ATC SCM 40 Active still the speakers to go for?

Last year I had this plan to move up to the ATC SCM50 ASL (Active). However, it’s now a year later and a few problems have arisen with this plan: Cost… I just don’t have the money that I planned to have (house prices are rising faster than I can save the money); Looks… best will in the world and you can’t, IMO, say the 50ASL are a pretty speaker and doesn’t really suite a 2-3 hundred year old cottage; Listening room size… 12 months ago I was expecting our next house to have a massive living (listening) room, looks like that’s not going to happen now.

So I’m back thinking of the Active 40’s. I had the passive 40’s before and they were excellent. Everything I hear says the active version is even better. However it’s a couple of years later so I was wondering, at this price point (c. 8K) is the SCM 40a still the speaker to go for if you want to go the active route?

Cheers… just an idle conversation at the moment.

The active SCM40’s appear to be well controlled, neutral speakers, you probably can’t go wrong with them. The only thing lacking perhaps is a full bass extension, they don’t go as deep as some other speakers. If you don’t fancy deep bass that shouldn’t be a problem, or you could eventually add an active subwoofer to the setup as well.

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Another active option you might find interesting is the Dutch & Dutch 8c, it’s a more modern implementation but it received some really good reviews the last few years.

They go down to 30hz so they are full range (the SCM40 stops at 48hz).


This is without having heard any of the ATC speakers, but loving the midrange drive unit used in the SCM40 upwards (currently it is my mid driver, actively driven): My one concern re the SCM40 is low bass - everything I’ve read about it suggests I’d be likely to like it otherwise, though of course hearing is the only way to know. For bass, however, it would probably have to be at least the 100, preferably 150 - and active they are very expensive as well as being big (and not pretty), though cost of course has to be balanced against no longer needing a power amp. If I was speaker searching now, and for a relatively small room, I’d be interested in hearing the 40 …with a sub. ATC do a sub, though I’d love to hear the Wilson Benesch Torus.

I’d want to compare with PMC Fact 12.


Dutch & Dutch are often cited when you talk of active speakers but they have a dearth of dealers :frowning:

“Are active ATC SCM 40 still the speakers to go for?” Of course this is an unanswerable question. “Are the ATCs the speakers I would go for with £8k to spend on power amp and speakers?” Undoubtedly yes. They are, by some margin, the most enjoyable and musically satisfying speakers I have had in several decades of hifi ownership. But tastes differ. I seek accurate, neutral reproduction of the source giving a realistic representation of the musicians playing in front of me, including the acoustic space. That, to me, gives the most musical satisfaction. Others look for different things and might make a different choice.

Downsides? None for me, but they do like a bit of volume to sound most realistic. But I’ve never had speakers for which this wasn’t true. Also they are very revealing of sources. They demand a high quality front end and if the recording is poor, they won’t hide it.

Regarding bass, I think specs can be misleading. In my modestly sized room (just under 4x6m) I don’t find the bass lacking at all. Indeed, the bass is much fuller and more realistic than my previous (PMC) speakers which according to spec go lower. On recordings of full organ or with deep electronic bass, I can feel it physically as well as hear it acoustically.

These are end game speakers for me and my one-box system gives me more musical pleasure than any I have had over many, many years. Not cheap by most standards, I think it’s a real bargain in the enjoyment per pound I get from it.



As a passive ATC SCM40 owner, if I were contemplating ‘going active’ I would certainly include the current round of DSP active speakers such as the Dutch & Dutch or Buchardt as they are a good deal more sophisticated than the ATC ‘analogue’ actives.

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It looks like, well certainly for the D&D speakers, that there needs to be a site visit by the dealer to measure and create a filter to upload to the speakers - have I got that right?

If that’s the case then should you really need to wait until said room is finished (furnishings/floor/&c.) otherwise the characteristics will change as you alter the acoustic element of the room?

