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roadster
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ProAc speakers

I'm in the market for some new speakers and J.M.s' recent review of the ProAc Response D model peaked my interest...in ProAc, but a less expensive model. I been trying to find review of the Studio 110 or 130 models but other than a brief write up on the 110 there's nothing out there on this brand.

Is anyone familiar with any of their models? (There is a local dealer nearby but he only has one of the more expensive models for audition.)

Any opinion is greatly appreciated.

Mike

ncdrawl
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Re: ProAc speakers

Haven't heard those Proacs, but I **have** heard the K+H model 0300D, and I am quite enamored with them. So enamored, in fact, that I have just ordered a pair for the studio.. HIGHLY reccomended. Same sort of sound(or lack of) and great history/pedigree..

The proacs are extremely detailed/revealing (they add nothing and take nothing away) the cheaper Proacs give up a bit in the way of transparency and bass "slam" but they all sound good.

EDIT

here you go!

http://www.vintageking.com/ATC-Loudspeakers-SCM11-Pair-Black-Ash

. I have heard these. Very, very VERY nice. My good friend (and Masonic brother) has them in his "man cave" .. just got them. Super Speakers.. again..same "genre" as Proac.

ncdrawl
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Re: ProAc speakers

edit for ATC SCM-11

http://www.vintageking.com/ATC-Loudspeakers-SCM11-Pair-Black-Ash

The Four Horsemen
Feb 2009. After a year of ribbon-tweetered trebly music from my Dali Ikons, some of it teethering on the precipice of sibiliance, I decided it was time for a new speaker adventure. The final choice was narrowed down to four options - Spendor S3/5R & SA1, ATC SCM11 and Dynaudio Excite X16. The X16 had several things going for it : its moniker had the magical letter 'X' and its charcoal-grey baffle with silver trim is nicely metrosexual. Although it is from a Dyn range below the Focus 110 I had, I found it to be better balanced. The larger woofer dissipates deep bass more evenly than the 110's small cone and there is also more to be heard from the midrange. Had it been around when I first looked at Dynaudio in 2007, I daresay it would still be in service at my domicile today. Unfortunately, the SCM11 demo followed on its heels through the same amp Roksan Caspian M-1 amp (85W, 50amps current) and next to that the X16 sounded like it had a veil thrown over its midrange. The SCM11 is much more revealing and defined.

More serious opposition to the ATC came from the Spendor standmounts. The S3/5R is languid while the SA1 is swifter but both had a midrange presentation that is as unveiled as the SCM11's but more liquid, crystalline and flowing. And in the SA1's case it was dangerously hypnotic. I had to remind myself that the incoming speaker was to replace the floorstanding Dalis in my main system and I would certainly need a subwoofer partner for either Spendor. For low-end clout the SCM11 held all the aces and so it got the gig. This is not the end of Spendor for me though. A year later now I am considering getting one for the bedroom system.

This SCM11 has got my name on it in two big ways:

(i) the founder of ATC is a good old Aussie boy, and...
(ii) the graphite material that is used to create the front baffle is the same stuff used in pro tennis racquets! SQUEEE!!! No wonder I felt an inexplicable spiritual bond with the baffle when I first saw and touched it.

Build Quality

The SCM11 may be under nine kilograms each but it handles like a fearsomely heavy block of granite. Heaven help you if you should drop it on your foot whilst heaving it into place on the stands, its hard edges could chop a toe off! One of the best-built standmounts I've had so far. It is also replete with a raft of proprietary ATC design features, nothing is included here which doesn't contribute to sound optimisation. The binding terminals are rugged too and accept 4mm plugs comfortably.

Power Issues

Like a couple of other brands, ATC is beset with the same myths concerning its power requirements. I once read a chat on another forum where a person asked for amp recommendations for an ATC standmount and someone said "you need at least 100W, but to be safe you should look for 200W". Do these advice givers ever actually have hands-on experience? IME you are not going to require an amp greater than 100W to obtain listenable big sounds out of the SCM11 unless you intend to make yourself deaf or have a stadium-sized listening room. The smallest amp I have is the NAD C326 and it delivers more juice than I need. I'd say this £330 50W NAD represents the basic minimum, but it needs to be noted that it can deliver 100W into 8 ohms for dynamic peaks (NB: some budget amps may not deliver the same peak figures.) So, >50W continuous and 100W dynamic into 8 ohms is quite serviceable for the SCM11, IMO.

