Are ATC SCM40 comparable to Focal Sopra 2 speakers?

@Stover, @TOBYJUG - this was what I had believed as well and was under the impression that the Sopra 2s would be considered a much better speaker and honestly thought would hear that the ATC SCM50s would make a better comparison rather than the SCM 40s.

As I mentioned, I have heard the Focal Kanta 2s and really liked them and from what I’ve gathered the Sopra 2s are all that the Kantas are and more (perhaps not too dissimilar to how an ATC SCM50 is better than an SCM40?). To me the comparison was of a much more expensive (and hence possibly better) speaker that was only under consideration because of the much lower used price available. I was a bit surprised to find so little love for the Sopra 2s here.

However, I do get the point on how critical it is to audition before buying and have pretty much decided against the Sopra now unless I can manage to listen to them somewhere before buying. Also, my poor Atom seems to have become collateral damage in this speaker comparison with almost unilateral advice that it’s the weakest link :wink: I know I need to move up on the source but was really looking to buy a pair of speakers first.

Thank you all again for your inputs, I really appreciate you’ll taking the trouble to assist. This is really a great forum :+1:

Regarding improving the source, I have an opportunity to get a Naim NDX2 at a reasonably good price now and was wondering if that is a good option to upgrade to?

It would obviously be an improvement over the Atom and into the Nap 250 but if I buy the ATC SCM40 actives then I’d still need to get a good pre-amp. I could get a used NDX2 and 282 for a slightly higher price than a new NSC 222 (without PSU). And if it’s possible can I actually use just the NDX2 with the active SCM 40s without a separate pre-amp at least for a while? Would that be an advisable option?

Also, would an NDX2 + NAC 282 likely be better than the NSC 222 with active ATCs? I realize it is too early to answer this as the new system is hardly in circulation yet but in principle are there any recommendations or considerations to keep in mind between these 2 options?

You would need a separate power supply for the 282 (HICAP or SUPERCAP), so factor that in also.

Can’t say for definite but the separates are unlikely to sound worse…

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Don’t let the suggestions put you off - just make sure you hear with an Atom (take yours if necessary) to be sure they sound good enough to you before possibly in the future upgrading the source and/or amp. After all, having speakers that suit you is really important in my view.

As for active speakers, I would expect direct (active) driving with amps specifically tailored to driving each of the individual drive units is likely to be as good as it gets. There would be nothing to mourn in terms of absence of separate amp upgradability unless you are someone who likes change for the sake of change, though it does mean an upgrade to a higher level would mean changing to other actives (or to separate amp and speakers) and so precludes smaller upgrade steps - but not an issue at all if so good for you that they are long term keepers.

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Using an NDX2 without a separate preamp will work perfectly well with the optional variable volume mode enabled. However, this mode is a token gesture convenience feature rather than a full blown digital preamp as used by some other HiFi brands. That means that sound quality may be compromised by using variable volume. Only you can decide if this is an acceptable compromise while you save for a 282.

The NDX2 is a brilliant streamer with the right preamp, and it sounds way better than the 272, predecessor to the 222, but to what extent the new model has closed the gap I couldn’t say.

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Listen for yourself is the only way.
Personally I would never buy Focal or passive 3-way ATC.

The Focal Kanta is voiced differently to the Sopra, less analytical and a nicer sound in my room. A house move and a tricky room forced me to move the Kanta’s on and after much demoing I now have scm40a’s and I rate them highly, in my room the actives were better than passives driven by a 300.

I am not really a fan of the big Sopra’s but some like them so I guess personal tastes come into play.


Speakers are a very personal thing, also they will interact with the Roon in a way that is never easy to predict.
I live with focal speakers for sometime now and have had a few, still have more focal speakers now that the reason dictates, I like their sound presentation but that is my preference.

As you said you liked the kanta, the kanta speakers are a more forgiving and easier to drive speaker than the sopra but has the same focal sound signature, the sopra are more revealing of what is behind driving them. On the sopra when you change something in the audio chain will reveal the good and the bad in a ruthless way, and most of the time every step in the chain has to be carefully acquired.

