ATC SCM100 vs B&W 802 D2

I currently have on dem the ATC SCM100 passive speakers, and huge buggers they are too !  I was very impressed with a demo I heard at Acoustica the other week, (they were the active version), so I asked to hear them at home.  Having a NAP500, the opinion was that passive + 500 would be better than active, so passive they are... for now.  I've asked to hear the active version after deming the passives for a week or so... but more later.

I've been listening to these ATC100's without attempting any comparison... up to now!  But today I moved my Diamond 802 D2's into place and swapped back to these.  There's much more comparing to be done but SWMBO has comandeered the living room once again, so serious listening is postponed until tomorrow, BUT my very first impressions are that the 802's would be my preferred choice.

The bass of the ATC 100's is undoubtedly louder than the 802's but it seems a little overpowering. The 802's allow more of the music to flow through, I'm hearing. The 802's are 'brighter' than the ATC100's - the bass is much less intrusive and the detail in the music just seems to flow naturally (even though ATC are sopposedly mixing desk quality speakers).

Now, being a once Scottish manufacturer lover, and used to the 'single speaker' demo rule, I have to admit there are nine other speakers in the room, but that's the way it is, I'm not kicking out my TV/video system, even though it's totally separate from my Naim Stereo system, so the stereo system has to perform within these parameters...

I'll report back when I've had the opportunity to listen to a wider variety of my favourite music (60's, 70's POP and MOR stuff with the odd bit of Vivaldi & Mozart, but only the odd bit!!)

Roger

Original Post
Romi posted:

This would be interesting.  I suppose with Active ATC would only allow a preamp connection.

Quite so Romi, so the question will be how does the ATC active tri-amp compare to the passive Naim NAP500 ?

If the answer is 'better', then the sale of the NAP500 could part-fund the ATC100 purchase and the sale of B&W 802's could cover the remainder of the (approx) £17k.

But then, who in their right mind would wish to get rid of a NAP500 ?   

I’ve not heard the scm100 actives but I did the scm50. It sounded nice but too polite for my tastes. Analytical I’d say when compared to a good Naim plus passive setup. It lacks the slam and openness that Naim amps bring. They’re great for studio monitoring and friendly to the ears which may be good or bad depending on your preference. They certainly sound nowhere as ”live” as Naim, in fact far from it.

Fwiw I’m running a nds/555dr/552dr/500dr/SL full loom with a passive scm40v2 which totally kills the scm50. The scm50 actives were hooked up to a Prism sound Callas DAC. 

I still fail to understand this with Naim gear and Naim owners (me included). I just don't see how fronting a $7K speaker with $80K worth of electronics works. 
In other words, why does one need $80K worth of Naim gear to get the best out of $8K speakers? I would think a NDX/SN2 should suffice from a price point perspective.

I'm guilty too - got NDS/552/300 fronting Kudos Super 20s.

MangoMonkey posted:

I still fail to understand this with Naim gear and Naim owners (me included). I just don't see how fronting a $7K speaker with $80K worth of electronics works. 
In other words, why does one need $80K worth of Naim gear to get the best out of $8K speakers? I would think a NDX/SN2 should suffice from a price point perspective.

I'm guilty too - got NDS/552/300 fronting Kudos Super 20s.

Nail hit on head for those who are the believers.

  1. https://pics.me.me/flat-earth-eclipse-15683654.png
TOBYJUG posted:
MangoMonkey posted:

I still fail to understand this with Naim gear and Naim owners (me included). I just don't see how fronting a $7K speaker with $80K worth of electronics works. 
In other words, why does one need $80K worth of Naim gear to get the best out of $8K speakers? I would think a NDX/SN2 should suffice from a price point perspective.

I'm guilty too - got NDS/552/300 fronting Kudos Super 20s.

Nail hit on head for those who are the believers.

  1. https://pics.me.me/flat-earth-eclipse-15683654.png

I've never seen such convincing proof before Tobyjug... this is life changing stuff  (not unlike the NAC552 in fact) 

MangoMonkey posted:

I still fail to understand this with Naim gear and Naim owners (me included). I just don't see how fronting a $7K speaker with $80K worth of electronics works. 
In other words, why does one need $80K worth of Naim gear to get the best out of $8K speakers? I would think a NDX/SN2 should suffice from a price point perspective.

