Are ATC SCM40 comparable to Focal Sopra 2 speakers?

Hi All,

A recent opportunity on a used pair of Focal Sopra 2 speakers has made me question my plan to buy a pair of ATC SCM40 active speakers.

I currently use a Naim Uniti Atom player and a NAP 250.2 power amp to drive Audio Physic Tempo speakers (and 2 JL Audio E110 subs) in a modest sized room (~30 sq mtrs but with an open layout) and my music tastes vary across rock, pop, jazz, female vocals, EDM etc.

I recently listened to the ATC SCM40 passives at a local dealer and was extremely impressed by how great they sounded. I had auditioned a few speakers recently including Sonus Faber Olympicas, Klipsch Cornwalls and Focal Arias, some JBLs and Gold Note models but none of them sounded as balanced and ‘just right’ as the ATC SCM40s to me. I was so impressed that I decided to buy the active versions (even though I haven’t heard them yet as the dealer did not have them).

The Focal Sopra 2s used are almost the same price as a new pair of the ATC SCM40 actives and hence I am looking for recommendations on how these speakers compare. I haven’t heard the Sopras in the past but have heard the Kanta No 2s and really like their sound signature and always thought the Sopra 2s would be great but way beyond my budget. I won’t have the opportunity to listen to the Sopra 2s before buying them unfortunately.

My questions are:

  1. Are the Focal Sopra No 2. a significantly better speaker than the ATC SMC40s actives? This would seem logical given the significant price difference between the 2 speakers (even before the recent price increase of the Sopra 2s) but in hi-fi audio this in known to not always be true. But in this case would it be accurate to think that the Sopra 2 would be a different league of speaker compared to the ATC SCM 40s and therefore justifying the risks involved in buying used without an audition.

  2. Will the Naim Uniti Atom be good enough for the ATC SCM 40 actives? I will consider upgrading it but at a later stage - the new NSC 222 sounds like a great, albeit pricey option!

  3. Will the Naim Uniti Atom + Naim NAP 250.2 be good enough for the Sopra 2s for a couple of years before I can upgrade to a better front end? I believe that speakers are the most important component and the rest can follow.

  4. Are the SCM 40 actives similar in sound (and just better overall) to the SCM 40 passives which I have listened to and really liked?

Really appreciate any advice you’ll have for me – thanks!

For me, SCM40s and Sopras are poles apart. I could never live with Sopras in any room or system, whereas I do like the ATCs. They are revealing, as their studio monitor heritage might suggest, and will show up the limitations of an Atom as a source. A 250.2 will drive them well enough, but whether or not they are to your taste, and whether they suit your room acoustics, only you can say.

Ideally I would upgrade the electronics first. They can change the balance of a system considerably, and with the extra detail, resolution and frequency extension you get, you may find that speakers you thought were a great match for your room with an Atom are not the best choice with a much more expensive source.

I can’t answer your question directly not having heard the two - hopefully a few people who have may be able to give some insight, though of course it would only be their ears and unless they say the two speakers sound near identical you’d need also to understand how their general music presentation preferences to put in context.

However, my immediate thought is that if you like the SCM40 but are considering spending more, how about the SCM50 or better still 50A?

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I had sopra 2 speakers about 3 years ago. I now have active 40s. Bear in mind my electronics are very different now as well but I much prefer the active 40s in my room with my current equipment. Unfortunately the only way to tell if that is the same for you is to try them in your room.

So, for your questions…

  1. No, not for me anyway

  2. To start with yes but 222 into them is superb

  3. I ran them with a 250 with no issues but again a better pre woiuld be good.

  4. Yes, just tighter and punchier with a cast iron control over the drivers.

Ah, the lure of getting something because it’s cheap. You chose the SCM40 after audition, and think they are ‘great’. You can initially use the A version with your Atom, sell the 250 and save for a 222, which will be a really nice match.

Alternatively you get the Sopra 2. Then you’d need a much better set of electronics, possibly the 222, 300 and 250, at a cost of £17,000, and with those speakers that’s very much the minimum. Not such a saving after all.

If going this way, you absolutely must try the Sopras at home. For one thing, they are massive, and for another thing, their sound is not to everyone’s taste.

There will always be other things out there. You’ve made a decision, stick with it.