I also liked the kanta, now I live with a sopra n1, the n2 had too much bass for my Roon to handle, is the same signature but more neutral and fuller, the bass on the kanta is faster but less powerful, they are both almost equal in the detail but the sopra Twitter is a little more evident than the kanta beryllium tweeter.

But again you have to like the focal sound, some love it and some hate it. Speakers are as complicated as the room, and the same speaker could sound perfectly on one roon and very bad on another, also every listener has personal taste on what he wants his speaker to sound and that changes from person to person so is always very imprecise to advice someone with certain if some speaker will be perfect for him.

Another problem I see is that you listened to passive ATC speakers with a combination of electronics and you also liked the sound, that does not mean the active version will sound the same, the active version will have different amplification and give a different sound signature, before jumping into active speakers try to listen to them first. Also active speakers will limit the amplification upgrade in the future, you can upgrade the pre amp but is something to take into account.

Your new speakers will live with you for many years, do not act by impulse and try to listen to the speakers in your living roon with your electronics, these are very expensive things to invest and not be fully satisfied. They are great products on their own, but not always great products in the context of our current system or room as much as they are a great opportunity.

Never buy on the words of others, decide by your own conclusions.

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Agree, nothing compares to the active ATCs sound


I have active 40’s, so am commenting on that basis (52/Scap pre, proper balanced output via transformers).

I would suggest getting the 40A’s. Budget for getting a Naim 222 (I have no experience of this, but it seems well-regarded). Allow further potential budget for new 300 power supply, and some decent mains cables. At current UK prices, £19140, I believe.

The Sopra 2’s, I would suggest require a better source, pre-amp, power supply thereby, and power amp. Cost of this option???

If you had heard the ATC’s and thought they were for you, then heard the Sopra’s and thought they were so much better that you decided to plump for them with a long-term plan to improve your source and amplification, all well and good. However, this is not the case.

A bargain is only a bargain when it IS a bargain.

FWIW, when purchasing my 40A’s, I was offered an (unheard) pair of SCM50Aslt with a nice veneer (albeit not the premium veneer) for a substantial saving over list price. However, even so, they were above my budget and a similar size to my outgoing Usher speakers, so I politely declined.

Finally, in my opinion, the Active 40’s are astonishing value for money, and I seriously mean that.

I hope you are ultimately happy with your final decision.

Best of luck.


Agree, choosing speakers is personal. A lot of people on this forum rate Kudos speakers highly, I cannot live with them.

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What Kudos speakers you listened? Only to have a comparison. I had Kudos C20 then I swapped with Kudos 606 and they were a complete game changer.

Wise words here from BigAl. In my room Kudos, PMC, Focal simply didn’t work. Sadly the ATC 50’s whilst amazing didn’t work as well as the active 40’s. (Cross overs on passive speakers are a bit of a weak point in my view)

I have since added a stereo pair of Rel s510 and they have really bought the whole system together

Active speakers into a streaming pre is a good direction in my view, less boxes and cable management and whilst some want the flexibility to change power amps I didn’t.

Lots of food for thought on this thread for the OP and empathy to not being able to demo at home given the investment so I guess it will be a bit of a gamble.

Sadly you can read reviews and get opinions but nothing substitutes a good listen and ideally in home environment ergo it’s hard to advise but I think it’s good counsel to only consider the Sopra’s if you have a plan to go further with your electronics.

Best of luck

Hi @sonwleo - thank you for your detailed response, appreciate it. I recollect a YouTuber (Thomas & Stereo) also mentioning that the Kanta 2 bass was faster but not as powerful as the Sopra 2.

Anyway, for now I have decided against buying the Sopra 2s primarily because of not being able to audition them. I still have the same problem with the active SCM 40s though as they are not available for demo at the dealer. I am contemplating waiting till I can audition them when I can travel to a country that has a dealer that stocks them. This will still however not be ideal as it will be in a dealer location and with different source components etc. I don’t know how realistic it is to be able to actually demo components in one’s house before deciding to buy, does this actually happen frequently even in the UK/US? I guess if there is an existing relationship with the dealer having bought many products from them in the past then it is easy but this just doesn’t happen where I live.

