Saturday, 1 November 2014

PMC twenty™ 26: Punchy, Musical, Consistent (PMC)


When I was just about to settle down with the PMC twenty 23s.... the 26s was introduced to the market.  I first 'saw' the speakers during the KLIAV show this year in July but it was only on static display. The yearn to listen to these babies sing was made known to James Tan and Tony Low at the show. So, they said that I can come up to their outlet in Rohas Perkasa a couple o weeks after the show.  but of course.... then came Eid holidays.... Merdeka holidays... etc....  I just could not find the time to visit them... 

But luck was on my side... One fine day.... Tony Low messaged me and asked the magic question... 'Do you want to review the PMC Twenty 26 speaker in your house?' I thought I was dreaming. Definitely this speaker deserves a more worthy reviewer. But nevertheless, I accepted the challenge. A date was set which was a Sat 11th Oct and at exactly 2 pm, the technicians from AV Designs arrived and unboxed the speakers.

 


To my surprise, its not as slim as I thought having experienced with the 21s and 23s. Heck, its even bigger than my ProAc D18.

   

Similar to the 23s, there will be a few '1st time' experience:


  1. First time ever that I am having a proper 3 way speakers in my set up 
  2. Fully testing a PMC speaker with a Musical Fidelity set up. (Note: I have not tested the 23s with my MF set up and the 21s was reviewed briefly without proper stands). The PMC I heard of have always been partnered with a Bryston set up.

SPECIFICATIONS



One thing that baffles me is the weight. It states to be 22.5 kgs each but it seems to be more difficult to move it around compared to my 25 kgs ProAc D18s.


THE SET UP

I wanted to test this speakers in its own single wired glory instead of bi/tri amping it, so I disconnected my MF M1 PWR power amp, and just connected with the main integrated amp.


  • Musical Fidelity M6i integrated amp (200 wpc)
  • Sources:
    • Musical Fidelity M6 DAC
      • Musical Fidelity M1 CDT transport
      • ASUS dedicated CAS unit
      • SONY JA20ES MD Player
    • Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL phono stage
      • Lenco L75 on Shure MM Cart
      • Clearaudio Concept on Concept MC Cart
  • Cabling - full Siltech Classic 330L series for speaker cables, interconnect and power cable


THE PLAYLIST

I thought long and hard for this as the 26s needs to be tested with various musical genres.


  • Andrea Bocelli - Era Gia Tutto Previsto on LP
  • Puan Sri Saloma - Istana Cinta on high quality MP3 via iTunes
  • The Cranberries - Ode To My Family on LP
  • Metallica - Tuesday's Gone on LP
  • M. Nasir - Mustika on CD
  • Zee Avi - The Book of Morris Johnson and Siboh Kitak Nangis on CD
  • Azlan & The Typewriter - Jeritan Batinku on CD
  • Bone Thugs N Harmony - Days of Our Lives on MD
  • Nas - Street Dreams on MD


FIRST IMPRESSION

Physically.... its a beauty. High WAF. No doubt. Its just too sexy to be a speaker. If there was an award for Sexiness in Hifi.... this will be one of the top contender.

Having to live with 21s and 23s before, I sort of already have an expectation of this speakers. More extended low end, more 'head room' ie spaciousness and bigger soundstage. But, spinning a track by Andrea Bocelli on CD with the speaker fresh out of the box was a bit underwhelming. The soundstage was big no doubt but it was just a bit muddled. A quick Whatsapp to Tony clears the agony. The speaker have just seen less than 2 hours of run in.

So, I get to witness these babies grow as I get to run them in till month end. At the end of the review, I actually have run in the speakers for nearly 200 hours.

The next few days was just playing around until it reached 100 hours of run in. Each time I listen to them, the PMC twenty characters starts to show more of its colours. 

THE SESSION

By the time this official session was done, the 26s have been run in for 100 hours.

The ultimate vocal test. What really impresses me when it comes to vocal capability is how it blends with the music. Very so often, I can hear that the vocals can be rather detached from the music, giving the listener a sense of separation. Not on the 26s. I believe having the mid range created an even distribution between the vocals, the piano, the percussion and the violin. Andrea's mellowed but energetic vocals was reflected in its full glory and emotion through the 26s. No issue of high pitch hurting my ears nor any overwhelming bass.

On Istana Cinta, I purposely used this track to test the speakers against an old recording with not much care taken into remastering it. Quite a forgiving speakers 26s are. Saloma's vocals was mesmerizing and make you fully understand why Tan Sri P. Ramlee adores her. The soft percussion on the snare and hi hat was very clean hit by hit. The violin was also very sharp and precise. Overall, the 26s delivered the track with a staging  of the 60s era which these old tracks can really get help with; speakers that can make the listener re-live or experience the 60s ambiance. 

