Bookshelf and stand-mounted loudspeakers are incredibly popular right now; advances in technology and engineering have given loudspeaker designers like PMC’s (Professional Monitor Company Ltd) Peter Thomas so much more to play with. Thomas has a global reputation for excellence with his products that are used by some of the most respected studios in the world and in the homes of discerning audiophiles. The next-generation PMC Twenty5.22i are a radical departure from the previous products and possibly one of the best mid-sized monitors in the category.
PMC knows how to build great sounding loudspeakers and their recent acquisition of a much larger manufacturing facility and demonstration space is making their products more accessible. Not necessarily more affordable but the best are never cheap.
PMC is a British manufacturer who manufactures both passive and active loudspeakers and subwoofers for studios and the home. Devotees of the brand swear by the active versions and I know from a number of audiophiles that it takes a very high-end amplifier to deliver a similar sonic experience.
The PMC Twenty5.22i were designed for use in larger spaces than the 21 and are equally well-suited for use in the home on dedicated stands, console furniture or other flat surfaces. If you’re looking for a pair of loudspeakers that will blend well into a more modern décor, the Twenty5.22i are almost perfect.
Its trim dimensions belie the lengthy ATL™ concealed inside, which, coupled with the powerful 6.5-inch g-weave bass driver and Laminair™ vent, allow it to deliver a clean, uncluttered and powerful low-end. This is a loudspeaker that will work well with a wide range of music. It’s not your typical audiophile loudspeaker that works well with some music but falls flat on its face with electronica, synth-pop, heavy metal, or large orchestral works.
The engineering and voicing of this loudspeaker makes it easier to place and match up with a lot of quality high-end components.
PMC’s in-house designed 6.5-inch (170mm) long-throw driver with cast alloy chassis handles the midrange and bass response and is quite robust in its construction; the pro audio side is a major plus here.
Handling the high frequencies is a PMC/SEAS 19mm (0.75-inch) Twenty5i series, soft dome tweeter. It is Ferrofluid cooled, with a 34mm surround and dispersion grille.
Each loudspeaker weighs 22 lbs. and is 16.1”H x 7.6” W x 14.7” D; the depth is quite unusual for a stand-mounted loudspeaker so make sure to use either the PMC dedicated stands or a media unit that can give you some set-up flexibility.
A single pair of binding posts adorn the rear of the cabinet and will work with both spades and banana pins.
The quoted frequency response is 39Hz – 25kHz with an 89 dB sensitivity rating (8 ohms).
PMC suggests 15 – 200 watts/channel to make the Twenty5.22i sing. I raised my eyebrow at the lower power number and my listening tests proved that they definitely need more power than less.
Concessions to the gallery are non-existent. Even its frontal slant has more to do with the temporal alienation of the sound to the listener than it does with the outright aesthetic. Its front ATL (Advanced Transmission Line) output together with the tweeter grille give the speaker visual personality; and helps to balance out the sound and dispersion patterns.
Coinciding with the time these loudspeakers arrived, I had just installed a new Roon Core into my audio set-up; something that I’ll discuss later in this review.
In my 332 square foot living room, I never had the feeling that I was “abusing” the speakers, as they proved to be more than enough for that size of room. As a small concession to aesthetics, I have to acknowledge something before continuing.
Although the photographs are taken on top of an iron support with earth filling, they were too high for my liking with these speakers and for listening I used other supports that I have of lower visual quality but were better for getting the tweeter at the right height in relation to my listening chair.
I previously mentioned that I was testing the Roon 1.8; my usual musical tour around the world has expanded due to the ease of use, and because I wanted to broaden my musical horizons.
Traveling the world and through different eras through music is a hidden pleasure that all readers of this magazine know and put great value on. Although I am not certain that strangers to the audiophile universe understand this concept as well.
And do you know what is the only essential requirement to be able to achieve it? To be able to forget about the stereo. There are combinations that make the aforementioned literally impossible. They have that point that breaks your balance and returns you to the room.
I’ve listened to it happen even when a distributor matches up two brands that they represent; there is an incongruity to the sound that makes you want them to turn it off.
The musical flow must be present and discreet at the same time to avoid listener fatigue. A fairly simple example but revealing at the same time; the fireworks are spectacular for a certain time, then you get tired. How many times can one see the same explosions before you become distracted and begin paying attention to something else? It’s the same with music and system synergy.
