August 2, 2009

PMC GB1i Speakers.

This is an old post of ours in the blog we previously contributed to.

The PMC GB1i standing proud.

The PMC GB1 speakers were one of the two shortlisted candidates[to fit in to my 10 x 12 x 9(W x L x H) feet room, which I think is common size to most Malaysian terrace type houses] when I last went speaker shopping in late 2007. Reason I didn't get it?

I put the Audio Physic Spark in my room and I didn't bother to look further. It somehow just sounded right in my room. But then in the back of my mind I had always wondered what if, I had got the PMC GB1 instead? So when James of AV Designs demoed the new "improved" PMC GB1i during last year's KLIAV Show, I was impressed by it's dinky size, but the sound projected was way..... bigger and surprisingly hall filling!I asked to try it out in my room and James agreed.

The new tweeter with deflective plate and 5 inch mid driver.

The main differences between the i series and the older PMC series is the new tweeter, sourced from SEAS and built to PMC's specs. The 5 inch mid range driver is an in house refinement of the earlier design. The back baffle of the speakers are now veneered matched to the other 5 sides as opposed to the previously black painted finish. It definitely looks a lot more classy then the older GB1 model. The last difference is probably the additional plinth, which now houses 4 adjustable spikes on the outer perimeter wider off the speaker's body, to give the 3 feet high floor stander better stability.

I placed the PMC GB1is in the usual place where most speakers sounded good in my room, which is 36 inches from the back wall and 16 inches from the side walls, about 6 ft apart from each other, and 5.8 ft from my listening couch. I tried various degrees of toe in as per advised by the manual, but liked the sound best with speakers just firing straight ahead in to the room, without toe in. I eventually settled the speakers closer to the back wall to about 34 inches away for better bass response without compromising much of the stage depth perception. The sound review is formed at this position without it's protective grilles attached.

The generic quality bi-wire able binding post. Note the bottom curved plinth with spikes attached.

The new tweeters are certainly airier and much smoother comparing to the earlier GB1 series that I heard. The highs integration to the mids are much more seamless now. The mids have that magical robust body to it(not unlike the LS3/5A BBC style monitors), as any self respecting British speaker should. The ATL(Advance Transmission Line) tuned bass goes very deep(spec to 25hz), much deeper than available with my Audio Physic Spark(spec 33hz). The bass, like the mids have a very robust and tune full quality to it. The PMC GB1i, just like my Audio Physic fits my room size to the T, as they both have 5 inch drivers that didn't excite the room modes. The sound stage projected is huge with very defined depth perception. Vocal imaging centered within the sound stage is solidly anchored with realistic rendering of voice, chest and body.

Comparing to the Audio Physic Spark which is more "ying", the PMC GB1i sound is rather on the "yang" side of the tonal palette. The PMC is warmer sounding compared to the Audio Physic's strict neutral tonality. In classical recordings, where my resident speakers gave strings with only a hint of woodenness to the portrayal of violins, the GB1i gave the same strings with more of the wooden body in comparison. If the AP Spark sounds a little on the hifi..ish side, the GB1i sounds more like live music. Both speakers will paint a very different perspective of the sonic picture of the same musical scene, if you know what I mean. The PMC has lower sensitivity rating at 87db, which if compared to the AP Spark, rated at 90db will sound louder at the same volume setting.

I like this warranty seal! Tops the "feel good" factor as you unpack the PMCs from it's transportation box!

Ultimately, my Pass Aleph 0 which are also of warmish nature in tonality, is not the best partner to the PMC GB1i, which I suspect is just too much of a good thing. The Pass Aleph, with only 20db gain, sounds O.K., but it was the 29db gain Bryston 3B SST2 turned out to be the most synergistic partner to the PMC. With better drive and control to the bass. The overall sonic transient, dynamics goes louder and harder too. The Bryston's lighter tonality does balances the PMC's darker presentation better. Heck! even my DIY quassi class A rated LM3886 power amp tonally suited the PMC better, though with less resolution. I have a strange suspicion the PMC will rock hard with Naim or Creek amplification too.

