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  • 'Run in' Time for ATC speakers

    I've now had my SCM100asl speakers for around 6 months. They sounded great from first switch-on. I didn't expect much improvement as my listening time increased.

    How wrong I was. A very slight congestion in the upper bass has vanished. The excellent bass extension has improved significantly. I can now hear and feel very low frequencies listening to music and watching Blu-ray movies. This bass extension was only hinted at before. The SCM100s have now gone from the best loudspeakers I have ever owned to the best loudspeakers I have ever heard.

    I thought 'running in' loudspeakers was a fallacy.
    Last edited by Bulldog; 09-30-2020, 12:57 AM.

  • #2
    That is also my experience!
    Long time ago, after after an exhausting search for new speakers, i heard a pair of SCM10 at my Hifi-dealer.
    I was so excited that i want to order a pair immediately.
    The dealer, who knows me for some time, tells me that it might be better for me to order a pair of SCM20 because he knows that i want some bass.
    After the SCM20 reached me, and i placed them in my system, i was complete disappointed and called my dealer that he can come and pick up the speakers, because they sound so bad that i don´t want them any longer.😀
    He was able to calm me down and told me that, if i want to give them back after 4 weeks of usage, it will be no problem.
    So i gave them a chance and never regret it!
    At first usage the sound glued at the speakers, but that fades away competely after usage for a timeand turn in the opposit.
    After more that 20 years of usage i´m still very happy and the only reason for a change might be and active pair of SCM20 or SCM50.

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    • #3
      I think the reason it sounds better after a while is a bit of "run in" the speakers and a bit of it is that you get used more to the sound.

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      • #4
        I agree that much of the perceived improvement in sound could be attributed to the need to retrain our ears to a new sound. It takes a little while for us to perceive improvements/differences in sound when we upgrade. But the initial bass tightness could be attributed to the driver suspension being a little stiff. I wonder, even after the initial 'running in' period, whether extended periods of non-use could also result in some loudspeaker designs taking longer to regain their best sound.
        Last edited by Bulldog; 09-30-2020, 11:33 AM.

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        • #5
          In Bulldogs case (actives) I think you could attribute a portion of the improvement he perceived to the on board amps running in as well.

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          • #6
            It’s great that everyone is enjoying the kit here. I just really wonder what the differences are that are being heard. Have you seen any of the videos of the production process for the drivers? Amps I know have quite a long soak test as well.

            I don’t mean to offend here...I just believe this is likely down to us getting used to the sound in our rooms and focusing on the good bits more and more when we listen and select music - like for example tight bass, slam and dynamics, with the active 100s at least, in my experience of ownership. Although not in the same room I also listen quite a lot to Meridian DSP6000s, so have some comparison sounds too.

            I sometimes have quite long periods of not using the ATC system at a realistic sound level so I get surprised with just how good things sound.

            Again I hope I am not offending here...not disputing the good things you are hearing...just asking technically what is going on.
            Last edited by AlastairH; 10-01-2020, 01:24 PM. Reason: Spelling

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            • #7
              Not offended at all, AlastairH! You are probably right. There's is no doubt I heard an improvement - but it may well be my ears 'running in' rather than my gear.

              Also, it's likely the little tweaks I made to my listening position and orientation of the speakers have helped as well.

              Another thing I did, was stop playing badly recorded CDs in my collection. The SCM100s are ruthless. But really well recorded music sounds sublime. I bought a bunch of new CDs that relish being played on the SCM100s.

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              • #8
                You may be right that there is a need for the ears to get used to the "ATC - Sound".
                In my case, and that is 25 years ago when my ears worked absolut perfect, i asked myself why the SCM10 in the shop sounds brilliant, and my brand new SCM20 at home sounds dull for some time. Compared to the speakers i had before it was at first a step down. As i wrote, this open sound that i heard at the shop was not there, at i could localize the speakers at once. That is the most effect that changed as far as i remember. 😁
                I play classical guitar. And for the guitar it is not different. It takes a time that the Instrument will "opened up" and get its full sound.
                In the past i read that the germans had build speakers with cabinets that were very stiff so that the construction should not have any effect on the sound. At that time there was a roumor for the british sound (for example Rodgers) that build cabinets that are intrgrated in their idea how the speakers should sound.
                On the other side. On e-guitar some people think that the old (used) picups will sound better. That is one reason ( of many others) why the Gibsons and Fenders fron the past were so sought after.
                At last it might be something between all the arguments, and we all right! 😁
                Main thing is, no matter if after some time or immediately, the ATC - Sound is pure joy!

