Price: 2583 GBP (2100 GBP netto)
PMC Limited | 43-45 Crawley Green Road
Luton | LU2 0AA | United Kingdom
tel.: +44 (0) 1582 405694 | fax: +44 (0) 870 4441045
Country of origin: United Kingdom
Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Photographs: PMC, Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski
PMC is a brand of the British company Professional Monitor Company Ltd.. This company manufactures speakers for recording studios and – although initially this was only a marginal activity – home loudspeakers. Founded in 1990 by Peter Thomas, a former employee of BBC and Adrian Loader, earlier – FWO Bauch. From their cooperation came first the bookshelf speaker BB5-A, active studio speaker, manufactured until today. It quickly found its admirers, like Maida Vale (BBC) from Metropolis Mastering and using it many discs from known artists were recorded, like Prince and Steve Wonder, and work also in Decca and Harmonia Mundi studios. PMC were also used in recordings and post production of many films, among others: Titanic, Mission Impossible, Iron Man 2, Jarhead, Die Another Day, Spiderman 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean. The company received an Emmy award for their input in recording arts.
The tested loudspeakers OB1 are not the newest model, but in companies like PMC changes do not happen too often. This is a three-way loudspeaker, with a soft, made from a coated material, dome tweeter, dome midrange (in what it resembles another British specialist, the company ATC) and a woofer made from coated paper diaphragm. The latter is loaded with a long transmission line, with the exit in the front, at the bottom of the front baffle. The loudspeakers are coated with natural veneer, paired in such a way, that the left and right speaker are mirror images. Each loudspeaker is mounted by a individual person, who signs the well written manual accompanying the product – the tested pair was assembled by Phil. Thanks Phil – good job!
To date we tested::
Discs used during the test:
Japanese versions of the discs available on CD Japan.
When you sit down to listen to loudspeakers, which are different, than what you usually test, expectations are mixed with uncertainty, excitement and even slight anxiety. Because you do not really know what to expect. Even if you had contact with a company coming from the “pro” world. Being “pro” has two aspects, depending on whom are you asking. People from stage, from recording, mastering and post-production studios will tell that this is an asset, a guarantee of good sound. On the other hand if you ask somebody connected to the “reproduction” of the sound, and not with its “recording” – music lovers, audiophiles, etc – there is a big probability that they will frown and point towards bad recordings, connecting that automatically to the way sound is presented in high quality studio systems used for those recordings. Also with loudspeakers used for monitoring the recording sessions. And PMC, so also the OB1, have their heart on the other side of the studio window… That is why true wisdom is such usage of experience from the studio and stage to not lose the achievements of consumer audio. And this is why the listening session of those loudspeakers was so interesting.
Two things distinguish those loudspeakers from within other constructions – a dome midrange driver and a transmission line loading the woofer. And that this is something completely different than 99% of the competition you can here after just a few minutes of listening to any disc.
To a large extent the splendid, fantastic dynamics – its shading, the ability to show the halfshadows, and not only a simple beat – is a result of using both solutions I already mentioned earlier – a midrange dome driver and a transmission line. I am not sure with which element I should start – because those two are tied together, and together they are making the added value. But to make my writing more clear, I will take a look at both items separately.
An incredible impression! On the other hand the midrange dome driver gives splendid resolution and fantastically opened sound, regardless of the angle we place the loudspeakers on. In my room they sounded best oriented directly at my ears, but usually we cross their axes in front or behind us. With normal loudspeakers this means, that some of the upper midrange is withdrawn – cone drivers have a tendency to narrow down their emission – the higher the frequency, the narrower the emission radius gets. This makes them very directional at cross-over point. Here we do not have that problem - the dome has a much wider angle of radiation, regardless of the angle we are listening at. It gets even better – the character of its radiation is identical to the dome tweeter. Together they create a duo, that is heard like one speaker.
To some extent the tested loudspeakers behave like studio monitor speakers. They are not bright or sharp, they just show things exactly as they are. Although not all recordings are ideal, with those loudspeakers we can hear what I learned after years of listening with the best systems – if the audio gear is of high class, then each disc having any message to convey, can sound in a way, that will tie us to the speakers. We hear the flaws of the recording, but we have the tendency to re-qualify some of them from “flaw” to “characteristic” or “choice”. I think this is closer, to what the musicians and sound engineers wanted to achieve.
Summing up, I would like to return to that, with what I started. Those are loudspeakers with many assets of studio monitor speakers, they have characteristics rarely discussed in the audiophile world. They are not ideal, because except for the slightly upped bass (and you will like it, I guarantee!) and slightly too softly drawn further planes they are also characterized with a subjective shift of the tonal balance towards the upper midrange. Anyway they have that one characteristic, that places them in special light: they are incredibly communicative and everything in them is so tuned, that we want to listen to them, that we are sitting down with curiosity with each disc – new and old ones alike. A certain problem could be the choice of the amplifier. It is clear, that those loudspeakers will sound as I described with an amplifier having clean timbre, but also with a very well controlled bass. And it cannot be brightened. The problem is, that most powerful amplifiers have a not enough saturated, often bright sound. So you have to choose your electronics carefully, giving it a lot of thought.DESCRIPTION
OB1i is a part of the i series, which also includes the stand mount models DB1i and TB2i, floor standing FB1i and EB1i and the central speaker CB6i and a subwoofer TLE1. OB1i is a second model from the top. This is a three-way loudspeaker with a soft dome tweeter, made from a coated material, with a diaphragm diameter of 27mm, bought from the Norwegian SEAS. Its symbol 27TFFC-PMC suggests that this is a special version of the driver, manufactured only for PMC. This driver is called Sonolex and is cooled with ferrofluid. It has a plastic front, but PMC places a metal cover on it, which is there to make it stiffer. It has cut holes to improve the dispersion of the sound.
The cabinet is made from MDF – it is very rigid, because it is enforced with a 3.3m long transmission line, so there are two extra vertical and horizontal cross-bars. The inside is not damped, there is only sponge glued to the cabinet sides. The loudspeakers are covered with natural veneer, handpicked, so that the loudspeakers are mirror images. Despite the transmission line inside, the loudspeakers are sleek and not so deep. But because those are quite high – the tweeter is almost exactly in the middle of the ribbon speaker from the Ascendo System ZF3 SE – they have plinths bolted on the bottom, what allows the spikes to be placed wider. The plinths are made from black varnished MDF. Interestingly they have holes cut in the middle like openwork. Maybe the manufacturers wanted to minimize their mass, so that they would not accumulate the energy of the sounds coming from the transmission line?
Technical data (according to manufacturer):
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