Spendor, PMC, ProAc, ATC- Sonic characteristics and differences?

Hello-I am interested to learn more about four of the UK speaker companies that I have interest in, but have no way of auditioning; Spendor, PMC, ProAc, and ATC.

I've read their web sites and tried to find various posts and reviews about their products, but it seems there are not too many overall descriptions or comparisons of these four companies and their signature sound profiles, and the engineering approaches to their products.

I'm familiar to some degree, and have owned or heard, some of the other British speakers from Bowers & Wilkins, KEF,  Monitor Audio, and Wharfdale, but the four companies above are quite interesting as they all seem to trace some level of their heritage to the BBC. And three of them also appear to have Pro Audio speaker lines. Are their designs similar in nature? Do they all sound somewhat the same? Do they all have similar levels of quality, or does one or the other stand out?

Please share your knowledge about these four speaker companies and your opinion of their sound signatures and product quality.

Thank you


I think you’re going about this backwards.  This would work much better and more efficiently if you’d share what sound/speaker characteristics are most important to you, what the rest of the equipment is in your system and (including what speakers you have now), what improvements you’re looking for over what you have now, and your budget and if you’re looking to buy new or used.  That critical info will give us here a good basis for recommending which brands/models might (or might not) work for you and specifically why that might be.  Personally, I’m not gonna take the time to go over the sound characteristics of all these brands as they’re all different in many different ways, and some can even vary greatly within the brand — Spendor and Wharfedale specifically come to mind in that regard.  Bottom line — the more info you share here the better, more effective, and more appropriate recommendations you’ll get. 

Hello and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

I am not posting with the intent to purchase, I am simply interested to learn more about this hobby. I find it interesting there are so many UK speaker companies. I wonder what their distinctions are? Have they shared engineers over the years? Is one company significantly different from another in regards to their sonic approach?

Currently I own Dynaudio, KEF, and Focal speakers in different systems. I love learning about new things in this hobby. I'm just curious if there may be others willing to share.

All the best.

To understand the differences would require testing each model with the Klippel NFS Near Field System to eliminate the room affects. Anything else is just guessing!

All 4 have wide ranges of excellent speakers. All the caveats here looks sensible, not least because how they sound will depend a lot of room  & system.

If trying to generalise about (say) £3K-£4K floorstanders...

Those who tend to listen to string quartets or solo piano, and fairly quietly, are most likely to lean toward Spendor and least likely to opt for PMC.

Those more likely to play Metallica at vigorous volume are most likely to lean toward PMC, though many would argue that ATC would do the job just as well.

If you want lots of vigour and excitement and foot-tapping involvement even at lower volumes, PMC probably won't suit and Spendor might not (a bit polite?), but ProAc and ATC would be 2 of the first 3 names (alongside Neat) on my candidate list.

ATC tend to need more space around them than most, while PMC need less. rear-ported ProAcs definitely need to be away from a rear wall.


PMC's transmission line approach means more bass for a given box size. However, tighter bass control may well mean looking elsewhere. The same amount of bass punch from ATC is 100% available, but it requires a much bigger box (and more space).

PMC image ok, but they get fewer mentions for brilliant imaging/ soundstage than the other choices.

ATC is probably least forgiving of inadequate boxes feeding them - going active with ATC means no need for a big power amp but preamp and source still need to be good. 

Industry professionals often use ATC at home, but that may just show that they work brilliantly as studio monitors (true) and last forever, and that we can all have a tendency to like what we know.  

Threads like this may help you: -









Listening at dealers may help, but if you are seriously thinking about a change pf speakers, there is a good reason why so many people advise listening with your system in your home to music you like and over a longer period than a quick dealer dem. Do that if you can.

I heard lots of speakers a couple of years ago. For my holiday place, we ended up buying Neat ahead of PMC. However, for my house in Wimbledon (better source, higher ceiling, bouncier floor) we marginaly preferred B&W 804 D3s. For my girlfriend's kitchen we heard several options, but opted for Neat iota Alphas -more involving than Spendors, less pushy than PMC.

These are 4 great brands. I'd definitely add Neat if shopping for speakers, but you can make a case also for some B&W and Linn speakers, plus Fyne and/ or Tannoy.

How many brands did you want to consider?  

I haven’t heard Spendor, PMC, or ATC.  But I’ve owned ProAc Response 2 speakers since the day they were introduced in the US 30 years ago.  High quality stands are essential and a lot of attention is needed upstream to keep them from being too forward.  But now that I’ve worked out those issues, I’m not sure how I could improve the sound quality in my modestly sized listening room.  Even at moderate listening levels (mid-70 db), it’s not apparent that the sound is coming from the speakers.  The other side of my room is music, each instrument or singer in their own place.  

About 2 years ago, the surrounds on my speakers finally gave in.  I had no idea what I would have needed to buy to come close to what I’ve been enjoying over those years.  I replaced the mid/woofers rather than try to find something as good or maybe better than the R2’s.  

@nickofwimbledon -Thank you so much for your generous and informative response. This is all very interesting and helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience!

@hilde45 -In this instance I am curious to learn more about these four brands in particular. They seem to offer similarly sized traditionally shaped speakers at similar price points and share some of the same background pedigree. And there is not really much out there in the hifi press or online review community on YouTube for these brands.

Much has been written and reviewed about Harbeth. It is arguably one of the speaker brands that is easiest to learn about.

I've owned and used several Tannoy speakers at home and in professional applications through the years and realize Fyne must share some of their characteristics as the engineers for Fyne came from Tannoy.

@sealegs -Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I've often wondered about ProAc and Spendor as compared to Dynaudio. It seems maybe ProAc is slightly more forward or exciting in nature in presentation than the typical Dynaudio sound? 


I don’t audition audio equipment much anymore.  But I have heard Dynaudio minitowers in the past few years and IMO they were not in the same class as ProAc.  Different electronics, in-store demo, etc., but I had no interest in them.

FYI, there is a ProAc Speakers user group on Facebook that gets a reasonable amount of traffic.  

ATC’s roots are in studio monitors. They are considered extremely accurate, and many recording studios rely on them. Their domed midrange driver is legendary and was used by other speaker manufacturers, including Proac, for domestic speakers until ATC stopped supplying other manufacturers.

ATC’s are very accurate and deliver rock-solid imaging, well-defined tonality, and a soundstage that transcends the speakers. They do need power, however.

They also expose mediocre recording quality and some favorite albums may sound unengaging.

Well-recorded piano music sounds very real, with the volume envelope perfect (to me) and the coherence of the harmonics exceptional.

Use the ATC SCM19’s bi-amped with 2 x 140w on each side

I used to own the Proac EBS which used ATC drivers.

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