I'm guilty too - got NDS/552/300 fronting Kudos Super 20s.

Lol. I’ve an 803d3 on order to replace the scm40’s if that makes it more balanced. 

But the SCM40 really are hard to drive speakers and benefits from a 500.

Well I've spent the majority of today listening to a variety of my favourite music in both CD and hi-res formats. I've swapped between my own B&W 802 D2's and the demo ATC SCM100's.  I've done the 'listen awhile to one then change to the other set of speakers'  and I've done the  'listen to one track twice carefully then swap speakers & play the same track again'  modes of auditioning.  I've used the 'involuntary foot tapping' test (the 'if you find your foot moving without deliberate thought, it must be good' test). And I've taken tea breaks at appropriate intervals.  Most importantly, I've remained sober throughout.

And my thoughts at the end of the day, surprisingly perhaps, are that my initial impressions have not altered...  I prefer the openness and slight brightness of the 802's compared to the ATC100's.  My imression of the bass remains likewise unaltered, the ATC's have it in spades (don't you just hate that phrase?), but it still dominates just that tad too much and has an effect akin to hiding or confusing the upper registers ever so slightly.

There is no doubting the fact that these ATC 100 speakers, in passive mode, are remarkably accomplished speakers and there's no doubting that there are many speakers from which the ATC will be a huge jump in SQ,  but for me I'm loving my 802 D2's more than I'm loving these 100's and so, next week, they are moving on to the next potential purchaser for their evaluation, and I've forgone the opportunity to audition an active pair on the basis that a NAP500 will better the inbuilt ATC amps (I hope that supposition is correct!).

Oh, and one final comment from the ultimate authority on speakers... "They don't look as nice as your ones" - SWMBO (bless her).

Roger

Sounds like you've reached the right conclusion, Roger.  Initial impressions can be misleading because sometimes we are attracted to the 'difference' we are hearing rather than making a more reflective judgement on preference. So being patient and coming to the question several times for re-evaluation is very prudent (how many people make snap judgements in dealers' demos and later regret it, I wonder?).  Moreover, I've always told myself that potential upgrades have to be a substantial improvement - incremental 'improvements' that you have to listen for aren't sufficient.

Still, you no doubts enjoyed the trial. That's all part of what makes this hobby/passion fun.  

rjstaines posted:

...... I've forgone the opportunity to audition an active pair on the basis that a NAP500 will better the inbuilt ATC amps (I hope that supposition is correct!).......

Roger

You owe it to yourself to listen to the Active version - which is in a completely different league.

ATC SCM 100 ASL should be superior to seperate power amps and speaker cables driving a passive speaker. Much more control and accuracy.

Though with your substantial investment in those expensive 500’s, it is understandable that  you would want to avoid any chance of being disappointed with what you already have.

On the other hand ....... give it a go!

There area good reasons why many professional artists use ATC. Check out the user list.

 

I listened recently to the SCM50's passive with a Vitus Signature power amp (about £20k) vs SCM100's active. No contest to my ears, SCM100's easily, despite the SCM100's (including their own inbuilt amps) costing less than the Vitus power amp on its own. SCM50's passive were ok and quite pleasant but a bit pedestrian compared to the SCM100's which were a goosebumps on the arms moment within 20 seconds. I wouldn't underestimate ATC's power amps in active configuration.

MangoMonkey posted:

I still fail to understand this with Naim gear and Naim owners (me included). I just don't see how fronting a $7K speaker with $80K worth of electronics works. 
In other words, why does one need $80K worth of Naim gear to get the best out of $8K speakers? I would think a NDX/SN2 should suffice from a price point perspective.

I'm guilty too - got NDS/552/300 fronting Kudos Super 20s.

Agree.  Better to use money to but a new stand

Allan Probin posted:

I listened recently to the SCM50's passive with a Vitus Signature power amp (about £20k) vs SCM100's active. No contest to my ears, SCM100's easily, despite the SCM100's (including their own inbuilt amps) costing less than the Vitus power amp on its own. SCM50's passive were ok and quite pleasant but a bit pedestrian compared to the SCM100's which were a goosebumps on the arms moment within 20 seconds. I wouldn't underestimate ATC's power amps in active configuration.

