Active ATC vs Spendor / Pass Labs

I had a lovely demo. of a Pass INT 60/ Spendor D9.2.

Had all the musical flow, engagement at all volume levels that I could ever want. A truly impressive demo.


But……. I have always wanted an active ATC SCM50A is what I always dreamed of owning with say a Benchmark LA4 Pre. about the same $$$ where I am for either combo.


I have heard the ATC - different room and gear. But I didn’t do the all listening levels demo. like I did with the Pass / Spendor. Just at a medium / loud level and was so very impressed. I can’t demo the ATC again, my dealer only orders them as someone wants one from ATC direct due to the current economical environment.

So… will I be unimpressed ordering the ATC at all level listening levels or will it not have the Pass / Spendor engagement factor that we quite frankly very addictive ?

I am really at a crossroad as which way to go.


Ive heard many different preamps with ATC and like I said earlier, it seems their differences are magnified on an active system/low distortion driver arrangement.  I've tried EveAnna Manley's stuff and thought -hmm too dark me?- but shortly later met an ATC user who used exactly that and found it to be his favorite combo. 


As a dissatisfied owner of Spendor D9.2's I'd highly recommend you not get a bright or lean sounding amp to drive them. I find the Spendor's over time are too analytical and tipped up in the hi frequency's, they also do not have much midrange tone and the bass is not as deep as the specs indicate, specially at lower volumes. 

If you're set on the D9.2's make sure you pair them with a smooth amp, the Pass maybe the right direction for them.

I run a Mac C2700 and MC 275mk6 ( all tubes) and its rather too bright and lacks tone and bass depth, in my room. reason I'm selling my D9.2's.  They definitely like a well treated room to sound their best IMO. I demo'd mine in the dealers well treated room and bought them, in my room they are disappointing overly bright and lack tone and bass depth. D9.2's in walnut little over a year old if your interested.  


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If you get the ATCs make sure you have more than enough distance to allow the drivers to blend.

when I heard them the dome midranges were noticeably incoherent with the other drivers (they have a very limited bandwidth compared to a conventional midrange). This resulted in frequent image shifting in vocals- very unpleasant.

I was listening from about 15 feet away, i would recommend at least 20 feet.

the Spendors on the other hand are incredibly coherent from 9 feet and beyond.  

As mentioned above, this is almost laughable given the common near-field listening distances employed in ATC studio installations. 

The comment about the midrange driver is utter misinformation. How do people come up with this stuff?

In my 20ft long room I listen to my SCM100 actives at a 9ft distance - super coherent and engaging sound.

I've got two "main" systems.  One has ATC active 110s and the other Thiel 3.7s.  I love both systems.  The ATCs are capable of dynamic linearity.  They don't stop getting louder when they need to.  Super clean midrange, accurate bass.  If you want to attend an AC/DC concert at home this is the way to go.  They're fantastic for movies, better than the theater.  If I'm listening to small scale classical, jazz, classic rock I prefer the Thiels.  They are very tactile at low/moderate volumes.  Fantastic imaging.  I don't think it's possible for a single system to be fantastic at all volumes.  How likely is it that a midrange driver that is optimized to be the most accurate and detailed at 90db will also be optimized to handle peaks of 110db?  You've gotta pick one I think.