Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

ATC & other makes of Hi-Fi equipment
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Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby Stidge » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:18 pm

Hi

I have a pair of SCM50 ASLTs and have a chance to pair them with an ARC Reference 5SE but I am concerned they won't be a match on the impedance front.

Has anyone any experience of this setup? The alternative would probably be one of the pre-amps from the Pass Labs XP series.

Any thoughts gratefully received

Many thanks

Steve
Sonos/MacBook Pro > Chord Hugo or Garrard 401/SME V/Dynavector DV20X > MFA Passive > SCM50ASLT

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby Muser » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:57 pm

Steve:

I have not heard any ARC preamps, though Studioman uses one, I think.

I'm using a Pass Labs XP12 and used an XP10 prior to that. Both are very good matches, in my opinion. The XP10 seems to announce it's bass depth, the XP12 has the same bass depth, pitch definition and solidity. The XP12 is capable of a silky smooth presentation as well as a raw and granular presentation, depending on the recording.

If you're hunting for a second hand edition, there will be more of the older model but in my mind the XP12 is the one to choose. I have not heard Pass' other, recent preamp iterations, nor their more expensive iterations. I have tried a raft of other preamps with my SCM20-2A speakers, as well as a number of preamps with other passive and active ATCs. The Pass is as close to invisible in its sonic imprint as any I've heard and amongst if not at the top of choices for me.

Good luck finding a match.

Larry
ATC SCM20-2A, Pass Labs XP-12 preamp, Amazon Model 2 tt, Moerch DP6 arm and Dynavector XX2MkII cartridge, Oppo 105, Prism Sound Callia DAC, Kubala Sosna Expression cabling. Two 15" Acoustic Elegance subwoofers, powered by QSC RMX 2450 amplifier w/ minidsp equalization.

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby MevDinc » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:15 pm

ATC's its own preamps are very good too.

So far, I've managed to avoid using a preamp with my EL 150As, I go directly from my DAC into the ATCs using the volume control of the DAC.
I believe you get better results by going direct and eliminating the use of a preamp.
Of course, this assumes that the DAC in use has a very good analog preamp section, I've been very lucky so far.

Less is more, me thinks. :)

Happy hunting and listening.

Mev
Audirvana+3.0 - Mac Mini, Lindermann Musicbook 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL (with the ATC tweeter!)

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby Philistine » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:25 pm

Steve (Stidge),

Valve preamps typically have higher output impedances than solid state preamps. Looking at the ARC Reference 5SE manual:

http://www.audioresearch.com/ContentsFi ... manual.pdf page 9 – output impedance, the minimum recommended load is 20K ohms.

According to the user manual of the ATC SCM50 ASLTs:

http://test.atcloudspeakers.co.uk/wp-co ... -06-15.pdf , page 7 – input impedance, the input impedance is stated as 10K ohms per leg (I’m not sure what “per leg” means, probably something to do with balanced input).

This figure is lower than the minimum recommended load impedance for the ARC pre-amp. It may still work OK but it looks dodgy to me. I would suggest that you check with ARC (and maybe ATC too) before committing yourself to any purchase.

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby Stidge » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:51 pm

Thanks for the replies

I did used to connect my DAC straight into the 50s but when I acquired the Garrard I needed a pre-amp to hook it all up. I find I am mainly playing vinyl now so a pre-amp is required.

There is a Pass Labs dealer close to me so I think I will sort out a time to go and have a listen. They do a good range of phono amps as well so lots to think about

Regards

Steve
Sonos/MacBook Pro > Chord Hugo or Garrard 401/SME V/Dynavector DV20X > MFA Passive > SCM50ASLT

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby Alastair » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:03 pm

Stidge wrote:Hi

I have a pair of SCM50 ASLTs and have a chance to pair them with an ARC Reference 5SE but I am concerned they won't be a match on the impedance front.