This is interesting Allan, the 'goosebumps' effect was what I got at the dealer ATC day - they were active SCM100s - but 'goosebumps' I certainly didn't  get with my passive + NAP500 home dem.  And as I mentioned above, with everyone telling me the NAP500 + passive would certainly out-perform the active version, I've foregone an active home dem.

I wonder if I'm doing the right thing by writing them off on the basis of their passive performance?  (and other people's opinions)  

Foot tapper posted:

Hi RJ,

Having heard a pair of active SCM150, I would say keep the 500DR and maybe consider the B&W802D3.

Just a thought, as I help you spend your money on an already fabulous system that will be awesome as it is!

Best regards, FT

Thanks FT, your help is appreciated  (although I'm not sure I speak for SWMBO ...but then she doesn't read this forum)

Hi Roger,

Interesting read especially as I am a B&W 802D2s owner and really enjoy them in my system 🎶

Back in Jan 2016 I had a dem of the 802D3s along with Steve J and I think we were both impressed but I am still very happy  grooving with my D2s 😎

Steve J, I trust all is well with you and yours if you are reading this.

All the best,

Richard

I have used a variety of active ATCs for many years - 100s, 25s and 50s. I really do suggest you listen the active versions, they are in a different league, for very good reasons. And if the 100s produce more bass than you want in your room, try the 50s. And don’t forget you can have tower versions, possibly with the rather special Anniversary amp packs as opposed to the standard amp pack. They also look very nice, simple understated high quality,

Hi RJ. What was the source used for the ATC actives demo that gave you goosebumps? If you found the bass a little much it could be because ATC designs tend to have slower bass roll off (a good thing) which can result in more perceived bass. The port on the  50 and 100 is for woofer loading only, it doesn't boost bass.

Bass is likely to be better controlled on the actives. As you go down the range the bass gets more diminished. Perhaps the active 50 or 40 would be a better match for your room or taste.

It may be that you simply prefer the B&W sound. Have you considered the 802 D3 or 803 D3?

Halloween Man posted:

Hi RJ. What was the source used for the ATC actives demo that gave you goosebumps? If you found the bass a little much it could be because ATC designs tend to have slower bass roll off (a good thing) which can result in more perceived bass. The port on the  50 and 100 is for woofer loading only, it doesn't boost bass.

Bass is likely to be better controlled on the actives. As you go down the range the bass gets more diminished. Perhaps the active 50 or 40 would be a better match for your room or taste.

It may be that you simply prefer the B&W sound. Have you considered the 802 D3 or 803 D3?

Hi HM, thanks for your observations.  The source at the dem was an ATC preamp, but I don't know which model.  They were also demonstrating the SCM 50 in passive configuration - that did nothing for me at all.  You're almost certainly right about preferring the B&W sound, it's what I've listened to for the past ten or so years going from 804s, 803s and then 802's and I was conscious of this preference whilst I was auditioning at home last week, so I made a deliberate effort to identify parts of the music to compare as opposed to just the general sound I was hearing.  Nonetheless the passive SCM100s were somewhat underwhelming compared to the goosebumps I had heard at the Acoustica active dem, and was anticipating at home.

Picking up on what you say about actives, and indeed what several folk have also mentioned, the fact that the active is a totally different animal, I'm thinking I should not simply write these speakers off without at least hearing them in active mode in my setup, so I'll be making a phone call to my dealer to see if I can postpone their pickup and organise their conversion to active for a few days.

rjstaines posted:

On the inside, Tobyjug, as per the user manual. Not that I'd have noticed, but Dave from ATC installed them for the dem and thankfully he seems to know how they should be (unless he just got lucky  ).

Have you tried them on the outside Richard?

 

I had the pleasure of having a pair of SCM 150's at home with my 555/552/500. They are remarkable speakers but very matter of fact.

I had the ART Emotions at the time which were nowhere near as accurate but they headline and sparkle which the ATC's just didn't.

