ATC SCM40 Active or Not

Happy Listener posted:

In tech terms, the ATC's don't look up to the minute vis drivers* and the detailing which seems to go in to say a Kudos product, plus the amps appear to be 'on board' (which is far from ideal) and how are they supported/service arrangements/can they be upgraded, et al. I'm sure many of us find the speakers market in general very challenging, not helped by some dealers who will happily sell Naim's 500 range but often have a very limited offering of speakers to go alongside - and then there's our unique listening rooms. Compromise abounds.

 

Not sure what "up to the minute" looks mean in the context of drive units? I became aware of ATC in the early days, when they had set out to produce excellent  no-compromise drivers, and that they did.  Taking the  sublime dome midrange driver as an example (SM75-150), it was first produced in the mid 1970s - and whilst it has had a few refinements I believe has changed little in 40 years. It was reported in the 1970s as being a superb driver - so why replace it? ATC are clearly not interested in fashion - and indeed over the years their prime market has been critical pro use, initially only making drivers not complete loudspeakers, an d even with complete loudspeakers the domestic side I believe has been very much of a sideline, or at least that is the impression I have had, with only the relatively recent introduction of the small models and the greater domestication in appeatance of the bigger ones marking their recognition of the sales potential in this area.

Their drivers are not cheap - last I saw the SM75-150 cost not far short of £500 each (standard version - they also do a high power higher efficiency vrsion), but for good reason. And yet the complete loudspeakers do seem remarkably cheap compared to some, though if compared to, say, PMC that is because the latter have a much more complicated transmission line cabinet design). However, the drivers do have replaceable diaphragms/voice coils, reflecting their pro heritage (the bass and mid anyway - I don't know about their tweeters) 

Peakman posted:

I now wonder how long it will be before some owner of the SCM40As tries a pair of Naim Powerlines.  I anticipate the "... better than a pair of box upgrades" post soon

Roger, I had that very same thought in mind when I posted. You're limited to 2-m distance to the outlet with PLs, but I don't doubt they would make an audible difference. Better or not? That would be in the ear of the listener. Given the "savings" on the no longer needed amp, the cost of two PLs could be justified if they worked.

Innocent Bystander posted:

Ignoring dedicated mains supplies to the hifi electronics position, most rooms have several mains supplies dotted around, so that it is not far from anywhere to a mains point. (At least, that is my experience, and I have ensured it when I've wired houses.)

Right IB. I don't question lack of a convenient outlet to power the actives. The bigger question for someone like me that has their rack on the wall opposite the speakers (supposing I had run dedicated mains to that location) is wouldn't I want the actives to tap into the dedicated circuit rather than the random household circuitry?

I think it's reasonable to assume that the benefits of a dedicated circuit on the usual gear boxes would be equally important to a speaker with integrated amplification.

a.diabelli posted:

Hi all,

future owner of a pair of SCM40A (I've placed an order last week).

So this topic is like parmesan cheese on macaroni...

The idea is to coupled them with the 272 "naked" (I'll consider the PS upgrade next year...).

Which kind of termination do you suggest?
RCA to XLR or DIN to XLR?

Thanks!

Marco

Congrats Marco, enjoy! I believe Naim favour din so perhaps din to XLR is best. If you decide RCA then take a look at my profile for wiring, this gets the best out of RCA to XLR for noise rejection. I used Redco website in the states to make cable up for me.

Innocent Bystander posted:

The big question is whether ATCs inbuilt amps are immune to imperfections in the mains.

I suspect they're not and I'm sure you could go OTT here with boutique mains cables if that's your bag... 

One thing that would be worth trying is to run the speaker power cables back to a common mains block with the rest of the system, but room layout may preclude this. 

On the other hand, just enjoy them 

Foxman50 posted:

Hi John

Notice you have TQ black speaker cables also, which is what I was using at the time I made the mod. I don't know if you are using the TQ black jumper leads, not that its relevant but annoying you need two sets for the three way terminals on the speakers.

