Compact floor-standing speakers
PMC twenty5 23 speakers are the smallest floor-stander made in the twenty5 range. PMC have introduced an upgraded model after twenty five years in business to build on the reputation of the older twenty series. Price has increased from £2400 to £3095 between the twenty 23’s and twenty5 23’s. This new model fits in the twenty5 range with two other bookshelf models in the 21 and 22, as well as two other bigger floor-standers; – the 24 and 26 models. The twenty5 series sit between the old twenty series and the Fact series.
PMC’s twenty5 23 floor-standers suit buyers who are after relatively compact floor-standing speakers which produce a big sound, without the complexity of multiple bass drivers ordinarily necessitating bigger cabinets.
These speakers use in-house designed 140mm long throw low frequency bass units and 27mm Sonolex tweeters made to PMC’s requirements by Norwegian firm SEAS. Internal bracing, to channel sound emanating from the back of the bass drivers, creates an internal ‘transmission line’, as used commonly in PMC designs. Bass air is directed to two transmission line ports at the front lower end of the cabinets. PMC say this design reduces distortion of the driver improving performance. Bass travels along the foam lined transmission line and all but the lowest frequencies are absorbed, the resulting bass then emanates from the ports augmenting the forward power of the bass drivers. This creates this big sound from a small cabinet.
The bracing also makes the speakers very rigid and indirectly serves a purpose too of preventing resonances of the cabinet affecting and colouring the speakers sound. It’s quite wondrous how placing your hand on top of them with volume at modest and high levels, there is so very little vibration. A mark of this rigidity.
The transmission line ports have grills which take their design from formula 1 aerodynamics, a PMC patented technology called ‘Laminair’. Purportedly turbulent bass air is moved away more quickly to give faster improved bass and reduced bass air noise. PMC report they have tested this technology to demonstrate its necessity and effectiveness on this range. It certainly does work when you listen to how these speakers sound.
These PMC’s keep the sloping trapezoid design of the twenty 23 model, which PMC say is to achieve timing alignment between the bass driver and tweeters. They are very slightly fatter and shorter to their forebears. The speakers are available in four finishes; oak, walnut, amarone, and diamond black. If going for wood finishes the grains match up in the speaker pair, as you’d expect for speakers of this quality. Be aware that some wood variants can slightly change colour, as is natural in using wood veneers.
The bass drivers are a new uprated stiffer glass fibre design in difference to the doped paper cone of the twenty series, which avoids the possibility of the cone folding due to higher in cabinet pressures from this updated bass driver. Dust covers are now a concave shape compared to the convex covers of the twenty range.
A different proposition?
My walnut pair have developed a more pleasing orange colour in a light room. As opposed to the old model, PMC no longer use twin binding posts in these speakers. Whilst conventional wisdom is that bi-wiring doesn’t confer benefits over using one run of better quality speaker wire, this design may not be for everyone in precluding possibilities for bi-amping. In addition to the silver tweeter grills, resonance absorbing plinth bars also show off the attractiveness of these speakers. PMC say be careful not to over-tighten the bars when attaching them to the bottom of the speakers with the supplied bolts, otherwise they apparently loose their absorbing function. Into the bars, spikes are screwed. PMC recommend using quality copper speaker cables also, although using silver coated Chord Company Epic and Epic reference is very balanced too.
Unfortunately long parts of the cabinets are left unprotected in the box other than at the foamed capped ends and consequently my initial pair were damaged in transit by the courier, DHL. As I was supplied the damaged pair waiting for the new ones, I gained a useful idea of how long they take to run in – remarkably accurate to the 50 hours stated in the manual. PMC are currently in the process of looking at redesigning the box protection to prevent such reoccurrence’s.
Full length grills are supplied but these speakers do look better without them. Included is a 20 year warranty, and it’s necessary to register this online with PMC or via post. With the good quality of build and design it’s obvious that with the long warranty, buyers will have many hours of listening pleasure with peace of mind.
PMC Twenty5 23 Speakers being made
The thirteenth note?
Firstly in setting up, you don’t really need to be overly concerned with positioning proximity to back walls, which don’t detract much from their sonic character. A bit of toe in is ideal as well as decent spacing. One quality that particularly stands out when listening to any PMC speakers is how perfectly balanced the bass and treble drivers are with each other. Bass wise, the old twenty 23’s had a way of being very smooth and rich speakers and with good levels of detail and dynamically, but the twenty5 23’s have taken these qualities to another level. None is this more obvious when playing Tony Bennett’s ‘Night and Day’, when the piano accompanies the double bass at the start of the songs verse and with the on and off nature of these instruments. One area of marked improvement in the sound signature which is immediately obvious is in the mid-range and a deeper punchier taught bass.
