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Opinions on ATC SCM20 or 50 Studio Monitors
Old 22nd January 2004
  #1
Gear Head
 

Opinions on ATC SCM20 or 50

Hello,

I'm thinking of changing my Genelec 1031a's to either the ATC SCM20's or 50's if my budget will go that far.

I might not be able to audition them in my studio before I buy so I'm wondering if anyone here has had any experience with either of them.

My room is moderately acoustically treated and is 25ft wide and 16ft deep with an 11ft sloped ceiling. I will use them free standing in a nearfield position about 5 to 6ft from the listening position.

Thanks in advance.
Old 22nd January 2004
  #2
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Frost's Avatar
 

I have listened to a good deal of ATC's as a friend is a local dealer. I started with genelec 1030 speakers. Sound great but always made everything sound good. I needed to be able to find the problems. I then tried the ATC speakers. I like them a lot. Mids are amazing and have more realism in the mid than anything I ve heard. Top end was good and imaging was wide and clear but not as good as my martin logan mains and not as good as the adams I have since purchased (s3a). The ATC 20 went deep and true tho didnt really move enough air on the low end for me. I think they still needed a sub. I think the 50 will take some getting used to on the bottom to be a good mixing or mastering speaker but the mids and top should be immediately revealing and translatable (botht eh 20 and 50). I would only be able to mix on 20's with a sub to check the last octave. I think I could mix on the 50s without a sub.
Frost
Old 23rd January 2004
  #3
The SCM20 is a great near field for mixing pop.

Only issue is you will miss the bass.

ATCSCM50 all the way!!!
Old 23rd January 2004
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Another vote for the SCM 50s... They are a pretty substantial step up from the 20s. If you really want to hear something amazing, listen to the 150's... heh


--Ben
Old 23rd January 2004
  #5
Gear Head
 

I figured from the spec sheet that the 20's were a bit shy in the low end, I would not like that. Good to hear positive things about the mids and highs.

Frost,
Whats different about the low end of the 50's that's hard to get used to? Also do you think there is a substantial improvement over the 1031's to justify the cost of the 50's?

One of the main reasons I'm looking to change the 1031's is that they are a bit harsh sometimes and I'm ending up with dull mixes.

Thea Adams seem to be getting good reviews and good feedback from users, they are also cheaper than the ATC 20's here I think. I will do some more research into them to.

Thanks.
Old 23rd January 2004
  #6
Lives for gear
 

I own 1031s and I have used the SCM 50s pretty extensively. To me, there is absolutely no contest between the two. The ATCs are more natural sounding, they don't give you ear fatigue because the top end isn't harsh (those soft-dome mids and tweeters are amazing). They have great transient response/reproduction and a great sound stage for accurate imaging.

--Ben
Old 23rd January 2004
  #7
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Thermionic's Avatar
 

First time I used 50s it was an absolute revelation to me. Used them on a mastering session, and felt comfortable applying eq straight away, in fact the resulting pressing is one of the best I've had, nearly 10yrs down the line.

50s are probably my favourite ATC, personally I prefer them and the 100/150 to the 200 and 300 series. The engineer at the suite where I used to use the 50s had the choice of 200/300 and opted for the 50s on preference...

You really can't go wrong with the 50s, they are a masterpiece of monitoring IMHO. The 20s are also excellent, probably the best N.F I know of, although they obviously won't have the bass clout of the 50s.
Old 23rd January 2004
  #8
Lives for gear
 

I think if I were to say what made me want to get involved with Billy Woodman and the ATC crew its this: Billy only wants to build a speaker that translates-period. That means a lot of things on the technical side, from consistent dispersion bottom to top (ie mid dome), to very low distortion woofers (ie SL drivers), to small sealed boxes (20's) for consistent/predictable bass roll off to larger volume boxes with deeper bass with ports used not to reinforce bass but to control excursion (50's and up). I think these guys are doing things that no one else is doing, talking about things no one else is discussing.

You should read Billy's Whitepaper on my site sometime.

People will always argue about tone of a speaker, and no answer will ever be universally accepted. It can't be done. But translatability can be shown, especially when you must have very wide acceptance of final product. Doug Sax just purchased an ATC rig for mastering. James Guthrie has done an awful lot of work for Sony SACD on ATC's. Roger Waters and the Floyd crew did all their evals of Dark Side 5.1 on ATC's. Telarc is now all ATC. ABCO is now using ATC for all their Stones remastering evals and work. Sony Music is ATC....Todd AO is ATC. Chuck Ainlay, Mark Knopfler, George Massenburg, Randy Labbe etc etc etc. Its starting to take hold. These people are getting this translatability thing and its working for them.

