ATC SCM19 vs Dynaudio Special 40

I’m looking for a high quality mid-sized bookshelf for a smallish room 3.2m x 7m. Speakers on short wall.

Initially I was looking at the Dynaudio S40 but after some investigation on the internet it appears that the SCM19 may have a more truthful sound and an all-round more balanced speaker.

An airy extended treble and good tone especially with pianos (since I listen to a lot of piano these days) are some of the traits I’m looking for, apart from having the ability to play everything with aplomb. I’m leaning toward the ATC in satin white but am afraid that they might sound to lean and bright since I’m so used to the sound of the Harbeth (going into the 12th year of ownership now). Nevertheless I’m really looking to gain more airiness in the treble and a slightly brighter tone with piano, but not an overly lean or bright sound. The Super HL5 Plus sounds great but I think it is slightly too big for the room.

FWIW I tried the Dali Mentor Menuet in the main system and it sounded rather good. However it’s limited in the bass department, lacks a bit refinement compared to Harbeth and sounds slightly lit(not exactly a neutral sound although fun).

I’m thinking if I should just get the SCM19 and call it a day. I would still keep the Harbeth though perhaps move it to another room. I could listen at the dealers but am seeking some thoughts from folks who have owned or currently own the ATC or Dynaudio.

Anyone here feels that the SCM19 or S40 are your final speakers that will stay till the end(in your system) ?

At the end of 2018 I had six weeks’ worth of home auditions with various speakers (Neat, PMC, Dyns and ATC). I tried both the ATC SCM 11 and 19s and the Special 40s on the end of my LP12/Oppo 205/Nac72/Hi-Cap/NAP250 system and I found the ATCs good but a bit boring and a tad flabby. The S40s, on the other hand, were love at first hear - fast, fun and detailed with huge boogie factor. They require careful placement, but the bass on the S40s is amazing for their size and, at £2,500 a pair I think they are incredible value.

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Thanks for the response. May I ask the size of the room, and is the S40 on the short or long wall. I’ve read that the S40 may show bass issues in smaller rooms as it pumps out a lot of bass energy.

Does piano sound great on the S40, in comparison to Scm19.

You may have difficulty getting your hands on S40’s though as they’ve been discontinued

Buying speakers by reading reviews is like buying wine by the label… fwiw I have special 40’s and I didn’t listen to anything in comparison! Only other speakers I’d consider are the ProAc D2R… I like speakers that make music!

@ryder What happened to your Harbeths? I thought you were a dyed in the wool Harbether?

I owned special 40’s, and they are a great all around speaker that do every genre quite well. I did move on though, if that means anything, but I like trying out new speakers quite often, until I find the one.It might be of interest to you that a guy on the AVS Dynaudio forum just posted that he is currently in Munich at a dealer, and he told him Dyn is upgrading the special 40’s and the entire Contour line soon. Apparently they are making changes after what they learned with the new Confidence line. By the way, I am going to a Harbeth dealer this weekend, and I hope to hear the 30.2, compact 7, super HLS5…pretty excited.

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@Ryder
ATC’s founder and design guru Billy Woodman is a jazz pianist and ATC have always put faithful reproduction of piano as one of their main design goals. Indeed, Woodman has talked about the problems (particularly rapid dynamic swings) challenging loudspeaker designers and inherent in reproducing piano sound. The last words I would use to describe their speakers are “flabby and boring” but I guess that just shows how different we all are in our tastes in SQ. Nor to my ears are they lean and bright, particularly the latest version with the new in-house tweeter. But they won’t sugar coat a poor recording or hide a less-than-top quality source. I think a home audition would be essential as I suspect they will sound very different from your Hebrooks and I would make that trial long enough for your ears to become accustomed to their sound. You might find you’re unable to return them.

You ask about “final speakers”. I can only say that my 40As are far and away the finest speakers I have ever had and I cannot see myself replacing them, at least for now!

Roger

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I’m listening to piano pieces on my ATC SCM19s as I type. I think they are briliant for piano. “Flabby and boring” is not something I would have associated with them I must admit. Can be a bit bright on demanding orchestral/choral music but that I think is more a function of my room. I did try the S40s but, for the sort of music I listen to, I prefer the ATC.

I do toy with trying other speakers occasionally.