@ChrisSU - thanks for your inputs. Since I was considering the Active SCM40s the 250.2 would no longer be required, I get your point on the Atom though and also intriguing is your point regarding sorting out electronics first which seems to differ from the more commonly found one of identifying favourite speakers first.

@Innocent_Bystander - thanks for your reply and you’re right I was also considering if I should wait till I save up enough for the SCM 50As since from all accounts they seem to be much better but they’re also almost DOUBLE the price so there’s that!

@Ryder35 - thank you for replying. To point 1 it’s scary to think that a $20,000 speaker is not very different from a $9,000 speaker! Could you elaborate a bit about the negatives for you of the Sopra 2s (and the SCM40As too) actually.

Question 1, the Sopra 2 are only significantly better speakers if you like the sound of them in your system/room. You ask about speakers but have to consider your overall system/balance, this will be influenced by what you can spend etc.
Question 2, I have the Atom HE, with XLR outputs, and the ATC4OA’s in different systems, they do work together but as others have commented a better source is preferable.
Question 3, Yes this will drive the speakers, only you can decide if it’s good enough, again I feel a better front end would be better. Some think the speakers are the most important component, more think the source, you need to view your system as a whole, get some balance.
Question 4, As @Ryder35 commented the actives have more control, I also think in terms of system planning they offer better value for money. The ATC40A’s with the 222 would make a fine balanced system.
Maybe decide what you can afford, in the short and longer term, and plan your system accordingly.
In terms of investment/cost your three alternatives are fairly close using UK prices. Most importantly listen to the options.

Bear in mind my room was not treated when I had the Sopras and it is now. However I have had Sopra 1s in the room since it has had treatments and found similar results.

For me there was always a harshness in the top end with the sopras that made me wince. They sound impressive initially but I found them fatiguing over a longer period. They also did not have as much bass as I was expecting but this could certainly be room related.

As I said you have to listen to them yourself because my ears, tastes and room are a unique combination.

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Hi @rsure and welcome to the forum. I have both active SCM40s and an Atom, though in different systems.

  1. You can’t really compare passive speakers directly with active ones as any comparison will depend on what power amp you’re using with the passives. I have heard Sopra 2s but never made a detailed comparison with ATCs. For me the Focals sounded rather etched, larger than life, perhaps, whereas the ATCs were more natural. Put that down to ownership bias if you like.

  2. I would not drive the ATCs with an Atom, unless it were the HE edition. The ATCs are very revealing of source and I don’t think a basic Atom is up to the task. I’m not sure how well it would work with the the long interconnects you’d need either. A natural partner in the Naim range would be something like the NSC 222.

  3. The same comments apply as in 2. since you’d have a rather weak front end to your system.

  4. I have extensively compared active and passive SCM 40s and for me you need to go at least to NAP 300 as the power amp for passives to compare with active SCM 40s. But, for me, active operation brings something else to the party that I find highly addictive. Others hear differently of course.



@HungryHalibut - thanks for your inputs. Yes, I do realize that buying without auditioning is never advisable but where I live unfortunately it’s not an option as there are very few dealers and they stock only very few products. In my case I’m unable to audition either of my options - the dealer doesn’t have the active SCM40s and the Sopra 2s are in another country.

If I did buy the Sopras I was planning to look for better (but used) Naim front end components, possibly the Mac 282, 252, NAP 300DR etc. to keep the costs down. These are also likely to be cheaper/more available given the introduction of the new classic line.

Like you mention though I also realize that the SCM40As are likely to be a better financial option and this is one of the points weighing in it’s favor.

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@glasnaim - thanks for your inputs, really appreciate it. The ATC SCM40As definitely seem to be the simpler option from a complexity (one box and set of cables not required) and also from a financial perspective. I was just wondering if the used Sopra 2s were too good to pass up on. I am leaning towards not buying the Sopras though since the variables are just too many and the likely much higher cost of the required front end components.

@PeakMan - thanks for replying. I have reviewed your feedback on the active SCM40s in other posts and have always heard that they’re significantly better than the passives which is why I am considering these inspite of not being able to audition them.

It’s unfortunate to hear that the Atoms are not going to be good enough for the SCM40As (I’m guessing they’ll definitely not be enough for the Sopra 2s as well). I can’t buy both the speakers and a new front end at the same time so will be looking at at least a year of living with the Atoms and the SCM40As before upgrading to something better.

Thanks again for your detailed responses though - really appreciate the advice.

