ATC SCM100 vs B&W 802 D2

Halloween Man posted:
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.

HM  , not to divert the topic but what size is your room please ? 

About 4m X 4.3m, typical English Edwardian living room, chimney breast, bay window, and suspended timber floor. Strangely, I find the speakers sound best firing down the short width of the room, either side of the chimney breast, rather than down the long length.

The 19 was a better match room wise (less bass) but I just could not live without the sound of the 40 after comparing. The 40 is a masterpiece.

Halloween Man posted:

About 4m X 4.3m, typical English Edwardian living room, chimney breast, bay window, and suspended timber floor. Strangely, I find the speakers sound best firing down the short width of the room, either side of the chimney breast, rather than down the long length.

The 19 was a better match room wise (less bass) but I just could not live without the sound of the 40 after comparing. The 40 is a masterpiece.

Thanks, my room was very similar but after knocking through and extending its now over 10m Long . Could help in the bass department. 

Halloween Man posted:

If only you could have seen the look on swmbo's face once I'd suggested this 

How are you getting on Roger?

 

SCM100s changed to active late afternoon then I had to go out to a meeting all evening.  Very brief first impressions were 'Yes, that's what I was hearing in my dealers!', so looking forward to some serious listening over the next couple of days as the active amps warm up   

Unfortunately I can't report SWMBO's impressions, I'd get thrown off the forum... and she hasn't actually listened to them,  just doesn't like the shape & size, I guess.  I'm fearing this could turn into a 'wife or speakers' decision,  but let's not preempt the outcome before I've had a proper chance to listen to the speakers.

Innocent Bystander posted:

Remind her of what she says to you: size (and shape) aren't important, its what they do that matters.

Otherwise if the SCMs are indeed the ones you prefer, get a photo of the 802s printed on an open weave fabric and throw over the SCMs.

This suggestion is certainly worthy of further consideration... the Scottish company does speaker fabric covers, don't they?... I wonder if they'd reveal their supplier.

But I'm jumping ahead of myself... time to go do some listening (speakers, not wife).

rjstaines posted:

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. 

Roger, when (if) you get an answer to the NS01 issue would you please share it with us all, maybe under a new thread titled ‘NS01 issue resolved’ or similar, on the streaming pages so that other NS01 users can find it easily, just in case.

Clive B posted:
rjstaines posted:

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. 

Roger, when (if) you get an answer to the NS01 issue would you please share it with us all, maybe under a new thread titled ‘NS01 issue resolved’ or similar, on the streaming pages so that other NS01 users can find it easily, just in case.

Good idea Clive - I've just done exactly that.  Hope it helps someone 

Timmo1341 posted:
Mr Frog posted:

Perhaps 3 days immersed in the awesome sound of ATC and too focused in the listening pleasure, to have time for Internet forum activity.

I'm guessing it's more likely that Roger has got a life!!

Actually Roger has got a 1 year old and a 2 year old (grandkids) living with him at the moment...

Meanwhile the short bursts of listening that I've managed to get in are worrying... I'm starting to fall in love with the ATCs, with all that entails... speakers or wife decision...  as Beachcomber said earlier - I bet I'll miss her.

Tomorrow is kids-at-nursery-all-day  day so planning to do some final serious, uninterrupted listening.  After all. ATC are not going to run with the concept of a permanent audition, are they?

Well the jury is in.  After hours of serious, uninterrupted comparison between ATC SCM100 ASLT and B&W 802 D2, this is what I found...

ATC in active mode is an extremely accomplished speaker system; in passive mode, driven from NAP500 / SuperLumia, I found it to be just a good speaker and not in any way preferable to my B&W 802 D2’s.

 So let me return to its active configuration…

The ATC has exceptionally good control of the midrange, the human voice range, with a sound that I would like to call completely natural.  In comparison the 802’s have slightly more forward presentation in this range together with a slightly brighter sound, the kind that makes you think ‘Ooh that’s good’, but then when switching back to the ATC100’s you realise the 802 sound was slightly too good, and not quite as clean and uncluttered as the ATC’s.

 I was somewhat surprised to hear some things* in the recording with the ATC’s that were masked, in fact simply not audible, with the 802’s – how much this is the amplifier performance and how much the speakers themselves I don’t know, but that’s irrelevant, I’m comparing two systems and I’m hearing more from one than from the other.

 * ‘things’ being artist’s breathing and a very quiet and muffled laugh at the end of a take that just weren’t there with the 802.

 Bass is another area where the 802’s come at you… you’re confronted with a heavy, positive bass line. You can hear the different notes OK, but in comparison to the ATC’s the 802’s presentation is fuller-on and ever so slightly woolly round the edges. The ATC has a more controlled bass presentation with starts and stops of notes clearer to hear, surprising, I thought, given that one of the NAP500’s strengths is its ability to take control of dynamics in the music.

