|PSB Image 5.1 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Matthew Evert|
|Saturday, 01 October 2005|
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For carpeted floors, much frustration can be avoided by electing to not put the spikes on the speakers until you have determined the exact placement and orientation of all the speakers. By sliding the speakers around on the carpet, I was able to quickly place the front T65 speakers about 18 inches from the sidewalls and about 14 inches from the front wall. By towing them in about 25 degrees, I was able to set an optimal listening position for maximum imaging and high frequency/midrange accuracy. The center did not come with a stand, so I found an end table that was about two feet off the ground and again about ten feet from the listening position. I located the surrounds on the walls about five feet above the floor and two feet behind the listening position. Unlike my bulky wall-mounted Polk LSiFXs, the S60s are shallow enough to avoid a lawsuit from visitors knocking themselves unconscious as they walk to their seats. The subwoofer worked nicely in the back corner of my room, where it would deliver the most powerful amount of bass without people stumbling over it. The T65s were bi-wired with my Audioquest Mount Blanc cables and the rest used some bare-wired 14-gauge monster cable, since they could not accept the terminations from my other bi-wired cables. You should check that your amplifier has the juice to power these babies, since the T65s and S60s both have a nominal impedance of six ohms.
Powered by my Anthem A5 and Anthem AVM30 preamp, the PSBs had no difficulty living up to their potential. I began the music listening segment with something I rarely listen to, country music. Van Zant’s own flavor of rock country music is embodied in their Van Zant II (Silverline Records) album. The S60 surround speakers employ a bipole design and I felt it was important to test the performance of this PSB system with multi-channel DVD-Audio material. Bipole surrounds are great for movies, since they have an even dispersion, creating a sound field that gives the listener a sensation that the room is larger than it actually is. The trade-off to this is that multi-channel music is optimized for direct radiator style surrounds. “Oklahoma” begins with a gusty wind whistling all around the listener’s position, circling from front left to back right and around again. Thunder chimes into the scenery, as does a police siren that moves across the front left to the center and then the front right before finally fading in the opening guitar riff. With all the hurricanes making the news these days, the simulated tornado soundstage that the PSBs produced had me reminiscing about the hurricanes I sat through on the East Coast. The transition of the whistling wind from speaker to speaker around the room was superbly reenacted by the PSBs. Pinpointing which speaker was most active at any moment was difficult, giving the listener the illusion that there were more than five speakers in the room. Obviously, my earlier concern about sacrificing multi-channel performance with a bipole was unfounded in the case of the S60s.
“Wildside” featured some hard driving guitar riffs and a bouquet of percussion. While sitting on my couch, I was rapidly enveloped with a blissful bath of transparent high-frequency taps of the high hat. The taps chimed in and out of the left side of the sound field with great detail. The excellent performance from the T65 in the high frequencies was consistent with other music samples throughout my evaluation. The vocals were numbed a little in this song, lacking some punch and sounding laid-back. The numbness was not consistent with all tracks, but the laid-back nature of the speaker was more reproducible. Bass production from the T65s was not as strong as my Energy C-5s, and lacked some chest-pounding impact, as I would have expected. The bass was precise, just not as strong as I prefer.
Mike Patton is one of my favorite vocalists of all time. Not only can the guy belt out opera-like lyrics, but he can also come up with the most unimaginable sounds using his versatile voice. As the front man for eclectic bands Mr. Bungle, Patton is responsible for much of the creative energy in the band. In “Squeeze Me Macaroni,” Patton uses his voice to create anything from loud dog barks to soft soprano serenades. The smooth whispers from Patton arrived to my ears as lush as a mother’s lullaby to her newborn child. The challenge for any speakers playing Mr. Bungle is the rapid transition from soft to loud segments within the songs. The T65 was not fearful of this challenge and excelled at keeping pace with the ever-changing dynamic range of the music. Mr. Bungle’s “Quote Unquote” began with a faint snoring sound in the distance, punctuated by a loud crashing sound of a glass bottle being broken. Again, the PSBs were able to tackle this rapid change without sounding brittle or harsh at all. The advantage of the laid-back nature of the T65s was that the speakers never fatigued my ears and were consistently warm and sweet-sounding.
“Scent of a Woman” (Universal Studios Home Video) features a tango scene that is worthy of analysis. The violins were alive with richness and blessed my ears with lush highs that seldom appear in this price category of floor-standing speakers. The accordion and pianos contributions of low and midrange clarity completed the sound stage. The PSBs have a fantastic ability to image. This ability was demonstrated by the subtle clicks of Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade’s walking cane on the concrete, dancing from the left to the right side of the sound stage. Another example of the PSBs sound staging ability could be heard in “Shrek 2” (DreamWorks). As Shrek’s wagon rides off into the distance, you can hear Donkey singing “Rawhide” from when he begins the tune in the foreground until it is a faint whisper on the horizon.
“The Peacemaker” (DreamWorks) stars George Clooney and Nicole Kidman as they both try to save the world from terrorists armed with nuclear weapons. The rumble of the train compartment doors as they closed was pounded into my chest by the SubSeries 6i. Countless explosions throughout “The Peacemaker” reinforce the importance of a good subwoofer in any action movie. Having placed the subwoofer in a corner close to the listening position, there was plenty of high-impact bass for this film. Despite the large amount of bass the SubSeries dished out, I found it seldom to be boomy or overbearing.