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!


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.

     As communicated in other postings, I tend to live now in the active world.  I'm not a volume rocker listening, but I do really like the immediate attack and dynamics of active which I personally could not render with passive and some very good amplification.  Just my experience, not gospel.

     I also drug a friend of mine into that world and we've enough equipment to play with to do comparisons.  We've never looked back.  To that end, my wife's system IS with ATC 20 passives and a Luxman integrated, and is quite listenable.  Very sweet too.


Regarding tube preamps, I don't have any recommendations for I have not listened to nearly enough of them to make a judgement.   I would say ATC active's reveal a lot about what is upstream so it better be a great tube pre!  You will definitely hear color. 


I came to ATC by way of producing music. The SCM25A's changed everything for me. I'd never heard a more accurate speaker which is essential for mixing/mastering. Everything you hear about the midrange and high end detail is true. The SCM25A has the same woofer, but different tweeter than the SCM40A in a smaller ported enclosure. I would expect the 40 to have more pleasing bass performance, but this is not an SL driver and while good, it is not going to fill a room with bass. When mixing, it is essential to know what is going on in the bottom octave. Subs are needed for this with these speakers. 

The 25's gave me confidence to purchase SCM19's for a fun room. These are beautiful sounding speakers. Thanks Brad at Lone Mountain, I agree they tend toward warm. While beautiful, the magic with ATC's is with the 3 ways. 

I then added passive SCM50's that are 2 generations old due to attractive price. As was pointed out earlier, these are entirely different beasts from the 25's in all the right ways.

I will back up and say you can't beat active ATC's. That is the way to go. Nobody mentions the zero phase crossovers along with discrete amps for each driver. ATC amps are excellent and zero phase crossovers make a world of difference with clarity. It's the same as using a linear phase EQ like the Manley Massive Passive; zero phase crossovers cannot be beat for clarity. That's why these are used almost exclusively in the Pro/Studio environment.

That said, the passive crossovers are insanely massive in the 50's and sound amazing nonetheless. The 50's use SL (Super Linear) drivers with underhung voice coils. This is big boy land. Brad at Lone Mountain can clarify, but my understanding is the mid and tweeter are SL versions as well with stronger magnets. This and the coffee can sized passives must be why they can handle 1500 watts if you decide to go that far. For me, the 50's fill the entire audio spectrum as they should. I still use subs, but they only fill in the lowest registers and don't work much other than to add dimension. I use a pair of 15's and always will. 

Beyond 50's, there's also the consideration of how loud do you want them. Aside from playing deeper as you go up the range, each model becomes 3 dB more efficient. 50's are quite inefficient at 85 dB SPL. You gotta hit 'em hard! They are a sweet spot size-wise tho.

I like it loud so I think I'd prefer 100's or 150's, but I do have a limited budget. It's interesting that the 150's 15" driver switches from rubber to foam as I understand it to better control IM distortion in larger drivers. Now we're talking tank like size compared to the relatively svelt 50's. SCM150's are used in mastering studios the world over. Check out Black Bird studio's various ATC rooms too if you want to see how room treatment is done. 

I say 50's or up and active if possible. Enjoy!

Jeff explains it well!.  FOr clarification, the "SL" (super linear)  LF driver is in the 50 on up, and the mid and tweeter of the 50 on up are much larger motors for higher SPL, wider dynamic range.  The amps inside the active 50s on up are also much larger for that increased dynamics. 


The SCM 19 passive and active is the one exception, it also has this super linear Mid/LF driver built just for that speaker,   This is a carry ovwer from ueyars ago when Billy developed a smaller SL  and the line was just the 20/50/100/150..