ATC and volume perception - Hi-Fi Stereo & Home Cinema forums | ATC Forums

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

ATC and volume perception

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • ATC and volume perception

    Hi,

    Can anyone explain the listening implications with the low distortion nature of ATC speakers? I'm trying to interpret the following statement from ATC in one of their manuals:

    The ear and brain tend to interpret distorted sound as loudness and thus underestimate the actual level of undistorted sound
    Does this mean that I need to increase the volume control on the amplifier to achieve the same perceived level of loudness and dynamics? (assuming ATC has same sensitivity as existing speakers)

    My concern here is that I'm looking to buy a pair and we share a party wall with our neighbours. Sure, it's built to a modern construction standard: block/insulation/block. However, for me to play at my preferred level of loudness, would my neighbour be likely to experience more sound transmission, or less?

    Also, how involving are ATCs at relatively low to moderate listening levels? Of the many reviews I've read, I have come across the occasional observation that some brands or models only really shine at high levels.

    Thanks very much
    Mark

  • #2
    It means that you will turn up the volume at higher levels than usual, not because you want to, but because you do not hear any distorted sound, and, therefore, you'll be inclined to turn up

    In order for ATC to shine at low levels, you need one of two: high powered amplifier (300w/channel/8ohm classAB) or active speaker.

    As for the wall, I suggest something of the sort https://www.details.ro/categorie/mat...pentru-pereti/

    Comment


    • #3
      My experience agrees with the above from saureign and with ATC's comment.

      I moved from a pair of Proac loudspeakers with 6" mid-bass drivers to ATC SCM50ASLs with 9" drivers. Small drivers have to work harder than big drivers to produce the same volume and that usually means they produce higher distortion.

      Over the first few weeks with the ATCs I noticed that the volume control setting I was using gradually reduced rather a lot. To me that seems consistent with the idea that the absence of distortion from the SCM50s had led me to initially use a higher volume to reach the "comfort level" to which I had become accustomed with the Proacs. But over time I adapted to enjoying a lower level from the ATCs with their really clean reproduction. In fact a reason I moved on from the Proacs was that I found it uncomfortable to listen to them at a higher volume than my usual setting when I felt like doing so.

      That may explain why people on first hearing ATC loudspeakers for a short time report that they need to be played loud to wake them up. I suspect such reports might change on longer acquaintance.

      Actually, I think it's possible I may now typically listen at a slightly lower real volume than I did with the Proacs. The probably lower distortion from the ATCs means I hear the low-level subtle cues from a good recording without having to turn up the volume as far. And I certainly do continue to find music via the ATCs as or more involving than via the Proacs. I don't feel the need to "wake them up".

      Of course this just reports my own experience. And I can't say how anyone else (or their neighbours) will perceive things.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by saureign View Post
        It means that you will turn up the volume at higher levels than usual, not because you want to, but because you do not hear any distorted sound, and, therefore, you'll be inclined to turn up

        In order for ATC to shine at low levels, you need one of two: high powered amplifier (300w/channel/8ohm classAB) or active speaker.

        As for the wall, I suggest something of the sort https://www.details.ro/categorie/mat...pentru-pereti/
        In the perfect world I would probably switch to the active SCM19 (or SCM40). However, even though my pretty decent integrated amp has a pre-out, it's RCA only. As far as I can tell, if I went for the actives, the cost would be significantly more, plus I'd have to ditch my amp and speaker cables and buy a pre-amp good enough to XLR output.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by QuiteLikesMusic View Post
          In the perfect world I would probably switch to the active SCM19 (or SCM40). However, even though my pretty decent integrated amp has a pre-out, it's RCA only. As far as I can tell, if I went for the actives, the cost would be significantly more, plus I'd have to ditch my amp and speaker cables and buy a pre-amp good enough to XLR output.
          I think you have an A308 with 150 W / 8 Ohms output. I think that's enough to get a good result out of an 85 dB SPL sensitivity 'speaker (typical for ATC) in a domestic set-up, even in a fairly big room such as yours. I have heard passive SCM40 and SCM50 driven by 150 W Chord amplifiers at shows and they produced "best in show" sound to me.

          This is an area where I think ATC's engineering shines. They build their drivers with engineering that will take a lot of power and produce a lot of undistorted SPL. That's to work in studios which are often bigger than domestic listening rooms and where the engineers usually listen at louder levels. Some other makers do this too, of course, but IMHO it's what leads to all of the ATC loudspeaker stable having clean output capability at levels where many loudspeakers designed just for the home do not. And this leads to the most significant feature of ATC's loudspeakers for me: that IME they can play very loud if I want - but I don't have to play them loud to enjoy them.

          It's quite possible to enjoy the slightly "warm" presentation of a loudspeaker with less capable drivers which slightly compresses the very short term power peaks of natural, dynamic music. That's not intended as criticism in any way. For many years I ejoyed Radio 3 FM evening concerts where the technical requirement of the transmitter demands a strict limit to how loud the audio may go, so the transmit chain processor applies a similar mild peak level compression to avoid the hard limiter at the transmitter itself. We all have our valid different preferences. But these days I prefer the R3 internet feed which is not processed like this. I observe that if someone enjoys a "warm" sonic presentation then they think of it as "neutral" and often perceive the ATC sonic presentation as "cold" or "clinical". Fair enough.

          I think the reports you mention of how people perceive volume from ATC loudspeakers are genuine as far as they go, but rooted in common long-established preference. I have no idea how anyone else may react but I found it easy to adapt from my old preference and I enjoy the music even more now that I have.

