June 28, 2012

Twentieth Musical Returns! PMC Twenty 22 Loud Speaker.

The PMC Twenty 22 speakers with matching stands in my room. It's a classic two way design with and Sonolex dome tweeter and 6.5 inch mid bass driver, both designed by PMC, supplied by SEAS. 

As far as the equipment review queue that my eye can see, it looks like an all British affair, starting with this review! It tells us something about the resillience of the Brit hifi manufacturers in these trying times. PMC is one of those thriving Brit hifi manufacturers, and they had celebrated their twentieth anniversary in style last year, with the high light being the Twenty series speaker launched to commemorate the occasion. I have been pretty impressed with the Twenty series during the launch demo, and particularly smitten by the vocal sweetness of the baby 21 model.

James Tan, of AV Designs decides to throw a curve ball at me, by insisting I play with the Twenty 22(the larger stand mount model) instead. Well, nothing like a little audio adventure in to the un-charted waters. I must say, right out of the box, the PMC Twenty 22 speakers looked gorgeous in piano gloss black finish. The paint job has the deep polished, wet look that most of us hot blooded males lust after from our black coloured automobiles. There's only a slight problemo, the black finishing is one mighty dust magnet, as one can see from the photos, which was taken barely 2 days after setting up in my room! The drivers of the Twenty series speakers are rather simplified units, of what looks like a variety of those used on the higher Fact range.
A closer look at the stands.

Attaching the floor coupling spikes.

Preparing the top plate for speaker mounting with a small lump of blue tack at each corner. Note that sandwiched Neoprene like material layer in between the top plates for resonance damping purposes.

Now it would seem like I am putting way too much attention to the speaker stands, but I believe the proper matching stand do optimize the sonic performance a stand mount speaker design. James also supplied me the original pair of PMC matching stands, designed specifically for the Twenty series speakers. When installed and attached to the speakers, the stands with slanting pillars matched the dynamic looks of the slanting baffle design on the PMC. The stands are worth a special mention because it was especially design with noeprene like damping materials on the top and bottom plate to absorb and prevent resonances from compromising the speaker's performance(of which other speaker stand designs may do).

Setting up the stands is pretty easy with the usual attachment of the floor spikes at the bottom plate, and then applying a small amount of blue tack on to each corner of the top plate, to securely fasten the speakers to the stands. I then proceeded to position the speakers in my room, starting at the same spot where my very own PMC Fact 8 used to sit on. Being a smaller speaker with higher bass response roll off point, the speaker sounded rather lean. I than push the speakers further back in to the front stage wall, to get a healthier bass response. At 39 inches from the stage wall, and 18 inches from side wall, measured from the outer rear speaker corner, I got the best compromise where a healthy bass response is accompanied by a still reasonably wide and deep sound stage. A slight toe in of 2 degrees or so was required to focus the vocal imaging.  PMC allows bi-wiring or bi-amping of the twenty series speakers, however I only used the conventional single run method(as can be seen in the picture below), which is what this sonic review is entirely based upon.
As with all PMC speakers, the Twenty 22 allows bi-amping or bi-wiring. I just use plain single run speaker cables.

Chie Ayado sings about the Good Life, like she's lived thru it. This is a very soulful album, with simple arrangement and great recording quality in 24/96 hi-rez FLAC file, available from the Chesky label.

Like all speakers of Brit origin, this one's mid range proud. There's something special about the mid range's vocal reproduction, regardless if it's male or female. You'll hear every lyric clearly dictioned, teased and sung, mouth, teeth, moist tongue and lips. Some of the mid range sweetness of the baby 21 is still found here on the 22, which is no bad thing, really.  I found the highs to be a tad more laid back, less exteneded and less busy sounding, if just as airy and open compared to my more expensive reference, the Fact 8. Being a stand mount, the bass doesn't extend quite as low(about 45hz or so, in room response, my ears tell me). However, what ever bass notes that were reproduced is clean, clear, articulate and tunefull, with no over hang or excessive warmness. What it loses in extention, it makes up with enough bass(air moving) volume. In short, this is a fairly neutral speaker, tonally speaking of course, capable of decent punch, when called upon to do so.

This is a fairly noise free(the ear on tweeter test!) and transparent sounding speaker, with low level details a plenty without really having to look hard for them. Playing simple vocal and piano tracks, like those from the Chie Ayado's Good Life album, in 24/96 hi-rez FLAC file, brought out the best properties of the 22 speakers. The piano is full, delicate sounding with acompanying grandness in scale(which even some larger speakers struggle to reproduce). Ms Ayado's raspy voice fully reproduced with precision and yet at the same time, flushes out the soul in her crooning. I just love to listen to this album over and over again on the PMC Twenty 22 speakers. By the way, these speaker not only do simple music, they do rock(Mark Knopfler's Shangri-La) and other more demanding musical genre's just as well.

Being stand mounts, these PMCs readily disappears from the music(sonically of course) and brings with it an intimate imaging, with well spread out, and layered sound staging behind. The Twenty 22 is the "Jack Of All Genre" which clearly walks the fine line between musicality and serious hifi performance capability. By the way, did I tell you that I am very much a sucker for any Anniversary models? Ha! Ha!
A top down look, will always reflect the gorgeous piano gloss black finish, which is unfortunatly, also a mighty dust magnet, as this picture clearly shows!

Compared to the more than twice as expensive Fact 8, the Twenty 22, only does two things slightly less well. It's not as transparent nor does it sound dyanmically as hard hitting. However, those are small sacrifices one makes for an easy to like and musical sounding speaker. In fact I bet once the music is playing, it's easy to immerse one's self in to the music, and pretty much forget about sweating the audiophile stuff. It's easy to set up and dial in it's positioning is a bonus too.

The PMC Twenty 22 retails for RM$10,100.00/pair and the matching stands cost RM$1,800.00/pair. I can't think of a better way to drop RM$12,000.00 or so for a pair of brand spanking new, stand mount speakers. Yeah! it's that good!

By the way, AV Designs will be demo-ing the full range of PMC Twenty series speakers in stereo and multi chanel HT mode, at the coming KLIAV Show 2012.

PMC speakers are sold by AV Designs, contact James or Tony at 03-21712828.


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詹姆士 said...
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