|PSB Image 5.1 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Matthew Evert|
|Saturday, 01 October 2005|
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PSB Speakers, aptly named after founders Paul and Sue Barton, have been producing high-performance loudspeakers since 1972. Paul Barton, the chief speaker designer, had his beginnings in high school putting together speakers for college students. Now one of Canada’s most reputable names in loudspeakers, PSB with Paul Barton at the helm, continues the craft of speaker design that started 30 years ago. In addition to Paul Barton’s passion and dedication to speaker design, PSB has a close relationship with the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC offers nearly a century of knowledge and test resources in the area of psychoacoustics research that PSB has effectively incorporated into their Image Series speakers. The midlevel price range of the Image Series speakers affords precision sound reproduction to those with limited budgets. The PSB Image Series speakers reviewed consisted of the Image T65 main loudspeakers ($1099 per pair), an Image C60 center channel ($449), two Image S50 surrounds ($749 per pair) and a SubSeries 6i subwoofer ($699), or just a shade under $3,000 for the complete package.
The T65’s MDF formed cabinet sports a maple finish (also available in Black Ash) that looks splendid next to the speakers’ titanium front façade, which houses an array of drivers. Maple is not always my favorite finish, because it often reminds me of all the furniture that my old roommates would buy from IKEA. Luckily, these T65s, with silver grilles and sturdy maple cabinet, looked stunning as I set them up in my listening room. The three six-and-half-inch woofers are each accompanied by matching two-inch ports, giving this vented speaker the ability to lay down the bass when called upon to do so. The cones are constructed of injection molded, metalized polypropylene with a rubber surround. In addition to the woofers and ports on the front, the unit has a one-inch ferro-fluid-cooled aluminum dome tweeter. To enhance the listening experience of the high frequencies, the Image tweeter uses a structure called a “Phase Plug” to expand and smooth out the frequency response. Care was taken to protect the speaker drivers from incidental contact. The woofers are all sunk into the front façade, so even with the grilles off, the speakers are not likely to be impacted. The tweeter has a cage around it, thus eliminating the threat posed by children’s fingers.
The floor-standing T65 loudspeakers are nicely sized when placed next to my Paradigm Signature S8s. Standing 38-and-a-half inches tall, eight inches wide and 20 inches deep, the T65 has nearly the same dimensions as the Paradigm. At 49 pounds, the T65 is less than half the weight of the S8, which makes the handling of T65s much easier. The cabinet tapers towards the front and the back, providing more character than the typical boxy profile that seems to plague most speakers. Adjustable carpet spikes and rubber leveling feet for hard floors screw into four plastic collars at the corners of the speaker. Two sets of five-way gold-plated binding posts allow for bi-wiring or bi-amping the T65.
The C60 center employs a pair of the same woofers, ports and tweeter that its T65 sibling does. Horizontally oriented, this speaker is ready to sit above or below your TV and be the centerpiece of your movie audio content. The black ash wood finish of this speaker is matched with a black plastic façade that houses the titanium-colored woofers. Again, PSB has tapered the 25-pound cabinet at both ends to avoid the blah, boxy feel that is associated with more budget-oriented speakers. The C60 cabinet is 27-and-a-half inches across, eight-and-half inches high and nearly 12 inches deep. A single set of five-way binding posts can fit most speaker terminations that you may have. Black is the only finish that is currently offered for the C60 speaker.
The S60 surrounds incorporate bipolar design, with two faces each using a slightly smaller five-and-a-quarter-inch woofer. As with the C60, the same ports and tweeters are brought into play on the front faces of the speaker. A slightly different finish is utilized for the S60 than was used for the C60. A less natural-looking textured black ash finish is used instead. White is also available to those in need of something a little more cheerful than Darth Vader black. The back panel has wall-mounting holes for the S60 and a single set of five-way binding posts. The S60 cabinets are a little lighter than the center at 18 pounds, so wall-mounting or stand-mounting is not difficult. The S60s are seven-and-a-half inches deep and stand nearly 13 inches high and across. The fronts, center and surrounds are all magnetically shielded, so your video will not be adversely affected by close proximity to these babies.
Most important, PSB has included the SubSeries 6i subwoofer to add shake, rattle and roll to this home theater. Housed in a nearly cube-shaped MDF cabinet, the 12-inch polypropylene woofer uses a 350-watt amplifier to deliver impactful bass. The black ash finish of the cabinet is complemented by a rounded plastic black front façade. This façade is comprised of dual two-and-a-half-inch ports and a set of volume and crossover controls. Conveniently located in the front of the unit, the crossover can easily be adjusted from 50 to 150Hz. Most people will use the LFE inputs and outputs to connect to their preamp, but those looking to place this subwoofer in series with their speakers have high-level inputs and outputs available as well. The large amp and woofer are cleverly oriented in this housing, so that the footprint is only 15 inches across, 20 inches tall and 19-and-one-quarter inches deep. Using the provided carpet spikes or hard floor levelers, this 41-pound powerhouse can be placed in almost any room environment.