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I currently use passive 40s. They are a marvel to listen to. And was thinking about upgrading at some point. When upgrading to active what is the proper equipment / connection? Can I keep my SN3 (and use it as a preamp / to control the volume) and then somehow connect the speakers that require XLR connection? Or should I replace it with a pure preamp? Is there a document or thread that describes the connection? Thanks

Not sure if you can just use the pre-amp stage of the SN3. If not then you need a pre-amp. However what is your source? If a DAC then maybe you can drive direct from that? In my case I’m going to drive direct from my Bartok (DAC) though I might use a passive pre-amp in the path.

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NDX2, happy with it and plan to keep it as a source. But I also have a CD player and love to use physical volume control so preamp would be a convenient thing to have :slight_smile:

Are you looking at ATC specs or have you heard them against a comparable speaker and find them bass light?

I can tell you that compared to my previous speakers, ovator s400, they are stupendous at producing bass. They are sealed so the specs which ATC publish are honest but the roll off is slow, in my room they extend well below 30hz and my ears give up well before they do.


Not sure on the SN3 connectivity but if it has a preamp output, either din or phono then you’re good. You’ll need appropriate cables which ATC can supply if you tell them what you need. The speakers have an xlr input.

I use a 272 with mine

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PeakMan brilliant overview I have scm40 passive I agree with your detailed review. I have no problems with bass they are extremely revealing ( which I like very much)
Bass is well controlled not over powering if it’s there in the recording it’s there. Amazing clarity stage depth the speakers just disappear. Never ever had that they are beautifully made massive drive units weigh a ton but wow :grinning::cowboy_hat_face:


Hi Steve , after 3 1/2 years they are still the speakers for me and like Roger I find them a long way from being Bass light . I think tech specs are a good guide but not the be all and end all . Different manufacturers can also measure things differently .

As mentioned ATC Active’s don’t use any DSP but that is the opposite of what they are about , they want to recreate the recording as accurately as possible . I think DSP will become better and more widespread but feel it can be added further up the chain once the tech progresses . Ultimately Active 40’s sound wonderful and I never get the itch to change which is a very good sign .

I listened to Dutch and Dutch 8C on 3 occasions and was very interested . They do sound very good indeed but I wasn’t overkeen on their connectivity or their looks as they have a large footprint . I also felt that there was also a lot going on inside with multiple DAC’s / DSP etc so ongoing support and back up might become a worry because they aren’t cheap either . I do think they are very good speakers though and it’ll be interesting to see how that company evolves .

FYI there is a dealer in North London who has a pair on demo . He’s very friendly, accommodating and quite eccentric to boot so the journey might be worth it . He also has Kii 3 still I think which weren’t my cup of tea . I decided to go with one box into Active ATC and couldn’t be happier .


Yes, you can just use the SN3 as a preamp. You’d need to get a correctly wired DIN to XLR lead but your dealer should be able to supply this. The ATC inputs are balanced so you might want to use a converter for long leads, but my dealer demo’d the ATCs with a 272 with just the one cable per channel and it worked fine. Ultimately, though, as the power amp in the SN would be redundant you might want to look for a 202 or, better, a 282 to replace it. The speakers would certainly reveal the upgrade.


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I own scm40 passive they are far from bass light as opinionated with other poster. Same as you mine deliver true bass not over emphasize bass using a port they are very revealing a joy to listen to and own :cowboy_hat_face::grinning:

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I have only heard the ATC 40A in my dealers demo room and they were excellent and they certainly did not lack bass. On the same night he had a pair of the ATC SMC 50 ASL in the room and they were very special.

I would not hesitate if a I had the money to host either the 40A or 50A’s at home.

Good luck with your decision…


Having lived with the passive 40’s with ATC power amps (bi) for 18 months I can’t say I ever really thought them weedy in the bass dept. Perhaps is the type of music you play or room acoustics? The D&D reviews sound amazing but the issues with finding a dealer and the required site visits will probably preclude them from the list.

It seems that only @litemotiv has found them bass light.

I wonder if there were other factors in play when he heard them, room etc.?

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