ATC buying advice

Hi everyone,

I am planning on buying new speakers for a music room I am setting up, and would like some advice from people with experience with ATC--which is the brand I would like to buy the speakers from. I do like to buy extras like an additional preamp and sub from the same brand if possible.

The room is around 48 m2 and 3m high and has no soundproofing, bass traps or anything. I just want to start with a setup that is simple for a starting enthusiast and will be appropriate for the size of the room. That's why I am leaning towards active speakers, such as the ATC SCM40A. Budget isn't really an issue but I do want to keep it relatively simple to start with.

So, I have a few things to figure out, taking the ATC SCM40A as a starting point:
- Pre-amp. The setup will also include a Rega P10/Aphelion2, and I've been looking at the Rega Aura preamp too. But I have no experience with this and don't know if a ATC SCA2 or CDA2 might be a better option (I do like the integrated cd-player of the CDA2);
- ATC SCM40A vs SCM50ASL (Pro) / ATC SCM50ASLT or higher. I understand I will have to listen to multiple speakers and audition preferably in my room, but purely based on your experience and the fact I will use the speakers for home listening. What's your take? I do like the look of the 40 towers in satin black, and know the pro's are less-refined looking. But ultimately it's the sound that matters most. If that means I have to go for the 100's or 150's, so be it.
- Subwoofer. Based on whether I will go for an 40A or up, do you think it would be preferable to go for a subwoofer? I read a lot and the opinions vary and it comes down to personal preference. I do like some bass, but I mostly listen to rock, classical and soundtracks. If I'd go for a sub, would single C1 Sub Mk2 suffice, or would you opt for 2/3 or the C4?
- Cables. What cables do you recommend for my DAP, TT and the rest? Again, I am inexperienced in this and open to suggestions.

All advise is welcome!


Thank you all for taking the time to share your experiences and advice! I am going to audition the 40A and 50A and see if I can test the Sugden and Luxman with both speakers. Any other preamps I absolutely should hear in combination with the ATCs? I will upgrade my Pro-Ject turntable too to a Rega but still have to listen to the P8/P10 and possibly the Naia. Since I will need a phono stage for this, am I right to assume a preamp like the Luxman will do well in this setup as well?

@soix As for your question about the kind of sound I prefer, I find it difficult to put this clearly into words. I did end up at ATC because I want to hear the music as it’s intended to sound. I listen a lot to classical music, jazz and electronic orchestral (like Hans Zimmer, Nicholas Britell and Johann Johannsson), but also r&b, soft rock and pop from the 70-90’s. I would say I aim more for ’warmer’ more musical experience than a clinically clear one. If that makes any sense?

I do like the look of the towers of both 40 and 50 in satin black, even considering they are around 10k more expensive than the pro 40 and 50. From what I understand it is mostly the hand finishing (inside and out veneer) of the consumer hifi and cabinet for the towers that differs from the pro’s, correct? The sound should be about the same since they share the same internals?

@erik_squires Thank you. Will definitely look into this and like @jimboman suggested look at room treatment at a later point in time.

If I were going with ATC, I would very seriously consider the active speakers they make. The ATC SCM 50 ASL or if you want floor-stander, the ATC SCM 50 ASLT. They offer a good range of veneers or black ash. The actives would give you well-matched amplification and eliminate your need for a separate amplifier, keeping things simpler. You could reduce your components to the preamp and DAC (or get a preamp with a DAC; there are many excellent options available.) Rega doesn't appear to offer a separate preamp in their domestic line. And then you would need your sources.

@n777 - With regard to the difference between pro and consumer models, there are some in consumer that do not exist in pro anc vice versa. SCM40 has no equalivalent in pro, as its a sealed low end cabinet. SCM19 has no equivalent in pro, it is "warmer" than the SCM 20. SCM 7 has no pro equal. SCM 200 and SCM 300 in consumer are towers, no equal in pro as the soffit mount versions in pro use a different tweeter for reliability. There are some pro models that have no equal in consumer as well.

The 50, 100, 150 do have pro and consumer versions; Yes the differences are primarily the veneer, but the monitor versions have grilles (no grille in pro) and the tower versions are unique to consumer plus have grilles. Pro is in housed in the cheapest possible black paint MDF box because pro doesnt care about finish. Some have thought "oh the black is like balck ash or high gloss black- no its rough, has flaws, is not built for looks at all. Studios beat the hell out of them moving them around so a finish like we use in consumer is a waste. However, the consumer version veneer work is all hand done, one at a time, high gloss is literally 10 coats of laquer with sanding in between, veneers are book matched, inside is also veneered for pressure balance (otherwise the wood would bow over time). So this kind of work is very time consuming and expensive. The cabinet shop ATC now owns used to do custom furniture for a hot shot interior design house in London, so they are capable of some very impressive work. The can also do custom work, say a unique wood like European Crown Cut Walnut that is an amazing wood finish. The veneer is worth the money charged. It is not done by machine. Think "Bentley Dashboard" as this part of England is where much of that type of work is done.


(I am the US importer of ATC pro and consumer so I know what the facts are regarding ATC) 


I did end up at ATC because I want to hear the music as it’s intended to sound…I would say I aim more for ’warmer’ more musical experience than a clinically clear one. If that makes any sense?

Great info. Given that the ATCs are basically a blank slate of neutrality you’re open to “flavoring” them however you’d like. Given your preference for warmth and musicality I’d definitely skew towards a tube preamp if you’re open to tubes, and a couple brands that jump to mind are VAC and Allnic that have musicality in spades but are still nicely detailed. If you’d prefer solid state I’d mention Pass Labs and Ayre although I still think given your preferences tubes are the way to go. For cables I’d highly recommend looking at Acoustic Zen as they’re also very natural sounding while communicating lots of detail and won’t rape you in terms of price as many others can. Hope this helps, and best of luck in your quest!

BTW @lonemountain thanks for chiming in here with some very helpful info. Do you have any thoughts on good tube or solid state preamps that you or other active ATC owners have used with good success and given the OP’s stated preferences for musicality and some warmth?


I am am using meager 19's in a small room though...I would think active would eliminate the amp in compatability somewhat,Have heard great thing about them as well.Using simple zavfino prema's with great success. This will interesting to hear your outcome.Since using atc19 i have little desire to stray from them...would be up the chain fwiw.