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ATC SCM40A Loudspeakers: Editor’s Choice 2023

The $11,000 ATC SCM40A Loudspeakers deliver world class clarity, timbre, detail, and dynamic capabilities that will alter the way you listen.

ATC SCM40A Active Loudspeakers in Satin Black, Satin White, Cherry, Black Ash Finishes

My review of the ATC SCM50 ASL is forthcoming and there are few loudspeakers that deliver its dynamic capabilities or clarity below $30,000; it was arguably the best loudspeaker I listened to in 2023 regardless of price.

Its rather steep asking price puts it out of reach for 99.9% of the planet (and that includes myself), which forces one to look at the more “affordable” ATC SCM40A that William Jennings reviewed earlier this year.

The ATC SCM40A floor standing active loudspeakers are not inexpensive at $10,999 USD pair — but after spending a few months with them and comparing them to almost everything comparable in his own system, we are more than willing to suggest that they represent rather incredible value if you are looking to create a system in the $15,000 to $25,000 range. 

ATC SCM Series Active vs. Passive Loudspeakers in black and white
ATC’s “Entry Series” SCM loudspeakers are available in active and passive versions. Left to right: SCM19A, SCM40A (front & back), SCM19, SCM11, SCM7

The SCM40A exist in ATC’s entry series line that also includes the SCM19A 2-way active speaker and 5 passive loudspeaker models that include both the SCM40 and SCM19.

ATC’s flagship Tower range starts around $25,000 and climbs to almost $100,000; which makes the SCM40A a rather intriguing option in comparison.

ATC builds their loudspeakers with longevity in mind and shipped the review pair in two large and extremely heavy road cases that were 100 pounds apiece.

ATC SCM40A Active Floorstanding Loudspeaker Front, Back and Side Views in Cherry Finish
ATC SCM40A Active Floorstanding Loudspeaker Front, Back and Side Views in Cherry Finish

The SCM40A use ATC’s 25mm (1-inch) tweeter along with a 75mm (3-inch) soft dome midrange and a 164mm (6.5-inch) woofer. If you ever get the opportunity to see and hold these drivers, it becomes rather apparent that a lot of the speaker weight is connected to the physical construction of the drivers.

The SCM40A reaches down to around 48Hz in the bass range and 22kHz in the treble and one thing that became apparent is that bass depth isn’t lacking despite the sealed cabinet.

These are wonderfully detailed as expected but there is nothing sterile about the sound at all. The tonal balance actually leans in the opposite direction and while the departure from neutrality is only a small one — the more liquid, organic tone and timbre was utterly captivating.

I have been a huge proponent of the Spendor “Classic” Series for almost two decades but listening to the ATC SCM50 ASL changed all of it. I must echo William’s high praise and concede that ATC’s current loudspeakers are thoroughly more impressive.

Spendor’s loudspeakers have climbed rather substantially in price over the past decade and there has been a rather deliberate change to the tonal balance and presentation that I find rather unlistenable.

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The big difference between those loudspeakers and the SCM40A is the detail retrieval and the ability of the ATC to really deliver the explosive dynamics of some music.

Both active ATC models are more engaging at lower listening levels and deliver world-class clarity without sacrificing the texture and timbre of the music they are designed to reproduce.

It’s very hard to call the ATC SCM40A an entry-level loudspeaker at $11,000 a pair. 

Most people will look at that designation and wonder if their marketing department have a cruel sense of humor. 

ATC SCM40A Active Floorstanding Loudspeakers in Satin Black, Black Ash, Satin White and Cherry Finishes

The reality is that you would have to spend a lot more on separates and a high-end pair of loudspeakers to achieve what ATC has accomplished with the SCM40A at that price point. The SCM40A prove that active loudspeakers can outperform comparable passive designs and by a very wide margin. 

ATC have thought through every aspect of the SCM40A’s performance and engineered drivers, amplifiers, and high-end crossovers that create a vivid, detailed, and high resolution presentation that will only improve as you upgrade your source components. 

If your budget reaches as high as $25,000 for a complete system, the ATC SCM40A are world-class active loudspeakers that are worth every cent.

Where to buy: $10,999/pair at Music Direct

For more information:

Continue reading more Editor’s Choice Awards for 2023.



  1. Harold Rosenson

    December 31, 2023 at 11:10 am

    ATC n PMC GREAT proffessional
    Hand made speaker manufactures

  2. Ron

    December 31, 2023 at 11:11 pm

    I’ve owned so many speaker models in my 72 years, but ATC is in a special class. I’ve owned three ATC speaker models, 35 (passive), 20 (active), & finally my current speaker, ATC SCM 100A Classic. The 100s are far & away the best speakers I’ve ever heard, regardless of price. I won’t be looking to trade these in, even if I live to be 100!

    • Ian White

      December 31, 2023 at 11:43 pm


      The ATC SCM50ASL are insane. One of the best speakers I’ve ever heard. Review coming early in January.


      Ian White

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