Upgrade to ATC / Bryston

My system consists of a Squeezebox Touch, Audio gd digital interface, Metrum Octave DAC, HK990 Integrated Amp and Dynaudio Excite 12x Speakers. I also have a Rythmik 12 inch sub that produces tight and controlled low frequencies and blends in seamlessly with the Dynaudios.

I am not in the least unhappy with the sound produced from my current audio system. In fact, I'm am in love with what I hear, describing it as sweet, musical and heavenly with no ear irritation no matter how load I play the music.

The question I have is can I get even more detail and resolution without sacrificing the sweet sound I have come to love in this setup? I am primarily considering swapping out the power amp and speakers to see what if I can find anything I like more. I'm afraid I am going to go through this exercise and end up with exactly what I have now but may be pleasantly surprised.

When I picked up the Dynaudios from the dealer a few years ago, they where driving them with a Bryston 3b SST2 and the resolution was amazing. I can not talk to the musicality because I did not like the source material but it definitely had more detail then my HK990. I've been thinking of buying a used 3b SST to see if I really like it, or is the musicality of the Harmon Kardon worth more than the resolution of the Bryston? I may still use the HK990 as my preamp for now and eventually get an Onkyo P3000R preamp for all the digital it's digital inputs.

On a separate occasion I have also auditioned the ATC SCM 11 driven by the ATC 150 w amp and several other amps. With the ATC amp, the SCM 11 sounded amazing, with lots of detail and beautiful musical synergy. With any other amp, they lost all the magic. Evan adding a non ATC preamp made the speakers lose the wonderful sound.

So now I am considering trying out a Bryston amp and ATC speakers. Both are supposed to be extremely transparent. I could end up with one, or the other, both, or neither. If I can get fantastic detail without sacrificing musicality then I have succeeded. I was planning to get the new version of the SCM 11 speakers (2013) and a used 3b SST2. What do you all think?
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Earlxtr --

To begin with I'd recommend you trust your initial reaction on
the ATC/ATC combo.

If anything I'd consider the ATC SCM19 in their new 2013-
package over the similarly "facelifted" SCM11,
together with the ATC amp. The SCM19's sport a tremendous
midrange - very clean, open, dynamic, and highly resolved -
and will beat out the SCM11's here, as well as with bass
precision. The possible downside of the SCM19's is that
they're very revealing to the source material and hardware
used, but in your case (and with the ATC amp) I'd say they
could become a winning combination.
Bob, Thank you for your response. In theory you might be right about the three way and in effect that's exactly what I have with a two way and a sub. Even some of the smaller dyns produce fantastic bass in just a two way design. Truth is I really don't care about the technology but about the sound. Specs and data sheets mean nothing to me, even as an engineer. What my ears tell me is what I care about. I don't care about technical accuracy so much as something that sounds fantastic to my ears. Sometimes the two go hand in hand but that is defiantly not always the case. Those Bryson's you have are quite the beasts:))) I hope I like the sound of mine as well but I will have no trouble selling them if I don't....

I haven't used any sound shaping in the Hk990 and get a great balance in my room. It might be more important for surround sound but even the sub is just plugged in and set to a volume and crossover frequency. In this case I'm of the theory that you don't mess with something that ain't broken:))


Earl, I beg to differ; The only time when a two way with a sub is a three way is when all the speakers come from the same company - and even then it's not the same, as I showed in my review of the Wharfdale Opus speaker line for Dagogo.com. Aside from that there can exist a vast gulf in performance between a smallish two way with a sub and a generous floor standing three way - with or without sub. One of the reasons I gravitate toward big floor standing speakers is to attain a far superior definition and detail in listening. There is an entire universe of definition/detail which escapes a large swath of two-way speakers. They are built at a price point, and they are going to be missing a lot. Otherwise, why would the market for three-way speakers continue to thrive?

Earl, I can relate; I was an ardent cable skeptic, too, about twenty five years ago. I thought people were stupid to chase aftermarket wires - until I did my own comparison and it became clear that it wasn't stupid, but was a critical way to tune systems to one's favored sound. No one would have been able to talk me into believing it, as I had to prove it to myself. I really didn't want cables to make much difference because I knew it could cost me more if they did.

By this time in my involvement in the industry I know personally a fair number of engineers and designers (cable, component, speaker designers/manufacturers), some of whom I have helped move from skepticism to bewildered belief about the ability of cables to influence sonics in a system. For some of them the only convincing "argument" was hearing it for themselves in my room.

I still remember the day I decided to try it and went to the hardware store to buy the fattest/heaviest gauge copper cable which could still be affixed to speaker and amp terminals. I certainly wasn't going to waste much money on my experiment! I attached it, listened and became a believer.

I'm not going to try to argue you into it, but I hope at some time you try aftermarket cables. They are one of the best means of attaining the resolution, as well as dynamics and imaging, which you are seeking. :)

Oh, and if you try the ATC/Bryston thing you may be reaching for those cables sooner rather than later. Further, try some aftermarket cables and you will realize that you can indeed fix what did not seem broken. :)
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