ATC MULTICHANNEL CONCEPT 7 by J. Gordon Holt | Oct 29, 2000
Founded in England in 1974 by Aussie Billy Woodman (who is still its prez and chief designer), Acoustic Transducer Company, best known by their initials, ATC, started out making custom loudspeaker drivers for recording studios. They made their first complete speaker system in 1978, introduced a compact consumer monitor in 1990, and in 1996 launched a proprietary “super-linear” magnet design to minimize the adverse effects of hysteresis (see sidebar, “Hysteresis”). Today, ATC is the best-known and most respected pro speaker company in Europe, where their clients include every major audio name.
Listening to Music
Considering how well the C7 handled real-world sounds like voices and effects, I was not surprised that it reproduced music with astonishing realism. I’m a symphonic-music nut, and with season tickets to one orchestra each summer and a contract to record all the winter concerts of another, I probably hear as much symphonic music as any reviewer. The ATC C7 came as close as any other system I’ve heard to reproducing the real sound of a real orchestra.
The C7 had tremendous resolution, even at prodigious volume levels. At 105dBC SPL, which is about as loud as I can stand, there was no congestion. I could listen right into the complex wash of sound and follow any instrument I wished. Above all, the sound was effortlessly clean, in a way I have never before heard except from the real thing. Bass detail was phenomenal: bass drum was a visceral thud without a trace of hangover; and bowed double-basses throbbed, their individual cycles so distinct I could almost count them.
Dynamic range was awesome! The system did not seem to compress crescendos at all, and that, plus its tremendously fast attacks, gave music a quality of vitality and excitement I rarely hear reproduced. The highs had that combination of smoothness, openness, and extraordinary attack speed that is unique to live acoustical music, and the system was truly awesome in its ability to reveal differences between recordings. Neither intrinsically warm nor cool, its sound reflected that of the recording as well if not better than any system I can recall having heard.
I have never before heard a system that does so many things so nearly perfectly. Despite my quibbles about the Concept 7’s reproduction of cellos and the biggest brass instruments, everything else sounded so amazingly like the real thing that the differences hardly mattered. The C7 answered once and for all the question of whether any one system can do equal justice to music and soundtracks, and the answer is a resounding Yes. In fact, the C7 transcended any considerations of personal preference for one “kind” of sound or another. It just was. To anyone who knows the sound of real music, everything about the C7 should sound simply and ineffably right. The system was so much better than anything else I’ve heard that it makes more sense to compare it with real sound than with other systems.
Is it really worth $93,000? Only, to my mind, if there’s nothing else available that sounds as good and costs less, and I’m not at all sure there is. I’m going to be auditioning more studio monitors in future—maybe I’ll find something I can recommend to people who can’t afford a $93,000 system no matter how good it is. Meanwhile, the Concept 7 is my nomination for best speaker system in the world. Recommended, of course.
– J. Gordon Holt | Oct 29, 2000 (Photo: Stereophile)