Tone and what you WANT to hear may be a completely different thing, and that's OK. Its your work! ATC's sees their role as delivering a predicatable reliable platform to ID and kill errors and flaws, and enable a mix that sounds good on everything everywhere. The speakers should all sound the same, with more bass as you get bigger.

I will agree that "light bass" is something that has been connected to ATC for a while. This is frustrating as the reaons that it "appears" to be light is that the dispersion of the dome matches that of the woofer,something almost never done in monitoring (horns are still used in monitors). The masking effects of narrow mid dispersion with wide bass dispersion makes most monitors sound very "full" and warm. However, this (from an ATC perspective) is not correct or accurate. You think you have more bass, when in truth you have less mids. If you measure an ATC, it measures quite flat/accurate in the lows, but there is no denying that it doesn't sound "warm".

Brad
Old 23rd January 2004
  #9
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Man that ATC guy can rant. OH! That was me! (I think I need to chill on the caffeine).
Old 23rd January 2004
  #10
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Frost's Avatar
 

By saying that you need to get used to the bass, I meant a lot of what Brad said. The woofers are really fast, faster than any bass unit Ive heard. Note the huge magnets if you get a chance. That makes the bass fast and clean, it goes deep but I found myself wanting to add abss to a mix to feel it more. I like my guts to rattle a bit. The ATC wont really do that as much as you will hear all the low bass. That took a little getting used to but made EQ'ing the bottom end a lot easier.
Frost
Old 24th January 2004
  #11
Gear Nut
 
sounddevisor's Avatar
 

I love my ATC20's. In my experience:

- They are not FLATTERING, they are REVEALING. When I first got mine, I had to go back and re-edit a large library of samples because of crap I was hearing in them that I had never heard before. A lot of recordings sound pretty bad through them. That's 'cause they are bad-sounding recordings.

- They translate like nobody's business. If I get a mix sounding good on 'em, it'll sound good on anything else I put it through. Very rare that I have to go back and change things once they sound good on the ATCs.

- The Superlinear business they talk about is for real - they don't distort. It's sort of deceptive, most speakers sound different as they get louder - I guess the response curve changes, and that's how you know they're "loud." The ATCs don't change, they don't distort - you can get them very loud without realizing it, because they don't sound "loud."

- Biggest problem with them - I'm spoiled for most other speakers!

sounddevisor
Old 25th January 2004
  #12
Gear Head
 

How do the SCM50's perform from a front to back imaging performance point of view? My 1031's really fall down on front to back imaging, lack of depth in the soundstage if you know what I mean, as well as being harsh.

The 50's are looking like the ideal units for me, nobody seems to have a bad word to say about them. Good to hear the word "translate" and "natural" mentioned quiet a bit.

My only current concern is that I may be overlooking something in the SCM50 price brackett that may better suit my needs?
Old 25th January 2004
  #13
Quote:
Originally posted by STUDIO2
My only current concern is that I may be overlooking something in the SCM50 price brackett that may better suit my needs?
If this is the case than it may be worth the time for you to listen to them(and others )yourself(or at your studio).

I was under the impression these were the only 2 choices.

By all means, you should never by a pair of speakers on heresay(no matter how good the opinions).
Old 25th January 2004
  #14
Lives for gear
 

I did a direct comparison of the ATC 20As to the 50As to the Genelecs (the usual models), to the -- gasp gasp -- Dynaudios.

I bought the ATC 50s.

Sure, for reasons Brad enumerated above, the ATC line in general is a little light in the bass. As I understand it, this bugs Americans more than Euorpeans, who are less in love with their bass. As an American, I admit that some part of me feels like -- "hey, I just spent all this dough on monitors, so where's my big-ass bass sound, Billy baby?" To which he responds (in this imaginary conversation) "you want bass, buy a Suburu. You want the truth, buy an ATC."

Thus, for the sake of truth-in-audio, and more bass than the 20s, I chose the 50s. Certainly, there are other monitors in this price range with a stronger bass extension than the 50s, if that's what you want. And the 20s are fiersome little creatures that have advantages over the 50s in some circumstances.

But for me, the 50s are just right. I can truly hear inner lines and orchestral detail from them that I just don't get from the usual suspects. The ATCs are like an audio stethescope, revealing subtle nuance, warts and all, which is particularly helpful when you are striving to remove the warts. Comparing them with the Dynaudios, for example, the Dynaudios make everything sound chocolately nice, and at the end of the day, if I was in a Sade mood, the Dynaudios would be my smooth operator of choice. But for real work, the ATCs are the ****. In fact, if what you're working on is ****, the ATCs will let you know that. A/B-ing from the Dynaudios to the ATCs was like going from a mid-resolution to a high-resolution digital image. More detail, clarity, resolution.

