Steve Guttenberg reviews an ATC active?

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@dbphd wrote:

I couldn’t help wondering if his gushing review of the ATC speaker was atonement for his previous denigration of active speakers.

Interesting suggestion. There may be an aspect to this, but with the ATC’s Steve has found something to hang his hat on, namely or in particular avoiding active speakers with a DSP to act as the active crossover and instead an all-analogue electronic ditto. Which is to say no conversion steps from analogue to digital and back (or with a digital input a D/A-conversion only). Steve apparently hates DSP’s, it seems mostly due to the conversion steps involved (with what I regard as unfounded deductions on their assumed detrimental sonic impact), but there’s also the more hardware related issues for being stuck with whatever DSP module and typically class D amp varieties that have been implemented in a given, bundled active speaker solution.

I’m not wholly unsympathetic with his views here, but simply labeling DSP’s as sonically undesirable in an active speaker system is not seeing the forest for the trees, and fails to take into consideration the opportunities offered with quality DSP’s and their more elaborate (and precise) filter settings compared to an all-analogue electronic XO - not least FIR-based iterations, although they also come with their potential issues. I’m not taking a swing at ATC for not using DSP-based active filters, but Steve’s blanket statement on DSP’s is just rubbish.

Finally Steve doesn’t appear to comprehend that active can be outboard as well as bundled, but here I’m also referring to previous videos of his with the regurgitative rants on active speakers. I get that outboard active isn’t representative of active speaker systems in general, but he has never even considered outboard active as a solution to the problem with bundled systems and the lack of component choice here. I mean, at some point in the process you’d wonder why he hasn’t questioned himself about it, and whether outboard active was at all possible.

Still, he posted a very positive and informative video review of the active ATC’s, so at least he acknowledges what reaches his ears from actual experience with a balanced approach to their qualities, and not the typical audiophile resentment of hearing what such active speakers can deliver as being "too revealing," "not musical" or whatever that doesn’t comply with their exposure to dynamically weak, low and upper octave tilted, sugary and overly laid-back "high-end" speakers. oh well, I digress..

@phusis "Which is to say no conversion steps from analogue to digital and back (or with a digital input a D/A-conversion only)" I must admit i am confused by this, i am playing some tunes through my Eve Audio DSP monitors in my office which do not need a dac. I have attached a dac to them however but never really compared with or without. Most studio folk spend little (compared to hifi folk) on their preamp (desktop controller). How does say the Adam S5V speakers below process dsd files or respond to a tube dac preamp as you cannot bypass their conversion? Apologies if i am being dim. Cheers


Expensive active speakers are a hard sell outside of the studio. At home I already own amps, I don’t want to buy another packaged with a speaker. In a studio where space and time are limited a package makes a lot more sense.

This guy compares the active SMC50 active vs the passive SCM50. 



i don’t agree with your statement that studio folk don’t buy a good “preamp”.  Most hi end pro folks do indeed spend a lot on preamps in the form of expensive mic preamps (API or Neve or A Designs or Daking), expensive consoles (API legacy or Vision, Rupert Neve Designs, etc) and expensive monitor controllers (grace or crane song).   I think it’s about the same in the high end pro side as the high end consumer side: the top of the market is passionate about audio quality,  I think this looking down on pro folks is just silliness and not knowing the pro market well.  I read many posts here about hi fi folk avoiding a preamp altogether by buying an integrated amp or home theater receivers.  I think Steve touched on this very idea, that is possible for a high end pro product to please a high end audiophile. 


Apologies @lonemountain it wasn't my intention to generalise studio monitor listeners.  I am in favor of active speakers, as I spend far too much time in my home office compared to my basement.  If you or anyone has guidance on understanding "conversion steps from analogue to digital and back (or with a digital input a D/A-conversion only" with Adam, Genelec, Eve Audio studio monitors etc.  How would one add some warmth to studio speakers and at the same time be able to play dsd files when the monitor is converting the signal.  Think I need more coffee