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Bookshelf upgrade options ATC? PMC? Dynaudio?


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Hi all, first post!

 

I'm looking for some advice about new bookshelf speakers.

 

Some background info: Current setup:

FLAC > NOS DAC > NAD T742 > Paradigm Monitor 3 V.3 (1 inch tweeter  + 7 inch woofer, rear ported)

I'm also a member of Head-Fi and have a Gilmore Lite amp and AKG K701 (using the same source, it's a more honest setup overall, including deeper and better the bass).

 

I recently bought some old ADS CM6 sealed speakers for very cheap out of curiosity/a laff. They have a much 'smaller' sound than the Paradigms (of course, 5" woofer vs 7"), but I can tell they are way more accurate for the frequencies they *do* put out. I'd like to buy some new speakers which mix the best of both – the large, room-filling sound of the Paradigms (but with more accurate bass), and the clearer mids and treble of the ADS. I prefer a neutral to very slightly warm overall sound. This is because I listen to everything from classical and acoustic through to metal and electronica but I HATE pushed/forward upper-mids/treble. So I'd forego some absolute accuracy to keep rock and electronica listenable at louder volumes (not party levels, but the speaker cones are only 90cm from me!).

 

Whatever I buy will have to do well filling a lounge room as I'll use them on stands in a larger setup later. I also plan to upgrade my amp to a Nelson Pass style Class A amp built by a knowledgeable friend, so speaker drivability shouldn't be an issue. For reference, the Paradigms are approx. 38cm high, 25cm deep, 24cm wide and fit up against the wall behind my 1.4m wide desk (toed in at my ears). If I want better imaging, I roll my chair back a bit.

 

I've been reading about the following:

ATC SCM19 (a bit concerned about it having enough bass)

Dynaudio Focus 160 (apparently very well balanced, decent sized driver, but require a bit of room behind them)

PMC DB1i (hear mostly good things about these, but worried the woofer might be a bit small compared to what I'm used to and need space behind them)

B&W CM5 S2 (I've read they have a British mid-range hump, which I can hear in the B&W speakers I've heard so far... not sure I want that)

B&W CM6 S2 (same concern as the CM5)

Anything else I should look into?

 

I've yet to go listen to anything yet. I'm particularly interested in ATC, but I'm Canberra and noone here stocks them. I know the RRP of the SCM19 is $5000 (from Stereophonic), but what is the 'street' price, or what have people bought them for? I could come close to 4k if they are awesome and would future proof me for a long time.

 

Thanks for any help in advance,

Ben

Edited by sl33py
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Hi Ben,

One observation, I owned a pair of the original atc scm19. And if you have a decent amp, I wouldn't worry about the bass, I thought they had excellent bass, one of the better Standmount bass speakers IMO. Make sure you have a good amp to get the most out of them though. Regards price, you should be able to get them closer to 4 k. Stereophonic have them listed for 4495 for example. The newer version with the improved tweeter is also quite an advancement apparently.

I would be looking at the pmc twenty.22 instead of the db1.

Good luck !

Edited by Ray H
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I've got a pair of scm20's which are an older model but with the scm19 bass driver but an outdated tweeter. Don't worry about bass, like Ray said if you have the power they will sing.

I bought a pair of new scm40's from Vic at Syereophonic last month - stunning speaker especially with the new tweeter. I heard the 19

as well, like my 20's but with a much better top

end. Can't wait until they release the tweeter upgrade for my 20's then I'll effectively have new 19's sound in and older box.

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Fellow Head-Fi'er here. :) I've been on a search for bookshelf speakers like you and have auditioned the ATC SCM19, Dynaudio Focus 160 and B&W CM6 S2 amongst others.

 

I quite liked the CM6 S2 overall. Its treble was accentuated but delicate. However, I found it lacking in the bottom end. The pint sized B&W PM1 had noticeably better bass presence.

 

I preferred the SCM19 to the 160 in a direct comparison. I found the 160 ho-hum to be honest. The SCM19 just sounds very right to me. It doesn't suffer from tipped-up treble or a mid bass hump. However, while the bass is articulate, it doesn't extend as low as other bookshelf speakers that I've auditioned. Presumably this is due to it being a sealed encosure. The PMC twenty.22 with its transmission line had the SCM19 covered in the bass department in a direct comparison, but it sounded leaner with an excitable top end. I would find the SCM19 easier to live with. I don't think that the SCM19's power requirements should be underestimated. The recommended power rating for this speaker is 75 to 300 Watts. ATC recommended an amp with a 150 Watt rating to drive it optimally when I enquired.

