New ATC loudspeaker info

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New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby Fredlocks » Thu Feb 11, 2016 1:52 pm

Hello all,

This is my first post so please be kind if I make an error. :)

I found this over on the Hi-Fi Wigwam site. According to Concerto Audio the UK prices of the new Special Edition speakers are as follows:

SCM50SE Active £26,964
SCM50SE Passive £23,671
SCM100SE Active £28,921
SCM100SE Passive £25,638
SCM150SE Active £35,406
SCM150SE Passive £31,879

Here are some pictures which does indeed show that all of the speakers possess the new look:

http://s1182.photobucket.com/user/Santo ... 2.jpg.html

I have a couple of questions as I am considering purchasing ATC speakers for my new system:

1) The price difference between the above speakers and the standard 'vanilla' editions is huge. What could possibly be the reason for such a big hike? New cabinets, amps, tweeter, limited production runs, etc.

2) They say ATC speakers can be unforgiving with poor quality material. Does poor quality material include old recordings like my Louis Armstrong Hot Fives recordings which were probably state-of-the-art for the time but sound a bit dodgy now or does it refer to recordings that were ineptly recorded in the first place?

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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby darrenyeats » Thu Feb 11, 2016 9:24 pm

I have Classic 50s (ASL). IMO there is a lot of mileage in improving the surrounding set up (priority #1 acoustics, #2 partnering equipment set up, #3 mains and tweaks). ATCs will always reveal what is good and bad about a recording. Setting everything else up badly, you will just get information. Setting everything up well will give you "infotainment" - the fascination and intrigue that will make you keep on playing no matter if the recording is technically this or that. Quite difficult to explain.

Let's put it this way, many recordings I thought were simply poor I now perceive to have some excellent inner qualities.

Also, we audiophiles also a habit of making things worse for ourselves. We like to run our audiophile DACs at full digital volume, which can lead to inter-sample overs being reproduced incorrectly with most upsamplng DACs - also some DACs are not quite as linear at the very limit of their output - but this is where compressed pop lives! Then we complain about compressed pop. The man on the street uses smartphones or soundbars, using digital volume control which makes these specific issues moot! (Then again, digital volume control done really right is with a proper gain structure, and dithering.)

Another example is power filtering. We audiophiles like to use mains filters but these can cause more problems than they solve. The man on the street doesn't use mains filters and avoids some problems. (Then again it is worth removing bad SMPSs from the mains supply e.g. typical smartphone and tablet chargers, and many household items, have SMPSs without any requirements for low noise. Or even better, have a dedicated circuit for your hi-fi.)

But the biggest factor is acoustics. The biggest part is usually addressing bass issues. Also in the UK some of us live in small rooms and when the speakers are very near side walls this is ruinous (if you absolutely can't avoid being near side walls, first reflection points must be treated).

So it's about not shooting yourself in the foot, as well as implementing technically correct steps.
Darren
Last edited by darrenyeats on Sat Feb 13, 2016 12:11 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby Brad Lunde » Fri Feb 12, 2016 6:54 am

Fredlocks wrote:Hello all,

This is my first post so please be kind if I make an error. :)

I have a couple of questions as I am considering purchasing ATC speakers for my new system:

1) The price difference between the above speakers and the standard 'vanilla' editions is huge. What could possibly be the reason for such a big hike? New cabinets, amps, tweeter, limited production runs, etc.

2) They say ATC speakers can be unforgiving with poor quality material. Does poor quality material include old recordings like my Louis Armstrong Hot Fives recordings which were probably state-of-the-art for the time but sound a bit dodgy now or does it refer to recordings that were ineptly recorded in the first place?


Act's are designed to make it sound like it sounds. If its a bad sounding recording, regardless of why, it sounds bad. Katy Perry Firework is good example. Paramore, Ain't it Fun. Sia Elastic Heart. Can't fix these, they are awful. Thriller Michael Jackson, September Earth Wind and Fire; Abraxas, Santana, Tumbleweed Connection, Elton John; All older, all fantastic. The problem is if you try and avoid this, pick speakers that make everything sound lovely, you miss out on the details that take a recording over the top to a near religious experience. It makes things sound better by covering up things, not exposing them. Turn up bass and treble and many people say "its better". Reduce resolution in the midrange, you don't hear the mistakes and the errors.

