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!


For a number of reasons, I have to use stand mount speakers.

Replaced my old (2004) Quad 11L with ATC SCM19v2. Will probably be my last set of speakers. Love them.

I've found Auditorium 23 speaker cables a good match, and love my Audience Au24SX RCA cables from Dac to amp.

Recently bought an I2S cable, Tubulus Argentus for DDC to Dac. As well as a Puritan PSM156.

All good matches with the ATC speakers.

I hear a lot of support for "active" speakers. For speakers to be active the signal has to be digitized. This can lead to a lot of back and forth conversions. I am a firm believer in digital signal processing, it is a necessity if you want to get to a SOTA system now and in the future. Like a symphony orchestra it is best to have one conductor and traditionally this role has been taken by the preamplifier. There are now several preamplifiers with full DSP capability including room control, bass management, crossovers and EQ. The DEQX is the best of them all. The DEQX Pre 4 and Pre 8 utilize a 64 bit floating point system with the most current processor and are constructed in SOTA fashion. The Pre 8 even has a 4 way crossover! You can make any current loudspeaker "active"!  It even has a phono preamp. You have almost total control over the way a system sounds withing the context of the speaker design chosen. You can not turn a point source speaker into a line source one. 

@mijostyn You are not looking at this right.

Active has zero to do with digital or "digitization". Active can be analog or digital crossovers and all class D amps. Active is simply an electronic crossover (analog or digital) operated at line level before amplifiers, amps hooked directly to drivers and no passive elements in between.

In the brand I work with, ATC, it is 100% analog: analog crossover, Class A/B MOSFET amps, no DSP digital anything inside. Same with older Genelec and many other active systems. You have to research this to know for sure.

Some of these active systems bundle DSP in to do "correction". What that correction is important because it could be "DSP room correction" or "DSP speaker correction".

Room correction attempts to fix an acoustical issue with some kind of EQ. This is controversial as you are now changing a speakers direct output based on the reflections in the room. What’s coming out of the speaker may not be wrong.

Speaker correction looks at correction of the crossover itself and how it affects speaker behavior and driver performance.

TRINNOV and DIRAC are room devices, addressing the acoustic problems in the room. This is still controversial, as fixing a "room" electrically is still something many experts argue about. The brand I work with (ATC) hates it as they say why fix direct sound when its reflections that are messed up? The only thing that may be right is the speaker itself but now you want to change that based on what the room is doing. Purists would say "Fix acoustical problems acoustically and electrical problems electrically".

Whether amps are digital (Class D) or not is not part of the DSP room correction. You could use DSP room correction in front of analog speakers, like your preamp or receiver having DIRAC but used with pure analog speakers. Or using a Trinnov in front of a ATC analog speaker. In the case of DEQX, it is a replacement for crossovers and speaker correction, a very different "problem" compared to room correction.





Hi Brad,

DEQX does both speaker and room correction, separately. I greatly prefer the DEQX system which is more like the TacT system I am use to. I do not yet know how much manual tweaking I will have to do. As far as room correction is concerned, there remain issues that have to be handled acoustically. The room has to be in tolerance or you will just clip filters. The types of loudspeaker being used are also important. Certain speaker designs have far less room interaction. When it comes down to brass tacks there are two major types of errors, errors in amplitude and errors in time. These are easy to correct for, to a point. You cannot correct for echoes. There are problems that have no analog solution. Other then by shifting position there is no analog way to put a delay on a speaker, and the dimensions of the room and other practicalities put severe limitations on how far you can move anything. 

Yes, you can do an analog active loudspeaker. The only good reason to do that is you do not have the engineering to do it digitally. Digital signal processing including crossovers is, in every way, superior to analog signal processing. Analog signal processing is about as useful as tits on a bull.  The only exception is in the mind of the audiophile. Audiophiles are as change resistant as cyclists. It took a decade for the cycling community to accept synchro shifting. 

As for the type of amplifier that again depends on the loudspeaker, even the independent drivers can dictate amplifier choice. 

Yes, you can do an analog active loudspeaker.  The only good reason to do that is you do not have the engineering to do it digitally.

@mijostyn That’s just simply not true — there are lots of benefits to an analog active speaker, but I’m sure @lonemountain could do a much better job than me describing what they are.