ATC SCM40 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Review & comments

Peter Parker

Distinguished Member
The most astonishing speakers I ever heard were some huge ATC tower speakers with two 15"bass drivers and the 3" midrange - what was so amazing was the 'crunchy' midbass. I've never heard anything like it before or since. At over £35,000 each (IIRCC) they should be something special, but if these speakers can produce a similar sounding midbass along with the clarity of the rest of upper end that the SCM300ASLTs could produce (and helped with a sub if required), then these are a steal IMHO.
 

pressure

Well-known Member
I'd love to experience these, preferably the actives. As a Genelec owner I'm firmly on the monitor side of speaker preference, I love the speed, clarity and transparency. These would be awesome. But I'd need a whole new room - indeed a whole new house - for them to work for me!
 

Steve Garratt

Standard Member
The midrange driver reminds me very much of the Dynaudio units in the old Ruark Crusaders.

Lovely tone to them.
I owned a pair of Ruark Crusader II speakers for just over 20 years, they gave good service but unfortunately BOTH midrange units started to display distortion on certain recordings.
I tried to get them replaced but unfortunately Ruark has ceased the production of loudspeakers and no spares held. Also, try to remove the old mid range units? Impossible!! With all screws removed, they seem to be glued in!! They would not budge.
I gave the Ruarks to friend with less fussy hearing and purchased a pair of the ATC SCM40 speakers.
Result? Wow! Should have changed to these years ago! The difference in reproduction between these and the Ruarks is almost night from day. Though on paper, the Ruarks bass response is allegedly lower, the ATCs just plunge to previously unheard depths.
And you can play them loud without ear fatigue which I was experiencing with the Ruarks.
My last ever speaker purchase before my box.
 

Steve Garratt

Standard Member
My Review as published on Audio T’s web page for the ATC SCM40 in 2018


For the past 21 years, I had owned a pair of Ruark Crusader II speakers, in 1997, a highly regarded item. They did provide good service until a few years ago, when the Mid Range units on both speakers, started to be prone to distortion. I put up with this for a long while until I decided to attempt to have the units replaced. Unfortunately, Ruark ceased the manufacturing of speakers a long while ago andnow hold no spare parts for repairs. What to do? A good friend and ATC owner suggested that I have a look at ATC’s range of speakers for one which was equipped with three separate drive units and three discrete inputs, mirroring the Ruarks which had been tri wired and bi amped with two pairs of Audiolab 8000Ms. To cut a long story short, I discovered the ATC SCM40 speakers. These were auditioned, I was blown away, and have bought a pair! I have had them for just over three months and virtually EVERY evening since, has been a Audio Heaven as I trawl through my Vinyl and CD library, rediscovering old favourites now reproduced as never before! Prior to the delivery, I purchased a pair of Audiolab 8300MB Power Amps, so effectively, I now have a Tri Amp system powering these magnificent beasts. The clarity, transparency, and the bass is astounding! But put on a sub standard recording and they will just play it as that..Feed in rubbish and rubbish will be reproduced...they are that brutally honest, which underlines their pedigree as Studio Monitors... Another important point, is that the can play LOUD..and yours ears are not left buzzing as they could be with the Ruarks. They have this great balanced quality of sound which plays anything from Giovanni Monteverdi to Goldfrapp clearly and without effort or strain. Another plus point is that despite being quite large speakers, they do not overwhelm my 12’x13’ listening room. The Bass response is tight and well controlled. NO booming or wallowing, only true deep bass when it is there on the recording. This is perhaps the most important and best HiFi purchase in my 46 odd years of HiFi listening and will be the last pair of speakers, that I will have to purchase. Thank you ATC!
Plus points.
Just the best speakers that I have ever heard!, They can play loud without hurting your ears., True deep bass, no booming.
Minus Points
Brutally honest with what you play, takes no prisoners with sub standard recordings., They do need serious amplification to show them at their best.
 

Steve Garratt

Standard Member
I'd love to experience these, preferably the actives. As a Genelec owner I'm firmly on the monitor side of speaker preference, I love the speed, clarity and transparency. These would be awesome. But I'd need a whole new room - indeed a whole new house - for them to work for me!
Despite their size, they play beautifully in a relatively small room and close to walls as well.
My HiFi den is only 12 x 13 feet.
As I said in my review, being sealed, no ports, the bass is nicely defined, no waffling, but plumb those depths when it’s on the recording.
 

eugenius

Standard Member
Right now I'm using a Quad preamp and power amp. I'm not too bothered by RCA to XLR cables so I'll probably try to keep the Quad preamp.
 

