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The Naim 252/300 vs ATC SCM 40MKII problem..

Discussion in 'audio' started by toriamos, Aug 2, 2021.

  1. toriamos

    toriamos Active Member

    It sounds good.
    But - the image of sound is a bit "not fullfilled" - as - lacking something in the lower registre, and som body.

    Will I regret it for the rest of my life if I tried the ATC HIFI SIA2-150 MK2?
    Can the "cheap" ATC amp compeed with the 252/300?
    It is after all ATC speakers.

    I have owned quite some loudspeakers (Dynaudio, Naim, Monitor Audio, Spendor, bot none can compeed with the ATCs)
  2. AndyU

    AndyU pfm Member

    Go active! SCM40A. Simple. Better. Just think how good your speakers would be with a power amp driving each drive unit. Just think how simple your hifi will be without a big humming power amp in your rack and hefty speaker cables all over the floor. Go active! You know it makes sense! You will be grateful for the rest of your life.
  3. Bairnstorm

    Bairnstorm pfm Member

    I heard the SIA2 with Monitor Audio speakers and it was very impressive. Must be a good match with their own speakers.
  4. hifi-dog

    hifi-dog pfm Member

    It’s a beast and will give your atc’s what they need. I like Naim but the bigger Atc’s need more oomph.
  5. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    I went from a 252/250/SBLs to 252/ATC40A & then went to CDA2. So swapped about £11k of amps down to a £3k front end (I also had a CDX/XPS2).

    My current system just sounds better, you could always go to an ATC50A if it will make you feel better.

    No humming, no 24 hour switch on, just music.
    Andrew C!, darrenyeats, Patu and 2 others like this.
  6. manicatel

    manicatel pfm Member

    ATC scm40a with a bel canto pre amp user here. I compared the active version with the passives driven by a couple of very decent amps & each time I preferred the actives. By some margin.
    They are a serious Hifi bargain & I reckon it would take a very serious amp, probably costing 2 or 3 times as much as the 40a’s to better them. I just wish their on/off switch was located more conveniently.
    alan967tiger, darrenyeats and AndyU like this.
  7. Sean K

    Sean K pfm Member

    Similar journey to woodface; I had a 72 and 2 x 250s with passive 40s. It was a ridiculously expensive way to power them and was still a compromise. I sold the naim power amps and way toying with an ATC power amp or or selling the passives and going active, when a pair of mint active 50s came up for sale; they're as rare as hen's teeth in NZ so I jumped at the chance.

    I still have a naim din to xlr adaptor from flashback I can send you, if you want to demo an ATC power amp or actives with a balanced connection from your naim preamp/PSU (HC?) Might take a couple of weeks to get to you. You can donate the postage cost to Tony.
    alan967tiger, darrenyeats and AndyU like this.
  8. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Predator

    I must agree with the fact the 40 need power to wake up........
    Did many trials with these with many different amps and they started to wake up and grove when hooked up to a Bryston 4B.
    Not sure you need to go active but for sure you need raw power to get the best out of them.
    I may sound old school but I still prefer the mentioned passive speakers with a good quality and powerful amp, just my two cents.
  9. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    The bass alignments ATC uses seem to me (from carefully auditioning to the SCM40A and from owning the SCM50A) to be quite "lean" compared to the taste of many domestic audio enthusiasts.

    I have found that they respond well to being tuned to taste by being moved towards room boundaries (as per the manual) and increasing the amount of "room gain" in the bass. Actually that situation seems more preferable to me than one where you are trying to get rid of too much bass in a real-world deployment.
  10. AndyU

    AndyU pfm Member

    There are two very good posts from a pro user, pentagon, on gear space about how he gets the best response from ATCs. There seem to be lots of ways to skin a cat.

