Lone Mountain Audio is the US distributor for ATC loudspeakers, that classic UK brand that goes against the whole BBC monitor image by making powerful-sounding transducers that are known for both accuracy and a power-hungry nature–unless you go with the active versions, of course. I was drawn into the Lone Mountain Audio room at T.H.E. Show 2019 because they were playing New Order’s “Blue Monday,” and I think that’s the first time I’ve heard that song at a high-end audio show. For all those audiophiles who complain that the music at these shows is boring and doesn’t reflect what people are really listening to, there you go.
Back at High End 2019 in Munich, Dr. Panagiotis Karavitis threw down the gauntlet by telling me that ATC was his favorite brand of speakers. Later that same day I went into the ATC room at MOC and was underwhelmed with the presentation, which is often the case at this venue. Even though I’ve heard ATC many times before–I really like their small 2-way designs such as the SCM7 ($1649 pair, and sitting quietly in a corner of this room)–I wanted to give them a proper chance to wow me once again.
The all-ATC system that Lone Mountain Audio brought to the show was indeed impressive–the Special Edition SCM50SE Active Towers in Piano Gloss Black ($65,999/pair) were used with the ATC CD2 CD player (($2349), an SIA2-100 integrated amp/DAC ($3749, and used with the SCM7s) and the CDA2 Mk II CD player/preamp/DAC ($4249). Once “Blue Monday” was over, I was treated to a number of compelling music choices including some things I haven’t heard such as David Crosby’s last album, which sounds really nice. The ATC system was powerful and gutsy, as expected, and I was especially impressed with the way the system reproduced massed strings. I also noted an unusually clean sound to kick bass drums, which added to the excitement.
It’s unusual to hear a system that consists of $66K active loudspeakers and a $4249 DAC/pre/CD player, but there was a sense that everything had been voiced together to sound distinctly, well, ATCish. Is Dr. K right about ATC being the best? That’s impossible to say, of course, but I think Lone Mountain Audio has made a strong case that ATC once again deserves everyone’s attention in the US.