Of more importance is the nature of the partnering amplification. For my tastes I find the SCM11 a bit daunting with transistor-y amps. Its tweeters are neutral yet explicit, having no sweetened-up niceties like Leema's or Dynaudio's. So amps from the attacking up-front school of PRaT like the showroom's Roksan Caspian or my Creek EVO, can make the SCM11 too intense during treble-rich music. This is why I'm having second thoughts about partnering them with a Rotel RA-1520 or Nait XS, given Droodzilla's recent comments that the treble he gets from his Naim and SCM7 setup could be more refined. I don't have a problem with uncouth high frequences when feeding the SCM11 from a tubed preamp circuit like my MF X-T100 hybrid integrated, or the X-CAN v8P into NAD C326. Here the treble is airy, even creamy, and the tubes help the SCM11 carve out a spacious soundstage with greater depth. I definitely prefer ATC with some valves upstream.

Performance

These speakers have been around for a year and I am very familiar with all their good and bad points now. Let's do the baddies first.

I am still unable to pick out any house sound to ATC. This SCM11 is simply the most neutral and uncoloured loudspeaker I have ever used. I can only point out performance traits. In this case, the SCM11 is very revealing across its entire frequency spectrum, especially the midrange. It does not come with static phase plugs in the middle of its woofers, it is armed with midrange domes and they really open up the midband and make even the subtlest sounds audible. No wonder this is a favoured brand in pro studios where sound engineers need to hear all that is going on in the recordings. It literally bombards you with lavish details from familiar music you thought you knew like the back of your hand.

The downside to this extremely high resolution is, of course, not every genre of music can be enjoyed when all the technical blotches in the recording process are cruelly exposed. Particularly badly-aspected are vintage opera recordings from the 60s and rock music from the 70s, like the Beatles and the Eagles. All the analogue tape hiss and bad joins are underlined by the SCM11. I could even hear differences in ambience within single tracks revealing the recording wasn't done in the same session. The relentless spotlight on these minutiae impede your perception of the music's sense of line or flow. I miss the almost easy-listening approach of my Dyn Focus 110 in this instance. They did not reproduce the many fine details but their buttery rich nature makes it so easy to just sit back with a beer and soak in the vibes of the Eagles.

While it is certainly impressive and powerful with modern rock and disco albums, I do not think the SCM11 is the best standmount option for these music genres. This is again due to their very detailed presentation that opens up rock recordings like a scalpel. The SCM11 makes me hear this music as a mass of steely electronic noises first whereas the bass-driven Dyn Focus 110 made me feel and enjoy the beats first and foremost. The Dyn approach is instinctual whereas the ATC is cerebral and analytical. Don't get me wrong, the SCM11 can deliver all the excitement embedded in a Rammstein or Lady Gaga track too but if your entire music collection consists of such bright-ish, edgy music, and you listen to it 24/7 through the ATC, its presentation can make you weary of the souped-up production techniques common to this genre.

My non-audiophool Friday poker mates like a bit of rock music and they had chances to play their favourite tracks through my Dyn Focus 110 and ATC SCM11. The unanimous preference was for the Dyn presentation while the ATC was looked on with a mix of incredulity and shock. Resolution-wise, it is an advanced alien species compared to their rubbish car-speakers. And herein lies the crux of the ATC's appeal: the listener either likes the incredible resolution on offer, or deems it too much of a good thing that gets in the way of musical enjoyment. You will know within the first hour whether you can swim or sink with this kind of sound. In my case, it was like a duck taking to water.

The SCM11 can be thrilling with solo voices when the recordings' engineering permits. Singers are reproduced very cleanly and often affectingly too given the ATC's attention to detail. However the SCM11 doesn't caress or put the human voice on a pedestal as much as my Leema Xeros or the Spendor standmounts. These L3/5a inspired monitors have a more silky quality in the midrange that wrings out all expressive nuances. They also know how to spotlight the voice. With the Xeros, singers seem to take a step forward relative to the other instruments in the mix. The SCM11 is more democratic in its treatment of singers, they stay in the mix with the rest of the musicians. While I reckon this is just their neutrality at work here, this presentation may be construed as a diminution of emotional immediacy by audiophiles in the market for for 'voice' speakers.

Baroque and classical chamber music are evenly reproduced by the ATCs with the requisite fidelity. Unfortunately they come after my preceding speakers Dali Ikon 6. These Danes were so damn amazing in this repertoire. This could be a case of the SCM11's 80.5dB sensitivity pitted against the Ikon 6's 90.5dB. The Ikon 6's lightning fast response to the rapid string bowing and scurrying tempi characteristic in baroque, particularly Vivaldi, is simply exhilarating and utterly idiomatic. Oddly enough, despite having one pair of woofers to the Ikon 6's two, the SCM11 sounds weightier at all times when playing baroque and chamber. Still it represents a step down in idiomacy within this genre. These days I listen to baroque and chamber less after swapping Dali for ATC. Oh well, not a great loss. Baroque is classical music's cartoon.:green:

Into the SCM11's fortress of glories...