Has anyone any experience of this setup? The alternative would probably be one of the pre-amps from the Pass Labs XP series.

Any thoughts gratefully received

Many thanks

Steve


Hi Steve

I've not tried ARC but recall a review of the Anni 50s in HiFi news, which is here:

http://exaudio.pt/criticas/hifinews30th.pdf

The reviewer uses a an ARC ref 2 if I recall, then switches to the the SCA2 (although it is called an SCA3 in the review!)

It does not quite answer your question however you might find it interesting.

For what it is worth I've experimented with several pre amps of late and done the now common Dac direct method too. I am currently using a Meridian G02, which I feel is a good value solution as it offers several balanced inputs. My only issue is the gain is too great into the 100s, so it is hissy without attenuators. With the attenuators in place, this to me makes an important contribution. Also I started with a CA2 mk2 and would still be using it if it had balanced inputs, sadly for now it is sitting in my cupboard!

I think everyones set up/room/priorities is different, so mileages will vary, in terms of what is eventually deemed 'right'. And I think right is what you are comfortable with and enjoying. As Mev says, enjoy the journey! Definitely try and borrow kit to use in your home system too before committing to buying.

Alastair
Sys 1: ATC SCM100A, C1C, SCM11, C6 / Audiolab 8000x7, 8000MM / dCS Network Bridge, Purcell, Elgar Plus / Oppo 203 / Emotiva XMC-1
Sys 2: Meridian DSP5000 96/24, AC200, 500
Roon, Tidal, Dirac

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby studioman » Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:08 pm

I DO still have a Reference 2 preamp which works beautifully with ATCs. (Mine are the huge SCM150 active style speakers....)
I DID at one time wonder whether there was any kind of mismatch but it all sounded fantastic. Since then however, I have retired the Audio Research for a while as I came across an ATC SCA2 which was the 'right price'. I had been looking for one for a long time, as clearly it had been designed with ATC speakers in mind. The SCA2 does not have the warmth of the valve amp, but it gives an airy, spacious & refined sound and has plenty of dynamics and a fabulously tonally balanced, detailed sound.
In other words, what one of these fabulous preamps has, is a slightly forgiving, warm nature (the Audio Research) whereas the ATC has precision and can at times seem unforgiving on poor recordings.
They say if you can remember the 60's, you weren't really there. Now somehow I have reached 63...oh shit, it's 64 now....How and when did THAT happen?....there's a lesson there somewhere if only I could figure it out...

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby stringer » Sat May 26, 2018 7:07 am

Stidge wrote:Thanks for the replies

I did used to connect my DAC straight into the 50s but when I acquired the Garrard I needed a pre-amp to hook it all up. I find I am mainly playing vinyl now so a pre-amp is required.

There is a Pass Labs dealer close to me so I think I will sort out a time to go and have a listen. They do a good range of phono amps as well so lots to think about

Regards

Steve


Hi Stidge,
any update regarding your preamps auditions ? you seem also to use a passive preamplifier (MFA) . Is this particular passive pre working well with active ATC ?
Thanks
dCS Network Bridge/Naim DC1/Chord Hugo TT/AR Sound Lunar RCA-DIN/Naim NAC 32.5/SC-DR /ATC scm19a/

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby Stidge » Thu May 31, 2018 11:44 am

Hi

Haven't gotten around to testing pre-amps yet as been looking at phono amps first. Have borrowed a Pass Labs XP-17 which is sounding excellent in my system. Hearing lots of new stuff in very familiar recordings which is always a delight. Also noticing that there are a lot of badly recorded albums. It is a huge step up on my previous phono amp but at £4k you would expect it to be. Going to look for a new cartridge next and then come back to the pre-amp. I didn't want to change everything at the same time and anyway the new phono amp has sorted the dynamics of the system which I was thinking the passive amp might be impacting.

