ATC active pro speakers?

audiophilejyrnman

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May 31, 2022
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Hello,

I have been looking at regular consumer ATC active speakers for my 2 channel system. My son has been recording music and we have built a very modest studio in the house. He was telling me about ATC pro active speakers that we will use when we mix. What am I giving up if anything by going with these over the regular consumer line? I would use them with my 2 ch and when needed we can use them for mixing. I am looking at the 50's the room is 14 x 24 x 8 feet. Maybe 100s?

Thanks
 

MTB Vince

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May 11, 2019
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I have a dual-duty 2.1 stereo & 5.1.4 music & cinema set up comprised of 5x stand mounted ATC SCM20ASL Pro Mk2, 4x ceiling mounted ATC SCM12i Pro, and 4x Seaton Submersive HP subwoofers set up in a distributed bass array. My dedicated room is similar in size at 20.5'x14'x11'. Even when I'm listening to stereo material so using only the L & R fronts and the subwoofer (with an 80Hz crossover via a JL Audio CR-1 subwoofer crossover), the sound is effortless even at very loud SPLs, the sub/sat crossover seemless, and the low frequencies bottomless. The ATCs are honest. Good or bad you hear what is on the recording. I will add though, that unlike many "audiophile loudspeaker designs", my ATCs do not make poor recording sound worse than they actually are. I'm certain that you would love SCM50 or SCM100 ASL Pros.

IMG_0809.JPG IMG_0844.JPG
 
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Brad Lunde

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Sep 18, 2020
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Hello,

I have been looking at regular consumer ATC active speakers for my 2 channel system. My son has been recording music and we have built a very modest studio in the house. He was telling me about ATC pro active speakers that we will use when we mix. What am I giving up if anything by going with these over the regular consumer line? I would use them with my 2 ch and when needed we can use them for mixing. I am looking at the 50's the room is 14 x 24 x 8 feet. Maybe 100s?

Thanks
There are a few parts/sonic/technical differences between ATC consumer and pro in the lower "entry" series. A SCM 19 sounds different from a pro 20. The SCM 7 and SCM 40 do not exist in pro. The 50 consumer and 50 pro use the same drivers and electronics but the cabinets are different. It is quite expensive to do the hand veneer that ATC does, inside and out. Also grilles; consumer is available in a tower, which sits up so you don't need a monitor stand, which is always a challenge for owners to find a stand that looks pretty but sounds good. The sonic penalty of some stands can be significant. All speakers sound different on different stands. We recommend Sound Anchors for sound which look rather industrial and dont pass most partner's visual scrutiny, while the veneered towers do look good and sound good. The pro finish is simple black paint on MDF and is prone to scratches and other bumps and bruises which don't matter to pro customers. There are no grilles in pro. The visual QC on pro is also different-nicks and small irregularities or marks are fine in pro and not fine in consumer.

I've had consumers buy pro and then be upset with some visual flaw that is 100% normal. I had one guy return three pairs of pro 20s to his [pro] dealer claiming they were defective finish when they were perfectly okay for pro. If you care about appearance, cosmetics, don't buy pro, you'll never be happy. Pro dealers do not offer the same type of customer service. Pros expect to diagnose and service their own speaker, not take them to a dealer. They can measure phase, take driver in and out, wire new connectors, swap amps, do whatever needs doing. In consumer, buyers expect the dealer to sort out ANY complaint or technical issue, usually taking the misbehaving speaker back to the dealer for diagnosis and repair. Sort of like furniture.

Brad
 
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Solypsa

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Jun 7, 2017
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...would use them with my 2 ch and when needed we can use them for mixing.
To clarify: will you be mixing with the same speakers, in the same position, in the same room as your pleasure listening'? Or moving them to the studio when need be?
 

MTB Vince

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May 11, 2019
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Dundas, ON Canada
To clarify: will you be mixing with the same speakers, in the same position, in the same room as your pleasure listening'? Or moving them to the studio when need be?
If he is planning on SCM50ASLs or SCM100ASLs they would have to be the same room for both. These things are WAY too heavy to be moved from room-to-room on a regular basis. Even my little SCM20ASL Pros come in at 60lbs ea and then another 40-50lbs for the mass loaded 4 post Skylan stands. Once you have the optimal spot dialed in, they stay put.
 

Hear Here

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Feb 14, 2020
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My experience with Active 50s is one of slight disappointment when used domestically.

Mine were bought in about 2000 after a long period hankering for a pair. These were the Vifa tweeter ones, as Seas followed and now their own ATC tweeter.

