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How did I come to have ATC loudspeakers?

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  • How did I come to have ATC loudspeakers?

    I was happy for many years with my Proac floor-standers. I bought them in a period where I was learning about opera and listened to it a lot. But my musical tastes are broad, and my focus continues to evolve. I realized I was not so happy with what I was hearing from a broader range of music.

    I didn’t know how to articulate what I was unhappy about. When going to listen to new kit I believe that I should know fairly well what I am looking for (with some flexibility), and must be able to articulate this with reasonable precision, to avoid the search being too random. I know other people who like less focussed kit auditions, but I know that's not for me.

    So, I got hold of Floyd Toole’s book on loudspeakers and read it through twice. That’s a lot of work and it isn't for everyone. But it gave me some ideas about what I was hearing and why I might find it wrong. In the end I wrote down just a few key things I wanted to fix and got a list of music and sources that would test whether the problems had gone away. Here are my personal key points:
    • There was not enough power from the bottom octave of an 88-key piano (let alone a Bösendorfer 290) or the bottom E of a four-string double bass to be convincing enough. And what there was had a "rubbery" lack of start/stop temporal precision.
    • I felt increasingly uncomfortable when raising the volume above quite a modest point. When I did, instruments started to lose their timbre, especially when other instruments played loud. There was a loss of independence.
    • The treble was too “polite” and the mid-range was too forward – great for voices in opera but bad for the annoying balance between the volume of BBC Radio 3 announcers (too loud) and the volume of the music in between (too quiet).
    I did my product research based on specific technology choices I thought would improve these faults.

    ATC was one of the possibilities. I found I had a dealer just 5 miles / 8 km away from home and went in to introduce myself. I arranged a half-day audition of the dealer’s demo SCM40A. They passed the test with flying colours.

    I couldn’t resist checking out the SCM50A too – which took a few weeks to arrange at the dealer’s premises then at home. There was not the night-and-day difference some hear but after a few days I decided I would forever regret not ordering the SCM50A classics and they have not put a foot wrong since arriving. I never did get to audition any other candidates but indeed I have no regrets.


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