Anyway what I noticed was that the sound changed depending on which terminals I plugged the speaker cables into on the speakers ie if I plugged them into the bass terminals then the bass became better defined, if I plugged into the mid terminals then the mids were better, when I plugged.........you see where i'm going with this.

If you haven't tried it give it a go and see what you think, it sounds completely different depending on the where the speaker cables are plugged into. Surely this should not be the case.

Anyway this got me thinking why should this be and came to the conclusion it can only be either the jumper leads or the binding posts on the speakers. So I opened up the rear panel to have a look and noticed that the internal wiring is terminated on what looks like gold plated push on shoes that connect to nickel plated spades that are connected via a nut on the speaker binding posts. I just thought that's a lot of connections even before the speakers cables are connected.

So firstly I undid all the nuts and removed the spades from the binding posts, then placed them all on one terminal, obviously keeping the positives on one terminal and negatives on the another terminal. So now I could do away with the jumpers and just use the speaker cables, this made a very worth while improvement. However after looking at the speaker terminals I thought they looked cheap and nasty, so looked at alternatives.

I Purchased a set of four WBT-0730.01 Topline Pole Terminal, Gold Plated and WBT flat push-on cable shoes, about £150 in total. The push on shoes were purchased so that I could revert them to stock should this not go well . Opened up the back of the speakers again, cut off the existing shoes from the internal wiring at the binding post end, opened up the holes in the plastic plate slightly, stripped the internal cables back slightly and fitted into the WBT binding posts. What a difference this made I tell you, like new speakers.

Improvements in soundstage, coherence and definition of the speakers was vast, they never sounded disjointed before but now they sound like a single driver. Can honestly say its the best money ive spent on this hobby. £150 and an hour or so to do, selling the two sets of TQ black jumpers will pay for the WBT outlay so its basically a free upgrade.

If nothing else try moving the speaker cables about on the rear and see what you think. Even putting all the internal cabling onto a pair of binding posts made a decent improvement which costs nothing but time, so give it a go if you can.

Apologies Dan, didn't mean to high jack your thread.

 

 

 

I was very interested in the article you wrote, concerning the ATC SCM40 terminal connections.  I understand what you have done with internal wiring, however, would it be possible to post a external picture of the new terminals fitted. The reason I ask, is that I also own the SCM40’s and have always thought this area one of the weak links in manufacture. Thank you.

My recent experience was with ATC 100's... in passive mode driven by a NAP500 (4 yrs old, non-DR) - distinctly underwhelming.  In active mode, a totally different speaker.  I haven't lost the 'Naim sound' when changing to active;  as someone said earlier, the preamp is the main definer of 'the Naim sound' and I'd tend to agree with that.

OK, you're not looking at the SCM100's, but I would bet my hat that the 'active' effect is the same down the range, so my advice is firmly to keep the 272 and buy the active speakers.   You don't say if your 272 is powered by an external power source, but if not you have an upgrade path here that's well worth exploring.

And finally, I've replaced the supplied power cables on the dem pair that I'm borrowing whilst waiting for my own to be manufactured, with Powerline Lite and I've plugged them into the same 6mm dedicated spur(s) that feed the rest of my Naim kit.  The Powerline Lite leads make a small but discernable improvement, so I see no reason to think that a full fat Powerline would likewise deliver an improvement... after all, as my dealer points out, these are now your main amps, why wouldn't you run them with Powerlines?   (answer, of course, is 2 x £560  = £1,120    )

Roger

Man with no Naim posted:

I was very interested in the article you wrote, concerning the ATC SCM40 terminal connections.  I understand what you have done with internal wiring, however, would it be possible to post a external picture of the new terminals fitted. The reason I ask, is that I also own the SCM40’s and have always thought this area one of the weak links in manufacture. Thank you.

I will see what I can do, but have not posted images on here previously so may take a while to work out. However the rear does not look much different from stock other than the lower set of terminals are the WBT ones, which are of slightly larger diameter.