 So what I’m hearing in the B&W 802’s is a system that’s easy to listen to (after all I’ve listened to it for a few years now) but one that is emphasising things in the music that perhaps were not meant to be emphasised when the track was mastered.  In the ATC 100’s I’m hearing a presentation that does not ‘grab’ your attention in the way the 802 does, but one that over time becomes more pleasing to live with, and one that is almost certainly closer to what the sound engineer intended you should hear. 

 I suppose, having arrived at this conclusion, one might suppose that the ATC studio pedigree, compared to the B&W retail customer pedigree explains why I should be hearing the differences I hear.

 So what should I do?

 If I was starting from scratch with these two systems in front of me and having a choice of which to buy, based solely on what I’ve heard over the past week, I would be choosing the ATC SCM100 without a doubt.

 Some folk would perhaps be swayed by the price difference - B&W 802 + NAP500 + S/L + Chord SSA = £37,795 and ATC SCM100 ASLT = £18,350, and if so they’d be swayed in the direction of what is possibly the bargain of the millennium in speakers.

 For me, it seems that I could fund the change almost entirely by selling my NAP500, my 802’s, the speaker cables and the 552 to 500 Chord interconnects… but I’m not going to do this…

 …and the reason I shall not be doing this right now is simply this – the ‘wife or speakers’ posts made earlier with tongue in cheek are unfortunately more of a reality than most folk would have believed.  SWMBO dislikes these ATCs with a vengeance the like of which I have not previously seen.  Her dislike is not of the music they produce, it’s of their shape and size.  The once ‘ugly’ B&W 802’s are now the ‘nice looking speakers’ she’s used to, and ‘square’ is definitely not today’s shape for speakers… in her strongly held opinion.       

 The suggestion was made in an earlier post that bribery might be the way to achieve a change in one’s audio set up in these circumstances, and this is indeed a ruse I shall employ… but at a future date… when the tempest has subsided somewhat.

 And so I shall say a big ‘thank you’ to my dealer, Geoff, and to Dave from ATC, and ask them to pick up the dem pair of 100’s. I shall wish them both a happy Christmas and whisper quietly in their ear that I hope to be seeing them again in early 2018, when the ‘weather’ is calmer.   

Roger

Roger

Fascinating findings indeed - both in terms of the ATC performance and your other half's reaction to them!

Appreciating that you previously listened to a pair of 802 D3's and found them lacking, I do still wonder if there would be merit/ no harm trying, if you were to have a pair in your house for a week.  My logic is not so much to defend my position of having a pair (I certainly hope not anyway!!), rather that the reviews of the D3's drew great attention to the work which has gone into making the housing inert in order to pull back the forward presentation of the D2's and make them more neutral.  Comments were also made about the bass having more control than before - this was one of the reasons I steered clear of the 802's previously.  For those parts of tracks where you were simply unable to hear certain subtle sounds with the 500/802 combo vs ATC, well, that may be an aspect which remains a differentiator.  It would be fascinating to learn if you felt the gap had closed sufficiently with the D3's or if 2018 will be Roger's year of prolonged ATC negotiations!

Thanks very much for the analysis thus far.

Peter

northpole posted:

Roger

Fascinating findings indeed - both in terms of the ATC performance and your other half's reaction to them!

Appreciating that you previously listened to a pair of 802 D3's and found them lacking, I do still wonder if there would be merit/ no harm trying, if you were to have a pair in your house for a week.  My logic is not so much to defend my position of having a pair (I certainly hope not anyway!!), rather that the reviews of the D3's drew great attention to the work which has gone into making the housing inert in order to pull back the forward presentation of the D2's and make them more neutral.  Comments were also made about the bass having more control than before - this was one of the reasons I steered clear of the 802's previously.  For those parts of tracks where you were simply unable to hear certain subtle sounds with the 500/802 combo vs ATC, well, that may be an aspect which remains a differentiator.  It would be fascinating to learn if you felt the gap had closed sufficiently with the D3's or if 2018 will be Roger's year of prolonged ATC negotiations!

Thanks very much for the analysis thus far.

Peter

Thanks for the thought Peter and what you say about the D3 redesign makes very good sense for B&W.  The issue I have is simply one of money... whereas the ATC active option almost self-funds with the sale of existing kit, the 802D3 would require an additional £10k  (assuming about £6k sales value of D2s), and unfortunately that's about £9k more than i can afford right now 

Mr Frog posted:
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.

 

Hey Roger

Exactly what I told you

On a serious note, really glad you enjoyed the actives ... they offer amazing performance and are a true HiFi bargain.

I’ve used active 50’s (SCM50 ASL Classics) for almost 20 years but a move to New Zealand and a smaller lounge, forced a sale.

I’m currently looking at the ATC 40a’s .... stunning sound and value.