I found them far too much "in yer face" and I wanted to push them 20 further away for comfortable listening in my 350 sq ft, 10 ft ceiling room. I concluded that speakers designed for the studio where the engineer is looking for fault in the original recorded material so he can improve matters for you and I to enjoy on vinyl, CD, etc is best not used domestically where sheer enjoyment of whatever is available (after the engineering stage of course) is what we are looking for. I sold my ATCs and moved elsewhere for much greater listening excitement.

With the big ATC speakers, as far as I'm aware, the differences between the professional and domestic versions is cosmetics The 50 for example is a stand-mount in Pro version in a tough black finish. The Domestic version is nicely veneered so less protected from rough handling. The tower 50 is again the same speaker but the side panels are extended downwards for create a floor-stander. Much better looking but still 50 litres of speaker enclosure volume. Effectively all versions should sound the same I believe.

Perhaps the ATC range would be OK as a compromise for both your needs, but they are lumps to move around and I'd earnestly suggest you insist on a home trial before buying, particularly in your "domestic" listening room. The same advice for all costly speakers, but perhaps more so for speakers "not primarily designed" for the domestic purpose you have in mind.
 

MTB Vince

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May 11, 2019
180
204
113
58
Dundas, ON Canada
My experience with Active 50s is one of slight disappointment when used domestically.

Mine were bought in about 2000 after a long period hankering for a pair. These were the Vifa tweeter ones, as Seas followed and now their own ATC tweeter.

I found them far too much "in yer face" and I wanted to push them 20 further away for comfortable listening in my 350 sq ft, 10 ft ceiling room. I concluded that speakers designed for the studio where the engineer is looking for fault in the original recorded material so he can improve matters for you and I to enjoy on vinyl, CD, etc is best not used domestically where sheer enjoyment of whatever is available (after the engineering stage of course) is what we are looking for. I sold my ATCs and moved elsewhere for much greater listening excitement.

With the big ATC speakers, as far as I'm aware, the differences between the professional and domestic versions is cosmetics The 50 for example is a stand-mount in Pro version in a tough black finish. The Domestic version is nicely veneered so less protected from rough handling. The tower 50 is again the same speaker but the side panels are extended downwards for create a floor-stander. Much better looking but still 50 litres of speaker enclosure volume. Effectively all versions should sound the same I believe.

Perhaps the ATC range would be OK as a compromise for both your needs, but they are lumps to move around and I'd earnestly suggest you insist on a home trial before buying, particularly in your "domestic" listening room. The same advice for all costly speakers, but perhaps more so for speakers "not primarily designed" for the domestic purpose you have in mind.
As @Brad Lunde has previously noted in another ATC thread you contributed to, your 2+ decade old experience with the sound quality of a pair of 50's that would be several generations out of date now isn't terribly relevant to the SCM50ASL sold today. The in-house tweeter found in the current version was a game changer.
 
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Hear Here

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As @Brad Lunde has previously noted in another ATC thread you contributed to, your 2+ decade old experience with the sound quality of a pair of 50's that would be several generations out of date now isn't terribly relevant to the SCM50ASL sold today. The in-house tweeter found in the current version was a game changer.
I partly accept what you say although my old Active 50s had the same mid and bass drivers, so my opinion of it's "I wanted to push it 20 ft further away" may well be applicable as this feeling is unlikely to be down to the tweeter.

My main point though, you've chosen not to address - the fact that a studio monitor speaker is designed with a rather different objective than a domestic speaker. One is designed (to paraphrase a description from a pro-music magazine article) as to highlight everything that's wrong with the original recorded sound, whereas a domestic speaker should be designed to make the most of the recording it is presented with - after the engineer has done his corrective work. If the studio engineer has a flattering speaker, his job would be made far more difficult and we (as listeners to his mastered recording) may be disappointed that the recording is poorly engineered!

I hope you get my point, even if you don't quite agree with it! Peter
 

Solypsa

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...designed with a rather different objective than a domestic speaker. One is designed (to paraphrase a description from a pro-music magazine article) as to highlight everything that's wrong with the original recorded sound, whereas a domestic speaker should be designed to make the most of the recording it is presented with
It can be observed that one of the main ways designers achieve this difference is the frequency response from upper midrange through HF; flat for pro and gently tapering down for home. Of course this is not a universal approach but it is common...
 

Brad Lunde

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Sep 18, 2020
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I reject the idea that a good performing monitor is different from a home speaker. I work in both markets and visit the top studios in the US as well as the top hi fi shows.

If it is designed primarily to sell, focuses on esthetics instead of sound, this could be true. There are sev eral brands that focus on this aspect of loudspeaker building. If its designed to sound correct, represent exactly what its fed, there will be no difference. If a speaker is built for lowest distortion, this is how you acheive a great studio monitor and a realistic home presentation. I want to hear Tom Petty in my home the way he does in his studio.

