500 DR v ATC active speakers,

On another thread, I’ve mentioned that I’ll be having a home demo this Spring of a new 500DR, which would replace my current 300DR.

However, it occurs to me that I also ought to be considering an alternative, i.e. active speakers, the offerings from ATC, in particular.

Anyone have experience of these, (Roger, are you out there?), and did you still retain that Naim “sound”.

Purely on the speaker front, they’d be going up against my present Neat MF 9’s, so they would have to be something special in their own right anyway.

This hi-fi hobby … the fun just never stops! :thinking:

Dave, can’t help you with personal experience as I’ve not heard them, but these new Dutch & Dutch 8C actives are getting a lot of good press, esp their placement versatility with the onboard DSP. Enthusiastic review from Hi-Fi+ and loads more online and Youtube (Darko Audio have just received some for testing and he comes across as a level headed dude).

Active ATC speakers were some of the show stars (with Naim’s boxes upstream) at Acoustica’s show last year. Would be worth attending 2019’s show before you plunge perhaps.


Thanks, Yeti,

I’ll have a look at these.

I am planning to visit Acoustica’s show this Spring, as Geoff has informed me that ATC actives will be there, and my planned demo of the 500 DR will be directly following their annual bash.

Hi Dave ,

I think in terms of ATC the Actives are always going to be hard to beat with any Passive amp due to the limiting factor of the passive crossover and the fact that everything is tailored/tuned to suit in the Actives . I’ve been a Naim user for 30 years and love their amps , my last passive set up was a 250DR driving ATC SCM19’s and that was a great combination but switching to Active ATC albeit the 40’s was something else … I was also at the Acoustica show last year which rubber stamped my Active decision , the ATC 100 active’s being the stars of the show for me but the passive 50’s next door driven by a lovely Naim stack also sounded sublime .

Re the Dutch & Dutch 8C , I heard them on numerous occasions last year , they are very impressive , I was seriously tempted but ultimately felt there was too much going on in one box from a relatively small company . I do think they are on to something and will see what follows from them .


Whilst I can see lots of advantages in active speakers, (and a few disadvantages) the end result is still dependant on the capability of the cross over and amplifier designer and the quality of the components used.

I have greater confidence in Naim to deliver on the above over a company which specialises (rather well) in speaker design and construction.

I also prefer ‘not to have all my eggs in one basket’, I like the idea that i could change or upgrade my amplifier or speakers separately.

However, I suspect that we will see a rise in Active speakers, with many incorporating active DSP functions.

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My understanding (from a previous thread) is that the ATC’s are more analytical/sharper than a passive high-level Naim set-up, recognising the active aspect allows the amp to be tailored around the behaviours of the respective drivers (esp the very good mid-range units which ATC have). I strongly suspect it’s a case of YMMV.

Post a house move within the next few years, I’ll certainly be seeking out ATCs as an option - and I’ll be interested in the (of course) subjective reports of the likes of Roger/others here.

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Compare an active ATC set up with any passive one and there is simply no contest.

Each amplifier in the built in amp pack is matched to the respective drive unit in the loudspeaker itself and provides very short signal paths.

Active ATC’s would most definitely out perform the 500DR … but like all things, you should audition :grinning:

Don’t forget, with active speakers, you don’t need any esoteric speaker cables - which is a huge cost saving too!

It really depends on what you have already invested in and whether you can ‘start again’ with a combined amp/speaker 'package.

After all, for someone who already has several expensive power amps driving passive speakers, it inevitably causes a ‘cash hit’ to change … but is most definitely worth it

Actually, if I set the cost of ATC actives against the cost of the 500 DR, and then allow for the trade-in of my 300 DR with my Naim dealer, who also sells ATC, plus selling on my Neat MF 9’s, it could result in some pennies into my back pocket, n’est pas? :smile: :smile:

Hi Dave

Passively driven ATC’s are excellent … but depending on the amplifier used to drive them, can perhaps be bettered elsewhere … BUT …

Active ATC’s are absolutely in a different league altogether.

I owned SCM50ASL for 19 years and they were fantastic.

Having migrated from the UK to New Zealand a few years ago, I changed to the SCM40A … which ‘fitted’ the room better.

