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ATC vs PMC Monitors
Old 21st January 2007
  #1
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ATC vs PMC Monitors

I have another post referring specifically to differences in the various PMC types but this one is a bit different;

Ive been running ATC SCm10 passives for a number of years now and love them. I know Ive never been getting the full benefit from them as my amplification is pretty poor (old H+H power amp and Sumo Athena Pre). However, I am under no illusion as to how good these speakers are.

I have now moved abroad and dont feel it's worth shipping them as the amps are so damn heavy and I dont know where Ill be in 6 months.

So I came across the PMC DB1sa (actives) and am very tempted for a number of reasons;
1. they are only 5kg each
2. the amps perfectly match and are meant to be great (Flying Moles)
3. they are pretty damn cheap for what I assume are very good speakers.

My only real issue is that I am used to using the ATC's and fear that I will be somewhat disappointed with getting shot of them and going for the miniature PMCs.

I also fear about active monitors and amps longevity.

Any opinions very appreciated before I sell my favourite ever speakers and dive into unknown territory (and no I am not able to audition the PMCs).

Thanks in advance
Old 21st January 2007
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
I have another post referring specifically to differences in the various PMC types but this one is a bit different;

Ive been running ATC SCm10 passives for a number of years now and love them. I know Ive never been getting the full benefit from them as my amplification is pretty poor (old H+H power amp and Sumo Athena Pre). However, I am under no illusion as to how good these speakers are.

I have now moved abroad and dont feel it's worth shipping them as the amps are so damn heavy and I dont know where Ill be in 6 months.

So I came across the PMC DB1sa (actives) and am very tempted for a number of reasons;
1. they are only 5kg each
2. the amps perfectly match and are meant to be great (Flying Moles)
3. they are pretty damn cheap for what I assume are very good speakers.

My only real issue is that I am used to using the ATC's and fear that I will be somewhat disappointed with getting shot of them and going for the miniature PMCs.

I also fear about active monitors and amps longevity.

Any opinions very appreciated before I sell my favourite ever speakers and dive into unknown territory (and no I am not able to audition the PMCs).

Thanks in advance
The DB1's are great for what they are, but in comparison to the SCM10's I think you will find they lack detail.

Regards



Roland
Old 21st January 2007
  #3
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Quote:
The DB1's are great for what they are, but in comparison to the SCM10's I think you will find they lack detail.

Regards
But is that taking into account the amps I was running the ATCs through?
Old 21st January 2007
  #4
ATC's

Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
But is that taking into account the amps I was running the ATCs through?
The ATC's probably make the amps sound better too.
Old 21st January 2007
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassmec View Post
The ATC's probably make the amps sound better too.
Probably. I think HH amps are sound reinforcement amps, and would probably do okay as far as giving you some punch and dynamics, but that's not to say they're worth shipping as you could probably replace them with something comparable for the shipping cost.
Old 21st January 2007
  #6
Well they made Studio amps too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper View Post
Probably. I think HH amps are sound reinforcement amps, and would probably do okay as far as giving you some punch and dynamics, but that's not to say they're worth shipping as you could probably replace them with something comparable for the shipping cost.
And the BBC bought them, so they didn't suck too bad.
Old 21st January 2007
  #7
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Some HH power amplifiers are BBC designed amps for studio monitoring - just like they had Quad make their designs too.

The model number would most likely start with AM/... in this case.

Roddy
Old 21st January 2007
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassmec View Post
And the BBC bought them, so they didn't suck too bad.
Actually, I never thought that reasoning held up with LS3/5a.
Old 29th January 2007
  #9
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Quote:
The DB1's are great for what they are, but in comparison to the SCM10's I think you will find they lack detail.
Roland, I am curious as to why this should be the case given that the newer PMC smaller monitor range share a lot of components with their bigger brothers (monitors famed for their detail). I am not doubting you at all, as I believe that you have tried both, but was hoping that you could elaborate a little on the sonic differences that I might notice.

Also, surely the Flying Mole amps are going to bring something to the party in terms of imaging, solidity etc?