40s use the same mid and woofer as our most popular nearfield studio speaker.
50s pro and consumer use exactly the same drivers/parts, but pro is in the cheapest finish possible while hi fi is veneered by hand (inside and out), has grilles, coems with a stand in classic form or as as floor stander in tower form.

Brad
 
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Hear Here

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50s pro and consumer use exactly the same drivers/parts, but pro is in the cheapest finish possible while hi fi is veneered by hand (inside and out), has grilles, coems with a stand in classic form or as as floor stander in tower form.
I beg to differ on the suggestion that the studio monitor designer and the domestic loudspeaker designer have identical briefs when it comes to sound presentation. However the facts you state above are true and, for me, this explains why I quickly sold my 50 Actives. I found them far too much in-yer-face and wanted to push them 20 feet further away. After less than a year of ownership, I changed to a very different speaker, the Avantgarde Uno horn system that had recently been awarded Stereophile's Speaker of the Year. It wasn't that award, but the detailed description by Robert Deutsch of the type of sound they presented that got me excited. He described exactly what I was missing from the ATCs - a sense of excitement when listening to music that was lacking on the ATCs. I want excitement from my music, whereas I doubt the engineer who is starting with the raw studio recording and tasked with getting it to sound its best will want to be excited by mediocre recordings! He want to hear warts and all and he’ll try to get rid of the warts. Since that 2002 Uno purchase, I’ve upgraded to 2006-vintage Duos 3 or 4 years ago and to new Duo XDs more recently. I have thought of moving elsewhere, but big Quads, Martin Logans and Quadrals (all tested at home over prolonged periods) have not matched the AGs for delivering the "goosebump factor" that I like from listening to music.
 

Brad Lunde

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Its great that you have found a solution for yourself that satisfies your needs. Many never find that. Well done!

I am also glad you understand ATC's desire for low distortion (a code word for realistic presentation), a piano that sounds exactly like a piano, an orchestra that sounds like an orchestra, etc.

Like I said a hi fi speaker designer that wants to design something that "sells" well will likely not follow the ATC low distortion formula. This is okay! There is nothing wrong with people wanting something that pleases them. The problem lies when someone wants a system that is realistic and then plays a lot of poorly recorded music and doesnt realize it; people tend to assume the quality is mostly on the playback side when its often on the recording side. Especially over time, as the 60s and 70s was not a source of great sound (but many great records and songs).
Attach files
=35010&hash=3d07385fd2aa4f79d85cc61bbba48c55']


The confusion here is when "well recorded albums" are discussed, I read people recommending records they like the music of, not that sound good. Led Zeppelin for example; great music, sounds horrible on good system. If that's your test record, you will tend to choose massively EQ'd systems (it needs more bass and more top end both) . If Hiromi's last number of records (by 5/4 productions) were played as a system test record, you'd likely want a system that wasn't heavily EQ'd, because EQ changes that amazing piano sound into something less amazing.

Brad
 
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Hear Here

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Like I said a hi fi speaker designer that wants to design something that "sells" well will likely not follow the ATC low distortion formula.
Thanks Brad for your thoughts, many of which I sort of agree with! Certainly on my Avantgarde-based system, bad recording offer a far lower goosebump factor than good recordings, but even poor ones don't shout out what a poor job the engineer or orchestra has made of it!

Perhaps tolerance of a little “distortion” (I don’t think that’s an appropriate description of what I’m liking about Avaltgardes though) is just as acceptable in a fine domestic speaker as it invariable is in a good valve amp. With SETs there’s a degree of “distortion” that (in most users’ minds) adds to their listening enjoyment. I'm quite happy if my speakers' huge goosebump factor is down to a little “distortion”. I'm not an audiophile obsessed with measurements. If I was, I'd probably have kept the dreary-sounding but exceptionally good measuring Benchmark AHB2 amp and perhaps the ATC speakers (although they were active), though I’d never be as excited listening to music at home as I am with live music! With the Avantgardes I pretty much am. Peter

PS – Just read your profile and see you are a fully-fledged ATC user, but this may be related to your being an ATC dealer, so I appreciate your defence of the brand. If you were not 5000 miles away I’d love you to visit to listen to my simple audio system, “distortion” and all and I would fully expect to convince you that good “domestic” speakers in the home are more rewarding than good pro studio speakers in the home!
 

Brad Lunde

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Sep 18, 2020
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Thanks Brad for your thoughts, many of which I sort of agree with! Certainly on my Avantgarde-based system, bad recording offer a far lower goosebump factor than good recordings, but even poor ones don't shout out what a poor job the engineer or orchestra has made of it!