You are right about my audition with the passive ATC SCM40s too - the source used was a pair of Gold Note mono blocks (PA-10, $1,999 each). But the placement itself in the showroom was abysmal which is another reason I was so impressed by how good they sounded. Of course if I was buying the passive SCM 40s I could take my Atom+Nap 250 to the dealer and test them (can likely get a further discount on the demo speakers as well) but which would still leave the question of how they sound in MY room unanswered!

I have had great success buying used in the past - my Uniti Atom, NAP 250 and speakers as well were all bought used (after audition at the sellers place though) and I got them from less than 50% off their retail prices. That is another reason I am always on the lookout for good deals as that gives me the opportunity to get gear that I could not imagine buying at retail prices. The Sopra 2s are a good example - they retail at $20,000 now and I can get them at ~$9,000.

Right now I have an option to possibly get very good prices on some Naim gear from a couple of sellers looking to upgrade - an NDX2, NAC 252 with supercar DR, NAC 282, NAP 300DR with PSU. So I am contemplating whether I should buy just the the NDX2 now, or the NDX2 and either the 282 or the 252 (this will require some serious negotiating though!) for use with the Active SCM 40s which I will then be able to buy only a year or so later. Or do I just wait on everything and try and audition the NSC 222 and buy that (most likely will have to be new though even a year later perhaps) as a one box solution for the active 40s.

Thanks again for the reply!

@BigAl - thanks so much for your response. I hear you - it needs to actually BE a bargain for me! The one aspect I’m not looking forward to is buying the ATCs new as opposed to waiting for a used pair in good condition but I have never come across a single pair of ATC actives (40s, 50s) for sale where I live so that is not a viable option unfortunately. I’m happy to hear more positive feedback about the active 40s, they really seem to be popular with their owners (especially here on the Naim forum!).

Thanks again for the advice :+1:

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@Farthings-cat - thanks for the inputs, glad to know you’re happy with the active 40s. I have read some reports that the bass on the ATC actives is a bit less powerful and can benefit from subs, has that been your experience as well? I do have a pair of JL Audio subs so hoping they can combine well with the active 40s.

@ChrisSU - thanks for your advice on the NDX. Do you think ATC 40 actives are speakers good enough to clearly articulate the benefits of significantly better source components. For example would it actually be worth stretching my budget to a NAC 252 over a 282? And whether the difference in the sound quality between a NDX2+282 vs a NSC 222 will be very evident with these speakers specifically or will require better speakers (SCM50s/100s etc. with their improved drivers for example). At some level shouldn’t the speakers also need to be of much higher caliber to bring out improvements in the source?

My room is tricky construction wise and I need that extra bit of bottom end help. I could have lived without a sub but it has brought the whole system together nicely.

I suspect the bass you get will be room and speaker positioning dependant but there are quite a few ATC users that have added a sub so well worth experimenting if you have one - integration is king of course!

My main amp is in for a service so I’ve dragged the little Atom from the backroom to drive my sopra 2’s (listening to it now). I forgot how good it sounds! I’ve lost a little of the soundstage, bass and projection (as I should, the other Amps are 300watt mono blocks). However, if I hadn’t heard my system for a while I’d be more than happy! I’ve also used Atom > 200DR, 282 > 300DR, 552 > 300DR to drive them in the past and they all sounded wonderful.

If I wasn’t a sound crazed idiot - I’d sell everything and go back to this as it’s very good for the money (and in its own right). However as we all know, little increases are what we all chase to achieve a very expensive excellent.

Can’t comment on the ATC. Also note the Sopra need a decent sized room to sound best - they put out a lot of energy! The best way is audition, they’ll sound different in every environment .

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There is always the question as to whether, if interested in the Supras, it is worth the OP taking a trip to the foreign land to hear, even taking his/her Atom if the seller doesn’t have. Depending on the cost of the speakers, and their value to the OP, the cost of a weekend away - which could be made into a pleasant short (or even long!) holiday - might be a small price to pay. Back in 2016 a trip auditioning speakers cost me about £400.