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  • SCM19 vs SCM20PSL vs SCM40

    Hi,

    This is my first post here, so please excuse if this has been covered before.

    I'm looking to replace my ageing Dynaudio stand mounts, and am really sold by ATC's reputation for truthfully digging out every musical detail available. I'm interested in these three: SCM19, SCM20PSL, SCM40.

    Obviously I'll be auditioning them, but in the meantime, to help me narrow down my precious auditioning time, I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on my following questions:

    It seems that both the 19 and the 40 are very well reviewed, yet I'm struggling to find a single review for the 20. Is this because it's a little underwhelming? Or maybe that the 19 is almost as good for a lot less, and the 40 offers more speaker for approx the same price? Is there very much difference at all between the 19 and 20?

    Ideally I'd take the 40 (assuming I like it), but it might be too large and imposing for our living space. It's also the case that I can't spare too much free space around whichever I choose.

    Thanks very much.

  • #2
    Welcome!

    I suspect most SCM20 buyers are into professional audio, so I suspect the pro audio forums and publications may be a good place to look for reviews and comment. There do indeed seem to be very few contributions elsewhere and mostly not very modern.

    There are some recent comments on SCM19 vs SCM20PSL at ATC SCM19 (Entry) vs ATC SCM20 (Classic) | pink fish media. These two loudspeakers share the same mid-woofer, but the SCM20PSL has a higher-spec. version of ATC's tweeter. This is reported to be more revealing so that's a matter for your ears.

    I think the SCM19 can work with or without grills; but I think the grill on the SCM20PSL has a bevelled frame with an acoustic function - to reduce cabinet edge diffraction. So it looks like they normally should be operated with the grill on. I do know some who have made their own bevelled grill edges for similarly constructed ATC loudspeakers but without the grill cloth.

    The ATC loudspeakers I have heard have had similar sonic signatures from mid-range up. A part of the algorithm for making a choice may include answers to (i) "how low in frequency do you want to go?" and (ii) "how loud do you want to go?" (incorporating "how big a room do you want to drive?"). The SCM40 will go lower than the SCM19 or SCM20; and it will go louder (or drive a bigger room to a given loudness). Like the SCM19 it has the standard-spec tweeter (which may be to your taste).

    I haven't had to make your choice so this is not from personal experience, but I hope the comments may be helpful.

    Regards
    John

    Comment


    • #3
      jophill ,

      Thank you. That is extremely useful.

      I'm glad you raised the subject of grills. I still have two young 'uns (5 and 9), so grills are mandatory - I just wish they were visually opaque for my wife's aesthetic sensibilities. In fact I suspect the reason my Dynaudios are sounding a little warm might be due to little fingers treating the tweeters as buttons to be pressed.

      My living room is approx 6m x 6m (20ft x 20ft), so I don't think any standmount should struggle to fill it. Though, who knows, maybe the bass extension of the SCM40 might be the decider.

      Thanks again,
      Mark

      Comment


      • #4
        Mark:

        No quibbles with John's comments, but allow me to add a few tidbits.

        ATC's new tweeter is more extended but kinder and gentler than their older tweeters - my aging 20asl have the older SEAS tweeters. Oddly, I found the new tweeter to make the midrange seem a bit sweeter. Good electronics will help your system, but the better they are, generally the better the sound you'll get, in my experience.

        You don't need more power for ATC speakers, but more power let's them show their best at all volumes where, in my experience, many, but not all, lower powered amps (<=50watts) needed to be played more loudly on ATC's to show their best qualities.

        The 19s and 20s will probably be fine in your room. The 40s, because they go lower, will probably sound more dynamic. As I recall from a conversation with Billy Woodman more than 20 years ago he said dynamic range is a function of bandwidth. I have 20A speakers in an16" x 24" room and they're just about enough, though I enjoy them with two subwoofers - adds to the dynamic range.

        Cheers,

        Larry

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Larry View Post
          ... ATC's new tweeter is more extended but kinder and gentler than their older tweeters - my aging 20asl have the older SEAS tweeters. Oddly, I found the new tweeter to make the midrange seem a bit sweeter. Good electronics will help your system, but the better they are, generally the better the sound you'll get, in my experience.

          You don't need more power for ATC speakers, but more power let's them show their best at all volumes where, in my experience, many, but not all, lower powered amps (<=50watts) needed to be played more loudly on ATC's to show their best qualities.