Perhaps tolerance of a little “distortion” (I don’t think that’s an appropriate description of what I’m liking about Avaltgardes though) is just as acceptable in a fine domestic speaker as it invariable is in a good valve amp. With SETs there’s a degree of “distortion” that (in most users’ minds) adds to their listening enjoyment. I'm quite happy if my speakers' huge goosebump factor is down to a little “distortion”. I'm not an audiophile obsessed with measurements. If I was, I'd probably have kept the dreary-sounding but exceptionally good measuring Benchmark AHB2 amp and perhaps the ATC speakers (although they were active), though I’d never be as excited listening to music at home as I am with live music! With the Avantgardes I pretty much am. Peter

PS – Just read your profile and see you are a fully-fledged ATC user, but this may be related to your being an ATC dealer, so I appreciate your defence of the brand. If you were not 5000 miles away I’d love you to visit to listen to my simple audio system, “distortion” and all and I would fully expect to convince you that good “domestic” speakers in the home are more rewarding than good pro studio speakers in the home!
HI Hear Here
Well spoken! I'm actually the ATC importer to the USA, been so for 20+ years, so I deal with all the studios, the dealers in pro and hi fi, major end users, and anyone who calls Lone Mountain Audio asking questions. I've been in the business for a long time, starting in 1975 in a hifi store in Milwaukee Wisconsin where we sold Tympani, Audio Research, Dahlquist, SAE, Yamaha and many other high end brands. I later became a rep for NAD, Dahlquist, and many more. Then I went into to manufacturing as JBL's national in charge of cinema during the THX era of the early 90s, when so many multiplexes were built. I was at one of the first showings of Jurassic Park, where the theater HAD to have a 5.1 [JBL] surround system and DTS player. I heard a lot of systems, made a lot of embarrassing mistakes,, learned a lot (and still do). So I appreciate anyone with passion for their system!
Brad
 

Mcsnare

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In my experience as a life long audio engineer, ATCs have about the flattest freq response of any speaker I’ve heard or used. And as Brad stated, distortion is ridiculously low. In fact when I’ve used ATCs, I’ve had to be careful not to monitor too loudly because the speaker has no even minute distortion induced character that would tell you it’s cranking.
I do feel however the main difference between an ATC and comparable home speakers lies in the frequency response. In music production, one needs to hear as few holes and bumps in the midrange as possible. An elevated midrange is preferable to dips as evidenced by the popularity of Yamaha NS-10s. A ruler flat or elevated area between 500 and say 4k is not very flattering to many recordings. Some audiophiles want total truth, others like myself want the upper mid to be slightly relaxed. To each their own.
 

Hear Here

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Feb 14, 2020
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In my experience as a life long audio engineer, ATCs have about the flattest freq response of any speaker I’ve heard or used
There's no denying that. You, as an audio engineer, need this feature

A ruler flat or elevated area between 500 and say 4k is not very flattering to many recordings. Some audiophiles want total truth, others like myself want the upper mid to be slightly relaxed.
I think that's the point I was trying to make. A little non-linearity is not good in studio monitors, but may well be a positive advantage in the domestic environment. Certainly after my disappointing switch from KEF Reference 107s in around 2000 to ATC Active 50s, I quickly realised that the ATCs were not for me. It was the Stereophile review of the Avantgarde Uno (and its subsequent Best Speaker of the Year award) that prompted me to take this speaker seriously. I'd seen them at hi-fi shows and always considered them as probably built more for looks that sound quality.

After over 20 years, I'm now on my third pair of AGs and still very happy with them. They offer the biggest impression of a live performance than any other speaker I've heard. Peter
 

c1ferrari

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May 15, 2010
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I have a dual-duty 2.1 stereo & 5.1.4 music & cinema set up comprised of 5x stand mounted ATC SCM20ASL Pro Mk2, 4x ceiling mounted ATC SCM12i Pro, and 4x Seaton Submersive HP subwoofers set up in a distributed bass array. My dedicated room is similar in size at 20.5'x14'x11'. Even when I'm listening to stereo material so using only the L & R fronts and the subwoofer (with an 80Hz crossover via a JL Audio CR-1 subwoofer crossover), the sound is effortless even at very loud SPLs, the sub/sat crossover seemless, and the low frequencies bottomless. The ATCs are honest. Good or bad you hear what is on the recording. I will add though, that unlike many "audiophile loudspeaker designs", my ATCs do not make poor recording sound worse than they actually are. I'm certain that you would love SCM50 or SCM100 ASL Pros.

