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Audiophile Zone’s ATC SCM40 and ADG System: T.H.E. Show 2023

ATC’s passive SCM40 made beautiful music at T.H.E. Show. Driven by almost $50,000 of electronics and cabling, they did not disappoint.

ATC SCM40 Loudspeakers at T.H.E. Show 2023

Having recently reviewed the ATC SCM40A Active Loudspeakers, I walked into the Audiophile Zone room very eager to listen to ATC’s passive sibling; the SCM40A were one of the best loudspeakers I’ve heard in many years and we came very close to purchasing them.

But at $10,999 USD, the SCM40A active loudspeakers are a very significant investment and I wondered if it made more sense to consider the passive ATC SCM40 ($5,999 USD) which I could drive with one of the more powerful solid-state power amplifiers in my collection.

Both loudspeakers utilize the same drivers including the patented midrange driver that has brought ATC a great deal of success over the past few years.

Audiophile Zone System Components at T.H.E. Show 2023

Audiophile Zone did not exactly decide to drive the SCM40 with entry-level equipment at the show; the system included the Playback Designs MPD-6 DAC ($15,000 USD), Perfect-Bit AX Streamer ($12,000 USD), AGD Alto Preamplifier ($4,999 USD), Tempo Power Amplifier ($5,500 USD) Mutek Reference 10 Master Clock ($4,999 USD), and SoTM USB Reclocker ($1,190 USD).

Cabling and stands were provided by Synergistic Research and Radiho Acoustics.

When you addd everything up, the system driving these $5,999 loudspeakers was close to $50,000 USD; more than a few people gasped when told the pricing.

ATC SCM40 Loudspeaker

But the ATC SCM40 are not just any passive floor standing loudspeaker.

We listened to a number of tracks and came away very impressed with what these loudspeakers can do with high-end sources and amplification; I also left with a very different appreciation of the SCM40A which is not just an “amplified” version of the same loudspeaker.

The SCM40 demonstrated incredible resolution and tonal accuracy in the midrange; its ability to reproduce the weight and tonality of piano notes was incredibly impressive. Many loudspeakers struggle with this. Not the ATC.

ATC SCM40 Speaker Drivers

The bass range was strong and full of impact in the 40Hz range and there was a lot of texture in the mid-bass as well. Those looking for movie theater impact will want to add a subwoofer, but it was certainly resolute with most music tracks.

Percussion did not lack for impact or definition and the hotel room certainly was a hindrance in that regard.

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The treble range had good energy and detail; percussion snap and detail sounded rather natural and string instruments had a lot of energy without becoming hard as they raised the volume.

Why the differences between the two loudspeakers?

The SCM40 utilizes a 2nd order crossover, whilst the SCM40A active version uses a 4th order crossover which is integrated before the internal amplification.

The passive SCM40 is more sensitive to your choice of amplifier; whilst the SCM40A has been carefully tuned to ensure that each driver is getting exactly the amount of power that it needs.

I came away with the impression that if you already have equipment that favors the SCM40, they are a killer deal at $5,999 as I heard nothing better at the show for anywhere near that amount of money.

ATC SCM40 Loudspeakers at T.H.E. Show 2023

However, if you’re building a new system from scratch, the SCM40A (even at $10,999 USD) might be a better option because its built-in amplification is the best you’re going to find for the loudspeaker at that price.

If you’re a tube amplifier fan, the New Audio Frontiers 211 SE Power Amplifier which was on display in another room, might be ideal for the passive SCM40 which could use some additional warmth in the presentation.

Audiophile Zone’s System at T.H.E. Show 2023

Perfect-Bit AX server$12,000
ATC SCM 40 speakers$5,999
AGD Productions Alto preamp$4,999
AGD Productions Tempo power amp$5,500
Playback Designs MPD 6 DAC$15,000
Mutec REF 10 master clock$4,999
SoTM tX-USB Ultra reclocker$1,190
Synergistic Research Cables & Accessories
Powercell SX power conditioner w/SRX AC cord$16,995
UEF Ethernet Switch$2,295
Foundation Ethernet cable (router to switch)$809
Galileo Discovery Ethernet cable$3,395
UEF Cable Risers$749
MiG SX footers$995
MiG 3.0 footers$295
Tranquility POD Carbon$995
FEQ Carbon Frequency Equalizer$1,695
HFT Room treatment$2,850
Black Box$1,995
Foundation SX speaker cables$889
Foundation SX interconnects$699
Foundation SX HC power cables$699
Grand Total$85,042

Audiophile Zone’s system at T.H.E. Show 2023 cost $85,042, and even at that price was one of the lowest priced hi-fi demonstrations. However, custom room correction by Accurate Sound was not included in the total.

For more information, visit ATC’s U.S. distributor or in Los Osos, California.

See more coverage of T.H.E. Show 2023

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