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Hey thanks for the replies!

 

@@Ray H, a fellow local!! What did you upgrade to if you ditched the SCM19's?

 

@@gat474, that's pretty damn cool that ATC retroactively upgrade their speakers!

 

@lo fi, what did you end up buying?

 

I did read about the PMC Twenty.22's. While most reviewed said they were great, there was too much use of the words 'nimble/agile' and indications that they have a 'lean' or slightly forward sound... I want to avoid that at all costs. So I crossed them off the list. If I ended up travelling to Melbourne to audition the ATC's, I would try the PMC's out too, just to be sure. That's why I was reading about the DB1i instead... of the 22, the What Hifi reviewer said "Some may prefer a more relaxed and tonally richer presentation". That sounds like it would be painful at higher volumes and with less than perfectly recorded material...

 

And regarding the ATC: annoyingly, for all the praise I read about the SCM19, I keep reading counter-comments saying the bass isn't as deep as some other speakers. If it wasn't for a few too many those comments for my comfort, I might have already just ordered them already without listening. I know I won't really know the answers to any of my questions without finding and listening to them, but the brands I'm mostly interested in aren't around here, which really sucks. It would be great to be able to compare my (admitted woolly) 7" ported speakers against a sealed typed speaker, as well as these other speakers with smaller woofers that should be better, to at least hear the trade off in depth (if there is any! Mine might actually suck a lot more than I thought).

 

The only HiFi shops in Canberra that I'm aware of are:

Miranda Hifi, which carry: Aaron, Bower & Wilkins, Cambridge Audio, Dynaudio, Focal, Martin Logan, Paradigm, PSB, Q Acoustics

and Duratone Hifi, which carry: Castle, Krix, Monitor Audio, Rega, Richter, Sonos, Paradigm (this is where I bought my Paradigms)

I know there's one other mob, but they make their own stuff and I'v already had my fill of one-man/small operations.

Edited by sl33py
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I was very surprised my Focal 806v could produce the bass they did when I had them briefly as mains in my family room. Maybe try the Aria 906, also available at Stereophonic. Could be worth a weekend demo of various speakers. Perhaps call ahead by a few days and they could set up a room for you.

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Don't underestimate the atc bottom end. Their own measurements are known to be on the conservative side.

Steteophonic have atc, pmc and dyn so you may be able to demo all three brands there.

The ATC didn't have the bass presence of most of the ported models that I've auditioned but it was tighter and more tuneful. I haven't ruled the SCM19 out.

I auditioned a few Dynaudios, including the Focus 160, PMC twenty.22, twenty.23 and ATC SCM11 and SCM19 at Stereophonic.

Edited by lo fi
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The PMC didn't have the bass presence of most of the ported models that I've auditioned but it was tighter and more tuneful. I haven't ruled the SCM19 out.

Hmm. What kept your finger on the trigger? I'm looking 'for the next decade' kind of purchase (as my last speakers have been...).

 

 

I was very surprised my Focal 806v could produce the bass they did when I had them briefly as mains in my family room. Maybe try the Aria 906, also available at Stereophonic. Could be worth a weekend demo of various speakers. Perhaps call ahead by a few days and they could set up a room for you.

Thanks blybo, they're a fair bit cheaper than the other options I'm considering, but I'll add them to the list!

 

Yeah GAT, that's the plan - fly in, spend a day/weekend listening to everything I can, fly out. I'd just drive to Sydney but haven't found anywhere there carrying the same combination of stuff I'm interested in, plus I have a mate there (free accom). ATC haven't answered there email where I asked them about dealers in other cities...

 

Welcome any other suggestions or input from people who've heard more than one of the speakers mentioned!

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Hmm. What kept your finger on the trigger? I'm looking 'for the next decade' kind of purchase (as my last speakers have been...).

 

 

Same here, and sorry but that should have read ATC not PMC in my previous post (fixed now). The SCM19 is balanced, relatively uncoloured and highly resolving to my ears. I didn't find myself wincing at accentuated treble and upper midrange glare like I have with a number of other speakers that I've auditioned. While sounding very "hi fi", some of the speakers had a hardness to the sound which I think would become fatiguing for me over time, but the ATC didn't. Also, the more bass I hear from ported bookshelf speakers, the less convincing it sounds. That extra extension and volume seems to come at the expense of definition and tone (with the exception of the PMC twenty.22 which has a transmission line). The SCM19 may not have the bass extension of its ported rivals but it sounds more accurate to me. 