I was always under the impression that PMC were in the same league as ATC in terms of sonic excellence, would you guys concur with that?

(p.s. I would consider adding a sub later on as a way of tackling the relatively bass lightness of the DB1's.)
Old 29th January 2007
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
Roland, I am curious as to why this should be the case given that the newer PMC smaller monitor range share a lot of components with their bigger brothers (monitors famed for their detail). I am not doubting you at all, as I believe that you have tried both, but was hoping that you could elaborate a little on the sonic differences that I might notice.

Also, surely the Flying Mole amps are going to bring something to the party in terms of imaging, solidity etc?

I was always under the impression that PMC were in the same league as ATC in terms of sonic excellence, would you guys concur with that?

(p.s. I would consider adding a sub later on as a way of tackling the relatively bass lightness of the DB1's.)
I can't speak specifically for DB1's, but I need a sub when running my TB-2a's to be able really get a handle on the low end, and they have bigger cones.
Old 29th January 2007
  #11
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Quote:
I can't speak specifically for DB1's, but I need a sub when running my TB-2a's to be able really get a handle on the low end, and they have bigger cones.
Matthew, have you ever compared them to ATCs ?
Old 29th January 2007
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
Ive been running ATC SCm10 passives for a number of years now and love them. I know Ive never been getting the full benefit from them as my amplification is pretty poor (old H+H power amp and Sumo Athena Pre). However, I am under no illusion as to how good these speakers are.

I have now moved abroad and dont feel it's worth shipping them as the amps are so damn heavy and I dont know where Ill be in 6 months.
I know what shipping ATCs are like. Movers are always surprised at how heavy they are.

Since you like the ATCs themselves but not the amps, and the amps are what you don't want to ship, why not keep the ATCs, and replace the amps rather than ship them?
Old 29th January 2007
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
Matthew, have you ever compared them to ATCs ?
I sure haven't...

Sorry for not having much say on the actual question at hand, I was just offering a little insight to my experience with my PMC's.

I absolutely love them btw. I'd probably take a bullet for them.
Old 29th January 2007
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
...I have now moved abroad and dont feel it's worth shipping them as the amps are so damn heavy and I dont know where Ill be in 6 months.

So I came across the PMC DB1sa (actives) and am very tempted for a number of reasons;
1. they are only 5kg each
2. the amps perfectly match and are meant to be great (Flying Moles)
3. they are pretty damn cheap for what I assume are very good speakers.

My only real issue is that I am used to using the ATC's and fear that I will be somewhat disappointed with getting shot of them and going for the miniature PMCs.

I also fear about active monitors and amps longevity...
Even though I have neither of those monitors, i have a very much experience with great amps, and assure you that this

http://www.belcantodesign.com/prod_eOneS300.html

is a *great* choice--magnificent sound, very small and light. Do some searches and check the reviews--they aren't exaggerating. I have this, the ($1495) S300 stereo amp that is incredible. I paid full for it (price jumped $100 since then, was $1395...), but it's worth triple what I paid. Best of luck, Sam
Old 29th January 2007
  #15
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So noone here as compared PMC's with ATC monitors in any way whatsoever and can give no insight into what their sonic differences and strengths and weaknesses are? - interesting...
Old 30th January 2007
  #16
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Roland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
So noone here as compared PMC's with ATC monitors in any way whatsoever and can give no insight into what their sonic differences and strengths and weaknesses are? - interesting...
I thought I had?

The DB1's and TB2's are great, for the money. The ATC SCM 10 and 20 have more detail, particularly the ATC SCM20A's, though they tend to be a little forward in the midrange. Going further up the PMC range the LB1's are fantastic little speakers, but argueably not the easiest to "hear into". If you have SCM10's already I would as suggested above keep the speakers and when you move get another amp, particularly as you have already hinted that you are unsatisfied with the amp, I suspect the DB1's good as they are for the money, will be a slightly poor cousin.

Regard


Roland
Old 30th January 2007
  #17
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Bump...
Old 30th January 2007
  #18
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Sorry Roland I hit bump and then got your reply!