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                • #9
                  It's interesting to see what ATC is quoted as saying about run-in/burn-in. There's a compendium of answers to the burn-in question from quite a few loudspeaker manufacturers at http://matrix-hifi.com/ENG_contenedo...ealtavoces.htm. The ATC response was:
                  “We do not consider 'burn in' an issue. When our loudspeakers leave the factory they are in perfect working order and their performance will not change over time unless they are not cared for or get very old.

                  I think 'burn in' was probably invented by hi-fi dealers so that when they sell a cable for 500 euros and the customer complains he can't hear any difference the dealer can tell them it needs 'burning in'. After the customer has waited for two weeks for the cable to 'burn in' he has forgotten how his system sounded in the first place and can't be bothered to complain again.”

                  IIRC the ATC factory videos reveal 100% testing of drive units using large excursion, which may do a lot of the burn-in for the suspension, leaving just a little to happen with the customer.

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                  • #10
                    jophill, your comment about the hi-fi dealer's spin reminds me of the 'Are You Being Served?" TV show. If a customer buying a jacket complained the sleeves were too long - they were told the sleeves would ride up with wear. Conversely, if the sleeves were too short - they were told the sleeves would ride down with wear!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jophill View Post
                      It's interesting to see what ATC is quoted as saying about run-in/burn-in. There's a compendium of answers to the burn-in question from quite a few loudspeaker manufacturers at http://matrix-hifi.com/ENG_contenedo...ealtavoces.htm. The ATC response was:
                      “We do not consider 'burn in' an issue. When our loudspeakers leave the factory they are in perfect working order and their performance will not change over time unless they are not cared for or get very old.

                      I think 'burn in' was probably invented by hi-fi dealers so that when they sell a cable for 500 euros and the customer complains he can't hear any difference the dealer can tell them it needs 'burning in'. After the customer has waited for two weeks for the cable to 'burn in' he has forgotten how his system sounded in the first place and can't be bothered to complain again.”

                      IIRC the ATC factory videos reveal 100% testing of drive units using large excursion, which may do a lot of the burn-in for the suspension, leaving just a little to happen with the customer.
                      Thanks for the Link.👍

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                      • #12
                        if there is a burn in effect, that doesn't matter because atc speakers are used a lot and for a long time.
                        Just because I want to avoid the burn in effect, I don't buy new scm150 every year ;-))

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SolarMusic View Post
                          if there is a burn in effect, that doesn't matter because atc speakers are used a lot and for a long time.
                          Just because I want to avoid the burn in effect, I don't buy new scm150 every year ;-))
                          What is 'burn in effect' when it comes to speakers? I automatically think of space capsules returning to earth and risking 'burn in effect' when travelling via earth's space...

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                          • #14
                            the comparison is really obvious

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                            • #15
                              I believe the 'burn-in effect' applies more to the lower frequencies - at least in my room. As discussed above, it is more likely I have become a better listener, rather than any significant physical 'running-in" of the speaker components.

                              Regardless of the reason for it, my recent listening experience has had some real 'wow' moments. The bass reproduction of the 100asl speakers are now truly gut-wrenching. Sub-woofers are redundant.
                              Last edited by Bulldog; 10-16-2020, 08:48 AM.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Gandalf View Post
                                What is 'burn in effect' when it comes to speakers? I automatically think of space capsules returning to earth and risking 'burn in effect' when travelling via earth's space...
                                AIUI the stiffness of a drive unit suspension slowly changes ("burns in" or "breaks in") with accumulated "work" done by the drive unit. This will alter enclosure tuning for example. However I am not sure the audio differences that result are really big enough to exceed the human ear-brain's adaptation process.

                                For the keen there's a paper from Klippel which explains. Otherwise a short extract from the paper's Abstract is:
                                "The mechanical suspension becomes more and more compliant over time changing the loudspeaker properties (e.g. resonance frequency) significantly. This aging process is reproducible and the decay of the stiffness can be modeled by accumulating the apparent power supplied to the suspension part and using an exponential relationship."

                                John

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