ATC SCM40 Review

With a pro pedigree ATC’s speakers have a distinct monitor sound, but how will they fare in this company? Read our ATC SCM40 Review.

TYPE 3-way floorstanding loudspeaker
DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 370 x 980 x 305mm
1x 25mm dome tweeter
1x 75mm midrange driver,
1x 164mm bass driver
Quoted sensitivity: 85dB/1W/1m (8ohm)
ATC SCM40 Review

You could say that ATC is the hi- equivalent of, ‘the musician’s musician’. It’s not the biggest name, but everyone in the audio industry knows it and respects it. The SCM40 is one of its more compact designs, despite having a sizeable 40-litre cabinet, which is sturdy and businesslike but not quite the height of fashion.

It’s a three-way sealed box design, which makes it unique here; the latter being a rare occurrence in domestic speakers. Some people love these innite bafe types, believing them to confer tauter and faster bass. What is indisputable is that they also make for lower sensitivity; in the SCM40’s case the lowest in the group, which means you’ll need a muscular amplier to hear it at its very best.

It employs ATC designed and built drive units; a 25mm soft dome tweeter, the company’s widely respected 75mm midrange dome and a 164mm bass driver. Crossover points are 380Hz and 3.5kHz. The bass driver is as large in diameter as the cabinet will allow. It’s a tough unit though, and takes some serious punishment with a 300W amplier maximum.

Overall build quality is excellent and thanks to its sealed box – with no bass ports to worry about – it’s easier to position than many here. It can go as close as 25cm from a boundary wall; I use it slightly toed-in, but this is a matter of taste. Round the back, there are three sets of speaker binding posts for tri-wiring, should you so wish it.


Sound quality

The Lento from Haitink’s beautiful take on Ralph Vaughn Williams’ Symphony No.2 In G major says it all. This is a solid, robust, powerful and gutsy sounding speaker with plenty of insight and expansive soundstaging.

It’s a grandiose and stirring piece of music that starts softly and ends up thundering. The ATC is subtle and delicate enough to capture both extremes, with dramatically rendered crescendos and a ne sense of space.

Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream is a joy. This is a beat-driven work with swirling analogue synthesisers set behind the drums and Jim Kerr’s ethereal vocals atop. The SCM40 goes for the rhythm like a terrier, showing its sinewy bottom end to great effect. It gets its teeth properly around the bassline and bass drum work, rendering them in a wonderfully propulsive way that in some respects is the best here. Only the pricey Kerr Acoustic K320 mk.3 betters it, in fact.

The key is the SCM40’s control, precision and musical fluency

The jazzy strains of The Fox by The Harold Land Quintet shows its downside. Tonally it’s a little dry and matter of fact; compared with the warmth of the DALI for example, brass instruments don’t quite have the lustre they deserve and cymbals aren’t as delicate as the rivals here with ribbon tweeters. Still, the music’s architectural structure is superbly carried, with each musician clearly delineated from one another.



The key to this speaker is its control, precision, dynamic articulation and musical fluency. It doesn’t matter mediocre recordings. The thumping drum and bass of Goldie’s Timeless is rendered in an explosive way, the ATC sounding chewy, gnarly and grippy – hanging on the rim shots, hi hats and bass drum sounds like its life depends on it. Quite a loudspeaker, then, if you like that sort of thing!



10 Total Score
Recommended ATC SCM40 Review

Hard not to love its live sound

  • Visceral, powerful sound
  • Space
  • Power hungry
  • Dry tonality
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