Dolores husky voice was presented in a way that I have yet to experience before.  Full of emotion with high level of clarity.The guitar works was also was beautifully delivered with such detail. Its like providing a true definition of what Cranberries is all about. The percussion, thanks to the ATL, even the soft tap of the kick pedal can be heard through this speaker.

One of  my favourite Metallica's cover song is Tuesday's Gone. The most evident character of the 26s was revealed on this track...Musicality.Everything was fully balanced from the Hetfield's vocals, to the harmonica to the guitar plucking to the sharp and precise drumming. Such a sentimental emotion was delivered by the 26s which its not easy to represent a metal band sentimental side.

M. Nasir's Mustika is well known for its usage of a number of traditional instrument e.g. angklung, gamelan etc. I have heard this track through so many speakers in my hifi life. Again, the 26's just delivered another musical experience that surpasses the performance my previous speakers. The soundstage on 26s can really fill up my hall and I was not even really blasting the set up. Layer and layer of musical instrument can be easily identified and it made me visualize the different placement of the instrument players. The gamelan was really apparent.

Zee Avi's works, the Miri lass who made it big in USA, have always been one of my favorite test track. In the Book of Morris Johnson.... The sound of the clapping hands echoed across my hall, filling up the hall with such elevated musical experience. The overall song sounded 'floating' and just give such a lively experience. While on Siboh Kitak Nangis, her vocals was perfectly centered as if she was physically in the centre stage. The sound of the soft wire brush rubbing against the snare was really clear and the guitar was really melodious. Another very well balanced presentation of the 26s.

I know PMC speakers can deliver the low end notes with no issues. But can it balance it with the high notes? Azlan's screeching vocals can sometimes be deafening if its played on the wrong speakers. No issues here. He can scream all he wants and the 26s just balances it off with solid low end and mids without compromising the vocals presentation. It still made me wanted to get on my drums and just play along as the drum play on this one with its double pedal can really pump up your adrenalin. And it did. Every single kick was punchy, precise and full of impact.  

Now, to really test the low ends of the 26s, I cant help but to bring in my college days music...in the likes of Bone Thugs 'N' Harmony and also Nas. Both are known for solid bass works in their rap music. Punchy and more punch.... I really enjoyed the bass extension delivered by the 26s. No sense of struggle and just sweet low end sound from these babies. No excessive booming.... just beautiful but punchy bass. It doesn't overshadow the vocals nor the harmonies by the group. Same goes with Street Dreams by Nas. Solid solid solid bass. It fills up the hall and made me want to start to rap. Not that I am any good at it.

VERDICT

So, is this the end? Not quite. This time around, I have stored in a special treat for all you readers out there. Just because its Halloween. I invited another hifi blogger by the name of Sting to have a second opinion. It might be biased of me since I am already in love my with PMC 23s and I might be blinded by it. And this is what Sting thinks of the 26s:
  • Depth and ambience are among the strength of the 26s. Room filling capability with really good in depth presentation.
  • Bass passage flow was very fluid.... may it be for single note or multi pluck bass notes Sufficient bass.... no lacking nor excess
  • Disappearing speaker.... You will just not realise that the music is coming from where the speakers are..
  • Midrange is very evident.... clear and crisp vocals... deliver the emotion of the singer.
  • No sense of fatigue. We listened straight for 4 hours and still wanted more.
  • Worth every RM.... if you cannot afford it... Visit AV Designs every day to get a dose of these speakers for free (Just Joking Tony and James)
Like the title of this blog entry.... PMC = Punchy, Musical and Consistent.... and the consistency is referring to character of the twenty series from the 21s, 23s and now embedded in the 26s.
I am now facing a hard time to go back to a 2 way speaker since I have experienced the benefit of having a mid range driver. The 26s have really given me a different experience. I am actually very satisfied with my current set up, even after having to listen to set ups that cost 5 times more. But this time around..... the 26s is haunting me. Delivering something that the D18s did not. OK, its unfair as its not a true apple to apple comparison.But I cant help it.

Does it match a Musical Fidelity set up. I believe it does. But I guess a more powerful amplifier will just bring out more from this speakers.

Did it deliver its peak? I believe there is much more that can be extracted from this 26s. With a more proper room acoustics, more powerful amp or even better sources, this 26s can provide endless musical enjoyment.

Buy it for its punchy and extended low end, balanced across the spectrum of frequency, musicality level that mesmerizes and for its shear sexy looks. And all you need to get all these is RM 33,700.

The PMC twenty 26s can be auditioned at AV Designs, Mezzanine floor, Bangunan Rohas Perkasa.  Give Tony Low a call on 0122330771.

A very BIG THANKS to Tony Low and all the staff in AV Designs.


Now the big question.... Should I hang on to this speakers?????








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