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

jpipes

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: -

https://pinkfishmedia.net/forum/threads/proac-d18-d20-pmc-gb-fb-24-25-spendor-a4-a7-or-neats.250515/

https://devialetchat.com/Thread-Proac-D30R-vs-PMC-Twenty-26-vs-Other-options?page=3

https://www.avforums.com/threads/pmc-proac-given-the-option-which-would-you-choose.644703/

https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/onyunp/atc_scm20psl_proac_d2r_or_pmc_twenty5_22/?onetap_auto=true

https://www.hifiwigwam.com/threads/speaker-conundrums-pmc-v-proac-v-spendor-v-atc.90177/

https://forums.audioholics.com/forums/threads/spendor-dynaudio-magico-pmc-my-experience-and-questions.114694/

https://community.naimaudio.com/t/atc-scm-40-active-still-the-speakers-to-go-for/19173/54

https://community.naimaudio.com/t/speakers-to-audition/26549/12

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?