ATC SCM20 Bookshelf Loudspeaker Reviewed

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The second part of the quart-in-a-pint-pot tradition is to exploit other areas of bass-related performance so as to distract the listener from the missing bottom notes. The LS3/5A, for example, has for years fooled people with its carefully applied frequency bump in the 100-125Hz region. What ATC has done is endowed the SCM20 with dynamic capabilities which are found only
in massive or expensive systems. That exceptional cone travel of 40mm, the ferro-fluid cooling, the watch-like build tolerances and the bomb-proof enclosure combine to provide the dynamic capabilities which allow the SCM20 to play loud without compression and without blurring any low level information.

Read more high end bookshelf speaker reviews from B&W, PSB, Paradigm, LS3/5a and many more.

Whether or not dynamic contrasts are a substitute for sheer
weight can only be determined by either your personal tastes or
musical preferences. Even when comparing the SCM20s to much
larger systems such as the Apogee Diva (image height
notwithstanding), I find the small ATCs' shortcomings to border
on the insignificant. Unlike readers who indulge in a diet
consisting primarily of orchestral music or the kind of synthetic
funk which spans 20-20kHz (courtesy of Yamaha, Roland and
Synclavier), I have yet to find much material which taxes the
SCM20. Back to the Willy de Ville track, its Stygian bass notes
were marginally less powerful than when heard through the Stage
or Diva. The Depeche Mode colossus 'Personal Jesus' also exposes
this. On the other hand, the notes were so well-controlled that
what was lost in quantity was more than compensated for by
quality.

But people don't buy small speakers if bass is a priority. The
ATCs excel in the midband and treble, delivering clean, detailed,
undistorted sound at high levels, enough to appease the most
critical sound engineer while at the same time avoiding any
fatigue-inducing 'edges'. This means that either the professional
or the civilian can listen to the ATCs for hours on end without
inviting earache. Vocals, particulary those with lots of
character like Leon Redbone's or Willy de Ville's, are reproduced
in such a lifelike manner that the net result is an above-average
number of goose bumps.

The SCM20 is not perfect, and I'm not about to gloss over the
loss of image height or the lack of extreme bass. But in all
other areas it comes close to being the best small monitor I've
ever used. The only real competitors are the similarly-priced
Sonus Faber Electa or the dearer Amator, but they opt for greater
'musicality' rather than accuracy. In other words, the latter are
more forgiving. But on balance, both have an equal number of
strengths and weaknesses, so an arbitrary points system would peg
them at a draw. In which case you've gotta do what an
audiophile's gotta do: listen to them.

Competitors aside, ATC has delivered on its promise of an SCM50
or SCM100 for the real world. It's a wee masterpiece, and it
makes me more impatient to hear their next offering, an even
smaller system at half the price due in '92.

But maybe I shouldn't have told you that...

Read more high end bookshelf speaker reviews from B&W, PSB, Paradigm, LS3/5a and many more.

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HTR Product Rating for ATC SCM20 Bookshelf Loudspeaker

Criteria Rating

Performance

4

Value

4

Overall

4

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


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