Just thought I would update you with my story regarding Active 40's.

My system currently consists of Naim 272,555DR PS, 250DR, ATC Passive 19's, Speaker Stands, Superlumina Speaker Cables and Interconnects.

Since owning the Passive 19's for only a few months and really preferring their presentation to my previous PMC 20.23's I knew I wanted to see what the ATC Active speakers were like. I looked for a dealer that did both Naim and ATC's and eventually came across Jack at the Audiobarn. Numerous emails and phone calls later, I decided to have a demo of the Active 40's at the Audiobarn despite the 150 Mile / 3 Hour journey. This occurred in between Christmas and New Year, Jack was very accommodating and it was a very relaxed and enjoyable demo. Thank you Jack. As soon as I first heard the active 40's I knew they were very special. Much deeper and better defined Bass - it felt like another lower octave had been added. The midrange was clearer and the treble also. The way the 3 drivers integrated with each other was very impressive and the shear power and dynamic contrast was excellent. I arranged with Jack a home demo and took a Chord Shawline RCA - XLR set of cables and a Naim Powerline - more on this shortly.

The demo Active 40's arrived a week ago in their flight cases direct from ATC (110KG's!). I needed to check they would physically fit in my lounge and that they would integrate with my system. The sound produced was equally as spectacular as during the demo at the Audiobarn. I was very impressed and after a weekend of warming up, I tried changing the standard power leads for my Naim Powerline from my 250DR and the one lent from Jack. The difference the Powerlines make is astonishing! The Bass goes even deeper and tighter and the midrange and treble is clearer still. I'm really shocked at the difference the Powerlines made!

So as you might of guessed, I quite like the Active 40's! and have placed an order with Jack at the Audiobarn, including a set of Chord Shawline RCA -XLR and a Naim Powerline. The Demo speakers will be going back to ATC on Friday and then I have a 4 week wait for my new speakers. Jack offered me a good part exchange of my Passive 19's, Speaker Stands, 250DR and the Superlumina cabling. Once the new Active 40's are delivered to Jack, I will drive up and part exchange my items in one transaction.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about my experience with the Active 40's please don't hesitate to ask!

Russ

Russt posted:

 

... Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about my experience with the Active 40's please don't hesitate to ask!

Russ

My question has been addressed by some other forum members on this thread but did you compare the SCM40A against the passive 40 and if so, what was your impression?

Apologies in advance if I missed it on the thread and you've already commented on that and I missed it. 

Hi NewNaim16, no I didn’t compare the passive 40’s to the actives. Just my passive 19’s against the active 40’s. I’ve done quite a bit of research and realised that the passive crossover is the limiting factor with passive speakers. With the active 40’s I can reduce my box count to just the 272 & 555dr power supply and remove the Superlumina cabling. The figure to upgrade to the active 40’s with my part exchanges is less than 2k so I feel it is more than worth it! 

Russt posted:

Thank you HM, they really are very special aren’t they. Do you keep yours powered up all the time and did you find the Mark Grant power cables made a big improvement?

No, I just warm them up before a session  

Difficult to say whether new power cables have made any difference, not done any serious comparison, certainly hasn't made sound quality any worse. I've moved to Chord C-power now as needed a little extra length after repositioning speakers. I did ask ATC before buying and they said they have not experienced new power cables making any improvement. It would be interesting to hear the Naim Powerlines. My speakers are just on a shared ring main.

What did make a difference was changing RCA to XLR interconnect from DAC to speakers. I noticed my Chord Shawline introduced buzz/hum when close to a power cable so I changed to Mogami 2549 for better shielding. Also did proper cable dressing. No more buzz/hum and a more relaxed/slower presentation yet without any loss of detail.

Russt posted:

Hi NewNaim16, no I didn’t compare the passive 40’s to the actives. Just my passive 19’s against the active 40’s. I’ve done quite a bit of research and realised that the passive crossover is the limiting factor with passive speakers. With the active 40’s I can reduce my box count to just the 272 & 555dr power supply and remove the Superlumina cabling. The figure to upgrade to the active 40’s with my part exchanges is less than 2k so I feel it is more than worth it! 