          Comment


          • #6
            QLM:
            Allow me to try to answer your initial question: What's the impact of low distortion drivers? You'll tend to hear garbage in as garbage out. The better the equipment paired with ATCs . . . the better the performance. Bad recordings will sound like bad recordings, which is a subtly different thing that just sounding bad. When you look at a nature scene from a car with smudged windows, it's harder to see the scene, but your brain can distinguish the problem as lying with the window, not with the scenery being less beautiful. This description could get out of hand quickly, so I'm going to stop there.

            Something to consider is shooting for a good sound or a sound you like is an achievable result; getting perfection . . . that's a fairy tale.

            What first seduced me about ATC speakers is that they had the mix of the liveliness, "elasticity" of live music, with a realistic timbre. It appears to me, you can often find liveliness or realistic timbre, but rarely find the two together.

            I'm using a 1997 five channel Parasound amplifier with an ATC center channel and powered 20s. The speakers let me hear the difference in amplification (as well as an active crossover). The amplifier is having an impact on the sound I'm getting. Ten minutes into a film, the difference stopped being important. Your A308 has a sound, everything does to some extent, and you'll likely hear that through the ATCs. Will you "need" to replace your amplifier with ATC's? No, but you might want to. Being an audiophile is a bit like being a unicorn hunter, the animal is always just out of sight, if only I had better binoculars . . . . After 40 years of insanity, I've found that I continually extend the pursuit. Availability of funds and audio angst will determine whether you act on your musical discontent. At some point you'll be able to let go. I've enjoyed my powered 20s since about 2007.

            I've liked ATCs enough that I've owned 7s, 20s, 35s and reviewed 10ASL, 20ASL (these are mine), 50ASL and 100ASL speakers. (I've also owned Spendor, Vandersteen, Ensemble, JBL and a few others) Bigger ATCs achieve a more dynamic presentation and more bass. TMI. Good luck.

            Larry

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by QuiteLikesMusic View Post
              Hi,

              Does this mean that I need to increase the volume control on the amplifier to achieve the same perceived level of loudness and dynamics? (assuming ATC has same sensitivity as existing speakers)

              Thanks very much
              Mark
              Yes and No. Excessive distortion tends to overwhelm undistorted sound. Micro and macro dynamics are compromised. Most odd order harmonic distortion is unpleasant to listen to. I would argue that most people could never tolerate listening to higher distortion drivers for extended periods.

              ATC speakers feature much lower odd order harmonic distortion and higher power handling than most other speakers. Micro and macro dynamics are reproduced without limitation. The resulting sound is so clean that listeners are encouraged to crank the volume because they can.

              Conversely, such low distortion has benefits when low level monitoring is required. You don't have to crank the volume to perceive fine detail.

              Comment


              • #8

                My experience was (whether that has something to do with the question....?)
                After getting involved with the ATC speakers for a while and inviting friends to listen to music: we felt like we were listening to loud music, but we were still able to comfortably converse without shouting. I had never experienced such an effect before, in terms of intensity. And my friends were also amazed and impressed
                ​​​​​
                So there is the possibility of listening to music very loudly, but in order to achieve the same perceived volume as with other loudspeakers, I had and have at least had the experience that it was actually quieter in the room itself and conversations are more possible. which of course doesn't stop you from letting it rip from time to time.
                Last edited by Mariner; 05-11-2022, 03:56 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The perception of loudness vs actual loudness is an interesting topic and I am not sure I really understand its full complexity. I agree with all of the contributors here. What I find also is a greater freedom, that I didn't have before I got my SCM50As, to set the volume control to match the recording's audio image. It was Quad's Peter Walker who wrote in the Quad 34 instruction manual:
                  "Volume control

                  The perspective of a recording or broadcast is fixed in the studio by the relative placement of microphones and performers and the use of the volume control should be thought of as a focusing device.

                  A close miked performance will sound rather forward and the volume control is turned up to bring the image of the performers into the plane of the loudspeakers.

                  More distant placement of the microphones produces a more open perspective and the volume control is adjusted to bring the performers and recording environment into focus at a distance behind the plane of the loudspeakers. For any given recording or broadcast there is only one correct volume setting."

                  I don't completely agree with PW's point about "one correct volume setting". I find now that a range of volume settings will produce a credible and enjoyable audio image. I can choose to bring the performers closer to me, or enjoy them further away, but still with all of the detail in the recording audible.

                  Comment

                  Related Topics

                  Collapse

                  Topics Statistics Last Post
                  Started by jophill, 02-06-2022, 10:56 AM
                  0 responses
                  0 views
                  1 like
                  Last Post jophill
                  by jophill
                   
                  Started by Aretos, 07-11-2020, 07:05 PM
                  15 responses
                  0 views
                  3 likes
                  Last Post Nopiano
                  by Nopiano
                   
                  Started by kingabs, 03-11-2021, 12:49 PM
                  0 responses
                  0 views
                  1 like
                  Last Post kingabs
                  by kingabs
                   
                  Started by preston8452, 03-16-2022, 02:17 AM
                  3 responses
                  0 views
                  0 likes
                  Last Post Mariner
                  by Mariner
                   
                  Started by es see em 40 pass, 07-22-2020, 06:11 PM
                  12 responses
                  0 views
                  4 likes
                  Last Post Gandalf
                  by Gandalf
                   
                  Working...
                  X