I tried a number of amplifiers with the SCM 19s readily revealing the pros and cons of each; therefore the better the amplifier the better the overall sound. Power is of course useful, as previously mentioned, but you don’t need mountains of the stuff. Russ Andrews PA-1 is a compact fifty-Watter but it delivered a taut and timely result with plenty of energy. The best results however came with Gamut’s D200 Mk3, which produced a more three-dimensional and substantial soundstage than the smaller amps whilst also enhancing detail retrieval and timing. This is not a ‘fast’ loudspeaker but give it some spirited music and it will deliver a very tidy result that is precise yet fluent.
It also has wide dynamic range thanks to the power handling capabilities of the main driver, which means that when a loud transient comes along you are left in no doubt about it. The phrase “good power handling” can be misleading. It doesn’t merely mean you can play long and loud, it also means that there is no compression of dynamic peaks. So music with wide dynamic range is revealed in all its glory from the quietest to the loudest notes.
This quality however, can be a problem. If music is heavily compressed you will hear that compression for what it is and the only way to make such recordings entertaining is to turn them up, which will challenge partnering amplifiers and bring out any problems in the room. It also makes differences between recordings more apparent than ever, something that’s useful in the studio but not so welcome at home.
But that brings us back to one of my earlier points, you can’t blame the speaker for telling you too much. You have to look at the real culprit and that will be the guy who mastered the disc. So if you’d rather listen to Steve Lamacq than Verity Sharp this may not be the speaker for you. On the other hand, if the output of Late Junction and other programmes on Radio 3 is your thing then you will find a lot to appreciate in these self effacing speakers. While I don’t listen to a lot of classical music myself I do appreciate a bit of dynamic range and space alongside the all-important bone-crunching bass, and I can’t help but enjoy the results I get with this speaker. The sheer girth they afford EST’s Tuesday Wonderland when the double bass and piano get into a groove is a delight that few speakers which I could just about afford can deliver. If it’s the sound of music you are after, forget Julie Andrews and check these out.