I didn't get that impression from Dynaudio actives that the passive crossover is a limiting factor.

The passives sound very good to me so I stayed with my Nap 250DR.

Halloween Man posted:
Russt posted:

Thank you HM, they really are very special aren’t they. Do you keep yours powered up all the time and did you find the Mark Grant power cables made a big improvement?

No, I just warm them up before a session  

Difficult to say whether new power cables have made any difference, not done any serious comparison, certainly hasn't made sound quality any worse. I've moved to Chord C-power now as needed a little extra length after repositioning speakers. I did ask ATC before buying and they said they have not experienced new power cables making any improvement. It would be interesting to hear the Naim Powerlines. My speakers are just on a shared ring main.

What did make a difference was changing RCA to XLR interconnect from DAC to speakers. I noticed my Chord Shawline introduced buzz/hum when close to a power cable so I changed to Mogami 2549 for better shielding. Also did proper cable dressing. No more buzz/hum and a more relaxed/slower presentation yet without any loss of detail.

Thanks HM, I found the Naim Powerlines to make a big difference compared to the stock power cables and my demo speakers are only on a shared ring main too.

I haven't had any issues with buzz or hum from the Chord Shawline but just in case, where did you source your Mogami cabling from as I can't see an obvious source in the UK? And also, did you find that the speakers needed much burning in from new or did they sound great from the start?

Many thanks

Russ

analogmusic posted:
Russt posted:

Hi NewNaim16, no I didn’t compare the passive 40’s to the actives. Just my passive 19’s against the active 40’s. I’ve done quite a bit of research and realised that the passive crossover is the limiting factor with passive speakers. With the active 40’s I can reduce my box count to just the 272 & 555dr power supply and remove the Superlumina cabling. The figure to upgrade to the active 40’s with my part exchanges is less than 2k so I feel it is more than worth it! 

I didn't get that impression from Dynaudio actives that the passive crossover is a limiting factor.

The passives sound very good to me so I stayed with my Nap 250DR.

Dynaudio say of active (in respect of which they use digital active crossovers):

You don’t lose or change any information, which happens even when using best analogue components.

Yes, there’s more control over the process in the digital active crossover; component tolerances are not an issue: “We have much more control over the process and transmission. There are not any component tolerances to worry about. In digital crossovers, the components are numbers in a DSP,” said Jan Abildgaard Pedersen, Chief Technology Officer at Dynaudio, in our Ask the Expert episode about DSP.

That means we can prevent loss of information in the signal path from the source to the drive unit. And that’s important if your goal is to reproduce music as close to the original as possible.

 

Russt posted:
Halloween Man posted:
Russt posted:

Thank you HM, they really are very special aren’t they. Do you keep yours powered up all the time and did you find the Mark Grant power cables made a big improvement?

No, I just warm them up before a session  

Difficult to say whether new power cables have made any difference, not done any serious comparison, certainly hasn't made sound quality any worse. I've moved to Chord C-power now as needed a little extra length after repositioning speakers. I did ask ATC before buying and they said they have not experienced new power cables making any improvement. It would be interesting to hear the Naim Powerlines. My speakers are just on a shared ring main.

What did make a difference was changing RCA to XLR interconnect from DAC to speakers. I noticed my Chord Shawline introduced buzz/hum when close to a power cable so I changed to Mogami 2549 for better shielding. Also did proper cable dressing. No more buzz/hum and a more relaxed/slower presentation yet without any loss of detail.

Thanks HM, I found the Naim Powerlines to make a big difference compared to the stock power cables and my demo speakers are only on a shared ring main too.

I haven't had any issues with buzz or hum from the Chord Shawline but just in case, where did you source your Mogami cabling from as I can't see an obvious source in the UK? And also, did you find that the speakers needed much burning in from new or did they sound great from the start?