Handel made music for real fireworks that won’t tire you no matter how many times you listen to it. Which system do you want in your living room?
What does the music tell me?
When I was testing the Roon at the same time as the PMC Twenty5.22i speakers, the amount of music at my disposal was almost overwhelming (which is both good and bad), so I’m only going to refer to the music that was relevant to me as a listener.
PMC and Nirvana seemed like the most logical combination to me before I started enjoying these speakers. I was convinced that its dynamics and powerful sonic presence would be extraordinary allies.
And I was not wrong.
“Lithium” off the Nevermind begins with some clear and well-defined metallic guitar picks; there is enough separation in-between to live. That moment right before the intensity of the music kicks in and the level of sonic saturation overwhelms your brain.
It was at that moment where the size of the speakers and the room demonstrated a synergy imbalance. Either my room was too large for the PMC Twenty5.22i or the speakers were too small.
But then I changed tracks and cued up “Come as You Are” – the reproduction of Kurt Cobain’s guitar solo and Chris Novoselic’s bass notes was something worthy of a separate article. The opening 15 seconds could be left on all night in some infinite loop, and I’d still find it mesmerizing.
Very few audiophile loudspeakers can create this kind of “real” sound, certainly not at this price level. When the track ended, I wondered if our imaginary ideal (when it comes to high-end audio) was something similar to these moments.
One of the least popular Dire Straits albums is Communiqué. In it, we find a little gem entitled “Follow me home.” The recorded sounds of the coastline, with the gentle breaking of the waves, gives way to some very basic instrumentation. Mark Knopfler’s almost haunting guitar chords cut through the thick air and the PMC Twenty5.22i demonstrate why they are so good.
Because of their size, the deliver what is expected of them but with a little more. They are not trying to be something that they are not – large floorstanding speakers.
PMC clearly understands the laws of physics and isn’t trying to make these 2-way loudspeakers sound like a pair of their rather substantial active 3-way monitors that can pressurize a very large space. That never works out – regardless of what you might read in some Hi-Fi magazines.
Classical music proved to be a very interesting experience with these speakers.
Ann Hallenberg is a Swedish mezzo soprano who has a voice that transports me. Since I discovered her Carnevale 1729, it is impossible for me not to listen to it with any new device that steps into my room.
On the first cut “My Pair to Feel the Beauty,” she immersed me again in waters well known to me. I was not prepared for how much I would enjoy this with the PMC speakers. I convinced myself that these speakers would not lift me emotionally with this music, but I was completely wrong.
The voice flowed in a magnificent way; not fleshy, but very defined. Nothing sweet but clear. It was hearing the voice of my “friend” in a different but very pleasant way. I had to go on. In “No Semper Invendicata” the range of possibilities that her voice has are displayed in all its facets, exhibiting trills, gurgles and all kinds of vocal adornments to leave us exhausted with pleasure.
With a different sound than I’m used to, but really attractive and addictive. That was my great moment in this article by combining musical enjoyment with the enormously pleasant surprise of being able to experience my bedside compositions in a somewhat different way.
I think that is the sign of a great loudspeaker; something that makes you experience something very differently than you know but without stripping away the emotional and intellectual connection that makes it so meaningful for you.
I have spoken of spectacular and tired fires in a short time; and music that is above them. Before having the PMC Twenty5.22i I believed that I would have some monitors from the first group and the evidence has made my prejudice turn to reality.
And the truth is that the PMC have been superior to any preconceived idea I had of them in music such as baroque, both in voice and instruments (great).
Strong in grunge sound, bringing Nevermind and its guitars to life always within the threshold of distortion. I didn’t enjoy techno that much. Lovers of this style and its “rubbery” basses are not well represented by these speakers with its slightly softer treble response.
And let’s not forget those who are passionate about classical music; that if they want to experience a different way of enjoying their favorite music, but without the need for that typical “warm” touch, they have a very good option.
A beautifully designed and manufactured speaker that is well worth seeking out if you’re in the market for a stand-mounted speaker with this level of artistry.
For more information: PMC Twenty5 22i (pmc-speakers.com)
The Spanish version of this article originally appeared at Amigos Hi-Fi.