    "One room: 100ASL freestanding no subs -3dB point 26.6 Hz, with dual subs (these are 15" subs with 226L cabinets sealed) this room is extended down to 19.7 Hz for -3dB point.
    • Second room: 110ASL freestanding no subs -3dB point 28.6 Hz, with dual subs (these are 18" subs with nearly 300L cabinets ported) room is extended down to 15.08 Hz for -3dB point.
    • My room:100ASL freestanding no subs -3dB point 20 Hz. I have no sub integrated for extension because the room provided that much support with placement.

    3 different rooms. 3 different responses for low end -- all very much about placement. The one thing clear is none of these suffer from "light bass" even without subs if you place the speakers correctly. These are the numbers with the flat segment of the bandwidth per speaker at 85dBC at the listening position (and with no strain or compression playing to our required 105dBC.) (listening position 2.5m to 3m away depending on room)

    People may like exaggerated bass or throw speakers in their room with zero sense of positioning ("my one speakers worked well here, everything should") but set up correctly, the large ATCs are not bass light. And the room makes a tremendous difference for the low end.

    (As an aside, was just in a room I couldn't get to work below 40Hz. And the room had 7 subs. But the problem was the room and the required positioning of the speakers prevented better tuning. This was another brand of well-respected speakers.)

    Three major things: boundary walls, room dimensions (especially width) and vertical height.

    Large woofers often end up in the vertical null due to the floor to ceiling height. You don't want the voice coil to be at a 1/4, 1/8, etc (and multiples) in the vertical plane. A standard 8ft ceiling can cause problems for that.

    Second, have the rear of the speaker pressed against the wall behind it. The cabinets of the 50 and up are already deep which means the rear wall of the speaker to the voice coil is going to be at a distance already that you can't overcome. But you want it coupled to the boundary as close as you can (unless you have a really large room in which case you can be very freestanding -- but I've rarely seen a room like that outside of rooms like Real World Studios, etc because then the listening position can't be in an awkward null in the room (which mean even a longer/bigger room.) So pressed as close to the rear wall behind the speaker as possible. This also pushes up the cancellation dip from the 60-100Hz range up into the treatable higher ranges. Suckout in the below 100Hz range is what gives people the idea of lack of bass.

    Third, the placement of the speakers in the width of the room. Hopefully you are working in a symmetrical room (just for L/R balance) but positioning the speakers even across the width often means you are putting them in nulls again. Measuring from the woofers again (since only the large wavelengths matter produced from the woofer, the woofer position is the only one to care about) make sure they don't sit in even (1/16, 1/8/, 1/4 and multiples) or third spacings of the room of the room width but in between.

    Finally there's the listening position. You can approximate the position from the front wall (you won't be wanting to sit in even positions again) but I like to run sound out the speaker and sitting in a rolling chair, roll front to back down the center line to find the right listening point. Toe in/toe out of the speaker doesn't really matter because this is about low end. I like to do it with bandlimited pink noise 40-80Hz but I'm very familiar about how that should sound verses frequencies poking out (a dominant resonance.) I think most outside of those who do Dolby tuning often, would not. Then I'll start to measure from that spot to see if I've picked the right one.

    After finding the spot, then adjust the toe-in/toe-out of the speaker to make sure the directional frequencies are generating a proper stereo field with a crystal clear phantom center image.

    This isn't a fast process (my surround systems take about 7-8 hours to setup.) Which is why I brush off those who just get in speakers and pop them up and start making judgements. Every speaker has a different cabinet size, woofer size, different woofer placement in the baffle, and different acoustic center axis which has to be adjusted for. And when you get to large woofers and large, heavy cabinets the issues are more pronounced.

    Just to point out how prevalent bad positioning can be: walked into VKLA's listening room. They had the ATC SCM150ASL. First thing I noticed is they had them on incredibly high stands. The woofer, was at the center of the vertical height of the room. I put a track out them (I was there to listen to other speakers but couldn't resist since I'm on 100ASL all day) and they sounded anemic. Far worse than my speakers. Just awful. A sales guy and his client walked in and they saw the size of the speaker and said "they sound great, don't they?" and I went "No, they sound awful. They need to be set up right." And then I tried to explain to the client that this isn't how the speakers should sound. But first impressions... he probably thinks they are "bass light" now."
    darrenyeats likes this.
  11. JTC

    JTC PFM Villager...

