Bristol Show: Says one visitor – “It will come as no surprise then, that for me, PMC stole the entire show — I kept returning to that room”

Mark EJ (pfm member) writes: PMC: Since first hearing an early pair of LB1s with a 52/135s fed by a Roksan CD player (shutting down the 135s every 15 mins) at a Heathrow show in the early 90s, I've been conscious that PMC succeed (to my ears) in quite a lot of what they attempt, and also that quite a lot of what they attempt is stuff which is important to me. There have been occasions when what they attempt isn't what I'd want them to attempt -- but they've been rare. Their really big speakers probably work fine in intended, optimised context, but I've never heard them working well at a show. The recent smaller ones though (currently, mostly twenty.xx) are astonishingly good -- no sign of boom, grate or compression -- and immediately sound sufficiently 'right' to discourage analysis. For that reason, one relaxes with them -- and clearly this helps.

It will come as no surprise then, that for me, PMC stole the entire show -- I kept returning to that room. One of the larger twenty.xx series was playing initially, and on subsequent visits, they played both the smallest twenty.21 with a new subwoofer thing, and also, separately, the fact.12. The sub was only the third subwoofer I've ever heard that doesn't cause more problems than it solves, and only the second that adds bass in such a fashion that it's enjoyable -- a most amazing thing.

But the fact.12 seems to me to be in a different league to just about anything. It appears to do all the good things of which a well-driven pair of DBLs (at similar 'final' cost) is capable (which is admittedly hard to believe until you hear them, as they couldn't look more different), but they are massively less dependant on volume in order to achieve this. Somehow, they manage the extraordinary trick of playing at relatively low volumes without the whole structure of the music collapsing (the DBLs I've heard start to sound like a telephone under these conditions), and there's absolutely no smearing, or any hint of electronics making their presence felt. This was surprising for me as naturally PMC were using all Bryston electronics, and I've two friends who've had Bryston preamps in the past -- up to now, I've always thought they had a slightly clangy quality, albeit with good timing and a solidity which most amps lack. But there was no trace of any vices in anything that PMC presented -- perhaps Bryston stuff has itself improved -- perhaps even a lot.

Some of it could well be accidental. The qualities that I admired most in that room were mostly not mentioned in any of the spoken introductions every time they connected anything different. There was a lot of guff about 'imaging' and 'airiness', and why the the transmission line principle makes PMC so brilliant, but this is basically irrelevant -- IMF and TDL tried it in the past and failed miserably by comparison, so clearly it's the implementation that matters, not the principle. It seems to me that PMC have just achieved something remarkable with this product. I didn't even find myself questioning the source and electronics (all digital, controlled with the ubiquitous iPad, big Brystons) because it was really only of passing interest -- the whole thing just so obviously worked, and in such a seamless manner, that it was a revelation. Shame they're so phuqqing expensive, but there is undeniable value there.

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EDITORIAL NOTE: The opinions expressed in the above post do not necessarily reflect those of our editorial team – just in case you wondered. Neil McCauley


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