Edited by lo fi
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@blybo: those more expensive Focals sound very promising from the reviews. Especially all the talk of 'big sound for their size'. I'll read more about them.

 

But... it's just dawned on me that my listening position is pretty bad... I'm in the corner of a room with the speakers right up against the wall (just toed in to face me). Speakers are about 1.2m apart, and each speaker is 90cm from my ears.... probably dumb for anything except tiny monitors...

 

My cluey amp-making friend pointed out that this setup will negatively affect imaging and bass quality/amount etc, and that it won't matter what speakers I get, they won't sound great. So I'm going to rearrange things a bit, buy some speaker stands, put them either side of the TV and away from the wall. Lucky I ordered my brand new Anticables in 2.4m lengths! I'll continue reading about bookshelf speakers but this gives me more time before choosing, and they will be better appreciated.

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I'm not sure why KEF doesn't get named in instances such as this, but I feel it would be worth having a listen to a pair of the R300s. They are a full range design and sound brilliant for the money. They benefit further from good electronics behind them too.

I've auditioned those too but the op didn't mention them.

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@blybo: those more expensive Focals sound very promising from the reviews. Especially all the talk of 'big sound for their size'. I'll read more about them.

But... it's just dawned on me that my listening position is pretty bad... I'm in the corner of a room with the speakers right up against the wall (just toed in to face me). Speakers are about 1.2m apart, and each speaker is 90cm from my ears.... probably dumb for anything except tiny monitors...

My cluey amp-making friend pointed out that this setup will negatively affect imaging and bass quality/amount etc, and that it won't matter what speakers I get, they won't sound great. So I'm going to rearrange things a bit, buy some speaker stands, put them either side of the TV and away from the wall. Lucky I ordered my brand new Anticables in 2.4m lengths! I'll continue reading about bookshelf speakers but this gives me more time before choosing, and they will be better appreciated.

You might want to avoid rear firing port models. ;)

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@@ray H, a fellow local!! What did you upgrade to if you ditched the SCM19's?

Hi, too many different speakers I am afraid...I even had a pair of atc scm100 asl for a while. I will say, the thing I wasn't totally sold on with the atc's was the tweeter and general high range performance, they are not great in this area, even the high end models like the scm100 etc. although they appear to be putting some effort into that area in the newer models. I used to use both of the atc's with some Townshend super tweeters, that really helps your listening experience with atc's IMO.

I must admit though, everything I read from your posts leaving me thinking Dynaudio may be a good option for you. The only issue with this is that they require a similarly grunty amp like the atc's to perform, unless you buy the cheaper excite models etc. which I wouldn't recommend.

Agree, not a lot of store options here in Canberra, and they all have their quirks, better to travel to Melbourne or Sydney.

P.S one other option you could consider is a pair of sonus faber cremona auditor or elipsa auditor, which are being run out at the moment and can be had for around 3k if you are willing to import from the U.S, if this is of interest I can give you some details, I just purchased a set of the cremona auditor m after owning a pair a while ago. A beautiful little speaker, they differ from the Dynaudio quite heavily though.

Regards,

Edited by Ray H
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I remember seeing a picture of the Cremona Auditor and thinking "it will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine". It is indeed a beautifully made little speaker. However, I was disappointed with the sound, which I found somewhat congested. Comparing it directly to the PMC twenty.22 didn't help matters because its presentation was far more open and clear. I rate the plain Jane ATC SCM19 more highly than the supermodel Cremona Auditor.   

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I think there is a bit of 'analysis paralysis' going on here.

 

There is no such thing as the perfect speaker, especially in the price bracket being discussed.

Edited by bronal
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Maybe try something like the Lenehan ML1s. They can be fitted with a switch for positioning close to rear walls.

Tannoy Revolution Signature dc6, like I have. Front ported, dual concentric so they image really well, I would think that in a small room reasonably close to the speakers the bass would be excellent. Not sure if it's still current model but have seen a few secondhand for not to crazy money. Good luck have fun.

Cheers Dave.

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I think there is a bit of 'analysis paralysis' going on here.

 

There is no such thing as the perfect speaker, especially in the price bracket being discussed.

 

 

I prefer due diligence myself. ;) Speakers "in the price bracket being discussed" can be an expensive purchase for some of us. I've also enjoyed the process of auditioning and comparing speakers that have piqued my interest. It's satisfied my curiosity and has proven to be an invaluable exercise for my purposes. 

Edited by lo fi
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