results will be different in other rooms and systems.  All of the amps were great of they were your thing.

The interesting thing about the amp swaps was that it helped me to understand how flexible the Proacs and ATCs would be if I ever do change anything in my system.  I have run enough variables now to know for example that a Hegel 390 and Proac D2 would produce way too much bass in my lounge.  Also that if I find the ATCs are too bass light in my room in Portugal that an Accuphse would probably not be the answer and something like the Hegel might be a good idea.  So the ATC is a reasonably safe choice in terms of bass output and speaker positioning.  It also sounds great.

So what is not to like about the ATC?  Right now on a musical level I am struggling to find a problem based on these comparisons. None of the speakers are good in all areas but the ATCs seem good in all areas according to may tastes.  Depending on what flavour you like others may be better for you.

We have to talk about the elephant in the room.  Have you ever been introduced to a possible partner by a friend who says “I know that he/she is a bit ugly but wait until you taste their cooking!” Why oh why did ATC chose grills that are a) ugly and b) do not protect the drivers from dust? The drivers appear to be ’sticky’ on both of the dealer pairs whereas the Proacs and others are not ’sticky'.  I am concerned about the woofers getting dirty over time as the dust sticks to them.  I have a dust allergy and also like everything to be clean and so this is a real concern. Hmmm.

I still have the ATC at home and also have an E380. Will listen for a few more days and make a decision.

Hope that this was useful to someone.

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Good write up!

20 minutes ago, DomT said:

ALL of the speakers were well run in and also they were positioned as they would need to be at home ie close to the rear wall. And if they didn’t work well in that 'close to wall' position then too bad; the Marten suffered the most from this which was a shame - or a relief as they were £7k

Some reflex speakers work really well with their ports plugged/stuffed. This will offer more flexibility.

22 minutes ago, DomT said:

We have to talk about the elephant in the room.

The elephant is the room. Or the fact that your speakers must go against the wall... :D

25 minutes ago, DomT said:

We have to talk about the elephant in the room.  Have you ever been introduced to a possible partner by a friend who says “I know that he/she is a bit ugly but wait until you taste their cooking!” Why oh why did ATC chose grills that are a) ugly and b) do not protect the drivers from dust? The drivers appear to be ’sticky’ on both of the dealer pairs whereas the Proacs and others are not ’sticky'.  I am concerned about the woofers getting dirty over time as the dust sticks to them.  I have a dust allergy and also like everything to be clean and so this is a real concern. Hmmm.

Don't let the damping coating put you off the ATCs, I'm sure you can find a seamstress and order some covers, or get them off eBay:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/294174438995

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16 minutes ago, tuga said:

Good write up!

Some reflex speakers work really well with their ports plugged/stuffed. This will offer more flexibility.

The elephant is the room. Or the fact that your speakers must go against the wall... :D

Don't let the damping coating put you off the ATCs, I'm sure you can find a seamstress and order some covers, or get them off eBay:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/294174438995

Thanks for the link to the covers but like with Harbeth the speaker grills need to be used when playing music and watching TV for several hours a day. 

Regarding placement close to wall. This is not the elephant in the room. It’s as much an elephant as someone saying that they only want speakers positioned far away from walls.  
 

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2 minutes ago, DomT said:

Thanks for the link to the covers but like with Harbeth the speaker grills need to be used when playing music and watching TV for several hours a day. 

Regarding placement close to wall. This is not the elephant in the room. It’s as much an elephant as someone saying that they only want speakers positioned far away from walls.  
 

The perforated metal grills are butt-ugly, I'll give you that. :D

But I don't think the covers would make much difference for casual or TV listening...

.

The room is the elephant, and limiting the positioning options makes it even worse. But most of us don't have dedicated listening rooms unfortunately.

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Good write up, thanks. I am sure that will be of help to a lot of people.

And well done for trying so many speakers, both at home and at the dealer.

You’re right about a speaker having to match your circumstances. What you say about the ATC’s doesn’t surprise me, as there’s something ‘right’ about how they do rhythms and bass. Once you get used to a sealed box, it can then all sound a bit boomy and disjointed when going back to ported speakers (unless well placed, well away from all walls etc).

Like you, I thought the bass was ideal in quantity on the ATC’s in my room (plus perfectly integrated and tuneful), whereas a lot of people will find them bass-light. I’ve not heard the P3ESRs, but obviously own the similar specced Spendor 4/5’s, and I thought the ATC’s offered a similar bass, but maybe that extra 10% in depth and weight, which was perfect. Conversely, the Kef LS50 (or Dynaudio Special 40) for example, had just that bit too much for my tastes and lacked the last word in seamlessness and tautness. Again, it’s all relative though, as many people even find those speakers bass-light and pair them with subs. So room and taste dependent.

They’re massive, but you may even want to try the ATC SCM19’s then, as by some accounts they have a little more bass again, while retaining the sealed box tunefulness, and are also reportedly a bit more laid back than the SCM11’s.

I had assumed the Proac DB1 would reach deeper and hit harder than the ATC’s though? That surprised me it was the other way round, looking at the specs.

Sorry to hear that the D2 sounded a bit boomy, I’d had my eye on those! If it sounded that way at the dealer in free space, then yeah, doesn’t sound like it will work at home near to walls.

Shame you didn’t get to try the Graham LS6, but from what I’ve read – whatever that’s worth – they are also quite bloated in the bass, unless given loads of space. Very large rear reflex port.  Likewise, with the Harbeth 30.2’s – that’s a pity given how much you like the Harbeth sound. 

I'd still recommend giving the Spendor 3/1's a listen. But they do have a bass that's notably heavier than the ATC's for example. 

Edited by dave6v
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It's easy to go for the ATC / dismiss ported options because of a sealed cabinet's plug-and-play ability in terms of room/bass integration.

But nowadays it's so easy to correct/EQ the response with software or hardware/box that it seems a shame not to get another speaker if it outclasses the sealed box in most other aspects of performance. (not saying that it is the case for @DomT or the ATC in question)

.

Edit: like the OP I have had to psh my speakers backwards but managed to deal with the peaks quite easily using REW and HQPlayer

Edited by tuga
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Super Wammer

Good write up Dom, proves that not all is as expected. 
As someone said, Proac excel on class A and valve. Stick the DB1’s on the Sugden A21a S2 or Signature and the bass produced by the amp is fantastic with them and texture in the midrange. This combination can easily outperform systems double the price. 
The D2’s loved the Copland/Primaluna combo, with the valve pre Primaluna, injecting outstanding mids and imagery along with the Coplands 160w power, it proved a fantastic combination. 
So, DB1 was preferred on class A and D2’s on the valve pre and power/Hybrid. 
As I always say, it’s about system synergy and you have certainly had some toys to play with. 
Personally, I’d never match Proac with Luxman or Accuphase. As time has passed, I’ve learnt that the last two amps are not everything to all men and better synergy and sound can be had for a lot less. 

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