|PSB Synchrony Home Theater Loudspeaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Thomas Garcia|
|Wednesday, 01 October 2008|
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With modest beginnings commencing in 1972, loudspeaker manufacturer PSB has become one of the most recognizable icons in today's audio industry. Receiving endless accolades from industry peers, as well as delighted consumers, the Canadian-based company is well known for providing products with exceptional performance, which are value-engineered to compete with products often costing substantially more.
Now that PSB is part of The Lenbrook Group, original owner Paul Barton operates as chief designer and continues to be one of the most impassioned patriarchs in the audio industry today. Barton has been highly influential in developing many of the design protocols and scientific guidelines used in many of today's high-performance loudspeakers. Throughout his career, he has extensively utilized Canada's National Research Council (NRC), a government-managed scientific and engineering research institution, taking full advantage of their expansive resources and state-of-the-art testing facilities.
PSB's most recent loudspeaker series, Synchrony, embodies Barton's philosophies on developing a true reference loudspeaker, retaining the company’s high-value standards. The Synchrony Series includes a variety of floor-standing towers, bookshelf monitors, center channels and a very versatile tri-mode surround speaker. The complete product line can be mixed and matched to accommodate different performance requirements and budgetary constraints. For this review, PSB provided a pair of Synchrony One full-range towers ($4,500 per pair), Synchrony One C center channel ($2,000) and two Synchrony S Tri-mode surrounds ($2,000 per pair). PSB also supplied their SubSeries HD10 subwoofer ($1,499) to complete the 5.1 home theater system.
Throughout the Synchrony series, fit and finish were impeccable and PSB's stringent attention to detail was quite evident. As the largest floor-standing loudspeaker in the series, the Synchrony One is a multi-driver three-way capable of full-range audio reproduction. Attractively proportioned, the Synchrony One’s overall measurements are 43 inches tall by eight-and-three quarters inches wide by 12-and-three-quarters inches deep. With its machined aluminum front baffle, curved seven-ply MDF side panels and form-fitting aluminum rear panel, the Synchrony One feels exceptionally solid throughout its construction and has an overall weight of 60 pounds.
A plethora of unique construction techniques were used in creating the Synchrony series to minimize enclosure resonances and manage energy transfers. Using the computer-aided design software SolidWorks, PSB was able to do extensive analysis of the entire enclosure and subassemblies, optimizing much of the design before the first speaker was built. I had an opportunity to spend an afternoon with Paul Barton and he enthusiastically shared with me the exploded renderings of all the new loudspeakers. From its exterior, Synchrony One could be considered as somewhat conventional, but the internal design and construction is anything but that. From its extensive bracing, distinctive driver mounting and unique modular construction, the Synchrony One’s internal engineering and design is extraordinary.
Driver complement consists of a one-inch titanium dome tweeter with ferrofluid, a four-inch fine-weave fiberglass midrange and three fine-weave fiberglass six-and-a-half-inch woofers. Compared to many traditional three-ways, the Synchrony driver positioning is somewhat unconventional. PSB has positioned the tweeter below the midrange in order to optimize frequency response for a normal seating position. Furthermore, the three woofers are spread out symmetrically along the front baffle, one positioned at the bottom, a second approximately in the center, and the third at the very top of the speaker. The design is intended to minimize the typical frequency deviation that is caused by the first-floor reflection typical of loudspeakers using a single woofer. By using multiple woofers and placing them at different distances from the floor, the sum of the output of all the drivers creates a smoother and more uniform frequency response throughout their operating range. Additionally, the tower utilizes three ports at the back of the speaker to further augment the lower-frequency response. Another nice touch is the well-made binding posts that allow for bi-wiring or bi-amping the floor-standing tower.
Overall sensitivity for the Synchrony One in an anechoic chamber is rated at 88 dB and 90 dB in a typical listening room. Impedance is listed at a nominal four-ohm load. These measurements are fairly typical for the entire line of speakers for the Synchrony, with slightly lower sensitivity for the surrounds.
Covering center channel duties is PSB’s substantial Synchrony One C. Parallel to the Synchrony One, the three-way center channel uses similar drivers in a dual-woofer horizontal layout. Using the same one-inch titanium dome tweeter with ferrofluid and a four-inch fine-weave fiberglass midrange, the center channel also deploys two fine-weave fiberglass six-and-a-half-inch woofers in an enclosure volume measuring 24-and-one-quarter inches wide by eight-and-three-quarters inches tall by 12-and-three-quarters inches deep. By keeping the driver complement and configuration similar to that of the floor-standing tower, timbre accuracy and dynamic capability are closely matched between the two different loudspeakers. Equally stout in construction, the Synchrony One C weighs 37 pounds.
PSB’s unique Synchrony S surround loudspeaker can accommodate a variety of wiring and placement options. For example, PSB’s “tri-mode” design allows for easy bipole or dipole deployment. In addition, they offer the possibility of using one pair of surrounds for 6.1/7.1 systems by wiring the forward-firing drivers for the side surround channels and the rear-aiming transducers for the rear channels. Their two-way design has a driver complement of two one-inch ferrofluid-cooled titanium dome tweeters and a pair of five-and-a half-inch fine-weave fiberglass woofers. Their triangulated enclosure is 11 inches wide by 13-and-one-quarter inches tall and has a depth of eight inches. Crafted with the same attention to detail as the Synchrony One and Synchrony One C, the surrounds are substantial and weigh 20 pounds each.
The self-powered SubSeries HD10 subwoofer mates an active 10-inch poly-coated fiber cone driver to two 10-inch passive radiators into a compact enclosure displacing approximately one square foot. The built-in amplifier has a continuous power rating of 750 watts and a stated dynamic peak power rating of 2,000 watts. Like most other compact subwoofers, the HD10 uses high-excursion drivers and powerful amplifiers to achieve the performance normally relegated to a larger conventional driver and enclosure. The built-in fourth-order crossover is variable between 50 Hz to 150 Hz. Additional adjustments allow for volume and phase control. The external measurement for the HD10 is a perfect cube with a height, width and depth of 12 inches and a weight of 38 pounds.