ATC and AGD Sing in Audiophile Zone's Room

The best sound I have ever heard from an ATC loudspeaker poured forth in the room commandeered by Audiophile Zone of Los Osos, CA. On a 24/192 file of the Engegärd Quartet performing Haydn, every timbre sounded spot and believable. Switching gears to DSD64, highs were excellent and depth convincing on Frank Sinatra's "When You're Smiling." And, on 24/96 tracks from Spirit Hiromi, I was blown away by the excellent bass, believable piano timbres, and musicality of the presentation. If I could have stayed longer, I would have.

The speakers, ATC SCM 40s ($5999/pair in the passive model heard here), were released nine years ago but sounded like new. Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. With a specified sensitivity of 85dB and a frequency response of 48Hz–22kHz (&!50;6dB), the 68.3lb speaker apparently needs a decent amount of power to make it sing. AGD Productions' Tempo GaN MOSFET power amp ($5500), which outputs 200Wpc into 4 ohms, and Alto preamp ($4999) certainly fit the bill.

Behind the AGDs were a Perfect-Bit AX server ($12,000) that employed a little bit of room correction courtesy of Accurate Sound, and that fed a Playback Designs MPD 6 DAC ($15,000). A Mutec REF 10 master clock ($4999), SoTM tX-USB Ultra reclocker ($1190), and Synergistic Research cabling also contributed their fair share to the presentation.