Take for example, the old original recording at Stax of Aretha Franklin "I Never Loved a Man". The was recorded by Tom Dowd. Lots of mistakes, sounds messy, Piano out of tune, distorted mic preamps, limited bandwidth. That recording is positively magic. Does it sound "as good as" something we'd call magic today, Chuck Ainlay's recording of Lee Ann Womack, Send it on Down? No, but you are hearing it exactly as it is, warts and all.

Brad
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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby Fredlocks » Fri Feb 12, 2016 12:30 pm

darrenyeats wrote:I have Classic 50s (ASL). IMO there is a lot of mileage in improving the surrounding set up (priority #1 acoustics, #2 partnering equipment set up, #3 mains and tweaks). ATCs will always reveal what is good and bad about a recording. Setting everything else up badly, you will just get information. Setting everything up well will give you "infotainment" - the fascination and intrigue that will make you keep on playing no matter if the recording is technically this or that. Quite difficult to explain.

Let's put it this way, many recordings I thought were simply poor I now perceive to have some excellent inner qualities.

Also, we audiophiles also have a habit of making things worse for ourselves. One example is inter-sample overs in modern super-compressed digital recordings. We like to run our audiophile DACs at full digital volume, which can lead to inter-sample overs being reproduced incorrectly with most upsamplng DACs. The man on the street uses smartphones or soundbars, using digital volume control, that have no such problems! (Then again, digital volume control done really right is with a proper gain structure, and dithering.)

Another example is power filtering. We audiophiles like to use mains filters but these can cause more problems than they solve. The man on the street doesn't use mains filters and avoids some problems. (Then again it is worth removing bad SMPSs from the mains supply e.g. typical smartphone and tablet chargers, and many household items, have SMPSs without any requirements for low noise. Or even better, have a dedicated circuit for your hi-fi.)

But the biggest factor is acoustics. The biggest part is usually addressing bass issues. Also in the UK some of us live in small rooms and when the speakers are very near side walls this is ruinous (if you absolutely can't avoid being near side walls, first reflection points must be treated).

So it's about not shooting yourself in the foot, as well as implementing technically correct steps.
Darren


Thanks for the information. I too suffer from the UK small room syndrome and side walls are the bane of my life. I do wonder how larger speakers are sold in such huge numbers when everyone I know, even those with plenty of cash, still live in pretty small places albeit with lots of rooms, en suite bathrooms, etc. I checked out some of the setup pictures on this forum and some of the speaker placement choices look very dubious although I guess if it sounds good then the visuals will probably never convey that. Not that my current setup is ideal. Far from it until I win the lottery or sell my company. :x

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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby Fredlocks » Fri Feb 12, 2016 12:44 pm

Brad Lunde wrote:
Act's are designed to make it sound like it sounds. If its a bad sounding recording, regardless of why, it sounds bad. Katy Perry Firework is good example. Paramore, Ain't it Fun. Sia Elastic Heart. Can't fix these, they are awful. Thriller Michael Jackson, September Earth Wind and Fire; Abraxas, Santana, Tumbleweed Connection, Elton John; All older, all fantastic. The problem is if you try and avoid this, pick speakers that make everything sound lovely, you miss out on the details that take a recording over the top to a near religious experience. It makes things sound better by covering up things, not exposing them. Turn up bass and treble and many people say "its better". Reduce resolution in the midrange, you don't hear the mistakes and the errors.

Take for example, the old original recording at Stax of Aretha Franklin "I Never Loved a Man". The was recorded by Tom Dowd. Lots of mistakes, sounds messy, Piano out of tune, distorted mic preamps, limited bandwidth. That recording is positively magic. Does it sound "as good as" something we'd call magic today, Chuck Ainlay's recording of Lee Ann Womack, Send it on Down? No, but you are hearing it exactly as it is, warts and all.

Brad


Thanks for the excellent reply and I love your examples. I don't listen to a lot of contemporary pop but I do occasionally delve into hip-hop/RnB. Most of my listening revolves around (pun ha ha!) jazz, classical, rock, blues, country.

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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby AlmaataKZ » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:23 pm

The main difference of these se vs the original versions is the descrete amp, which is also present in the earlier annivessary models.
When I spoke with the designer at the factory he explained that the main effect of this is slightly lower distortion (in the amp).
In general, amp distortion is near negligible compared to e.g. driver distortion. So descrete amps are there more for marketing reasons, as well as most of the trimmings on the latest se.
The original 50s are therefore the most practical/sensible/ value choice.

