Review of ATC SCM150ASL Pro Studio Speakers
Specialist British loudspeaker drive unit and complete sound reproduction system manufacturer ATC is proud to announce that MPG Mastering Engineer of the Year Award-winner Matt Colton has installed a pair of SCM150ASL PRO three-way active loudspeakers for critical listening in his room at Alchemy Mastering in West London…
Thanks to an always-widening array of ear-bending analogue and digital technologies, the mastering process is far from simple. Mastering means bringing well-honed listening skills to the table and for Matt Colton — named Mastering Engineer of the Year at last year’s MPG Awards — mastering is where his heart has been for quite some time. Indeed, time well spent mastering his craft with several tenures across London — including Porky’s Mastering, Optimum Mastering, Alchemy Mastering, and AIR Studios — led to the sought-after, award-winning mastering engineer relaunching Alchemy Mastering with original owners Barry Grint and Phil Kinrade at a new Hammersmith facility where he has succeeded in becoming a master of his own destiny with his own well-stocked mastering room to boot. Here he continues to build on his growing reputation, mastering for the likes of Coldplay, James Blake, Gary Numan, and Metronomy. Like his career, Colton’s mastering CV is a long and accomplished affair.
For Colton, though, there’s more to mastering than simply having access to the latest and greatest ear-bending analogue and digital technologies: “The thing about kit is that the things that are really important are the acoustics, speakers, amps, convertors, power supplies, and the wiring that connects them all together — anything that affects the sound in the room. You cannot get around that. So I would rather have a great-sounding room and a workstation with a couple of plug-ins than every piece of hardware ever made and a poor-sounding room, because — no matter how much you say you understand the room — we all react to what’s coming out of the speakers and make our judgements based on how it sounds in the room. If the room is too bassy then the recording is going to be bass light — even if we know the room is too bassy, so that’s fundamental.”
Fundamental to Colton’s current way of working is a pair of SCM150ASL PRO three-way active loudspeakers: “Having worked at AIR on a really lovely pair of hi-fi speakers, I felt I wanted to go back to studio monitoring and have something that maybe sounded a bit less polished in terms of the actual sound that’s coming out of the speaker. So I’m working on a pair of SCM150ASL PROs. I’d previously worked on a pair of SCM200s many years ago, which I loved, but I think the 150 is a great speaker.”
An unconventional demonstration convinced Colton that the SCM150ASL PRO patently met his critical listening criteria: “I did a lecture at Westminster University in Harrow to over 100 people in a really big lecture hall with a massive ceiling height of 50 feet or so. Ben Lilly of ATC brought along a pair of SCM150s and I played some James Blake records with really low sub-bass — down at around 35Hz, and they just sounded glorious. It was a wonderful experience to hear those records played in that room only on a pair of speakers. So, on that basis, I’ve got the 150s in my mastering room — sadly, not quite as big as that lecture hall!”
With well-honed listening skills par excellence, Colton is perfectly positioned to provide honest insight into the stunning- sounding SCM150ASL PRO in action at Alchemy Mastering: “They’re a direct and honest pair of speakers. If the mix sounds good, then it sounds good here; if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. There’s no flattery on the part of the speakers, though they can be wonderful to listen to when you get it right. I’m enjoying working on them. They encourage me to work in a way that I like, and I’m very happy to be supporting ATC — a British company that works hard to make good speakers.”
The SCM150ASL PRO three-way active loudspeakers carry a UK RRP of £11,132 GBP (excluding VAT) per pair, and are available worldwide from any authorised ATC stockist.