On Sunday November 1st 2020 we tested (Live on Youtube) three beautiful studio monitors. Speakers primarily for the studio. But in fact also very suitable for the living room. We are talking about the Dutch & Dutch 8C – 12,500 euros – ATC SCM100A SL classic – 22,950 – and the Grimm LS1be – 36,000 including subwoofers. So we build up in price in this triple test. The complete test was done in the Artone Studio’s in Haarlem. And also made possible by More Music who lent us a dCS Rossini with clock to supply a clean signal these speakers. Mark Otten also ‘borrowed’ his ears during this morning. Let the music start!
It is important that we explain how this test was set-up. First of all, we searched for a space that is suitable. The ‘live-room’ at Artone studios is large enough and acoustically adaptable. It can sound very ‘live’, but also relatively relaxed. We used two panels behind the speakers and two more along the sides. This way we kept the bass under control and made the room acoustically sound a bit smaller. This is important, because all in all it’s a large space that we have to fill with sound waves.
The couch is about three meters from the speakers. The microphones are about 1.5 meters to the speaker. We use the dCS Rossini with clock as a source. The dCS receives signal from a Roon Rock NUC with both Qobuz high-res and flac-files that come in via a ssd. The dCS sends out an analog signal to all three speakers. We use a set of balanced Grimm SQM cable to get the signal to the speakers. Furthermore, all mains cables are connected in phase but kept standard.
For the purists: the stained glass behind the speakers is made of VERY thick acoustic glass with air behind it, then stained glass and behind it a led panel. In short: no normal glass, but very special acoustic glass which does not resonate. Our measurements in the room have confirmed this.
Dutch & Dutch 8C
First we set up the Dutch & Dutch 8C. The 8C is a total solution. The network connectivity makes it possible to stream directly. In short: even a source is – soon after the ROON update – no longer needed! That makes the 8C an excellent proposition for those who want to be ready in one go. It also offers room correction and another set of analog inputs, AES/EBU digital in and a subwoofer output. That makes it very versatile.
The construction of this speaker is special. It is a cardioid system. With one tweeter and mid-range driver at the front and two woofers at the back. A DSP controls the woofers. This system makes it possible to get down to 30 Hz practically linear. Without distortion. Each speaker delivers 1000 watts of power: 500 watts for the bass, 250 for the mid and 250 for the tweeter. That should be enough for a lot of sound pressure.
Martijn Mensink from Dutch & Dutch has placed and arranged this speaker system himself. And that is clearly audible: what a clean picture we get from this duo! Very controlled, tight and easy to follow. Almost everyone agrees that this speaker is excellent at reproducing the layering of the music. Vocals get some decent space and even in the lower regions, everything remains clear from distortion. A very nice for a speaker in this price range. Because don’t forget: nothing more is needed. This speaker delivers everything from source to reproduction.
All in all, our impression is more than positive. This is really a very good loudspeaker system that lets through a very pure and uncolored reproduction of the music. Ow… and who is afraid of DSP… in our opinion it is not audible. Again an impressive achievement!
ATC SCM100A SL Classic
Classic fantastic… Helios (Haarlem) has given us the ATC SCM100A SL… A … large and heavy speaker (70kg!). Especially after the fairly compact Dutch & Dutch, this is suddenly quite an appearance. This three-way ATC is in all respects a powerhouse. 115dB sound pressure, 350 watts of power and a delicious 12-inch woofer that reaches 32 Hz at -6dB. That suddenly seems a bit lean compared to the Dutch & Dutch that reaches 30 Hz at 1 dB or the Grimm that reaches 20 Hz linear. But do not forget that the Dutch & Dutch has more – but smaller – woofers and more power. And that the Grimm LS1be has a separate subwoofer with an MFB system. More about that in the video.
What immediately strikes you at the ATC is the particularly clean and fine mid-area. Vocals sound very real. The famous ATC dome mid is not a ferry tale. It is really good. This ensures that vocal music or acoustic instruments in particular come across as very natural. It does not have the speed of the Dutch & Dutch 8C or the resolution of the Grimm LS1be. But it does have a natural flow. And that is something our mastering engineers and producers find very pleasant, it soon turns out. When we set up James blake we notice that the ATC can move a lot of air very easily. The Rode TF5 microphones are really at their max with this track and speaker.
The contrast between the modern Dutch creations and the British 70’s approach is large. Speed, purity, resolution and smoothness and generosity. What are you looking for in a speaker? Where are you going to use this tool for? Leveling? Mastering? Monitoring?
The king of reality. That’s all we can think of when we’re done with this session. The Grimm LS1be is a full-range system (provided the LS1s-dmf is connected to it) with a surgeon’s accuracy. Partly due to the beryllium tweeter (hence ‘be’). But the Grimm does this without becoming analytical or tiring. What better way to put it? A Formula 1 car with French comfort seats and air suspension? I don’t know… but you know what we mean.
Every element in the music falls into place. Each layer is easy to follow. Even subtle tonal differentiation is audible. Think of the story in the song Opéra. There, very subtle vibrations in the voice are directly audible. When we go back to the other speakers we hear it too, but with the Grimm it’s immediately noticeable… without effort. We think that’s the story of the LS1be … it’s a speaker that lets you hear everything effortlessly.
We do have to say one thing though; the Grimm LS1be has a price tag of 36,000 euros, which is simply significantly higher than the ATC and Dutch & Dutch. In fact, one set of LS1be can buy you three sets of D&D’s or almost two sets of ATC. Anyway, you do get a speaker in a completely different league. This is so precise and yet so incredibly musical… it’s intriguing.
We would like to thank Artone Studio very much for making the space available, the technical support and the extra pair of ears. Also Mark Otten: thank you so much for making your pair of ears available! Very interesting and valuable. And finally of course: More Music for delivering the beautiful dCS Rossini. Without all this help, this stream would not have been possible.
𝗗𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗺𝗲𝗿: For a completely fair comparison of loudspeakers, the playback level between speakers has to be matched. Otherwise, the slightly louder loudspeaker is likely to be perceived as better. In future live tests, we’ll make sure the levels are properly matched, but it’s not done perfectly in this one. The Dutch & Dutch played at a lower level than the others, the Grimm the loudest. These level differences have been fixed in post-production, but not in this video. Therefore, for the most accurate listening comparison, please listen to the files hosted in the Alpha Audio Sample Database, links below. – 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴!