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ATC SCM50ASL Tower or B&W 802 Diamond w Mcintosh MC2301

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Hi All,

I am deciding on either


1) ATC SCM50ASL Tower


2) B&W 802 Diamond w Mcintosh MC2301


I will love to hear from owners with either or similar setup.

The source cum preamp will either be BADA or Weiss 202DAC.


Looking forward to the comments.


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Hi Porky, my first post here. Funny thing is I entered this thread to see if anyone was posting about ATC speakers, yours was the very firt post lol.


I have the ATC SCM 50 ASL Tower and it is very good. I've been a long time fan and have moved thru several models before settling on the active 50's, it works for my living room space. I like the no-nonsense philosophy of the company e.g. they are quite brutal with their specs reporting - on paper these speakers won't compare well against other speakers in it's price range, but when you read about how they derive the specs... no wonder the results are so unflattering. In real life tho, I've never heard tighter, "slammier" bass, mids are to die for. But as all my friends warned me, they like to be played loud - the term used is "realistic" volumes, this is when the ATCs come into their element. Oh also, with the actives, you take speaker cables out of the equation, now that's got to be a good thing.


You may want to consider the connections tho, the amps take XLR connections.


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"If you get The chance look at some high efficiency speakers,ultimately they are just more 'real' imho." Which (with all due respect) would be why you sell that type of speaker Keith.


To the OP: I would sugget they both the B&W 802D and the ATC are good speakers -neither would really be considered better than they other though one may suit your tastes and preferences more. You really need to find a dealer and have a listen for yourself.






...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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I have heard both and loved both. ATC has a more solid presentation whereas the B&W+Mcintosh combo has more air and bigger sound stage.


The interesting thing is that I was set on the ATC SCM50ASL Tower and was prepared to say goodbye to the power amp search and speaker wire madness.


That was until I heard the B&W 802 Diamond with a pair of mcintosh MC2301 at a friend's place and I was poisoned once again!!!! damned... shouldn't have gone over


The question I am asking myself now is will I be missing out on anything if I go with the ATC SCM50ASL Tower.

Of course the B&W combo cost a lot more. But the problem is that I forsee spending a lot more on cables and other stuff.


So I guess the real question is for the ATC active owners... do u all miss the speaker and power amp combo world?


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and they were incredible. However, I bought them used sight unseen and found they were just too big for my large room. The 50's are also incredible speakers and with a direct-to-speaker DAC setup (BADA, Weiss, Metric, etc) it would be likely amazing. With the money you "save" on amps and speaker wire spend it on good XLR interconnects (ASI Liveline, my fave, and Furutech Evolution II or Ref IIII are two great under-the-radar cables).


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I really prefer the sound of the old B&W Matrix Series speakers to the new ones. The Series II and III 801's are as neutral as any speakers I have heard. The Matrix Series sounded great on average high power solid state amps. My impression from listening to the Diamond series is that they need a little warming up from the front end. Maybe why they sound good with high current tube amps.

Good actives are another beast. The lack of passive crossovers between amplifiers and drivers more than compensates for the lower quality electronics. Actives can deliver with chip amps, digital amps, and other low end types.

Once you listen to a good pair of actives, it is hard to go back to using speaker cables. But it is very difficult to decide yours amps, speaker cables, and such are no longer needed.






2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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The 802D has laid back mids (BBC dip) and a boomy bass. I can explain how B&W do this (and they know what they are doing it) but you can easily see this in the Stereophile review. Many people will prefer this sound and it may be better suited to a larger space than what the 50's can fill. I am not sure if the 802 Diamond sticks strictly to this design approach - so take my comments about B&W 802 with a pinch of salt.


If you want a speaker with very little coloration and one that will reveal differences from track to track (rather than a more pleasing sound superimposed on everything) then go ATC. Over the long run you will appreciate ATC more and more as you will get the most out of your music collection. Although you may find ATC's harsher in the upper midrange (no dip - so more forward sounding) when playing modern compressed rock/pop and the bass will likely be much thinner/tighter then you are probably used to (most speakers are boosted in the bass and treble simply because this sells speakers in shop floor comparisons and manufacturers know this).


That said - both options are superb. You will be in heaven with either one. Although my statements may be exaggerating the differences it may help you decide - I hope you understand that these are both very very high quality options.


B&W are a great company and they do make a few designs that are very precise too (with a lower crossover to the tweeter rather than driving that large midrange to 4 KHz), however, B&W make and sell more of the boom boom tizz stuff as it is what most people want - so that is what they make.