ATC know exactly how to do active properly and their range is awesome!

No messing with esoteric speaker cables and numerous power amps...

No doubt 2018 may bring a few rewarding surprises

 

She has a point, they do seem to make exceeding ugly speakers, except for the EL150 and that’s £40k passive and needs a room to match. I seem to remember a member here bought a pair for his 500 after a long search but the ended up with Chord amps after a while, Mass I think was the name.

rjstaines posted:

 

The ATC has exceptionally good control of the midrange, the human voice range, with a sound that I would like to call completely natural.  In comparison the 802’s have slightly more forward presentation in this range together with a slightly brighter sound, the kind that makes you think ‘Ooh that’s good’, but then when switching back to the ATC100’s you realise the 802 sound was slightly too good, and not quite as clean and uncluttered as the ATC’s.

.

 So what I’m hearing in the B&W 802’s is a system that’s easy to listen to (after all I’ve listened to it for a few years now) but one that is emphasising things in the music that perhaps were not meant to be emphasised when the track was mastered.  In the ATC 100’s I’m hearing a presentation that does not ‘grab’ your attention in the way the 802 does, but one that over time becomes more pleasing to live with, and one that is almost certainly closer to what the sound engineer intended you should hear. 

 

A very interesting and well presented account. The comment regarding the ATC's midrange fits exactly with my own experimentation with that very drive unit in a different system, fed actively by a different amp, so I think it is largely a function of the drive unit itself, but active driving does indeed seem to bring it to its brilliant best.

i have never had the opportunity to hear the SCM100 - or indeed any other ATC complete loudspeaker - but in my audition of B&W 802D2 vs PMC MB2SE, my description of the B&W was that it was very nice, but too 'polite' rather than presenting the music in a real and engaging way.

I wish you luck with SWMBO - a significant hurdle, and a real challenge because harmony with one's life partner is important, more so than hifi, though it is bliss when both can co-exist happily. ATC's, erm, 'styling' on the SCM100 is rather bleak, being functional rathervthan beautiful, but to many the 802s are ugly, if more stylish. 

I look forward to hearing of successful conversion in due course, by whatever means works...

Hello Roger, very much enjoyed reading your post. Completely understand both you and swmbo's points of view. Such a shame. Not sure if it would be a big step down from what you have or auditioned but have you and your wife checked out Scm40a actives? They are a nice contemporary curved design and offer more more less the same drivers as 100. They offer even better value than the 100s that you described as the bargain of the millennium. If swmbo is agreeable to 40a design then might be worth asking ATC if 40a would give you any of that 100 magic you heard. I personally find the sound wonderful and find it difficult to comprehend that speakers can get much better.

Interesting findings Roger , I adored the Active 50s I heard a few weeks ago . I agree on the looks of the tower version but really like the Classic series version on low bespoke stands . You could argue to your wife they look very retro scandinavian in design ???? I think they are exactly the same speaker otherwise .

Caption
pete T15 posted:

Interesting findings Roger , I adored the Active 50s I heard a few weeks ago . I agree on the looks of the tower version but really like the Classic series version on low bespoke stands . You could argue to your wife they look very retro scandinavian in design ???? I think they are exactly the same speaker otherwise .

Caption

Funny enough Pete, I had the same thoughts, so I printed out the exact pic that you have here on a sheet of A4 paper and left it 'casually' lying around...

One half of the plan worked, the other didn't... she did notice the pic (so that worked) but her comment was unprintable;  it was along the lines of "if you think you're going to change my mind, keep thinking"  (expletives deleted)... surprising because she's usually such a sweet, polite, understanding girl, so the second part of the plan didn't have the desired effect.

Plan C will be to photoshop the pic above onto a photo of our lounge, overlaying the 802's with the ATC's, so she can better visualise how they would look.  Right now all she's seen is a pair of walnut demo (not quite pristine) speakers squashed into limited space beside teak/cherry furniture... no wonder she's not impressed

Roger - thanks for the write-up, much food for thought given the focus and leaning nowadays towards metal and diamond tweeters. 

Did you keep the covers on the speakers when auditioning(?), as I'm sure I've read somewhere (may have been a mag review?) that ATC design the speaker to be used with the covers on. If so, I'm wondering if the grille cloth colour changes/can be changed with the colour options, which could soften the profile of the speakers a tad (straws.. grabbing at!). .......I'm thinking screen-printed grilles here. 

Also, can I ask, how did you find the ATCs performed at low volume levels? Whenever I've listened to larger B&W's I've always struggled to get them going (so to speak) albeit as Peter has mentioned above I understand the newer versions are more efficient and thereby Naim-amp friendly.  