Steve Garratt

Standard Member
Just thinking, the SCM40A, I don’t think it has RCA inputs? XLR only? The mean voltage output from RCA is half that from XLR I believe so you may be lacking a lot of gain if you utilise an RCA - XLR cable.
 

eugenius

Standard Member
The input sensitivity on the ATC SCM40a is 1V. The Quad pre is capable of 3.3V on the RCA out and 8V on the AMPBUS out (which is balanced but goes through an extra stage of buffering/phase splitting).

The usual problem is too much gain not too little gain. That's because people confuse gain with power and if the sound doesn't become super-loud as soon as they turn the volume up, the amplifier is "underpowered".
 

Steve Garratt

Standard Member
The input sensitivity on the ATC SCM40a is 1V. The Quad pre is capable of 3.3V on the RCA out and 8V on the AMPBUS out (which is balanced but goes through an extra stage of buffering/phase splitting).

The usual problem is too much gain not too little gain. That's because people confuse gain with power and if the sound doesn't become super-loud as soon as they turn the volume up, the amplifier is "underpowered".
Ah! Thanks for that info.
I wasn’t aware of the pre out mean voltage of your Quad Pre Amp.
With me, it was a bit late in years to go for the Active SCM40A, as I was reluctant to dump four
British manufactured Audiolab 8000M 125 watt monoblocs and a I have a whole gamut of ancillary equipment including phono preamp, cassette deck, HDD/CD Burner, Tuner, AV, etc... which make full use of all the MANY inputs and outputs of my well equipped 8000Q preamp which modern preamps don’t seem to have.
I added a pair of new Audiolab 8300MB 250 watt monoblocs to effectively Tri-Amp my SCM40 speakers and gosh! the set up sounds good!
In the past 18 months, I upgraded my
Michell Orbe / SME V deck by upgrading to the Van Den Hul Frog Gold cartridge and changed the previous phono preamp for the Rega Aura.
My CD optionwas upgraded to the Marantz SA-10
Signature SACD player.
I think this final splurge should see me to my box!
 

eugenius

Standard Member
If you already have 6 amp channels and the passive speakers, all you need is an active crossover and you can activate your SCM40's externally. An active crossover will make a much bigger difference than passive tri-amping or upgrading your CD player. The type of active crossover is up to you: electronic (transistor, tube) or DSP (with or without speaker and room correction). And if you live in the UK I bet you can pay somebody to set-up the thing if you're not tech savvy or you're afraid you'll fry your tweeters.
 

Steve Garratt

Standard Member
If you already have 6 amp channels and the passive speakers, all you need is an active crossover and you can activate your SCM40's externally. An active crossover will make a much bigger difference than passive tri-amping or upgrading your CD player. The type of active crossover is up to you: electronic (transistor, tube) or DSP (with or without speaker and room correction). And if you live in the UK I bet you can pay somebody to set-up the thing if you're not tech savvy or you're afraid you'll fry your tweeters.
Interesting, but I feel that while my system still brings a big smile to my face and also visiting friends, I think I shall leave it as it is.
Played a visiting friend, the half speed mastered vinyl track Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen last week and he was suitably stunned!
I am very lucky that the ATCs just seem to suit my particular listening room perfectly.
Another friend who also purchased a pair of SCM40 speakers after hearing mine unfortunately can’t get the same effect with his system. He has the same preamp and his ATCs are bi-amped with a pair of Tag McClaren 125Ms feeding tweeter and mid and pair of Audiolab 8200MBs for the bass.
 

butcherpete

Active Member
I am going to demo a pair of these next week, so hoping for good things, as I have got used to my Amphion Argon 3LS speakers (which are good imho)
 

Steve Garratt

Standard Member
In regard to my Audiolab 8000Q preamp, now 25 years old, I’m having it thoroughly checked out and serviced next week by a trustworthy local Audio repair specialist.
Audiolab ceased servicing their older equipment a couple of years ago.
Bad move Audiolab, see Naim’s excellent aftercare service on ALL of their previous equipment as a good example of great service.
The only other preamp which offers the same amazing connect ability to a multitude of separates is the ATC SCA2…
 

butcherpete

Active Member
I think you’ll be suitably impressed.
Are you demoing them at home or in store?
I WAS going to demo them instore, but had a major thing just come up today, so had to put it all on hold for now
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
ATC make all of their speaker components in house, nothing is bought in.

I know they’ve always done that, but that driver is a clone for one of the 8” Volt drivers. I wondered if they’d had an epiphany or some such.
 

gava

Well-known Member
I know they’ve always done that, but that driver is a clone for one of the 8” Volt drivers. I wondered if they’d had an epiphany or some such.

Or perhaps it's the other way around? ATC were there first. :)

I am going to listen to a pair of these tomorrow, taking my amplifier with me to see how they sound as a set.

Rather excited actually. :)
 

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