View attachment 93973 View attachment 93974
Where's your R2R? ;)
 

c1ferrari

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May 15, 2010
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There are a few parts/sonic/technical differences between ATC consumer and pro in the lower "entry" series. A SCM 19 sounds different from a pro 20. The SCM 7 and SCM 40 do not exist in pro. The 50 consumer and 50 pro use the same drivers and electronics but the cabinets are different. It is quite expensive to do the hand veneer that ATC does, inside and out. Also grilles; consumer is available in a tower, which sits up so you don't need a monitor stand, which is always a challenge for owners to find a stand that looks pretty but sounds good. The sonic penalty of some stands can be significant. All speakers sound different on different stands. We recommend Sound Anchors for sound which look rather industrial and dont pass most partner's visual scrutiny, while the veneered towers do look good and sound good. The pro finish is simple black paint on MDF and is prone to scratches and other bumps and bruises which don't matter to pro customers. There are no grilles in pro. The visual QC on pro is also different-nicks and small irregularities or marks are fine in pro and not fine in consumer.

I've had consumers buy pro and then be upset with some visual flaw that is 100% normal. I had one guy return three pairs of pro 20s to his [pro] dealer claiming they were defective finish when they were perfectly okay for pro. If you care about appearance, cosmetics, don't buy pro, you'll never be happy. Pro dealers do not offer the same type of customer service. Pros expect to diagnose and service their own speaker, not take them to a dealer. They can measure phase, take driver in and out, wire new connectors, swap amps, do whatever needs doing. In consumer, buyers expect the dealer to sort out ANY complaint or technical issue, usually taking the misbehaving speaker back to the dealer for diagnosis and repair. Sort of like furniture.

Brad
Thanks, Brad. Appreciate the clarification regarding Pro v HiFi wrt ATC.
 

c1ferrari

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
May 15, 2010
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I beg to differ on the suggestion that the studio monitor designer and the domestic loudspeaker designer have identical briefs when it comes to sound presentation. However the facts you state above are true and, for me, this explains why I quickly sold my 50 Actives. I found them far too much in-yer-face and wanted to push them 20 feet further away. After less than a year of ownership, I changed to a very different speaker, the Avantgarde Uno horn system that had recently been awarded Stereophile's Speaker of the Year. It wasn't that award, but the detailed description by Robert Deutsch of the type of sound they presented that got me excited. He described exactly what I was missing from the ATCs - a sense of excitement when listening to music that was lacking on the ATCs. I want excitement from my music, whereas I doubt the engineer who is starting with the raw studio recording and tasked with getting it to sound its best will want to be excited by mediocre recordings! He want to hear warts and all and he’ll try to get rid of the warts. Since that 2002 Uno purchase, I’ve upgraded to 2006-vintage Duos 3 or 4 years ago and to new Duo XDs more recently. I have thought of moving elsewhere, but big Quads, Martin Logans and Quadrals (all tested at home over prolonged periods) have not matched the AGs for delivering the "goosebump factor" that I like from listening to music.
Horns are certainly more efficient than cones. Perhaps, that is an element of the "goosebump factor"?
 

c1ferrari

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
May 15, 2010
2,136
35
485
Its great that you have found a solution for yourself that satisfies your needs. Many never find that. Well done!

I am also glad you understand ATC's desire for low distortion (a code word for realistic presentation), a piano that sounds exactly like a piano, an orchestra that sounds like an orchestra, etc.

Like I said a hi fi speaker designer that wants to design something that "sells" well will likely not follow the ATC low distortion formula. This is okay! There is nothing wrong with people wanting something that pleases them. The problem lies when someone wants a system that is realistic and then plays a lot of poorly recorded music and doesnt realize it; people tend to assume the quality is mostly on the playback side when its often on the recording side. Especially over time, as the 60s and 70s was not a source of great sound (but many great records and songs).
Attach files
=35010&hash=3d07385fd2aa4f79d85cc61bbba48c55']=35010&hash=3d07385fd2aa4f79d85cc61bbba48c55']


The confusion here is when "well recorded albums" are discussed, I read people recommending records they like the music of, not that sound good. Led Zeppelin for example; great music, sounds horrible on good system. If that's your test record, you will tend to choose massively EQ'd systems (it needs more bass and more top end both) . If Hiromi's last number of records (by 5/4 productions) were played as a system test record, you'd likely want a system that wasn't heavily EQ'd, because EQ changes that amazing piano sound into something less amazing.

Brad
What albums are recommended that are considered "well-recorded?" Any which remain AAA (analog tracked/mixed/mastered) and are available in vinyl or preferably, reel-to-reel? Thanks!
 

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