I think, as you’ve heard and enjoyed the passive 40s, the 40A would be a safe bet.

I haven’t heard the Sopra 2 but I’ve listened to the Sopra 1, albeit with a Uniti Atom rather than something that’s a better match, and they were very bright indeed, and seemed to prioritise hifi impressiveness over musical enjoyment. I’ve also heard some £30,000 Focals driven by a full 500 system and I found that experience the same. They are not a speaker I could live with, but others love them. That’s why it’s a big risk.

If you go through with the purchase of the 40As, you’ll have your Atom and 250 to sell. That would go about halfway to a 222, or fully cover the price of a used 272 or alternatively an Atom HE. The HE is a higher performance product than the Atom, and has the balanced outputs which are absolutely perfect for the ATCs. It’s not a perfectly balanced setup but it’s one you may be very happy with long term, without feeling the need to upgrade further.

I have auditioned both the Focal Kanta No. 2s (which I own) and the ATC SCM 40 passives. Both in the same room with a Uniti Nova. I really liked the ATCs a lot, as they were incredibly revealing and clear, with lots of detail, but after listening on a couple of amps was not sure that the Nova’s 80 watts were doing them justice. They are a little harder to drive, I think, than the Focals. The Kantas felt bigger, and with a larger soundstage, at least to me. They kind of enveloped me in the sound more. Also, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t impacted a bit by the bundle that the dealer was offering, which allowed me to stretch my budget a bit. So, I have the Nova and the Kantas in my system, and love them in my smallish listening room, which is about 3m x 4m with plenty of full bookshelves and an antique Persian rug with a thick pad under it. The Kantas were brightish in the high frequencies out of the box. My wife was initially not sold on them due to that issue, but perhaps I have a bit of high-frequency hearing loss from my days in garage bands, etc., as they weren’t too bright for me! My decor does tone down the highs a bit, and I also found improvement upon running them in, and from adding Gaia II feet to the speakers and a Powerline to the Nova. My REW measurements also start to roll off after 11k Hz due to the room characteristics, which seems to suit the Kantas nicely.

I listened to some Sopra 2s, and they were incredible speakers, with a lot of low-end slam, but they were much, much too big for my room, so I quickly moved back to the Kantas.

All of this is one man’s opinion, and very subjective, but I am happy with the Naim/Focal combination.


In your shoes, I would search for a better source, before the speakers.


I had Sopra 2 for two years, but sold them due to downgrade. They`re the only speakers that has worked in my listening room and I have tried Harbeth SHL5+, Kudos S20A and Titans T88. (no more Kudos for me, but Harbeth??).
Sopras will be more flexible than ATC actives (never heard them) the new 250 is spectacular , Sopras are easy to drive imo. I ran them with NDX2-555PSDR-282-HC2- 250DR, they where great.
You should have a listen yourself, good luck. S

There is split thinking on this, just as there are two schools of thought about “source first”.

Personally, as speakers of all components have the biggest effect on the character of the sound you hear,I believe that getting them right is the key to satisfaction - better amplification will then make them sing even better (though there are limits as the amplifier must be able to exercise at least reasonable control over the speakers). But here the question is more fundamental, and quite simple: do you like the sound of the Supras? If you don’t know, then given the multiple descriptions suggesting they are very different sounding from the ATCs, it would at best be highly risky to buy them unheard, even foolish unless you have at least some reason to think you would like how they sound.

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I have run the Atom HE through my 40As and they sounded pretty good so definately an option.

I own a pair of SCM 40 passives and auditioned them and used them quite happily with lesser amps than a NAP 300, (I had an SU back then). I did consider the actives at the time, the dealer told me “they are the same as the passives, just more” He didn’t have a set to audition so I can’t confirm this.

The cost of the actives for me was just too much.

I also struggle with the idea of not having the flexibility to change amplifiers at a later date, something which I am currently thinking of doing. Every five years or so I like to tinker around the edges of my system, but I expect to keep my ATCs for a bit longer.

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Realistically the Sopra 2 is a much better speaker than the ATC 40 either passive or active.
Although the Sopra should ask you more about what your going to do with it.
If you have a flexible budget and they initially work in your room. You like the looks and you can’t imagine getting a bad sound out them. Then they are the right choice.
The ATC speakers, although needing some thought in matching mightn’t ask so much for you to consider within a limited budget. And you could get the quality you ears are wanting.