These PMC’s have so very little distortion they produce a sound that is extremely capable at this price. They keep the same sonic character of the originals in the sense of meshing smooth bass with good detail and dynamics, but also bring out these extra characteristics in making for a much more musically engaging and involving speaker.
Bass is very controlled and again dynamically ‘stop-startey’ and this is true of PMC designs and you hear the rhythm of music and bass guitars in rock tracks much more than the twenty23’s. In this regard the bass response is class leading.
The levels of bass on offer are more than a speaker of this size should have any God given right to produce and the transmission line design clearly allows this to happen.
It’s true the Laminair technology works as the bass is both fast and agile. The twenty 5 23’s have been tuned with this mid-range in mind as PMC have commented on and in trying to suit lots of amplifiers of varying quality, but as a natural consequence there is more detail on offer. Instruments and layers in the music come together to a more pleasing whole and there is also a level of great refinement and naturalness to the sound too. A guitar string has natural ‘twanginess’ to it, or a violin string more texture. With the right amplifiers the twenty 23’s are just so right and boy do they sing.
The soundstage and stereo imaging is bigger than a speaker this size should command too, with the former much more backward and wider of the speakers actual position and the latter more coherent of a stereo performance. Try playing ‘Money’ by Pink Floyd and listening to the way each speaker makes its individual sounds of the till opening, money jangling etc, and how the music accurately tracks and speeds from one speaker to the other. This realism never ceases to amaze and you can often catch yourself smiling at hearing a new track you know, that you didn’t know could sound so good.
You also get a nice sparkly treble which helps keep cymbals and other higher frequency sounds very real too. Due to the way the speakers mesh the bass with treble and this balance, this treble is never bright, and accordingly they will partner well with lots of different electronics. They might not suit people who like the very smoothest of speakers with very limited treble. However because of this great balance, there is always this bass smoothness to keep the treble honest and controlled. Testing them with a Naim NAC 202 Pre-amp and NAP 250DR Power-amp they are more relaxed than the detailed fast paced dynamic Cyrus Signature amplification I’m using. With either brand of amplification it’s easy to tell they have the characteristic qualities of improved mids and punchier bass over the previous model, if perhaps not the same detail retrieval of Cyrus. I’ve used a £8500 Chord Electronics DAVE DAC with these twenty5 23s giving incredibly natural balance, detail and depth, and there seems no end to how they keep on improving with better electronics. Don’t think they are going to be limited to amplification, sources and DACs in the twenty5 23’s price range!
These speakers are hugely capable performers in the small floor-stander class and are very musical indeed. In addition they look great and are very well made with quality components and are likely to stand the test of time in both a build quality and performance sense. To top this you get a very long 20 year warranty also. Being able to partner a lot of different HiFi amplifiers from relatively budget set ups to higher spec systems due to their balanced nature makes them a very flexible purchase. Also longevity in possibly going through amplifier upgrades to exploit these speakers full potential. They are very much worth the asking price.
The binding posts don’t allow bi-amping but this isn’t a disadvantage if using them with a decent stereo integrated or power amplifier or indeed mono blocks. The packaging could be improved to prevent transit damage which PMC have said they are redesigning.
Definitely a Best Buy floor-stander at the price and they reach the 13th Note!
- Available Finishes: Walnut, Amarone, Diamond Black, Oak
- Crossover Frequency: 1.8kHz
- Dimensions: H 907mm x W 162mm x D 330mm
- Drive Units: LF – PMC twenty5 series 5.5”/140mm long-throw g-weave™ cone with cast alloy chassis
- HF – PMC/SEAS®, 27mm twenty5 series, SONOLEX™ fabric soft dome, Ferrofluid cooled
- Effective ATL™ Length: 2.4m 7.8ft
- Frequency Response: 28Hz – 25kHz
- Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Input Connectors: One pair 4mm binding posts
- Sensitivity : 86.5dB 1W 1m
- Weight: 15kg 33 lbs each
The Professional Monitor Company Ltd
Tel : +44 (0) 1767 686300