Tuesday, October 11, 2011

PMC - Pure Musical Charm

Just seconds after pressing 'play' on the CD player, I knew my pair of ATC SCM40 floorstanders had been outclassed by the PMC PB1i speakers.

The differences were quite startling - immediately the soundstage was bigger vertically and the images were hovering higher than I was used to. The images were also better defined in a deeper soundstage.

While the ATC's soundstage was just as wide, it easily lost out in terms of height and depth.

And the bass? Like most - if not all - PMC speakers, the bass went much lower.


The PMC PB1i uses a tweeter developed by PMC and SEAS.


When I reviewed the PMC OB1i speakers (see http://hi-fi-avenue.blogspot.com/2010/09/british-sound-with-unbritish-bass.html) I thought my speakers could match them except for the OB1i’s lower bass. But the PB1i was in a different league - it outclassed the ATCs in almost all aspects.

Perhaps the ATC SCM40’s  midrange was a tad smoother since it uses a so-called studio version of the famed SM150S dome mid while the PMC PB1i uses a Vifa dome mid.

But overall, the PB1i was way ahead of the SCM40 and it is  closer to the SCM50 in performance. But bear in mind that the SCM50 is about  three times the price of the SCM40 and perhaps RM10k more expensive than the PMC PB1i, which lists at RM44,300.
In fact, it would be fairer to compare the ATC SCM50 with the PMC IB2i, which uses PMC’s own dome mid.


The PMC PB1i speakers were taller than the ATC SCM40s and they had one more speaker unit in each box - twin 6 ½-inch (170mm) woofers are used in the PB1i. These woofers ensure that the bass goes down to a rated 24Hz with the help of PMC’s proprietary Advanced Transmission Line.


The twin woofers.
The PMC PB1i speaker is taller than the ATC SCM40.

There were times when I thought the bass was a bit loose and uncontrolled, but when I played songs with lots of bass like White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army from its Elephant album, the bass was tight, deep and full of impact.

I think it’s all about the quality of the bass recorded on the CD. It just reveals the studio monitor pedigree of the PMCs - they will just play what’s on the CD. If the song is well recorded, it will sound good; if it’s not, well, it will sound bad. If the bass recorded on the CD sounds loose, the PMC will reproduce the bass as loose.

Since the PMC PB1i are such honest and revealing speakers, you will need to partner them with good components and play well-recorded material.

PMCs have always been a good match with Bryston amps - even their active speakers use Brystons amps - and my Bryston 4B SST drove them well.

During the listening sessions, I changed the cables from MIT to Kimber and the PMCs could reveal the differences between the brands. The PB1i sounded good with either - the MIT Shotgun biwire  revealed more etched-out images while the Kimber 12TC sounded fuller.

The magic about the PMCs is that whenever I press ‘play’ a sizeable, stable and ‘solid’ soundstage is projected. I can think of only one way to describe it - it’s like a slide projector. Press a button and an image is projected on the screen. While a slide projector is about vision, the PMCs - of course - are about sound.

While the PMC PB1i speakers are tall, they are slim enough not to be too intrusive in the home environment.


You can triwire the PMC speakers.

The PB1i speakers are fourth from the top (the EB1i has been discontinued) of the PMC range and are among the best at its price level.

Would I buy them? Frankly, no. Why? Because I want more. The PB1i floorstanders are good, but I want something even better than that. The PMC IB2i standmount monitors seem to be waving ‘hello’ in my direction, but - sigh- I have to ignore that urge to embrace them till I find the moolah.

PMC speakers are available at AV Designs, Unit M-W-1, Mezzanine Floor,West Wing, Rohas Perkasa, No.9, Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Tel: +603-2171 2828 E-mail: sales@avdesigns.com.my



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