ATC SCM100ASLT & MC Audiotech Forty-10 loudspeakers: a Study in Contrasts
Two rooms, side-by-side at T.H.E. Show 2021, with two entirely different but equally valid windows on sound. To the leftwe are not talking politics herethe UK’s ATC loudspeaker company, manufacturer of time-honored active and passive loudspeakers. Courtesy of their reps, Las Vegas-based Lone Mountain Audio, we are hearing the US show debut of SCM100ASLT Active Driver Tower loudspeaker ($41,999/pair, or $50,999/pair in this particular glossy finish; right in photograph below). This is a bigger speaker than the two other speakers that the company usually shows, and the music played via file, wireless Tidal streaming, and LP included an international line-up of Mark Knopfler, Bob Marley, and Charles Mingus.
ATC’s sound, generated with the help of their ATC CDA2 Mk.II CD player/preamp/DAC and a Triangle Art table and phono preamp, is straightforward, direct, and honest. The top is extremely listenable and toned down a mite, the midrange is solid and pleasing, and the bass is rock solid. Plus, there’s a family sound between the models, making it difficult to distinguish between them, at least in this context. It’s the kind of speaker that makes you feel ridiculous sitting quietly in your chair taking notes, when everything you hear declares, “Get up and dance!”
In the room to the right is the MC Audiotech Forty-10 loudspeaker ($35,000/pair delivered, above), a homegrown, quite efficient product of unique design that’s only sold direct. Designed by Paul Paddock with assistance from Mark Conti, this bi-amped baby houses its woofers in its bottom cabinet, and hands off everything above 100Hz to its upper panel; the line-level passive crossover is external, housed in a small box. The music played was all classical, including Copland from the Oregon Symphony, Shostakovich from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Berg Violin Concerto from a BBC Music Magazine handout.
MC Audiotechthe “MC” comes from Musica Cordis, the Latin words for “The Love of Music.” Here, through Linear Tube Audio amplifier and preamplifier, Weiss DAC501 processor, Wolf Audio System Alpha 3 music server, Audience Front Row cables and power treatment, and a Parasound Halo 23+ amplifier for the bass, the sound was quite alive on top, extremely airy and three-dimensional, and surprisingly dynamic. Listeners wary of the difference between pp and ff need not apply; the rest will likely be thrilled by what they hear. Many will groove on the sheer spaciousness of a presentation, which gives music a chance to breathe and blossom.
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