Friday, 30 September 2016

PMC twenty5 24 - Enhanced Its Punchiness, Musicality and Clarity

Looks good ey in my living room? Looks are not just what these new PMC twenty5.24 speakers are good at. When I reviewed the twenty.26 last year and purchased the twenty.23, I thought PMC cannot do any better than that. I was wrong. Read on folks.

I first heard these new twenty.5 series a few months ago when it first landed in Malaysia. That was in AV Designs. At that time, I already could hear the difference from my twenty.23 speakers with respect to the LF extension. Then came the KLIAV show in July where these babies were given my personal Best Digital based set up and won awards from A couple of months later (early Sep), these babies landed in my living room for full home review. AV Designs crew is as professional as ever, arriving on time as promised and they immediately started to unpack the beast. Being familiar with my home and set up, all was done in 15 mins. The first view of them in my house, made my jaw dropped. Sleek and sexy looking.

MAIN PHYSICAL CHANGES twenty vs twenty5

  1. Biwire/triwire vs single wire
  2. Plinth at bottom vs outriggers
  3. Foam vs Laminair front ports
  4. Slightly less in height but increased in width
  5. Heavier by 2 kg
  1. Musical Fidelity M6i integrated amp
  2. Sony HAP Z1ES Hi Res HDD player (Siltech Classic Anniversary 330L XLR cable)
  3. Lenco L78 TT 
  4. Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL phono stage (Gotham IC)
  5. Speaker cable - Vermouth Audio The Black Pearl
  1. Azzura - Paco De Lucia (LP)
  2. Percussion from KOGA Audio Sampler (CD)
  3. Lompat Si Katak Lompat - Kombo RTM (LP)
  4. My Hero - Foo Fighters (WAV File)
  5. David Elias - Rodeo on A Ridge (DSD)
  6. Whiskey In The Jar - Metallica (WAV)

Speakers of this caliber deserves long hours of testing. By the time the formal session was done, the speakers have seen approximately 500 hours of play time. For those who are familiar with my review approach, the sessions were done in a few different occasion and time, mainly for me to confirm that the attributes I hear from this speakers are indeed consistent.


Playing Azzura, the guitar plucking sounds vibrant but it delivers the mellowness of the track. When it goes into faster tempo in the middle of the track, the 24s hits out to the listener with a very open but energetic and forceful guitar strumming. It created that intensity that Paco would want listeners to build up their mood to. One thing for sure, these known for bass speakers do not compromise on the highs and mid notes as well. The sliding of fingers across the guitar strings and frets can be heard clearly. Just show how detail the 24s can deliver. 

Percussion and Wind

This is an excellent track that has a good mixture of percussion and those vibrato wind instrument. The introduction of the track with the percussion kicking in was really punchy. Somehow, I feel that with the Laminair, it gives a more extended low end notes, spreading the impact in a bigger spatial sense. Its even more enveloping compare to the previous twenty series. The wind instrument also sounded more airy and gives out a bigger soundstaging. Mix them together, the 24s gives a big enveloping musical experience throughout my listening area. No matter where you sit, either on the side sofas or front facing seats, the overall musicality can be heard and experience.

Lompat Si Katak Lompat

This track has become on my favourite jazz track to test new hifi equipment. Purely for its artistic arrangement and excellent recording from the 70s I believe. Its actually just based on local Malay children nursery rhyme. Its like Mancini of Malaysia. The 24s unleashed a very entertaining sound for this track. Again, giving that bigger sound stage that compliments that rich bass notes. Although PMC speakers are well known for its muscular and rich bass, these 24s do not lack in delivering melodious highs with no sign of fatigue. Mids are also quite sweet but not as sweet at the twenty.26 I reviewed last year. Having that mid driver does make the 26s a better overall performer.

My Hero

Now, lets give the 24s a real run for the money. This track is one of my favourite track to test bass delivery. Even with the complex drumming, the 24s managed to clearly reproduce each kick pedal beat with ease. No sign of muddled low end notes. At the same time, Grohl's vocal and guitar riffs sounded raw and forceful, creating that overall angst but melodious track that it intended to. However, at times it does sound that all instrument just merged together and gives out that 'blanket' flat sound. To me this is more how the track was recorded and not due to the 24s not able to keep up with the speed and accuracy. There is something from the Laminair design that reproduces the bass in a more exciting tone compare to the previous twenty series. Hard thumping impact but still digs deep in the low end notes.

