ATC SCM50 & SCM50SE Loudspeakers

Ken Micallef was impressed by this British company's CDA2 Mk.2 CD player/DAC ($4249) when he reviewed it in the January issue, and ATC were using it as the souce in their room at AXPONA. But pride of place went to their SCM50 tower speakers ($22,000/pair, far right in my photo) and the similar-looking SCM50SE powered towers ($60,000/pair, near right). Both speakers use a 9" woofer with ATC's traditional soft-dome midrange unit—all the drive-units are made in-house; even the coils for the crossover inductors are wound by ATC.

With the passive speakers driven by ATCs P2 dual-mono amplifier ($4999), I listened to first a Dire Straits track then Pink Floyd's "Money," following which I listened again to "Money" on the powered speakers. Superficially the presentations were very similar, but it became apparent that the SCM50SEs overall sounded cleaner, more authoritative.

COMMENTS
avanti1960's picture

I know that people have different preferences for what constitutes sound quality but since you are the ears for many we would be best served by if your commentary were as objective yet critical as reasonably possible.
Having heard many of these same systems and rooms it is quite apparent that you do not mention anything critical about how they sound. Being overly polite helps no one, especially the audiophile consumer. I know that audio show conditions are challenging to get the best sound out of a system and room. We would all understand this as a possible effect for bad sounding systems. Many rooms had glaring, obvious sound quality issues that were never mentioned in your reports.
Is it simply impossible for you to call 'em as you hear 'em because it is bad for business?
Sorry to say but your continued lack of criticism in your commentary fails us.

ChrisS's picture

https://www.stereophile.com/content/stenheim-alumine-three-loudspeakers-einstein-silver-bullet-otl-mono-amplifiers-and-pickup#comments

Jim Austin's picture
Avanti (I'll call you that for lack of a better name), I'm sincerely puzzled by your response to our posts--why is it important to you that Stereophile writers post negative evaluations based on a few minutes listening under show conditions? As Editor, I'm responsible for setting policies like this. The judgments of Stereophile's reviewers carry serious weight and so must be deployed responsibly. A negative comment even in a show report can have serious consequences for a company. That's fine--we'll criticize anyway--but only after we've evaluated a component over time in a methodical, systematic way. Setting aside the question of bad hotel room acoustics, that's impossible to do in 15 minutes of listening in an unknown system in an unknown room--often with unfamiliar music. You will often see our reviewers comment negatively on the sound--but they are appropriately reluctant to draw unwarranted conclusions about ultimate quality from such a cursory experience; to do so would serve neither readers nor audio companies. Stereophile's writers recognize the influence they have and take their obligations seriously. If you were at the show, you can draw your own conclusions. Exactly how have we failed you? Jim Austin, Editor Stereophile
avanti1960's picture

I am circling back on this because it is important to me as a fan of music, sound reproduction and your publication.
Because you are covering an audio show and reporting on the systems featured in these articles, the main function of what you are writing about is reproduction of recorded music. For most readers who are not able to attend the show, the main thing we / they to hear about is how they sounded. You are the ears for all of your readers unable to attend these shows.
We attend the shows (at least I do) to hear how these systems sound, we expect to hear about how they sounded from the publications that report on them, since again they are "audio" shows.
This was the first year of my previous (4) years attending AXPONA that I was not on a mission to research specific components for audition- and I just wanted to attend as many rooms as possible. I took notes and did my own reporting about what I heard, the good and the bad. When I read Stereophile's opinions about the sound of the rooms I had attended it was obvious that you were being overtly polite about what you heard. Most of the issues I heard in some rooms were quite obvious- for whatever reason- room acoustics, etc. Yet there was no mention of these issues in your reporting. In other words I challenge the accuracy of your magazine's descriptions about the sound quality of what was heard. Based on my own notes and observations compared with those that were published, you have failed to be "accurate" ears for those readers who are hoping for honest accounts of the sound quality of these systems. We can understand room acoustics, setup challenges, etc. But when you consciously leave out any critical impressions- and there were many- do you not become guilty of deception by omission? I believe you do. Either report on the good and not so good about what you hear- or just leave out the subjective commentary altogether like other publications do.
Peace and with all due respect,

Tony
Suburban Chicago area.

ChrisS's picture

I don't need or want the Stereophile staff to expend much time or ink telling me that the sound of a system in a hotel room isn't exemplary...

There is nothing to gain.

avanti1960's picture

is for audio journalists reporting about an audio show to share their critical impressions along with the positive ones- in the name of accuracy and transparency.
they are quick with the praise but very reluctant to share the things they don't like about what they hear. otherwise why bother covering an audio show at all? mention the bad with the good or there is deception by omission and quite honestly a loss of credibility.

ChrisS's picture

It's quite unreasonable to expect anyone to listen and evaluate "critically" under conditions that are far from ideal. It would also be tedious and uninformative to be told again and again that "listening conditions were far from ideal..."

Deception? Loss of credibility?

I think not.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

ATC powered speakers have many favorable reviews ...... Some of those reviews are available online ...... ATC also supplies many active speakers to the recording studios :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The price mentioned in the report for ATC SCM 50 ASLT active speaker may not be correct ...... The price is more like $30,000/pair ........ This model was reviewed in TAS :-) .........

Jim Austin's picture
The report refers to the SCM 50SE, not the SCM 50 ASL.
Bogolu Haranath's picture

True ..... but the price difference between the passive and active versions is almost $40,000 ...... Seems like somewhat unrealistic ........ The model designation also may not be correct :-) .......

AleksATCLMA's picture

Hi hope to provide some clarification on the models here, I am the marketing manager for ATC's USA distributor Lone Mountain Audio. I also am one of the reps to attend our shows including this one. Jim is correct, at AXPONA we displayed the SCM50SE which is part of the Special Edition series. Special Editions feature the premium contoured cabinet design, distinct top brow, and fully discrete amplifiers for each driver in the amp pack. The high gloss piano black finish is also a premium option on this model. The passive SCM50 Rosewood tower at this show is from the Tower Series, which in an active version is more around $30k (depending on finish) as you thought. The Tower Series active loudspeaker features non-discrete amps and a more understated square edged cabinet and base design as you may see in the photo. Here are links to respective product pages on our site:

http://www.lonemountainaudio.com/loudspeakers/special-editions/scm50se/

http://www.lonemountainaudio.com/loudspeakers/tower-series/scm50aslt/

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Thanks for your reply and clarification :-) .........

AleksATCLMA's picture

You're quite welcome, happy to help!

avanti1960's picture

if all they only mention the positives of what they hear?
they are sharing their impressions about how things sound and many people are anxiously anticipating what they have to say.
Debut speaker Brand X- "had this old geezer rocking"
Failed to mention- sounded thin and brittle with no warmth that people expect from this brand.
Debut speaker Brand Y- "full range, clean and with superb imaging"
Failed to mention- overly warm with smeared detail, distinctive voicing not for everyone"
System C- "sounded clean and authoritative"
Failed to mention- midrange was borderline surgical, high frequency incoherence and image wandering.

I'm finished. It's a self serving industry and they aren't about to cannibalize their existence by telling it as they hear it. In other words deception and lack of honest reporting pure and simple because to do otherwise is bad for business. Too much fluff and glad handing. Such a shame.

ChrisS's picture

...know what the good folks at Stereophile do...

Do you?

ChrisS's picture

...at these events, then you'll just have to do it yourself!

You give the impression that you do not read Stereophile equipment reviews...

Do you?

ChrisS's picture

...part of your comments above...

Did you make those up?

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