For this special, we’re focusing on the massive range of studio monitors – the heart and soul of any studio set-up – glancing our eyes over everything from entry level creative reference monitors through to high-end solutions for mixing and mastering professionals.
Key Features: Industry royalty ATC (Acoustic Transducer Company) have been producing loudspeakers for almost 50 years, with a reputation for excellence in the space that is borderline unparalleled. That isn’t an exaggeration either. The legendary British company are often referred to as the manufacturers of the finest audio systems in the world.
Handmade in the town of Stroud in Gloucestershire, the SCM-25A is a three-way active monitor, and the most compact (and affordable) of ATC’s SCM line. Unlike some its larger counterparts, the SCM-25A is also equally adept at both near-field and mid-field monitoring in equal measure, making it a somewhat more flexible and mobile prospect than some of it’s larger brethren.
With a true frequency reproduction between 47Hz-22kHz, and a unique low-resonance port for bass frequencies, the SCM-25A is suitable for all but the most bass-intensive tasks providing exceptionally true and unbiased monitoring across a broad range of studio applications. ATC even provides a “port bung” to seal the bung hole bass port where necessary (if you were installing the loudspeaker into a recessed wall mount for instance).
Mixdown Says: Sonically speaking, the SCM-25A’s (and ATC monitors in general) are in a league of their own when it comes to critical recording and mix applications, serving as one of the most justified investments in all of audio-instantly levelling up the quality of your productions in an obvious and immediate way. The clarity is breathtaking, and like so many speakers of this calibre, expertly tread the line between professional audio and professional audiophile. You’ll find yourself wanting to stay back and listen to your favourite records, just to experience them as they were meant to sound. It’s a beautiful thing.
With crossover frequencies at 380hz and 3.5 kHz, the mid-range speaker’s range is a little smaller than most three-way systems. Whatever the impetus behind this decision may be, it seems to have worked, as it is in these critical midrange frequencies where the SCM-25A proves to be such a valuable studio tool. The level of detail is really something else, these monitors are so detailed that you may find yourself rethinking you standard routine whilst using them-things like reverb times, dry/wet ratios and compressor release times will jump out in new (and often humbling) ways, resulting in tangible improvements to overall mix quality.
ATC monitors typically have a very wide horizontal dispersion, and the SCM-25A, with a reported 80 degrees, is no exception. The benefits of this are an incredible stereo image and inflated listening sweet spot; you won’t start hearing things differently after lunch because your chair moved slightly. The consistency and quality of the sweet spot is something to behold. The downside is that your room may need some additional acoustic treatment to do them proper justice (many pro users will go as far as to design their listening environments based around ATC monitors in order to reap the benefits of everything they have to offer). Simply put, you need to treat your SCM-25A’s with respect if you want them to do the same to you.
The SCM-25A also features a bass-boost option, offering 3db of gain at 40hz. You probably won’t need to use this unless you need to plug the bass port and are significantly affected by the resultant drop in bass, but some spaces and listening scenarios may benefit from this feature. But for my money, I’d leave it disengaged. When you are dealing with increments this fine, you’re typically best off leaving it to the mastering engineer with specialist tools for the job and let’s be honest, you are probably already bringing them a mix that is far closer to finished than what they are used to, so maybe let them do their job (unless you’ve gone crazy on the levels, but again, that’s on you.)
Overall: In many ways, perhaps the most liberating aspect of having monitors of this calibre is having the total reassurance that your mix will translate, regardless of system or listening context. Legendary studios around the world like Abbey Road Studios and East West don’t just swear by ATC loudspeakers to fit in. They are worth their weight in gold. The list of hit records is numerous, the accolades thick and heavy, but in an age of endless scepticism and audio snake oil, it’s nice to know that some things are just genuinely….profoundly…good. It’s safe to say that the SCM-25As are just that.
Find out more about the SCM-25A monitors via AVP Imports.