ATC SCM 40 question


I recently bought a pair of ATC SCM40 speakers. I have them placed in a room approx 12ft sq. They are on the back wall, seating on opposite side. I can't move the speakers into the room or move the chairs into the room as I barely got away with buying these and can't encrouch any further, the missus was not happy at the size of them!

Anyway, they sound pretty incredible a lot of the time, but I've noticed on some recordings, not necessarily bad ones, just they can come across a little shrill and sharp, like the highs are overheated somehow.

I'm driving them with a PS Audio S300 Poweramp, that is being controlled by an RME ADI 2 DAC. 

I've tried messing with the dsp settings on the RME but I just can't seem to ease the issue.

My question is, does this seem like an equipment issue? Or maybe a cable issue?

I don't want to end up spending serious cash upgrading the amp or dac if that is not the problem. But I know the SCM40's need a lot of juice and the S300 only has 140w per channel, and the recommended is 150w. Or is that just a top end volume concern? I'm already looking at the Hegel H20, I can't get the ATC poweramp as I don't have the space for it.

Also I was looking at the Anthem STR Preamp. Something that might calibrate the sound better for the room. Maybe a cable upgrade?

Anyway, these are just my rambling thoughts on an ongoing issue, any advice at all would be much appreciated. I really want to solve this as when these speakers sing, they really sing!


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THis is exactly the dilema we face in pro, when the "warts" make some people think it "sounds worse". To avoid this in record making, there's a secret method some top mixers use: turn on subs or even different [EQ’d] speakers for the clients to hear their mix, so their mix sounds better to them. If they heard it on the mix speakers (say NS10s, auratones), they would universally hate it and would not approve it.

This is a very complex area and extremely diffiuclt to explain outside of the studio.  Learning how to critically listen is perhaps the single most important "skill" a mixer/mastering engineer has to learn.  The truth is if you mix to sound good on an ultra revealing pair of speakers, it will sound good on everything else and likely be error free.

If you mix with a speaker that has bass boosted, it will turn out bass light on other speakers. If you mix it on a speaker that’s too dull, too rolled off, it will turn out too bright on other speakers.  If you hear a record that has no bass, theres a very good chance the mix/mastering speakers or the room was very bass boosted.  They were convinced there was bass where their wasnt.  If the crossover is an issue on your passives, there's a dip right there, you will want to eq to remove that dip in instruments around that crossover area, becasue the dip makes them sound weird.  Now the entire mix will sound like a peaky midrange, especially on a good pair of speakers that don't have that same dip.  

I have ATC SCM7 (gen 2) with the ATC house tweeter and the earlier ATC SCM35’s with the ScanSpeak tweeter. My SCM35’s are far less forgiving of hard and bright source material. My read is that you are getting a better rendition of what the material actually sounds like than you did before.

This has been true for me whenever I did a significant upgrade. 

I run tube preamps and solid state AB amps with both speakers. I have heard the latest SCM40’s several times and they are not hard sounding with good source material and good electronics.

As others have indicated, I would look to some basic room treatment before changing electronics.

I have the bigger 100ASLT in a room with treatment applied and have absolutely no issues listening to a very wide range of recordings. My dac/preamp is the very neutral Benchmark DAC3/HPA4, so no dumbing down or softening going on in the electronic chain. My listening sessions are often for many hours.

My first ATC's were the smaller passive SCM19's (which I still own). They replaced Harbeth M30.1's and I much preferred the ATC balance and dynamics. Actually the 19's amazed me at the dealers with their naturalness and engaging listenability.