The 50s sound superb with jazz, classical or any other genre based on real instruments, btw.
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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby Brad Lunde » Thu Feb 18, 2016 4:35 am

AlmaataKZ wrote:The main difference of these se vs the original versions is the descrete amp, which is also present in the earlier annivessary models.
When I spoke with the designer at the factory he explained that the main effect of this is slightly lower distortion (in the amp).
In general, amp distortion is near negligible compared to e.g. driver distortion. So descrete amps are there more for marketing reasons, as well as most of the trimmings on the latest se.
The original 50s are therefore the most practical/sensible/ value choice.

The 50s sound superb with jazz, classical or any other genre based on real instruments, btw.


NO way I agree with "for marketing reasons". The engineer is Richard Newman, he would not say that. Nor would Ben Lilly. Nor would Billy Woodman. The standard and discrete amps sound totally different. The discrete amps are like comparing the old SEAS tweeter to the new ATC. Its a big difference IMHO.

Brad
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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby darrenyeats » Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:31 am

Brad, also none of those people would say they "sound totally different". I do admire the enthusiasm, but you admit that's stretching it?
Darren

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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby AndyU » Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:00 pm

Here is some more info and pictures on What Hifi ..

http://www.whathifi.com/news/atc-launch ... n-speakers

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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby Brad Lunde » Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:43 pm

darrenyeats wrote:Brad, also none of those people would say they "sound totally different". I do admire the enthusiasm, but you admit that's stretching it?
Darren


I would say that listening is a skill; you have to practice and work at it over and over again. Like musicianship.

George Massenburg, I used to be his sales guy for his own gear, had the best ears of anyone I ever met in the studio. He could hear stuff I could not. He could hear 1dB of compression on a single vocal inside a completed mix; his level of discernment is amazing. It was very difficult to keep up, as I was "supposed" to be able to demo his compressor (which was sonically invisible to 98% of skilled mixers). He mixed September for EWF, all the Linda Ronstadt/Nelson Riddle stuff, Little Feat, etc. Very talented guy, considered one of the best mixers of all time. He for sure heard things I could not hear and when he said, "that track sucks", it was "stretching it" to me

I was on a panel with Al Schmitt's and Peter Asher recently, talking about recording. AL Schmitt's orchestra is the best in the business, how come he is different? He hears things others don't. He knows the difference between one microphone in a sea of microphones on an orchestra, in the mix. I promise you, most would say "Al, you are stretching it, the orchestra sounds the same with that other mic vs the one you just put up." But he hears it. How did Peter Asher hear James Taylor in a bar and "hear" what he would sound like on record? He hears things others don't, like seeing a statue inside a giant chunk of raw granite.

In studio work, its competitive advantage to hear things others don't. That's why ATC is so popular. I listen to more gear than ATC engineering, so I hear things in their gear they don't. I think this is no weakness or fault, its the way great things get made. I am their customer, they work to please me. My customer is George Massenburg, or Al Schmitt or Peter Asher: I work to please them. I have to listen in their studio and take what they say back to factory. I better be able to explain it and describe it accurately or we are all screwed.

Sadly I have done demos before where someone could not tell the difference between an 11 and 19. For that person, I AM stretching it! For me, a 50 active and 50 discrete active ARE totally different. If you heard them like I do, you'd say that's true, that IS the way it is, they are similar, but not the same.

So that explain it?
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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby Dogill » Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:26 pm

Also the SE models have a better ( laminated ) cabinet as Ben Lilly explained to me.
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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby Fredlocks » Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:40 pm

Brad Lunde wrote:
darrenyeats wrote:Brad, also none of those people would say they "sound totally different". I do admire the enthusiasm, but you admit that's stretching it?
Darren


I would say that listening is a skill; you have to practice and work at it over and over again. Like musicianship.