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Have you thought about Russell K red 100
Fast and clean sounding with a not overpowering bass

They are also available in white !

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Having been an ATC customer for over twenty years of various standmounts… I can say the sound of any overhang or flabbiness is almost certainly down to poor stand matching or positioning, as would be the same with any undue leanness.
The domestic models are all infinite baffle, and so a tight bass, but the cost of a tight bass is lesser bass extension for size of cabinet and/or reduced sensitivity compared to reflex designs.
The newer rounded cabinet ATCs are smoother in the high end and upper mids due to the in-house tweeter design that replaced I believe a SEAS tweeter.
However as said above speakers are very personal things… I love them, and FWIW those friends of mine in the professional music recording business seem to appreciate them as well because of their natural low colouration performance, including comments on the low colouration/accurate bass and lower mid (using a 552/250) … but you do need quality amplification for them not sound dull or uninspired (due to their low colouration) … and a long audition… you might just start to re discover your recordings again.

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I’ve owned the Atc scm 11 mk2 for over 3 years I hate boomy flabby bass so can’t understand the above post they are also very smooth in the treble. I now own buchardt s400 speakers which are fantastic bookshelves speakers well worth consideration.

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I’ve got the Atc scm11’s and absolutely love them. They are great in my room 4.7 x 3.7 on the long wall.
I came from PMC which I still really enjoy but for me the ATC’s are better. Home audition is a must.
Same views as above not flabby and boring but totally show the music as is.

I also tried the Russell k 100’s that were mentioned by Japtimscarlet and these came a very close second to the ATC’s.

That is very intriguing — almost makes me keen on hearing them at home. In this casa, we love piano concertos…

I owned ATC 19s v2 for over 15 months and really enjoyed them. Partnered with good electronics they really shine. They have very smooth treble, with fantastic mid and tight bass. However, they do lack lower bass extension and are very unforgiving of poor/average recordings. I found I was being too selective and listening to music where they shine so I’ve since moved on.

I’m switching my system to a bigger room in the coming months so I may be tempted going active with ATC 40A (or stick with my SL2s)

@ryder The room is about 25 feet long and 14 feet wide, with the Special 40s against the shorter wall, 60cm out and about 6 feet apart.

They sound great with piano – I listen to a lot of jazz. Got to admit that I don’t listen to much solo (classical?) piano, so I may not be the best person to ask!

The ATCs I listened to were a lot better than the PMCs, which had a really annoying “graininess” to them and which struggled to play rock. The ATCs had lots of qualities, transparency, detail, neutrality, balance, but they made Led Zeppelin and Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” (among other things) sound boring. This is thrilling music. They didn’t have much energy - too" analytical", not “passionate” enough for me. They lacked energy and sizzle, sounding flabby and tired, like a shagged-out athlete. It was as if they lacked the ability to throw the sound out into the room. Just not very exciting to my ears.

No such problems with the Dyns, which I fell in love with straight away. I had Heybrook HB1s for 35 years and for me the S40s reminded me of those speakers, but much, much better, especially with vinyl on the fruit box and SACD on the Oppo.

Have you considered Harbeth 30.1? Smaller than Super HL5 Plus and have a very nicely balanced neutral/natural sound. 30.1 has top of the range Seas Excel tweeter.

You need to consider placement given the relatively short 3.2m distance. S40 are recommended to have at least 50cm behind them, they are rear ported.

I found SCM19 to be superb speakers but in comparison to 30.1 they did sound a little lean. The top end is surprisingly similar to 30.1. If you like piano then you’ll love 30.1. I consider 30.1 to have the best mid range of any speaker I’ve heard, and that includes the mighty SCM40 (surprisingly close but 30.1 just edged it).

I never got on with SuperHL5 plus.

Never tried S40 due to rear port. I thought they were all sold out now?

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Let us know how you get on.

I couldn’t agree more.

Wow. I love that album on my system… full of visceral energy and drive…such as tracks like Disorder and Shadowplay… curious why so different… I use a 552DR into 250.2 into my 19s. I like how you can hear everything clearly in the mix, with Hook’s bass driving the rhythm.

I do agree with you with the grain on some of the PMCs I tried… I just couldn’t live with it… and often brought a sharp unnatural sibilance to choral music, and compressed close miced vocals.