LA Audio Show 2017: ATC brings pro sound into your home

I’ve long heard good reports about ATC speakers and electronics, but never seemed to be in the right place for a substantial demo.

I finally corrected that situation at the Los Angeles Audio Show, where Lone Mountain Audio was showing ATC’s SCM 50 passive tower loudspeakers ($20,999 USD), P2 amplifier ($4,599 USD) and CA2 Mk. 2 preamp ($2,999 USD).

ATC, based in the UK, is an interesting company. Its history goes back to 1974 when engineer and working musician Billy Woodman created a business to manufacture custom drive units for the professional sound industry.

Woodman developed a 12-inch driver capable of handling a high amount of power while producing very low distortion at concert sound-pressure levels. The popularity of the speaker (it was used on Supertramp’s first world tour) helped Woodman to set up a second firm for the home audio market.

The SCM 50s on display in LA were finished in gloss black. The styling reflected the company’s stage and studio origins, with a rectangular ported-box design. (There also is an active version with built-in amplifiers.)

While the exterior may not be exotic, the speaker’s drivers are something special. The three-inch midrange, for example, is a soft-dome design, while the nine-inch bass driver has an ultra-linear magnet assembly. There also is a one-inch tweeter that recently was upgraded.

Frequency response is 40Hz to 22kHz. Sensitivity is 85 decibels.

Driving the SCM 50 in LA was the company’s P2, a dual-mono amp that produces 300 watts per channel. The ATC CA2 Mk. II analog preamp offered XLR and RCA outputs. My demo with the ATC consisted of a variety of rock and jazz tracks. First up was Stevie Ray Vaugan’s slow-burn “Tin Pan Alley.”

The ATC rig’s extremely low noise floor allowed me to better delineate the individual notes Vaughan played. I also could hear more of the reverberation from his Fender Stratocaster and the formidable Double Trouble rhythm section, much as I would imagine I’d have experienced sitting in the studio during the original recording.

Next was another well-recorded track, Diana Krall’s “Boy From Ipanema,” the gender-flipped version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s standard. The strings on the song had shimmer and depth, and Krall’s vocals were focused and textured.

We’re all trying to reproduce the sounds we hear live or that were recorded in the studio. It probably shouldn’t be too surprising that a company serving both worlds would come so close to fulfilling this goal. Whether you’re a rock star or just want to recreate one at home, you should check out ATC.