I was really looking for a more detailed desription. As you have obviously tried both monitors I do value your contribution highly.

Would you say that the added detail from the ATCs is in the Mids? Its just that I have heard very good things about the PMC midrange reproduction.

Also, as much as I loved the SCM10's I did find them lacking in the bottom end. My idea would be to add the matching sub eventually to the DB1's to get FF monitoring. Surely this would be a stronger monitoring setup than the SCM10's on their own?

Do you feel the PMCs are a bit veiled in some way compared to the ATCs or just a bit more laid back?
Old 30th January 2007
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
So noone here as compared PMC's with ATC monitors in any way whatsoever and can give no insight into what their sonic differences and strengths and weaknesses are? - interesting...
I own the SCM10.2A's and love them.

I have never compared them to PMC's, and everything I say after this is purely anecdotal...

But -

I know of someone who did a comparison between them and (subjectively) found the ATC's straighter and more "what-you-hear-is-what-you-get" while the PMC's were a little more "goosed up" in the lower-midrange and "what-you-hear-is-a-little-more-pleasing-than-the-bare-bones-truth..."

Which is to say that although both had many similarities, he found the PMC's to present a version of the truth that was ever so slightly more flattering while the ATC's were kinda unflattering.

This is of course all a matter of degrees, and is by no means a chalk and cheese depiction. However, I've never heard a speaker that does mid-range as well as an ATC. I don't find the midrange to be "forward" as Roland puts it, simply that the ATC's present the mids so clearly without adding a lower-midrange bump (Dynaudio's, for instance) to make the speaker sound "fuller" - and hence, more flattering.

But, I guess you already know that owning them yourself.

I don't know whether the ATC's present "more" detail than other comparable monitors, just that I find the ATC's presentation of that detail is much better balanced within the frequency range than others that tend to "highlight" certain frequencies. When I listen to the ATC's I'm presented with a coherent depiction of the musical event rather than one that's separated into frequency-related bands - "Here's the highs, here's the mids, here's the lows..."

The 1K to 4K area is too important to me to sacrifice in order to gain, for instance, more low end extension or more "etched" highs. And it's those priorities that make the ATC's keepers for me.

Hope you manage to resolve your dilemma to your satisfaction.

Cheers to you,

bdp
Old 30th January 2007
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
Also, as much as I loved the SCM10's I did find them lacking in the bottom end. My idea would be to add the matching sub eventually to the DB1's to get FF monitoring. Surely this would be a stronger monitoring setup than the SCM10's on their own?
Sorry dude, I missed this while typing the above post...

The SCM10's do lack bottom end, but I don't find them to lie about it either (Dynaudio's again).

I would say that unless you room can handle more lows (and mine can't - it's small) then you may find you start taking two steps back for every gain you make in another area.

Low end is costly to get right. To get tight, pitch accurate, phase coherent lows probably has more to do with your room than your monitors, and unless your room is up to it (or the music you make demands it) then personally, I'd learn to use what you have (working around the shortcomings - no low bass) than introduce a whole 'nother set of variables that you can't control (room-related phase and frequency cancellation/augmentation).

However, should your room be up for it, then the world's you lobster.

Cheers again,

bdp
Old 30th January 2007
  #21
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Great rundown Bdp.

Quote:
while the PMC's were a little more "goosed up" in the lower-midrange and "what-you-hear-is-a-little-more-pleasing-than-the-bare-bones-truth..."

That is indeed interesting. I read a quote from PMC's MD Pete Thomas that seemed to aknowledge this very thing. His arguement was that there is no reason a monitor cannot be accurate and pleasing to listen to at the same time. Is that a contradiction in terms? That's a difficult one to assertain but it certainly hints at a bit of colour within PMC speakers to make things a bit nicer to listen to. Perhaps that is also why people go on about the non-fatiguing nature of the PMC's? Personally I don't mind this idea as long as they are accurate enough.

In terms of quality though (subjective opinions aside) I presume that PMC and ATC are of the same calibre (build quality, engineering, fidelity)?