If you want accuracy and frightful reproduction then the ATC's are the ones to go for, if you want a bit of life and excitement then stick with the B & W's.

 

Regards

 

PB

rjstaines posted:

responding to Polarbear... definately life & excitement  (at my age you need all you can get).

and responding to others who advocate a listen to the active version... Dave from ATC will be round on Wednesday to convert the passives to active 

Can't wait !!

Gosh, Roger. Active? You're a glutton for this black boxes  

Is that active with tripe 500s, or ATC active with their amps? I thought it was the latter, when IIRc the amps are bolted on the back of the speakers, so no power amp visible..  But I seem to also recall seeing A triple ATC amp pack with the amps built into one unit, a curvy silver thing, but maybe that was dedicated to the flagship EL150

rjstaines posted:

responding to Polarbear... definately life & excitement  (at my age you need all you can get).

and responding to others who advocate a listen to the active version... Dave from ATC will be round on Wednesday to convert the passives to active 

Can't wait !!

You're lucky ATC can just pop in with speakers for you to try! Enjoy.

rjstaines posted:

responding to Polarbear... definately life & excitement  (at my age you need all you can get).

and responding to others who advocate a listen to the active version... Dave from ATC will be round on Wednesday to convert the passives to active 

Can't wait !!

It will be interesting to here what you think of the active ATCs , I heard active 50s a few weeks ago and they were absolutely fabulous but I am used to the ATC sound . The active versions do seem to offer great value for money and simplicity . I will be going down the active route once I move back home after renovations but not sure  I have space for the 50s in my 3.7m wide by 2.7m high room even though it will be 14m long . 

Note to IB and MDS - it's the ATC active tower with the add-on bolted on the back of the speakers, so I actually lose  two black boxes if I go this route (NAP500 & NAP500PS)

And to Halloween Man  I couldn't see where you are, but if it's anywhere in the UK, I'm sure ATC would be very happy to pop around to your place with this very same pair of 100's that I currently have on loan (in either active or passive mode - the change takes about 30 mins, I'm told).

And just to prove Murphy's Law is active on the Wirral (where I am), my NS01 refused to power up after I moved it out of the way so that Dave from ATC could get to the preamp out tomorrow.   A quick bit of buggering about, plugging in a screen and keyboard to the NS01 tells me I have a CMOS checksum error... luckily an F1 continues the restart and it's up & rready for the active dem tomorrow.  Meanwhile an email is winging its way to Phil in the hope that his magic wand together with his superior intellect and knowledge of all things Naim server will identify a fix that gets around the need to F1 every time the NS01 is powered up. 

 

rjstaines posted:

and to Halloween Man  I couldn't see where you are, but if it's anywhere in the UK, I'm sure ATC would be very happy to pop around to your place with this very same pair of 100's that I currently have on loan (in either active or passive mode - the change takes about 30 mins, I'm told).

 

 

I'm sure you're right, in my experience ATC customer service is spectacularly good. I'd love to give bigger speakers a try but I'm already pushing it in my room with the 40 actives.

RJ

As others have suggested, I think it would be sensible to spend part of your research time auditioning a pair of 802 D3's.  I bought a pair earlier this year and have been very impressed with them.  I'm not sure that they manage to look as good as the previous version (OK they don't!!), but they do sound tip top.

Peter

northpole posted:

RJ

As others have suggested, I think it would be sensible to spend part of your research time auditioning a pair of 802 D3's.  I bought a pair earlier this year and have been very impressed with them.  I'm not sure that they manage to look as good as the previous version (OK they don't!!), but they do sound tip top.

Peter

Thanks for your thoughts Northpole.  I had a listen to the D3s at my dealer's shop in Chester when they first launched and have to say I was not overenthusiastic about what I heard  (a little akin to my reaction to passive ATC100s in fact).  But that was then and by now his demo D3s will be well run in so maybe another listen to them will be in order.

I'm sitting here waiting for these passive 100s to be converted to active... I have an expectation based on what I heard in the shop the other week; if they fall short of this high expectation, I'll follow through with your suggestion NP and listen again to the D3s.

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