ATC SCM50SE Active Tower Loudspeakers and CDA2 MkII CD player/preamp/DAC, Cardas Crosslink Cables

As one of the only companies to send out a press release prior to the opening of T.H.E. Show, ATC—along with its host, Lone Mountain Audio—earned pride of place in my "I can't possibly do them all" list of show coverage priorities. In a cozy but surprisingly good sounding standard hotel room, I joined Rafe Arnott from our sister publications AudioStream and InnerFidelity to hear ATC SCM50SE Active Towers ($65,999/pair) fed by the same company's CDA2 MkII CD player/preamp/DAC ($4249) through Cardas Crosslink cabling. There was only one tweak in this room besides some room treatment—Stillpoints Ultra SS supports under the speaker's standard spikes. When I asked what they'd contributed to the system, I was told, "Compared to our spikes going directly into the carpet, bass got punchier and tighter, and the soundstage opened up and got deeper."

Each ATC SCM50SE contains three discrete class-AB amplifiers: 200W on the woofer, 100W on the midrange, and 75W on the tweeter. Because of the material ATC chooses for its speaker grilles, I was told that there was no sonic difference between having them off or on. Hence the unusual off/on presentation of the left and right speakers, which enabled potential buyers to see how the speaker would look either way.

Listening to a 24/96 file of Fleetwood Mac's "Gold Dust Woman" was a great way to start the show. The speakers were not at all shy on electric guitar, which is anything but a shy and retiring instrument; the midrange was pleasingly warm and full; and bass was extremely tight, solid, and punchy. Even at good volume, every musical and instrumental line was discernible, and bass timbres sounded realistic. Playing my DSD128 file of Ivan Fischer's Mahler Symphony No.3 clarified that the system sounded pretty damn neutral—laudably so—and its bass was absolutely firm. More important, the system succeeded in communicating the emotional bleakness that makes the opening statement of Mahler's Third so profound. If I wanted for anything, it was a touch more warmth. A great start to the day, and that wasn't all . . .

Ortofan's picture

... their SCM300ASLT speakers.

Joe8423's picture

$65,999 for the domestic version, $15,500 for the pro 50. This company doesn't have a real high opinion of American high-end buyers. I think we can go ahead and equate this pricing to open ridicule. Next step, $686,000.

Forgotten Audiophile's picture

Completely agree. Pricing is ridiculous.