          The 19s and 20s will probably be fine in your room. The 40s, because they go lower, will probably sound more dynamic. As I recall from a conversation with Billy Woodman more than 20 years ago he said dynamic range is a function of bandwidth. I have 20A speakers in an16" x 24" room and they're just about enough, though I enjoy them with two subwoofers - adds to the dynamic range. ...
          I fully agree. In particular my experience is that ATC really seem to understand about reproducing the dynamic range of music - detail and volume simultaneously.

          IIRC, Mark has Dynaudio 'speakers at the moment. My short experience of their larger ones is that they too get it about dynamic range; so an ATC experience may not be so different in this respect. However IME SCM19/20-sized 'speakers often don't handle amplifier power well enough to produce good dynamic range when, for example, you have a close-miked recording of a piano and try to reproduce it as though the instrument were not too far behind the plane of your 'speakers.

          The smaller bass/mid driver in the SCM19 and SCM20 has to work harder than the bass driver in the SCM40 so it makes real sense for the smaller drivers to be SL (super linear) to preserve the dynamic range appropriate to their bass extension. As you write, you don't have to go there but a good amount of amplifier power within ATC's recommended range does bring out the best.

          Regards
          John

          Comment


          • #6
            John, Larry,

            Thank you very much for your time and knowledge in such matters.

            Amplification-wise, I think I'm covered. I have a Musical Fidelity A308 integrated amp. Though it's approx 15 years old I'm fairly sure it's in fine condition. At the time it was very well reviewed, with the general consensus being that it had the mid and treble characteristics of a valve, coupled with the muscle of a hefty solid state. It's rated at "150Wpc into 8 ohms and 300Wpc into 4 ohms". Certainly, with the Dynaudios I've virtually never taken the volume dial past 20%.

            Again thanks,
            Mark

            Comment


            • #7
              Hello. It depends on what you want: maximum resolution & transparence (and exposing bad recordings) or very decent resolution & transparence (and forgiving almost all recordings). First case: 20, 2nd case: 19/40, with 19 being a little more resolute than 40, and 40 hitting lower than 19

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi, I have watched the forum from afar and you are all very helpful and civilised! So I decided to try and offer something having owned SCM11s, SCM19As and currently using SCM40As.

                Firstly it's only my opinion and secondly bear in mind I am talking about the active versions of 19s and 40s.

                IME the treble sounds very similar if not identical.

                Despite only a few hertz difference in -6dB bass point I found the 40s to go subjectively much deeper and provide significantly more bass than the 19s. It's was not all upside though as bass from the 19s in my view is actually a little more accurate with more detailed texture as far as it goes. In addition the 40s excite room nodes much more readily and hence I found them to be a bigger challenge to position. I have them further into the room than the 19s to balance the additional bass too which may not suit you. I agree the 40s sound more dynamic not least because they are capable of a considerable bass 'wallop' for a bass drum hit for example. The active versions excel here but I auditioned the passives and they still do well with an appropriate amplifier.

                I found the presentation of the midrange quite different. The 19s have a more forward balance in the midrange which projects intimate performances such as solo vocals into your listening room for a sense of real immediacy. The 40's have a slightly more laid back balance with the solo sounds more integrated into the overall picture albeit still very clear.

                Either will expose poor recordings but I found the 19s more so. Whatever you chose be prepared to invest in very good components in the rest of the chain to get the best from them.

                Both are quite amazing speakers, able to create the nuances and the feeling of particularly live performances in an engaging and emotional way.

                My thoughts are If you like to rock out, big orchestral performances, organ music or are just a bass lover 40s are brilliant. If you want that last word in detail and love smaller intimate performances maybe 19s are for you. Have a good listen and preferably a home audition.

                Enjoy choosing. Kevin

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by saureign View Post
                  Hello. It depends on what you want: maximum resolution & transparence (and exposing bad recordings) or very decent resolution & transparence (and forgiving almost all recordings). First case: 20, 2nd case: 19/40, with 19 being a little more resolute than 40, and 40 hitting lower than 19
                  Currently in the UK the 19s are £2300, and the 20s £3800. This is quite a significant difference given what appear to be a minor improvement in resolution offered by the 20s. (The custom-made finish of the 20s notwithstanding).