(I was always impressed with the build quality of the ATCs)
Old 30th January 2007
  #22
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The quote I was referring to;
Quote:
There seemed to me to be two distinct approaches to speaker design: there were the very low colouration, neutral sounding designs from manufacturers like Kef and Celestion, which tended to sound rather uninteresting and boring; and then there were the more imprecise and coloured systems that tended to sound more exciting and dymamic from companies like Tannoy and JBL.

"I couldn't understand why you shouldn't be able to make a speaker with the best bits of both – something capable of frightening the horses when appropriate, but which sounded right at the same time. I guess that this was the driving thought behind the first speakers I designed in the run up to pmc
Old 30th January 2007
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
That is indeed interesting. I read a quote from PMC's MD Pete Thomas that seemed to aknowledge this very thing. His arguement was that there is no reason a monitor cannot be accurate and pleasing to listen to at the same time. Is that a contradiction in terms? That's a difficult one to assertain but it certainly hints at a bit of colour within PMC speakers to make things a bit nicer to listen to. Perhaps that is also why people go on about the non-fatiguing nature of the PMC's? Personally I don't mind this idea as long as they are accurate enough.
Yeah, I totally agree.

Personally I find the ATC's pretty boring to listen to (I would never want to have ATC's as domestic monitors for casual listening) but that's not what I bought them for - I got them to help me make better and mixes figure out if I captured it correctly at the source. Having said that, I don't find them fatiguing either.

They Dynaudios which I used before the ATC's were much more pleasant to listen to but I found that they encouraged me to be pretty lazy - the ATC's kinda don't sound good until the mix does. On the Dyn's all my mixes sounded... "nice" and therefore I felt I reached a ceiling pretty quickly. Every mix I do on the ATC's is a journey of discovery (oh my god, did I really just type that?) presenting constant opportunities to develop my current skill set.

In terms of colouration, I mean, I don't understand how NS-10's ever made it as a mixing monitor, but you can't really argue with history on that one.

I do think if you're gonna spend any time sitting in front of any monitor you have to be happy with what they're doing for you, whether it be because they make you feel good or work harder or have big woofers that impress your clients...

Me, I'm pretty secure in my manhood so I went for smaller woofers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
In terms of quality though (subjective opinions aside) I presume that PMC and ATC are of the same calibre (build quality, engineering, fidelity)?

(I was always impressed with the build quality of the ATCs)
I've never heard anyone say anything bad about the build quality and reliability of either ATC's or PMC's. And then industry I was in is pretty quick at spreading gossip like that. Again, without any first-hand experience, it's all purely anecdotal.

Cheers dude,

bdp
Old 30th January 2007
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
The quote I was referring to;

There seemed to me to be two distinct approaches to speaker design: there were the very low colouration, neutral sounding designs from manufacturers like Kef and Celestion, which tended to sound rather uninteresting and boring; and then there were the more imprecise and coloured systems that tended to sound more exciting and dymamic from companies like Tannoy and JBL.

"I couldn't understand why you shouldn't be able to make a speaker with the best bits of both – something capable of frightening the horses when appropriate, but which sounded right at the same time. I guess that this was the driving thought behind the first speakers I designed in the run up to pmc
I totally agree with the ideology - that you "should" be able to have your cake and eat it to....

But honestly, of all the KEF's, NAIM's, ProAc's, Tannoy's, Dynaudio's, Sonus Faber's, Martin Logan's, JBL's, Genelec's, and B&W's I ever heard/owned, I'd say only the ProAc Studio 100's I onced owned came closest to being a speaker I could honestly say would be something I could use both in the studio and at home. (And I could never afford the amplification to drive them properly.)

Which is why I use ATC's in the studio (I trust what they do) and Fostex horns at home (I like what they do - dynamics, immediacy, no crossover). Okay, I don't really own Fostex horns (I have B&W's which replaced the NAIM's), but I'm thinking about going for a 2W SET amp/single driver high-efficiency horn combo at home. Would that be good to mix on? ****, no. Would it be fun to listen to? Absolutely!