However, with speakers at this RM10k price point, there will be areas of design compromise in the process of scaling down from the bigger and more expensive higher end models. On the PMC GB1i, I can only point out 2 areas which are compromised, other than the usual scaling down of bandwidth, dynamic range and transparency, compared to the bigger models like the FB1i or even the EB1i. First, whilst the ATL tuned bass is even handed and gutsy most of the time, some bass instrument like the one in track 6 of Tsai Chin's Lou Ge CD just manages to catch the bass lines off guard by lingering around just a little too long. It doesn't happen very often, but it does happens in say 1 song out of every 12 CDs or so. The other area of critic is the highs. High hats must have attack, sustain and then decay in to air, to sound realistic. In the area of attack, or lack of is where the PMC could have done better. The attack factor is there alright, but the PMC just seems a little more subdued in that department. However, having pointed out it's 2 minor faults, I must say I only heard them when it was partnered with my Pass Aleph. When powered by the Bryston 3B SST2, I did not managed to catch PMC off guard, even if it's only for a brief 2 hour session. Hence it could very well be an issue of partnering equipment synergy.

With the Audio Physic Spark now phased out in favour of the newer Sitara, which I am told by Adrian of Audio Image that it ain't coming to Malaysia, means that the PMC GB1i is still one of "THE" must audition speakers to any one with RM10K budget and shopping for speakers to suit their 10 x 12 ft room more or less! The other contender is probably another PMC, it's the re-issued LB1 Signature in Tiger Wood finishing, which I am told by those whom heard, it sounds fantastic!

PMC Speakers are sold by AV Designs, tel: 03-21712828


nasarudin said...


Good to know about this PMC GB1i speaker. Thinking of upgrading from my old Epos M12.2 to a floorstander speaker. It has the same sensivity 87db. In mind I have ProAc & PMC which both not having rear bass port. In UK forum some ppl prefer PMC than ProAc. May your experience and knowledge & some input which is the best, of course a demo should be done. Thanks.

Big E said...


Both ProAc and PMC are good Bitish speaker designs. There's no such thing best in any thing hifi, in the absolute sense. Just which is best(or batter suited) in your system's context and preference.

You did not provide me with further clues, such as room size, music preferences, or partnering amplifier. So I cannot adequately "advise" you with incomplete info.

However, based on experience with both brands, ProAc seems to be the more imeadiately charming one, sounding with a bit of of mid range bloom which makes vocal music, especially female voices, that bit more attractive.

PMC is more studio accurate, but with the right front end partnering equipment, it may ultimately proved less coloured and more enduring long term listen. The ATL bass is quite addictive too, if one likes it. BTW, the GB1i, is a classic model. You should also consider the very latest, soon to be launched Twenty series which is a way more capable range.

In the end, it all boils down to personal choice and preferences.

nasarudin said...

Hi Big E,

Thanks for the comments. Yeah, forgot to mentioned that I am having Naim XS seperates 152/155 + FCap XS. Havent got a good source yet except CA DacMagic which I am going to upgrade soon.

Most of my collection are classic rock/jazz e.g. Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Bad Company, Al di Meola, Lee Ritenour etc. Though all kind of music are also in my collection including classical, R&B, Pop.

Currently I placed them in my living room as it is bigger than my home theater 11' X 11' room.

The reason to replace my Epos is because of its booming factor in a small room. Thinking of moving all my equipment to the room instead. Currently my living room collects more dust & of course with regular cleaning required compared to a proper listening room.

Big E said...


I actually find it fascinating that the Epos 12.2 can boom in your 11 x 11ft room. Having said that, the absolutely square room will tend to have a peak room mode any where within the 40-80Hz region.

In your case, I think small floor standers with 5 inch drivers are about as big a speaker as your room may allow without too much trouble. However, in the end whatever speaker yuou choose, you'll still need to attend to your room mode after putting in the speakers.

Your other option is to get a pair of small book shelfs and then use sub woofer to augment the bass. That way you can leave a gap in between the speaker's bass roll off and where the sub starts to take over. That's why attending to your room mode peak frequency is important, either way.

ProAcs do go very well with Naim amps, though I've not heard of PMC/Naim combo yet.

Happy up grades.

nasarudin said...

Thanks Big E. Btw, the new PMC Twenty series looks pretty cool thou.