To be honest, I prefer the ‘domestic’ 40A’s to the Classic 50ASL’s … but depends on the room of course.

If you speak to ATC, they tend to say that their speakers all have the same sound, so it’s about ‘best for the room’. After all, 300ASL’s would dominate a small room and look ridiculous!

Have a listen and I think you will be amazed at the difference with active. No wonder they are used in professional recording studios. Also take a look at the ATC “Client List” … many musicians have ATC at home … including Kate Bush :grinning:


Polar Bear, assuming you’ve moved across to this 'ere new forum, and bearing in mind how taken we both are with Neat MF 9’s, have you ever listened to any of ATC’s active range?

The question now arises since my ever obliging Naim dealer is offering me a good deal on a new Nap 500 DR, (as long advocated by your good self :roll_eyes:), but he also sells ATC, and it strikes me that they might represent an alternative path.

Of course, they would have to stand up on their own rights as speakers, against my current ones, and I wouldn’t make any move without an extended home demo.

Any thoughts, Señor Bear?

Aw ra best,


For me, the star of the show last year was the ATC SCM50 passive driven by a 300DR…but hey, it was just a show in a hotel room!

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I had the ATC SCM ASL150s on home dem as a possible replacement for my active DBLs with a view to reducing the box count and saving some money.

The ATCs are detailed, accurate, well balanced and engaging. However, they can sound strident on some material and occasionally relentless. They do nothing to hide the shortcomings of poor recordings which is related to ATCs studio origins. The DBLs are more forgiving but probably less accurate.

Compared with the DBLs the ATCs sounded relatively lightweight -but this is in the context of DBLs which are noted for their scale.

On balance I decided to stick with the active DBL set up. However in a passive set-up with a single NAP 500 it would be a much closer call and could go either way depending on room acoustics and sound preferences.


I have active ATC 50s with 272/XPS - Naim sound is definitely there, And I don’t even think about anything else, only want to add the 555PSDR

@dave-marshall when will you have the active ATC’s in your home to listen to? Looking forward to your thoughts!

I’m hoping to arrange a home demo sometime soon, before the home demo of the 500 DR in April.

I too am watching with interest, Dave. As my next steps are power amp and speakers (possibly 500 and Kudos Titans), active ATCs could be a very cost effective contender for me too.

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Hi Dave, @Mr.Frog says above “Active ATC’s would most definitely out perform the 500DR … but like all things, you should audition :grinning:
Don’t forget, with active speakers, you don’t need any esoteric speaker cables - which is a huge cost saving too!
The NAP500 (not DR) vs Active ATC100’s is the comparison I made at home for a couple of weeks and my findings were exactly as he says - Active ATC’s are incredible (accurate & unforgiving, but incredible), and the 5m SuperLumia pair went the way of the B&W 802’s… fleabay through Geoff.

You’ll have fun auditioning the ATCs and, who knows, you might end up (like I did) buying a pair and ‘going active’. I certainly haven’t regretted it.


PS - the Naim sound… YES, I’m convinced this comes primarily from the preamp (NAC552) - others may disagree - but my system has certainly maintained the Naim sound as I perceive it :yum:


Active ATC’s are an absolute bargain …

From a different manufacturer, you would normally you have to purchase:

a pair of loudspeakers, four or six power amplifiers (there are 3 dedicated amplifiers built into each ATC speaker cabinet for the 3 separate drive units - 6 in total, unless it’s a two way design, which has 4 in total) and then there is the added cost of esoteric speaker cables!

The cost would inevitably far exceed the cost of ATC and probably sound worse.

No need to worry about any of these … ATC have done it for you!

You can still use Naim streamers and pre-amps to retain that “Naim Sound” and stay loyal to the brand :grinning:


I tried active ATC 50’s years ago. They were just too forward and relentless sounding. I suppose a recording engineer wants that but I found them fatiguing to listen to. I’ve always wanted to hear the Passive 50s with a NAP500. That may be the magic combo.

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Active 50’s (SCM50ASL) will almost certainly outperform passive SCM50 driven by a NAP500 … no contest :grinning:

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