Roon, Mac M2 Studio, Benchmark DAC3, Benchmark LA4, T+A DAC 200, ATC EL150ASL + SCM0.1/15SL Pro

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Glad to hear you learned something about speaker design. I'll add a bit more detail since you show interest.


B&W make these designs because people BUY THEM. They also make a minority of speakers with some precision designs and flat tight bass - but the majority of people actually want and buy boomy bass over a thin accurate tight bass (bigger bass sounds impressive - it sells - it impresses their spouse and friends). This is not a reflection on B&W - one of THE most successful speaker companies with solid engineering - far more successful than ATC - B&W offer more designs than Imelda Marcus has shoes and probably sell more speakers every month than ATC has ever built!!


Please take a look at this Stereophile plot of the response of the B&W 802D (which my comments were directed at - and I did put a caveat that the "Diamond" may be substantially different as B&W do include a large amount of variety in their multitude of designs and iterations):




Note the bump in the bass. This is indicative of a higher Q design - probably around 1. A Q of about .7 would be critically damped and give you tighter bass with a flatter response - and without a hump.


Also note the "hole in the midrange" from 2 to 4 Khz:




This "hole" appears off-axis - as this is where the directivity (beaming) of such a large midrange starts to really limit the off-axis radiated acoustic energy.


This is all deliberate - many people really like this kind of sound more than what ATC delivers - Gordon Holt used to refer to it as the "BBC dip" as this approach originated with BBC designs.






Roon, Mac M2 Studio, Benchmark DAC3, Benchmark LA4, T+A DAC 200, ATC EL150ASL + SCM0.1/15SL Pro

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At this sort of price level, I think you really have to persuade a dealer to let you try speakers at home - preferably for a week or so. I had B&W Matrix 801s for many years (which I bought after a home trial), but, after moving house, I replaced them with 803Ds two or three years ago. This was after comparing the two sets of speakers using my hi-fi equipment in my living room for a couple of weeks. In theory, the 803Ds are lower down the B&W pecking order (albeit more up to date)than the 801s, but in my room, with my ancillary equipment, they were clearly a better match. Without trying them, I would simply never have known this, and no amount of comments from other users would have proven the case one way or another.


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Find a used pair of SCM20's and see if you can live with them and then flip them if you decide to get brand new Active 50's. You will lose your shirt if you buy brand new and then a year later sell the new anniversaries because you cannot live with them.


Roon, Mac M2 Studio, Benchmark DAC3, Benchmark LA4, T+A DAC 200, ATC EL150ASL + SCM0.1/15SL Pro

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I upgraded from the 803D's to the 802D's about 6 months ago. I am consistently blown away by how great they sound and how much of an upgrade that was at least in my set up. I am driving them with a Musical

Fidelity M6i (200 wpc), which seems more than adequate. I do not find the bass boomy. Overall, the sound is well-balanced but not clinical; very pleasing. While I have not heard the ATC's, you can't go wrong with the B&W's. I have not heard their new and improved line; one of the main improvements they are touting is more accurate and taught bass response.


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Singaprore... right...

Now I see it may not be straightforward...


Even in UK it was not easy to find a demo of the 50s active. For me it took calling all dealers in the radius of 2hr travel, visit to 2 hifi shows, the factory visit and paying deposits.


As the amount of money involved is not insignificant I thought I shoudl not be lazy and make an effort so I was prepared to travel and spend some money to make sure I get demos (if you look at the % of budget all the travel comes out tiny). It is mainly time - which is all part of the hobby side of things isn't it?


take it slow, call around, be prepared to travel and spend a bit of money (on travel or shipping) and a lot of time and who knows you may get a demo.


impressions from the home trial will be in the thread linked above and also on www.atcforums.co.uk


I do not want to create yet another thread on onother forum with the same content.



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Spend a few hundred on a flight to Tokyo, stay with us for the weekend or longer, ATC SCM 50 ASL, Emm Labs DCC2 SE & CDSD SE, DCS Puccini & Puccini U-clock, Isoclean, Shunyata Hydra, Mac mini etc... for jazz & classical it is about as good as live (without medication !)



Music room: Mac Mini>DCS U-Clock>DCS Puccini/Mytek Brooklyn>ATC SCM 50ASL

Library: iMac>Schiit Modi>Schiit Sys>Genelec 8020

Travel: iPod Classic>Fostex HP-P1>Beyerdynamic DT1350

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