Very interesting and informative post Roger

I was particularly interested as I run SCM50 passive and have wondered about the active upgrade. I was unable to audition these at the time of purchase and didn't want to lose out financially on a then 2 year old NAP300. The SCM50 may be worth looking at as these are half the size of the SCM100 model you auditioned and I believe the only difference is the bass driver and cabinet size. I agree with everyone here re the beautiful midrange that they produce which I have no doubt will be better in active mode

Who knows what 2018 will bring then when things are calmer!!

Duncan

rjstaines posted:

One half of the plan worked, the other didn't... she did notice the pic (so that worked) but her comment was unprintable;  it was along the lines of "if you think you're going to change my mind, keep thinking"  (expletives deleted)... surprising because she's usually such a sweet, polite, understanding girl, so the second part of the plan didn't have the desired effect.

Plan C will be to photoshop the pic above onto a photo of our lounge, overlaying the 802's with the ATC's, so she can better visualise how they would look.  Right now all she's seen is a pair of walnut demo (not quite pristine) speakers squashed into limited space beside teak/cherry furniture... no wonder she's not impressed

If you don't need the NAP500, then it's possible you don't really need the 552, or the NDS with 2 x 555 power supplies. You could replace multiple towers of Fraim and block boxes with something like a Klimax DSM (latest version with Katalyst DAC architecture) connected via it's balanced outputs to the ATC's and sat discretely on an existing piece of furniture. You'd reduce it all down to a single box and one thin interconnect going to each speaker. Try photo-shopping that and see if it meets with approval?

Sounds like you've got your work cut out Roger , you could say that they are the old style and the new ones are much easier on the eye ? There are some decent pictures on ATCs Instagram page as well which show them in a better light  .To my eyes last week the 50s looked smaller and more discreet with the grills on , this pair were finished in Yew and looked great but a little light for my taste . As others have mentioned the 50s are the same apart from a smaller Bass driver , it obviously depends on the size of your listening room but as they are half the size they are worth consideration . 

Duncan , the Active 50s I heard were excellent at lower / normal volumes which is a definite requirement for me , I can say the same for my passive 19s powered by a 250DR . 

Allan Probin posted:
rjstaines posted:

One half of the plan worked, the other didn't... she did notice the pic (so that worked) but her comment was unprintable;  it was along the lines of "if you think you're going to change my mind, keep thinking"  (expletives deleted)... surprising because she's usually such a sweet, polite, understanding girl, so the second part of the plan didn't have the desired effect.

Plan C will be to photoshop the pic above onto a photo of our lounge, overlaying the 802's with the ATC's, so she can better visualise how they would look.  Right now all she's seen is a pair of walnut demo (not quite pristine) speakers squashed into limited space beside teak/cherry furniture... no wonder she's not impressed

If you don't need the NAP500, then it's possible you don't really need the 552, or the NDS with 2 x 555 power supplies. You could replace multiple towers of Fraim and block boxes with something like a Klimax DSM (latest version with Katalyst DAC architecture) connected via it's balanced outputs to the ATC's and sat discretely on an existing piece of furniture. You'd reduce it all down to a single box and one thin interconnect going to each speaker. Try photo-shopping that and see if it meets with approval?

That depends of course on whether the NDS and 552 are key to the sound you like. Many say that the Naim pre-amp is key to the 'Naim sound'.

Otherwise, an alternative could be Dave DAC direct into the ATC, with some appropriate choice of renderer(I believe Chord may be working on a desktop version of Poly, otherwise Melco, Innuos Zenith or Core, combining renderer with store, etc. there was a recent thread asking about NDS vs Dave, but nothing very clear came of it, possibly because few have compared.

Innocent Bystander posted:

The SCM100SE might be a bit more domesticaaly acceptable than the plain version (see ATC website): it has (slightly) curved sides, is a vailable in a range of veneers, and has some other trim detail - all presumably at a cost.

Still dog ugly - makes the B & Ws look almost attractive!

Brief update...

Well, persistance and bribery have paid off, although I suspect that Christmas has grabbed SWMBO's attention and edged those 'ugly speakers' (SCM100's) down her priority list.  Nonetheless, the words "I suppose you're going to get them anyway." were, I thought, about as close as I was going to get to an acceptance.  So I've placed a pair of the classic (stand mount) SCM100 active speakers on order - should be a January delivery.  

Meanwhile I've borrowed the tower active 100's which she hates so much, I've packed up the B&W 802 D2's and the NAP500 and sent them to my dealer who has put them on the bay... so the point of no return is past.  I'm going to drape a few strands of Christmas decoration over the offending speakers in the hope that 'out of sight, out of mind' might happen.

Oh, I mentioned bribery... the initial offer was a new tennis bat at £1,500,  but she's decided that the kind of tennis bat that Andy Murray might play with is probably not for her, so she's settled for a wad of cash instead, so the overall cost of ATC SCM100's has risen by £1,000.  ...she should be on the Brexit negotiating team.

Roger

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×