David Elias with Rodeo on A Ridge

Playing DSD files is reaaaaallly enjoyable with the 24s. This to me was the highlight of my time with the 24s. Its not a complex song. Mellow. Guitars, bass and vocals. Each bass note is clearly audible while the separation of guitars were also evident between the lead and rhythm. And the vocal..... hhhmmm... clarity at its best with a very deep emphasize on reproducing the emotion. The 24s just reproduce the track with a perfect blend of musicality. The overall ambient was still leaning towards a warm and big soundstage without loosing any of the required bass frequency. This type of song or recording really needs speakers that do not loose the importance of the bass notes to create that overall enveloping musical experience.

Whiskey In The Jar

The last track is the uptempo Metallica's rendition of Whiskey in The Jar. Again, a heavy genre like this, the 24s did not lack in reproducing its famous bass kicks from Lars's kick pedal. Most times, listeners ignore the importance of a good reproduction of bass in the listening experience. Too much of it, it can create fatigue. Too little, there is no life in the music. The 24s produced that 'just right' element of bass that gels nicely with the overall track. Even for a track like this that most audiophiles dont listen to, these 24s are not shy to belt out that metal friendly capability to give headbangers a good experience in this genre. James, vocal sounded deep in its growls creating a very entertaining experience.


When PMC introduced any new design, it comes with a solid engineering behind it. Laminair is basically taken from principle of air flow in aerodynamics. It reminded me of my college days where I spent countless hours in a wind tunnel test facility to design that 'perfect' air flow for a fuselage and wing models. PMC Laminair definitely gives out a bigger and extended bass experience by enhancing the airflow. But, I never doubted that PMC is best at this. What put a smile on my face was the fact that the 24s produced an overall enveloping musicality experience with a high level of clarity and that deep diving low end notes. Just musically enjoyable. The only limiting factor would be.... my listening room. I feel that these 24s... deserve a much more serious listening room, bigger in area and more room to breathe.

Laminair works big time. It enhances the previous twenty series to a different level. My question to PMC, can it get any better than this?

PMC twenty5 series (21, 23, 24 and 26) are now available in AV Designs for demo and purchase. This twenty5.24 are retailing at RM27,000 per pair. Contact Tony or James for a demo.

Audio Visual Designs Sdn Bhd
Unit M-W-1, Mezzanine Floor,
West Wing, Rohas Perkasa,
No.9, Jalan P. Ramlee,
50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tel: +603-2171 2828
Fax: +603-2171 2825

Monday, 5 September 2016

SVS Prime Elevation Speakers - A Great Alternative To Ceiling Speakers for ATMOS and DTS:X

I took my time to leap into ATMOS, mainly to wait for the format to stabilize and also for DTS-X to be fully available, hardware wise and also software. While there are a few of HT aficionados in Malaysia that took the leap into ATMOS a few years back, most of the HT crowd faced the challenge of installing additional ceiling speakers in their existing set up. This is also true especially for those without a dedicated HT room.  For yours truly, I face the same challenge as my HT is set up in the second floor living room. I have went through various options of setting up surround back and ceiling speakers but it remains a challenge due to some obstruction above the ceiling.

The notion of using upfiring speakers first came out at the same time ATMOS came out about 2 years back. Not many options were available at that time and most of the design, did not get an acceptable performance review by the industry. Nevertheless, if we are to refer to the maker itself, Dolby, they did mention that upfiring speakers is one of the options that ATMOS can be experienced at home. So, technically, this option should work if we follow the recommended guideline by Dolby. There are soooooo many people out there that gives out recommendation that confuses a lot of HT enthusiasts that in turn, put them off to experience  ATMOS at home. I have decided to just refer to Dolby to start the leap. 

One of the main concern for me is the effectiveness of the sound reflection with upfiring speakers. Dolby recommendations are as follows and luckily, my hall fits in nicely in these recommendations.

Ceiling Height and Materials 

The ideal ceiling height is between 7.5 and 12 feet, and the maximum recommended height is 14 feet. The ceiling should be flat and made from an acoustically reflective material, such as drywall or plaster.


After I have decided to take the leap, first I had to upgrade my Yamaha RXV2067 AVR to an ATMOS/DTS:X capable AVR. After discussion with Max Loh from Maxx Audio, I have decided to purchase the Denon X6200W AVR. Once confirmed, I started to think about which upfiring speakers to get. There is no point upgrading the AVR without purchasing the ATMOS speakers.

As I currently using an SVS Prime Satellite as my rear speakers and SVS subwoofer that matches quite well (sonically and aesthetically) with my PMC twenty.24 and Centre channel, I asked Max whether I can use another pair of Prime Satellite as ATMOS speakers....... and to my surprise, SVS now have a new elevation add on speakers called Prime Elevation. Recently debuted in CES show, Maxx Audio was getting a few pairs for the KLIAV show in July. At the time this review was written, these Elevation speakers are still not available on the SVS website. But nevertheless, you can find a few reviews of it online.