Many thanks

Russ

Hi Russ, I ordered a custom made pair from redco in the usa. I loved the speakers from new but yes they do run in and get even better, especially in the first couple of weeks. The biggest change for me was the bass balance, bass increased yet remained balanced and accurate. The tweeter and mid smoothed out creating even more beautiful life-like sound. ATC sometimes have a reputation for a clinical and unforgiving sound but I don't find this at all with SCM40A. Yes accurate, but also a forgiving and easy listen, I could listen to them all day, every day. A difficult balancing act that I've never heard in any other speaker, not that I've listened to all that many  

Absolutely no idea!!!!!

I used to have a pair active 50's for almost 18 years and not strictly being designed for domestic use, they sounded much better at higher listening levels. They were after all, originally intended for use in studios and were given a veneer finish for domestic settings.

Having moved to New Zealand and having a smaller lounge area, I sold the 50's ....

The active 40's (to my ears) actually sound superior in my setting and sound better at lower volume levels than the 50's ever did ..... but they are specifically designed for domestic home use.

Obviously the bass isn't as extended as the 50's ... but it is more than enough.

Go audition a pair and make sure that the dealer turns down the listening level ... then you will definitely know if they are good for you. Please ignore all the B**S** from reviewers and internet forums.

After all, if you buy something, it's you that has to live with it - not them! 

Trust YOUR ears ONLY 

So I went to my dealer and auditioned SCM19, SCM40 and SCM20SL against my Elac 244BE. Except for a slightly metallic touch compared to the ATCs (which could be cured using different cables) my Elacs are better in every respect.

Better dynamics, more detailed and far more engaging. I really wanted to like the ATC speakers but truth be told, they lack the musicality and excitement I'm looking for, being overly analytical and "correct". They also shine when driven loud, not so much at low listening levels, regardless to the amplifier specs.

One more thing. The 250DR isn't enough to drive the 19s properly, unless you don't know any better. The ATC P1 did a far better job, but the P2 really brought things to life. I don't even want to mention SCM40's performance on the Naim.

 

Sad. My ATC journey ends here.

hey mr. frog thanks for the reply. i agree i will have to find a way to listen to them. living in romania right now and havent yet found a pair.. even in london where i will be next week i tried to set up an audition i could not find an active pair!! so for now rely on how forum members experience them at low levels. cheers, pieter

Hi Dan, did you try the Active 40's? They are in a different league to the passive versions. Admittedly I've gone from passive 19's to Active 40's but when I had to go back to the passive 19's after returning the demo Active 40's the passive 19's sounded dreadful. The majority of the bass had disappeared and the midrange and treble was more subdued. The excitement factor was missing too. Although the Passive 19's sounded great before I heard the Active 40's!

As for listening at lower volume, the Active 40's are really good at low levels. The Bass remains solid and tight and the midrange and treble remain really clear but they are even better at higher volume. Again I can't comment on the Passive 40's in this respect.

My brand new Active 40's are due to be delivered today. Slightly excited! 

Dan.S posted:

So I went to my dealer and auditioned SCM19, SCM40 and SCM20SL against my Elac 244BE. Except for a slightly metallic touch compared to the ATCs (which could be cured using different cables) my Elacs are better in every respect.

Better dynamics, more detailed and far more engaging. I really wanted to like the ATC speakers but truth be told, they lack the musicality and excitement I'm looking for, being overly analytical and "correct". They also shine when driven loud, not so much at low listening levels, regardless to the amplifier specs.

One more thing. The 250DR isn't enough to drive the 19s properly, unless you don't know any better. The ATC P1 did a far better job, but the P2 really brought things to life. I don't even want to mention SCM40's performance on the Naim.

 

Sad. My ATC journey ends here.

Wow, very surprised to hear that. Overly analytical, lacking musicality and excitement would be the last words I would use to describe my SCM40 actives. For me, they sound superb, accurate, and well balanced whatever the listening level. Each to their own I guess.

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