Hi-Fi
May 21, 2014

ATC SCM11 Loudspeakers

Article by WL Low

 

ATC SCM11 with new wire mesh honeycomb design grille

 

Before I start this review, I have confession to make. In my audio life, I am somewhat convinced that I’d some how end up using a pair of PMC or perhaps, just perhaps, ATC monitor speakers. No Wilson Audio or any of those glamour name plates for me please! Yes, I’ll admit to be financially un-qualified to make those purchases either, if one cared about my financial status and well being(as a concerned buddy recently remarked). So if you are convinced that my above statement is gonna guarantee the subject under review a great write up, then stop reading, and leave this page now!

 

However, if you like to read me glorifying about the greatness of this pair of budget ATC speaker are, then read on with(extreme) prejudice. This review was a long time in the making through no fault of mine, because a certain reviewer felt that he should had the task of running in the speakers before I laid ears on them. And run them in he did, a full 3 months and a bit more! You could say the brand new pair of ATC SCM11 were well used, by the time i got them in to my man cave.

 

The lute shaped sealed box design is minimalist and purposeful in looks. The Cherry finished vinyl wrap around looks rather convincing too

 

The “new” ATC SCM11 are handsome speakers, no matter which way one looks at them. The new lute shape, sealed box seems well made with rather convincing looking vinyl Cherry cladding on all panels. The joints are nicely rounded with no sharp edges sticking out, on finger feel running along side. There’s a SEAS sourced tweeter and a 6 inch mid range with long throw capabilities. The SCM11 allows for bi-amping or bi-wiring, with it’s 2 pairs of speaker cable binding post, angled up wards, making attaching and detaching speaker cables a rather tedious chore. Otherwise, I’ve got no complains what so ever about these babies.

 

Hi-Way Laser also thoughtfully supplied me with a pair of 24 inch tall, four column stands for mounting the ATCs. I would have preferred the speaker stand columns filled to bring down their resonating frequencies which would have benefited the ATC speakers, sound wise.

 

However, I make do with what I was supplied, with a caveat, that the ATC could really sound better than this review would suggest.

 

I placed the ATC pair about 39 inches away from the back wall, and about 18 inches from the side wall of my man cave measuring just 10ft x 12ft. The speakers had about 6ft of space between them forming a less than 5ft equal triangle with my throne, making for very near field listening. The good thing about near field set ups, is that the sound staging is always very enveloping for the listener, and will provide for very intimate vocalizing, especially sultry, sexy female voices. I toed in the speakers slightly for a greater focus on centre imaging quality making the treble slightly darker than usual as a small trade off. You never win, it’s always a balance of trading priorities.

 

I then tried first, with bi-wiring the ATC SCM11, however when compared to a pair of single wire speaker cables being used, with the original metal jumpers in place, I felt I preferred the more coherent top to bottom, seamless sound of the later, which is what this review is based upon.

 

The rear panel is kept simple with only 2 pairs of angled speaker terminal binding post, to facilitate bi-wiring or bi-amping

 

With the ATC SCM11 well set up, I am ready for some fine music. With Jennifer Warnes, The Well album, on track six, Ode To Billy Joe, a rather quiet piano and vocal solo, with lots of subtle paddle movements recorded, marked the ATC as one of the very transparent speakers in the budget sector(if a price tag of RM$7,900.00/pair(excluding stands) is your idea of budget product). Must be it’s studio monitor heritage!

 

Like I said earlier, treble tone was slightly darkened for the sake of vocal thickness and imaging focus. Despite that, I found this new generation ATC tweeter less dark than the older versions. There was also a new found smoothness, an “air” of refinement that ATCs never exhibited before, indicating a maturing design with most kinks ironed out in each successive evolution. That slight darkness also helped the ATC sound quieter in the back ground as a perception. With some music materials, such as the Chinese Tida or modern jazz saxophone, there’s was an occasional peakiness in the high mids, while remaining reasonably smooth, most of the time. I suspect the ATC was just doing it’s job, relaying the recording as honestly as it could. For a sealed box design, bass volume was not particularly impressive, but there was enough to let me know it’s there. I know, to get more bass, one can place the speakers closer to the back wall, since it’s a sealed box design, the bass is likely to be well controlled and of the non-booming variety. I thought the in room response of the bass frequencies did not extend below 50Hz or so. That’s why I suggested the four pillar stands be filled for a more “solid” in room bass response. The bass quality, however was clean, clear and tight, with little to over hang. On the whole, the was a very comforting warmness to the sound that made British speakers do enduring, it kinda reminds me to the BBC LS3/5A spec speakers, except with a wider band width response and more dynamics capabilities.

 

I found the sound staging and imaging scale to be largish for a small speaker, even bigger than some column speakers I had in the cave previously. The imaging in particular has a flesh and bones quality to them within a well rounded sound stage that’s set a little closer to the back wall, behind the speakers. Mini monitors can do the great “you are there” trick and image like crazy, within a sound stage and the ATC SCM11 is no different. With my over sized 250W class A Plinius powering them baby ATCs, the sound is robust and rich at the same time. ATC speakers have a reputation of want more juice than your average 89db speakers, and I suspect that has not changed much, if only slightly more sensitive than before.

 

The ATC SCM11 in my man cave. See the Vermouth Red Velvet MKII speaker cable is used?

 

By the time you read this, the ATC SCM11 is no longer a new product, and this review is unlikely to effect the credibility of other 5 stars overseas review verdicts. I still think this is an excellent speaker in so many ways with little down sides. I would call this new generation of ATC design a big leap a head of the previous design of the same model suffix. If you like the previous version, this new design would be right up your alley. Even if one was not a fan of the previous version, I can assure you there are now more reasons to like this new generation. Who knows, it might just be different enough to convert one in to the ATC fan boys club after all.

 

ATC is sold by Hi-Way Laser,

contact Kenny at 019-2813399.

 

Article by WL Low