                  I suspect I'll get better mileage from the 19s, and spending the difference on upgrading my speaker cable (Ecosse MS2.3) to one of the very well reviewed Tellurium Qs, or maybe some decent isolation feet for my Foundation single pillar stands. We have laminate on concrete floor.
                  Last edited by QuiteLikesMusic; 04-11-2022, 04:45 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The differences between 19 and 20 are not minor, at all. The speakers are alike, but quite different. 20 are more resolute and transparent, the ultimate at these. 19 are more forgiving. It depends on what you are after. BassClef summarized best.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Funny that there is so much agreement here, at least amongst some of us. The 20s have an SL driver and the 19s and 40s use CLD (constrained layer damped drivers). They're good, but the SL drivers are more exacting. I reviewed 40A speakers and liked them very much, but missed the precision of my 20A speakers, and so kept the latter. Your opinion may differ but you might want to check out the difference.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Larry View Post
                        The 20s have an SL driver and the 19s and 40s use CLD (constrained layer damped drivers)
                        That is NOT accurate. 19 and 20 have exactly the same SL mid-bass driver, and 20 uses the SL-spec version of the tweeter used in 19.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Saureign: You're correct. My apologies. I was thinking of the 40s, which has the new tweeter, but either the midrange or bass driver is not SL.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by QuiteLikesMusic View Post
                            Hi,

                            I'm looking to replace my ageing Dynaudio stand mounts, and am really sold by ATC's reputation for truthfully digging out every musical detail available. I'm interested in these three: SCM19, SCM20PSL, SCM40.
                            I just picked up a pair of SCM20 PSL just over a month ago. It has been a speaker I have liked for a long time and I am very happy with them. Over the years I've heard the 19s and the 40s in different setups. For whatever reason they are the most common ATC speakers in the market.

                            Leaving cost aside the 19 and 20 are a two way designs that to me sound more coherent top to down in their frequency range. The 40s did not make an impression on me. The 40s offer the mid range driver which is a plus and they extend lower but it felt like it was at the cost of some resolution. I also think that the 40s are a little more challenging to position in a room. These are still great speakers but whatever I say is in comparison with the 19 and 20. The kind of music you listen to and of course the amps will best determine your choice. If you prefer a lower frequency extension then the 40s will be your choice.

                            If you can live without the lower frequency extension then the 19s would be the way to go. The 20s are superior to the 19s but the cost differential is something you will have to decide on by listening first hand with your gear. The 20s IMO will scale with higher quality amps. But ATC has closed the gap between the two in recent years.

                            Good luck with your speaker search!



                            .

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Would the SCM19a's be an option? You don't need a stand, or an amplifier. A simple preamp will do the trick. Single ended (rca) preamp output is okay, but balanced is better. I haven''t heard the SCM119a's in a smaller room, but they should be easier to integrate than a pair of SCM40's.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Bulldog View Post
                                Would the SCM19a's be an option? You don't need a stand, or an amplifier. A simple preamp will do the trick. Single ended (rca) preamp output is okay, but balanced is better. I haven''t heard the SCM119a's in a smaller room, but they should be easier to integrate than a pair of SCM40's.
                                It's a nice thought. I like the idea, and am very sold by the rationale behind active speakers. However, I already have a pretty good integrated amp, and not sure I can stretch that far - budgetwise. Plus, they're the same dimensions as the SCM40s.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  QLM:

                                  More information, that might be irrelevant to you. I've reviewed and owned powered ATCs over a long time. My experience, if you go that path, is that the preamp is really important to getting a satisfying sound. While ATC seem like a natural choice, the there are other brands that will be terrific and slightly different sounding, e.g. E.A.R. and Pass Labs (XP12). Just FYI.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    As Mark (@QuiteLikesMusic) points out, correctly IMHO, there are rather few SCM 20 reviews. However just for reference, when looking for something else I encountered a page with lots of summaries of ATC product reviews at AudioStereo -- ATC Reviews, including several for the SCM 20.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by jophill View Post
                                      As Mark (@QuiteLikesMusic) points out, correctly IMHO, there are rather few SCM 20 reviews. However just for reference, when looking for something else I encountered a page with lots of summaries of ATC product reviews at AudioStereo -- ATC Reviews, including several for the SCM 20.
                                      That's a great find

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Mark: Here's my part on the SCM 20asl. https://positive-feedback.com/Issue39/atc_scm20.htm I also reviewed the passive 20s for audioMUSINGS, but that's only available in print.

                                        Comment

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