Man, those 50s are heavy though. Big burly movers: "no problem." Big burly movers two minutes later: "ugggghhhhhhhhh." And I'm convinced the gilled, futuristic 20s are secretly stuffed with Plutonium and other heavy elements.

A good tip for ATC50 owners or would-be owners: the guy at Sound Anchors (.com) made me a pair of custom stands for my 50s that are absolutely perfect, and not too expensive. I highly recommend them. If he doesn't offer them as a regular item, just tell him you want the ATC 50 speaker stands like the ones he made for that shmuck who was reviewing speakers for MIX Magazine (i.e. me. BTW, looking at the soundanchors website, they look a bit like the PROVID model).

I suppose if I were starting my monitor quest from scratch today, I would take a serious look at the ADAMS. However, the ATCs are some serious hardware whose quality, IM-very-HO more than justifies the price. And definately a step up from the other popular models/manufacturers I considered.

-MattiMattMatt
Old 25th January 2004
  #15
Gear Head
 

Shurely the "light bass" issue can be delt with by means of the low frequency contour or boost control? Am I missing the point??

I've been looking into the ADAM's too, the S3A, the price is good compared to the ATC's.

The bottom line for me is that my current monitoring situation is driving my crazy, making whats an already hard job even harder.

I cant soffit or flush mount main monitors so near or mid field monitors will have to do. I can make my budget bigger if needs be, after all a good monitoring environment is top of my list and will have the greatest impact on my work right now compared to any other piece of gear. I'm prepared to sacrafice other things to get the best damn monitors I can.

Sorry for the rant guys.

By the way Brad I got a Soundelux E47 a few weeks ago, fantastic mic.
Old 26th January 2004
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by STUDIO2
Shurely the "light bass" issue can be delt with by means of the low frequency contour or boost control? Am I missing the point??
There is a contour control on the back that lets you boost the bass if you want. But frankly, that really isn't the point. The point is that there just isn't a "beefy" bass on this thing. However, as someone pointed out, the bass is extremely responsive and tight, and as Brad pointed out, it doesn't exagerate bass at the expense of midrange.

Also, it's possible that all this talk about the bass may be a bit misleading -- it really is an exceptional monitor.

I also agree with your philosophy of putting a few bucks into your monitors. I am always amazed at the zillion dollar studios that budget virtually nothing for their monitors.

-MattiMattMatt
Old 26th January 2004
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by STUDIO2
Shurely the "light bass" issue can be delt with by means of the low frequency contour or boost control? Am I missing the point??

I've been looking into the ADAM's too, the S3A, the price is good compared to the ATC's.

The bottom line for me is that my current monitoring situation is driving my crazy, making whats an already hard job even harder.

I cant soffit or flush mount main monitors so near or mid field monitors will have to do. I can make my budget bigger if needs be, after all a good monitoring environment is top of my list and will have the greatest impact on my work right now compared to any other piece of gear. I'm prepared to sacrafice other things to get the best damn monitors I can.

Sorry for the rant guys.

By the way Brad I got a Soundelux E47 a few weeks ago, fantastic mic.
STUDIO2:
OK< down your list:

A contour control is on the ATC's and does give you some bass lift. Be aware that accuracy in translatability is the goal, so bass contour is a step outside that (providing the room is set up right). It can hurt depending on a bunch of issues. ATC doesn't like the idea, but does it because customers want it.

The bass, from the ATC perspective, seems so full on other speakers due to narrow mid dispersion (or ports tuned to bump up bass or passives to bump it or....). In other words, due to a technical problem. Take your own perspective on that.

Here's another way to put it that explains ATC's position: if you get mixes that translate everywhere, I mean EVERYWHERE, and still the speakers seem to you to be light on bass, what needs fixing? Your expectations or the speakers? Maybe you need some consumer speakers to let the client listen on for that bass heavy sound, while you work on the ATC's?

Brad
Old 26th January 2004
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by MattiMattMatt
<SNIP>
A good tip for ATC50 owners or would-be owners: the guy at Sound Anchors (.com) made me a pair of custom stands for my 50s that are absolutely perfect, and not too expensive. I highly recommend them. If he doesn't offer them as a regular item, just tell him you want the ATC 50 speaker stands like the ones he made for that shmuck who was reviewing speakers for MIX Magazine (i.e. me. BTW, looking at the soundanchors website, they look a bit like the PROVID model).
<SNIP>
-MattiMattMatt
Matti:
Thank you so much for bringing this up-you are spot on. We too have defaulted to Sound Anchor, ADMID models. What got me going on this was that James Guthrie told me to "get air under the ATCs if you want them to sound right". Well I hear a lot of voodoo, so I was a skeptic, but he was right. The Sound Anchors were the only stands that enabled the 50's to open up properly and sound their best. They can tilt and you can adjust height, perfect for most situations. About $550 per pair, and spikes are also available for another $100. With a speaker this heavy (107lbs), you needs some serious stands.