The musical inclinations of the boss of an audio brand can often be reflected in the tuning of its products. Musical Fidelity components have a sauve way of protraying woodwind instruments thanks to its clarinet-tootling boss.With the ATC boss, the favoured instrument is reportedly the piano. I did not bring a single piano recording to the demo, so I was taken by surprise later by the SCM11's superb reproduction of the piano. It is close to perfect in tone and power and completely kills the efforts of every previous speaker I have used. In this instance, the SCM11's almost neurotic attention to detail and superb command of dynamics make every piano recording come to life very vividly. The clatter of forcibly struck hammers interspersed with the complex reverberations of fading chords and the woody thuds of the keys - these are all marshalled expertly into a unified tapestry of sound without any element overriding another. Sheer mastery!

The piano has always been my least favourite instrument but through the SCM11 even piano sonatas turn into mini symphonic utterances. ATC loves the ivories! Even when a piano plays a soft backing role in jazz music, my attention is drawn to it. It sounds so good and lifelike. Needless to say, my collection of piano music has grown significantly over the past year.

Pianistic glory aside, I am in awe of these ATCs for something else - its ability to reproduce full romantic symphonies. It does so well in this one distinction that I can overlook its deference in other music genres to my previous speakers. This SCM11 has the unflinching power, detail and scale to make every symphony listening session a stirring experience. The high resolution ATC sound that can be a liability with bright-ish rock and pop is a total boon here. It gives shape to softer sounds from distant back row musicians and imparts definition to complex layers of orchestration. Bruckner's symphonies which I had dismissed as glutinous in texture were opened up and revealed as musical cords of tightly woven themes that undulate and push against one another like tectonic plates.

It is quite easy to make a speaker that is engaging with three-minute pop songs, the engineer just needs to add hot zones to the treble and bass for increased excitement. It is another thing for a speaker to hold the listener's attention for the entire duration of a complex 20+ minute single symphonic movement where the music is all concentrated in the midband. I often found myself nodding off midways when I had Dyns and Dalis doing Bruckner. With the ATC it is all rapt attention. Its midrange domes truly open up and illuminate orchestral textures.

The other reason for the SCM11's prowess with symphonic music is its bass performance. This is a sealed box design and its bass notes start and stop with phenomenal precision. There is no 'ooo' overhang from a port, however subtle. One often hears of an adjective like 'transparent' to describe midrange performance, well this ATC is the first speaker I've come across where that adjective can apply to the bass. This clarity enhances its communication skills. An example is Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio espagnol (LPO, Jansons). At the end of the second Alborada the orchestra plays two loud tuttis. Through the Dyn Focus 110 (rear-ported) and Dali Ikon 6 (front-ported) those tuttis slam with maximum impact. Both notes have the same force and volume. Through the sealed SCM11 the first tutti has less pressure than the second final one and because of the bass clarity and low resonance, it is possible to hear how Jansons is deliberately reining the orchestra back before letting loose with the final tutti. What a tantalising split-second of suspense! Because of the sharp difference in pressure between the two notes, the second tutti is more overwhelming and cathartic when the ATC lets it out, even though it doesn't plunge as deep as the Dyn or Dali. The latter two are exciting in a visceral way, the ATC is intensely exciting in a cerebral way as it gave a flash of insight into the conductor's intentions. In many other instances, the ATC's iron-clad control also highlighted other conductors' subtle use of rubato undetected by my previous speakers. Magnificently talented.

So therein lies the reason why ATC is my final destination. The speakers that impressed me the most last year were this SCM11 and the two Spendors and what they all had in common is their sealed box design. To my ears, the instruments that appear in the bass region sound more authentic and real through them. I had been side-grading between several very good speaker brands the past four years without actually knowing the true reason why. Now I do. Ported bass designs just don't do it for me anymore.

The SCM11 will be around at solidschateau for a while yet until the time comes for me to demo the SCM19. I hear it is the first entry ATC to incorporate the company's Super Linear Magnet system in the main driver that offers lower distortion. Given the SCM11's super clean midrange sound, I wonder how much better it can get with the SCM19?

Freako
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Re: ProAc speakers


Quote:

I'm in the market for some new speakers and J.M.s' recent review of the ProAc Response D model peaked my interest...in ProAc, but a less expensive model. I been trying to find review of the Studio 110 or 130 models but other than a brief write up on the 110 there's nothing out there on this brand.

Is anyone familiar with any of their models? (There is a local dealer nearby but he only has one of the more expensive models for audition.)

Any opinion is greatly appreciated.

Mike

http://www.zerogain.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12331

All I could find.

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