The MFA amp works very well with the ATC actives. Very transparent and musical. It is also nice not to have to plug it in. The lack of remote is a bit annoying although I believe MFA do offer that as an option. MFA are a good company to deal with so worth speaking to them about a demo unit if you are interested. The owner, Jonathan, is a really nice bloke. Now that the system is sounding better I will be looking at adding the MFA Baby Reference to the pre-amp audition list once I get everything else sorted.

Hoping this will be my forever system - well maybe not forever but at least for a long while. I think I am getting to the point now where returns are very much diminishing so short of a lottery win I won't be climbing any higher up the upgrade ladder.

Regards

Steve
Sonos/MacBook Pro > Chord Hugo or Garrard 401/SME V/Dynavector DV20X > MFA Passive > SCM50ASLT

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby Sedgewick » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:10 am

I have always used a Brystonsp3 surround processor to drive active ATC scm 300 towers. I tried a couple of stereo preamps recently to see if they could improve the 2 channel stereo, thus using the Bryston sp3 only for surround. The ARC Ref6 was first on the list, I knew it preferred a high impedance power amp, but the dealer said it wouldn’t be a problem!! The ATC P4 power amps which drive the scm300s have a pretty low 10k input, the minimum the ref6 likes to see. Together with pretty long 30ft balanced interconnects between pre and power amps, PLUS I also use twin ATC subs with stereo, which are also 10k input, driven by the ref6 second output also with long balanced interconnects, you would think the ref6 wouldn’t stand a chance. Guess what........it didn’t. The sound was too forward, aggressive, clinical, and far too fatiguing. Certainly not what the ref6 is supposed to sound like. So there was obviously a severe electrical mismatch here, despite what my dealer said. I was expecting if anything a rather subdued sound, but it was totally the opposite. Next, at the same price as a new ref6 came a mint second hand AyreKXR 20 with full warranty. Wow......musical bliss, no problems with the low impedance amps nor long cables. I’m not sure of the low impedance value of the smaller ATC actives, but I’m sure they are also pretty low. Fair enough, mine is perhaps an extreme example of ARC pre mismatch, but I would advise you to tread carefully with the ref5 you are looking to use, at least try it in your own system

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby linger63 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:22 am

You've been using a surround processor as a stereo pre with P4's and SCM 300's........????? :o :shock: :?

Any particular reason for not using something much more appropriate (IMHO) like the ATC SCA 2... :?:

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby Sedgewick » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:23 pm

The Bryston sp3 may be a surround processor, but it has a superb pair of balanced analogue inputs and can compete on the stereo analogue front with anything out there at the same price point of £10k. None of the analogue signal goes through any digital circuitry when on analogue bypass. It is also the central control of my 7.1 surround system, 300’s LRC and 50’s side and rear surrounds. It takes a very special dedicated stereo preamp to outdo it with analogue stereo sources, the Ayre kxr20 is the first preamp to out do the Bryston by a considerable margin, and so it should at 2 1/2 x the price.

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby Sedgewick » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:26 pm

Forgot to mention, I have tried the ATC preamp. It’s just not in the same league as the Ayre kxr20, not even the Bryston, just too clinical for my taste

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby MevDinc » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:23 pm

Wow, what a killer system you have there, 3 x SCM 300s with twin ATC subs! :D
Audirvana+3.0 - Mac Mini, Lindermann Musicbook 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL (with the ATC tweeter!)

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Re: Active ATCs and ARC Pre-Amps

Postby studioman » Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:39 pm

Sedgewick wrote:Forgot to mention, I have tried the ATC preamp. It’s just not in the same league as the Ayre kxr20, not even the Bryston, just too clinical for my taste

There are, of course, TWO ATC preamps. I have also tried an Ayre preamp, and can honestly say that my SCA2 is my preference.
They say if you can remember the 60's, you weren't really there. Now somehow I have reached 63...oh shit, it's 64 now....How and when did THAT happen?....there's a lesson there somewhere if only I could figure it out...

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