If I ever give up the ATC's I'll be going back to the ProAc's, providing I can afford the current.

Cheers again,

bdp
Old 30th January 2007
  #25
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I could write (and have written) similar monologues about my strong preference for PMC, and compare them to all the literally hundreds of speakers I have used over the last 40 years. But since I have not used ATC how would that help you with a comparison? And how would that help your ears understand what I have heard? Mixing your sources in your rooms.... as always.

Steve
Old 30th January 2007
  #26
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Brendondp TOTALLY nails it.

He makes great points, all valid. The "ATC" of comparisons!

I've done similar comparisons and come to the same conclusions.

For example, I've had some Dynaudios and ATCs up in the same room. When working, I'd have the ATCs on. When listening to music to unwind, I'd switch over to the Dyns. Overall, though, the ATCs blew the Dyns away. I've never a/b'ed ATC with PMC in the same room like that, but my impression is that it's a similar comparison though with less of a gap, and really getting into the realm of personal preference.
Old 30th January 2007
  #27
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I have owned several sets of LB1's and they are very amiable, and to my view preferable to the DB1's and TB2's. I prefer the TB2's to the DB1's as I feel they have a better midrange, however I think that the mid on the ATC's both 10's and 20's are better, it should be considered that the ATC's are more money than either of these. If the ATC's are great but you hanker after a better bottom end, why not just add a sub and be done with it? If you go to the PMC's (well at least the two you mention) I think you will probably be dissapointed.

Regards



Roland
Old 30th January 2007
  #28
Gear Nut
 

I currently own active ATC 10s and 50s, and have also heard active 20s and passive 10s. I have also listened to several of the PMC speakers in the same size range. My general view is that:

1. ATCs are very fine speakers - but better active than passive

2. Although the 10s (and to a lesser extent the 20s) don't capture the whole of the bottom octave, work done on them does translate very well onto full-range speakers.

3. The tweeters on the current generation of 50s is better than the one used on the 10s. The mid is superb on both.

3. The PMCs I have heard were also very fine but had a bit of a bottom end or lower-mid hump. IMO they are less neutral than ATCs.

I don't know where you are in the world at the moment, but used ATC active 10s sell for around £850 in the UK and a pair of latest spec active 20s just sold on eBay for £1,500, which is a huge bargain.

Andrew
Old 30th January 2007
  #29
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Thanks for all your replys guys.

I have decided to go for the DB1sa's as the weight and size is just too attractive at the moment when I consider that I might be moving country again at any time soon. All the ATC actives are seriously heavy. To ship my old ATC's and buy half decent amplification would cost about the same as buying these DB1sa's (of which I got a great price on). Also, if I did move soon, I would have to pay to ship the ATCs back and their heavy amplification!

I guess I could see the mini PMC's as just damn good mobile nearfields and when I am more settled get a pair of bigger monitors (probably ATC). Or, if I fall in love with the PMC's, get a sub for them.

I have heard other small active monitors in the past (e.g. Dynaudio, Tannoy etc) and none of them had that realism that my ATC SCM10's seemed to exhibit. I can only hope that I still have some of that realism on the PMC's. I hope I am not too dissappointed!
Old 30th January 2007
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
So noone here as compared PMC's with ATC monitors in any way whatsoever and can give no insight into what their sonic differences and strengths and weaknesses are? - interesting...
Yes, I'm actually familiar with both, and while they are both excellent, the ATC does have the advantage. However, there are so many models that you can't simply generalize about the brands only. You must compare one model to another. Some will be close by comparison, and others will be a lopsided contest. Also, there are applications where one or the other may be preferred for one reason or another.

As for the small speakers in both ranges, if detail and neutrality are your primary objectives, the ATCs probably have an even greater advantage over the PMCs than with their larger speakers which are more evenly matched. I've not been as impressed with the smaller PMCs. The ATC 10s are also less detailed than their larger siblings, and do indeed lack low end. The PMCs do feel better in the low end department with the smaller speakers. However, the small ATCs are still a more neutral and detailed speaker than a comparably sized PMC.
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