You can get the SCM7 in a number of finishes either painted or veneered in what once adorned a tree, which given the British manufacture makes it a remarkable achievement for the price, even before you listen. I can think of a couple of other British brands with products near this price but only one (Rega) that builds its own drivers. The SCM7 is a very different beast by the nature of its infinite baffle construction, this means that the bass roll off starts a little higher, but rolls of more slowly than a more conventional bass reflex design but also that it’s more even at those frequencies, it’s the only way that ATC builds a two-way loudspeaker because it feels that the reflex approach is compromised. The price you pay is low sensitivity, 84dB, which means you need more power to achieve a given output. I started out using the SCM7 with a Rega Elex-R integrated because it’s about the right price point and the result while a little on the lean side (it was never going to be easy following my reference B&W 802s) was attractively spacious and did have some bass when it was required. I enjoyed Esperanza Spalding’s ‘Ebony and Ivy’ [Emily’s D+Evolution, Concord] and the fact that the intensity of drumming on it came through so well. They are low in the mix so not always as clear as they need to be, ditto the finale where spoken words are layered over the band to the extent that it can be difficult to follow them, here however was a degree of separation and transparency that made this a lot easier. I also tried the Espen Eriksen Trio’s latest release End of Summer [Rune Grammofon] where the piano came through bright and strong, placed in a well defined space that gives it a grounded solidity. I also put on a bit of Dr John’s ‘The Night Tripper’ [Gris Gris, Speakers Corner] and was distracted by the quality of voice reproduction whilst noting that while the timing wasn’t obvious my foot wouldn’t stay still.
However, this result while musically very compelling did feel as though something was missing and that more power was probably required if I was to get an idea of the full range of this speaker’s capability. There may be an amplifier at a close price point that can do this but I haven’t come across it yet, what’s more there are only so many amplifiers one can hoard as a reviewer and the best option I had to hand is a Leema Tucana II which had a more than capable 150W of grunt on board. That changed things quite obviously, mainly by bringing out the bass and delivering the volume levels at which the SCM7 starts jumping, albeit not literally. Mac Rebenack’s vocal continued to shine on what is a pretty grungy recording that nonetheless has a magic which comes to a head on ‘I Walk on Guilded Splinters’, a track which these speakers managed to do justice to thanks to their ability to deliver detail in a terrifically coherent manner. It made it clear why Humble Pie covered it so well, as latterly did Paul Weller.
By way of contrast I tried Fiona Boyes’ latest album Blues in my Heart [Reference Recordings]. which is a remarkable recording as ever from this label, here it was the guitar playing that really shone leaving the dusky voice a little in its shadow. The tight but fulsome bass playing was also excellent, reinforcing the rhythm and adding scale and depth to the image. Aphex Twin’s Syro [Rephlex] contains dense percussive electronics that can all too easily sound messy and incoherent, with the ATC’s remarkable ability to deliver attack without smear it really came together and proved difficult to turn off. The sound popped out of the speakers in a compelling fashion, always capturing the rhythmic complexity of the music, forming something greater than its parts.