Being the trouble-maker I am, I requested Maxx to have a pair of these after the show. And sure enough, these babies were in my house a week after the show (end of July).


This speakers are designed to fulfill the following options:
  • As a down-firing height channel speaker, easily mounted high on a side wall 
  • As an up-firing height channel speaker for the same formats, placed on stands or atop tower speakers 
  • As an up-firing or down-firing front or center channel speaker with projector screens or where level placement at ear height is not possible 
  • As a side or rear-firing surround speaker, when placement on a side or rear wall is not optimal for the most convincing side or back surround effects 
  • A pair of Elevation speakers can be wall-mounted and wired to become a bipole or dipole surround speaker.

The Prime Elevation is rated at  69 Hz – 25 kHz (+/- 3dB), and uses a 1" aluminum dome tweeter and a 4.5" polypropylene cone woofer. It comes with its own four position wall bracket and will also include a 1/4" 20TPI brass insert for compatibility with other mounts. The Prime Elevation comes in three colors, Gloss Black, Gloss White, and Black Ash. For me, of course I took the Gloss Black to match with the entire speaker systems that I have.

One interesting fact to note is that, although named as Elevation, it does not really want to rely on ceiling reflection but more towards sending the height effect directly to the listener.


First of all, ATMOS and DTS:X is a totally different experience compared to standard Dolby TruHD or DTS MA. I was an early adopter of BluRay back in 2007 and have gone through a number BD players and AVR. But the leap in sound distribution with ATMOS or DTS:X is just insanely engaging. With this Elevation speakers, my system is now moved from 7.1 (front height, not surround back) channel to 5.1.2.

Now, specific to the PRIME Elevation, it was first automatically calibrated using the Denon Audyssey calibration. Playing Transformers Age of Extinction, the Elevation speakers gave a new experience of how the vehicles, tankers, ships were falling from the sky and also the swooshing sound of the Dinobots (Swoop) flying across the scene. Even when the giant space craft was sucking up all the vehicles, I can experience the uplifting sound of with a touch spatial definition across my listening position. Out of curiosity, I increased the volume on these Elevation speakers in the audio setting, and voila, it sounded even more immersive. The level of immersive however stops at my listening position as I do not have an 'rear' Elevation installed. This is quite noticeable. I am curious to hear how another pair of these speakers installed in the rear will enhance the experience further.

With the movie Batman vs Superman DOJ, its just insanely enveloping especially the swooping effect each time Superman flies down or Batman drops from the ceiling. Also for scenes where building collapses, the rumbling from the top to bottom of the collapse can also be experienced in a more 'visualistic' manner. The battle scene between Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman against Doomsday also provided a very wholesome experience where the right effect of top-bottom can be experienced with the installation of the Elevation speakers. However, again the level of immersive stopped at where I sit without the presence of the surround back upfiring speakers.

It also somehow elevate the centre channel for dialogue clarity. On Zoolander 2 DTS:X, the soundstage of dialogue seems to be more spatial and elevated around the main front and centre channel. This gives me a very upfront experience with the movive characters.

For non ATMOS or DTS:X movies, with the Denon providing a Dolby Surround and DTS:X neural upmix option, these Elevation speakers still provided a good step up in providing a more uplifitng soundstage experience at home.


In essence, it does! Although SVS is not relying on ceiling reflection, but I do believe the guideline given by Dolby should be followed. Upfiring speakers does the job neatly IF.... only IF.... your HT area meets the limitation set in the Dolby guideline. You need to have the right ceiling height and also material that can properly reflect the sound coming from the upfiring speakers. This ceiling requirement actually is also a challenge for ceiling speakers. I have seen where the ceiling height is quite high (more than 15 ft), the ATMOS effect is so thin and at times, non existence. I also believe your listening position is very important. The distance from the Elevation speakers must be at the right distance for you to experience the sound reflection reaching you. If you are too far, you might feel that the immersive height sound drops in front of you rather than enveloping you.


SVS have come up with a rather neat alternative to ceiling speakers. A non fussy-multi functional pair of PRIME Elevation speakers that recreates the ATMOS and DTS:X effects by upfiring the sound directly towards the listener. Easy to install, calibrated within minutes before you can experience the ATMOS in your home.

With the design that is independent of the ceiling reflection, this must be the easiest step up to ATMOS/DTS:X for any HT enthusiasts.

At the time of review, the RRP have yet to be finalised. But Max Loh, you ain't getting this pair back. Its permanently in my system now. The question is more on how can I install another pair at the rear?

Contact Max Loh or Benjamin for further details of these PRIME Elevation speakers.

​M: 017-6778820 (Max) & 016-3229428 (Benjamin)

NOTE: I am trying to figure out a better way to provide the sound effect via Youtube. Stay tune for video samplers.