See
http://www.soundanchors.com/page12.html

Brad
Old 26th January 2004
  #19
Gear Head
 

Brad,

Would I be correct in saying that the bass from the 50's would be more than the bass from the Genelec 1031's, the 50's have a much larger (50ltr) cabinet than the 1031's. If that is correct then they are already beyond my expectations.

I generally don't monitor very loud anyway, usually 85dBa to 90dBa max so I'm not after high spl's and I dont mix club music full stop.

Thank you Brad and everyone for your opinions and input, hopefully I can return the favor some day.
Old 26th January 2004
  #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by STUDIO2
Brad,

Would I be correct in saying that the bass from the 50's would be more than the bass from the Genelec 1031's, the 50's have a much larger (50ltr) cabinet than the 1031's. <SNIP>
Hmmm...tricky question although it seems so simple. Will you perceive there is more bass? Yes, lower, deeper, more predictable. Will the "amount" of bass seem more than the 1031? Probably not, as the 1031 has a fair amount of bass in relation to the tweeter. But this is ultimately "you must hear it for yourself" kind of thing to really know.

Brad
Old 27th January 2004
  #21
Quote:
Originally posted by STUDIO2
Brad,

Would I be correct in saying that the bass from the 50's would be more than the bass from the Genelec 1031's, the 50's have a much larger (50ltr) cabinet than the 1031's. If that is correct then they are already beyond my expectations.

I generally don't monitor very loud anyway, usually 85dBa to 90dBa max so I'm not after high spl's and I dont mix club music full stop.

Thank you Brad and everyone for your opinions and input, hopefully I can return the favor some day.
Not that its more, just leaner.

I've never liked the 1031's(they are all over the studios here in NYC).

I usually end up changing the settings in the back so they sound like NS10's. heh

Let's just say who ever comes in after me always gets a nice surprise!!!
Old 27th January 2004
  #22
Gear Addict
 
Bernd G's Avatar
 

ATC kit

I think the big secret is the ATC midrange unit, the SM75-150S. It is one of the most linear drivers I have seen and heard - and it covers almost the ENTIRE vocal range. There is no break in the middle from crossing over to another speaker. IMHO you cannot underestimate this fact. BTW - if you are concerned about shelling out the incredible dough for the ATC 50s and you are a bit handy (or know someone who is), there is Wilmslow Audio in the UK (wilmslow-audio.co.uk) who sell an identical (ATC approved) kit that costs less than half of the ready-made version (about 3200 Pounds for the active pair, if I remember correctly). Again, the quality of the midrange unit is unquestioned, it is truly one of the best drivers on the market, period. Sorry, TransaudioGroup - didn't mean to take business away from you...
Old 27th January 2004
  #23
Quote:
Originally posted by MattiMattMatt
A good tip for ATC50 owners or would-be owners: the guy at Sound Anchors (.com) made me a pair of custom stands for my 50s that are absolutely perfect, and not too expensive. I highly recommend them. If he doesn't offer them as a regular item, just tell him you want the ATC 50 speaker stands like the ones he made for that shmuck who was reviewing speakers for MIX Magazine (i.e. me. BTW, looking at the soundanchors website, they look a bit like the PROVID model).
.

-MattiMattMatt
If Soundanchors are a little too expensive(which they can be at times), a great option are Target Welded stands.

They have different sizes and are are as sturdy as Soundanchors for around a third of the price.
Old 27th January 2004
  #24
Gear Head
 

If I purchase, which is looking very likely at the moment, I will have the stands made locally. I have an idea to to make a larger version of the HI-FI stand ATC sell with the HI-FI range. After shelling out for the ATC's I'll have to save somewhere and can get the stands made at a very resonable price. To help prevent the stand from resonating and make it heavy I will fill the void in the metal tube with sand!

I'm still very curious as to the improvement in the soundstage of the ATC's over the 1031's? Anyone?

Cant wait to hear this midrange!

Thanks.
Old 27th January 2004
  #25
Gear Head
 

The money is in the bank ready to be spent!!!

Its going to be the hardest decision.

I think the 20's are out of the equation because of the lack of bass, the 50's are looking good at the moment, the only real challenge to them is the ADAM s3a's that every body is raving about around here.