    This. It was one of the unexpected discoveries of ATC100 active tower speakers in that they had less bass than the little Adam Audio speakers at a given listening level. Of course, crank it up and the big ATCs quickly showed the little speakers who was boss, but for moderate in-room listening levels they had little benefit over the smaller Adams (with their 6.5" or was it 8" drivers). That said, the Adams were stunningly good little things, but even still those ATCs ought to have shown them a clean pair of heels at all listening levels.

    The ATCs were very good. My current speakers are better :)
  12. Alastair

    Alastair pfm Member

    Have you optimised the physical position of the speakers in the room?

    I’d make sure I was happy that I had tried everything logistically possible in terms of speaker placement, before spending money.

    Furthermore, I would try a home demo of the SIA2-150, if that is possible.
  13. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    Just as wrong as it was the last time you said it... and the time before that... and the time before that...
    Paul Burke likes this.
  14. Nico-Mac

    Nico-Mac New Member


    Here Scm 40 works perfectly with the 300 DR, people are mostly impressed with the bass response and imaging.
    They are very revealing, they showed me a pollution on the long Ethernet cable going to my streamer (had to move the audiophile switch near the streamer), also they absolutely didn't worked with Naca5 (bloated and uncontrolled bass).
    All needs to be absolutely fine before the ATC, else they will tell you it directly. Not an easy speaker to setup well, they won't hide anything.

    Some pictures of how they are setup and may be the size of your room ? How far from the back wall ? They need some space at back, here I have about 60cm (2 feets).
  15. Patu

    Patu pfm Member

    I bought my first pair of ATC's (SCM40) back in 2014 and used them with Naim DAC - Naim SN2 + HCDR combo. Loved this setup and enjoyed it for five years. In 2019 I decided to go active and changed my whole setup to Linn ADSM/3 + ATC SCM40A. This simple one box and two speakers setup blew the old combo away by a clear margin. Only now I realized what I had been missing with the old combo. Naim SN2 was seriously underpowered for the job and I got so much more information, authority, realism and dynamics out of the same speaker when driven active. It only took me less than two years to upgrade 40A to SCM50ASL. I've had them since April and I seriously hope that these are my endgame speakers. At least the sound quality is otherworldly good.
    AndyU likes this.
  16. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    ATC actives are just better. Amp packs have plenty of power but driven this way you have better signal to noise & less distortion. ATC themselves say this & there is no real reason for them to be dishonest given the other kit they sell.
    AndyU likes this.
  17. Rug Doc

    Rug Doc pfm Member

    I’m very tempted to go for a pair of SCM40A and just be done with it - one decent preamp (even an AV one if there’s one suitable out there?) and a cracking turntable.
    Woodface and AndyU like this.
  18. manicatel

    manicatel pfm Member

    I very much doubt you’d regret it. But as ever, have a listen first if at all possible.
    The preamp would need to have balanced xlr outs.
    Rug Doc likes this.
  19. Rug Doc

    Rug Doc pfm Member

    I’ll hunt out a dealer. This has come about because I was contemplating spending 4K on a pair of Yamaha NS2000, and then looked at the alternatives… it just seems to make more sense…

    I also have an Audiolab 8200CDQ which has XLR outs.
    AndyU likes this.
  20. manicatel

    manicatel pfm Member

    If you’re prepared to travel to sunny Essex, Jack at the Audiobarn is your man. Excellent dealer, no pressure type selling & a superb range of gear in a lovely setting. Top quality outfit. No connection, other than that’s where I bought mine from.
    John Phillips and Rug Doc like this.

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