George Massenburg, I used to be his sales guy for his own gear, had the best ears of anyone I ever met in the studio. He could hear stuff I could not. He could hear 1dB of compression on a single vocal inside a completed mix; his level of discernment is amazing. It was very difficult to keep up, as I was "supposed" to be able to demo his compressor (which was sonically invisible to 98% of skilled mixers). He mixed September for EWF, all the Linda Ronstadt/Nelson Riddle stuff, Little Feat, etc. Very talented guy, considered one of the best mixers of all time. He for sure heard things I could not hear and when he said, "that track sucks", it was "stretching it" to me

I was on a panel with Al Schmitt's and Peter Asher recently, talking about recording. AL Schmitt's orchestra is the best in the business, how come he is different? He hears things others don't. He knows the difference between one microphone in a sea of microphones on an orchestra, in the mix. I promise you, most would say "Al, you are stretching it, the orchestra sounds the same with that other mic vs the one you just put up." But he hears it. How did Peter Asher hear James Taylor in a bar and "hear" what he would sound like on record? He hears things others don't, like seeing a statue inside a giant chunk of raw granite.

In studio work, its competitive advantage to hear things others don't. That's why ATC is so popular. I listen to more gear than ATC engineering, so I hear things in their gear they don't. I think this is no weakness or fault, its the way great things get made. I am their customer, they work to please me. My customer is George Massenburg, or Al Schmitt or Peter Asher: I work to please them. I have to listen in their studio and take what they say back to factory. I better be able to explain it and describe it accurately or we are all screwed.

Sadly I have done demos before where someone could not tell the difference between an 11 and 19. For that person, I AM stretching it! For me, a 50 active and 50 discrete active ARE totally different. If you heard them like I do, you'd say that's true, that IS the way it is, they are similar, but not the same.

So that explain it?
Brad


That's a great explanation and I don't doubt that you are right but seeing as the amps are so different, can you tell me how they are different? What would the active SE amps do better than the active Vanilla amps? I ask this because, as you are probably aware, there are very few ATC reviews around that can answer that question and the anniversary editions were barely reviewed by any of the major HI-Fi publications.

What, in your eyes (ears) makes them so different? I have only ever heard the vanilla versions by the way.

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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby Fredlocks » Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:43 pm

Dogill wrote:Also the SE models have a better ( laminated ) cabinet as Ben Lilly explained to me.


Does that mean the cabinets are more rigid and inert or is this a cosmetic thing? ATC cabinets are built like brick outhouses, as we say in the UK, so I am intrigued as to how this improvement translates into sound quality benefits.

I would imagine better imaging and a deeper soundstage perhaps.

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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby Brad Lunde » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:06 am

Fredlocks wrote:That's a great explanation and I don't doubt that you are right but seeing as the amps are so different, can you tell me how they are different? What would the active SE amps do better than the active Vanilla amps? I ask this because, as you are probably aware, there are very few ATC reviews around that can answer that question and the anniversary editions were barely reviewed by any of the major HI-Fi publications.

What, in your eyes (ears) makes them so different? I have only ever heard the vanilla versions by the way.


I would say that detail (resolution) , imaging (air) , speed (transient response) all are better. The regular amps don't sound bad mind you, but the discrete amps just up the detail sort of like the new tweeters do. I sold a discrete pair of 100s to James Newton Howard, he heard it and then went on to write Hunger Games 2 and 3. Its worth it for sure- it may be the best bargain going. The "tone" of the amps is not different. There is no "more bass", or "more treble" kind of difference, only in resolution/imaging/air. But that stuff is the most satisfying over time.

Brad
Last edited by Brad Lunde on Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New ATC loudspeaker info

Postby Brad Lunde » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:14 am

Fredlocks wrote:
Dogill wrote:Also the SE models have a better ( laminated ) cabinet as Ben Lilly explained to me.


Does that mean the cabinets are more rigid and inert or is this a cosmetic thing? ATC cabinets are built like brick outhouses, as we say in the UK, so I am intrigued as to how this improvement translates into sound quality benefits.

I would imagine better imaging and a deeper soundstage perhaps.


I will ask what he means but I think this is "higher quality veneer" kind of better, not structurally better. The cabinets are MDF, veneered inside and out (for balance), but the qualities of veneer vary wildly. ATC is in the land of Jaguar, Bentley and several high end auto parts suppliers all just up the road. There are some incredible woodworkers/leather workers there. The leather binding of the new SE10's was the same folks that do Aston Martin, the high end Audi, etc. So its these hidden qualities that cost- I just wish ATC would tell more people about it!
Brad
Last edited by Brad Lunde on Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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