I wil give it some time to be shure I'm doing the right thing.

Cheers.
Old 27th January 2004
  #26
Gear Addict
 
Bernd G's Avatar
 

Hmm, the S3As and the SCM-50s? Tough decision. Subjectively I think of the ADAMs as shiny, colorless, neutral, fast, delicate. I think of the ATCs as ROCK'n ROLL. Either one will serve you well. Might come down to taste and money - cannot argue with that.

Good luck

Old 27th January 2004
  #27
Lives for gear
 

Re: ATC kit

Quote:
Originally posted by Bernd G
<SNIP> if you are concerned about shelling out the incredible dough for the ATC 50s and you are a bit handy (or know someone who is), there is Wilmslow Audio in the UK (wilmslow-audio.co.uk) who sell an identical (ATC approved) kit that costs less than half of the ready-made version (about 3200 Pounds for the active pair, if I remember correctly). <SNIP>
Bernd:
If what ATC is telling me is true, they do not sell ANY of the finished ATC speaker parts OEM to anyone. Those are reserved only for their own speakers, their own use. They sell similar parts, lower performance versions that look the same, to a number of vendors.

One of the hidden virtues of ATC is that they have a healthy OEM drive unit business, one of the little secrets that enable them to fund building the really good stuff that could never be done as a (finished unit) speaker manufacturer alone. The production volume would be too low to justify their manufacture. You might remember the Boxer speaker? This used an ATC mid dome. Klein and Hummel? Also uses a mid dome, but not the same as they use in their own speakers.
But I will ask them to be double sure. If I find it is true (that wilmslow sells ATC kits), I will post it here.
Brad
Old 27th January 2004
  #28
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Re: Re: ATC kit

Quote:
Originally posted by Brad Lunde
Bernd:
If what ATC is telling me is true, they do not sell ANY of the finished ATC speaker parts OEM to anyone.
Just confirmed with the factory. You cannot buy parts from finished speakers anywhere as a kit or OEM. Only available from ATC in finished speakers.

I might add that even if you could, tuning the enclosure/port (especially since ATC uses a different purpose to port tuning that nearly everyone else), getting precisely the right crossover and electronics behind the speaker is not a small part of the final product. So while a kit sounds like a good idea, it still would not be an equal to current production.

Brad
Old 27th January 2004
  #29
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by STUDIO2

I'm still very curious as to the improvement in the soundstage of the ATC's over the 1031's? Anyone?
Technically speaking, the ATC 50s eat the 1031s for lunch.

The comparison between the ADAMS and the ATCs may be more competitive.

I don't, however, agree with Bernd's characterization of the ATCs as "rock and roll." While it's true that one of the virtues of the ATCs for rock and roll is that they can get very loud (without adding the typical distortion that accompanies loud volumes), the amount of detail they provide makes them a favorite of classical weenies as well.

Brad -- I gotta question for you. Because of the doping compound on the drivers, over time, airborne thingies naturally tend to stick to them. Does this impact the sound, and is there a way to clean it or re-dope it?

Thanks,

MattiMattMatt
Old 27th January 2004
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by MattiMattMatt
Technically speaking, the ATC 50s eat the 1031s for lunch.

The comparison between the ADAMS and the ATCs may be more competitive.

I don't, however, agree with Bernd's characterization of the ATCs as "rock and roll." While it's true that one of the virtues of the ATCs for rock and roll is that they can get very loud (without adding the typical distortion that accompanies loud volumes), the amount of detail they provide makes them a favorite of classical weenies as well.

Brad -- I gotta question for you. Because of the doping compound on the drivers, over time, airborne thingies naturally tend to stick to them. Does this impact the sound, and is there a way to clean it or re-dope it?

Thanks,

MattiMattMatt
Matti:
Agreed on the 1031's, I think the 50's are way beyond that (as well as Genelec's other larger speakers).

ADAMs, the argumnent will probably come down to woofers (distortion issues yes or no?) and the folded ribbon tweeter dispersion vs the dome and mid dome. That's for listeners to sort!

I didn;t comment on the rock n roll thing, but Matti you are correct that most folks who immediately embrace ATC are NOT rock n roll guys (although we did set up Eric Valentine with all ATC). They are typcially classical, jazz, mastering or scoring guys. The rock n roll guys tend to want more warm and fuzzies.

The doping, this is a really good question. Don't know ATC's answer, will find out. I can't imagine that dust bunnies (my grandma's favorite house pet) would add enough mass or create an obstruction that would impact low end performance. But I will ask. Thanks for that!
Brad
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