It doesn’t seem all that long ago that PMC launched the twenty5 range of loudspeakers that form the entry level in its extensive catalogue, yet at the Bristol Show in February (possibly the only hi-fi show that we’ll see this year) they revealed the twenty5i range that is due to replace it. The changes aren’t dramatic but they do make quite a big difference to the end result, the main one for standmounts like the 22i is a new tweeter but if we were looking at the 23i or 24i floorstanders there would be anti-vibration mounts in the plinths to consider as well.
There are many similarities with the first twenty5 series of course, the cabinets are the same size and lean back in a trapezoidal style, they also have PMC’s Laminair vent at the end of the (‘Advanced’) transmission line. This is where the carefully filtered rearward output from the main driver combines with the main output to augment the low bass. Laminair as you may recall reduces turbulence at the output and thus results in cleaner low frequencies. It works a treat and I for one am hoping to see it incorporated into PMC’s bigger domestic models.
Twenty5i models have a new tweeter and dispersion grille
The woven long throw mid/bass driver on the 22i has a 170mm chassis and remains unchanged from the unsuffixed version, what has been tweaked is the crossover point that it’s rolled off at. This has dropped by 100Hz to 1.7kHz with the tweeter taking up the slack which PMC considers has a beneficial effect on image dispersion. The new tweeter is not that different to the one found on the phenomenal fact models, it’s a small 19mm Sonomex soft dome with a ring radiator that brings the total diameter up to 34mm. The dome gives it wide dispersion and the ring means it can extend down to lower frequencies and deliver higher power. The crossover has been revoiced to achieve this and PMC claim to have been able to achieve a smoother transition between the drivers thanks to the main driver not having to extend up so far. Apparently this means that the reflected sound is also more even, in a wide dispersion design like any PMC the more even the reflected sound (off side walls, ceilings and floors) the smoother the overall in-room response.
The twenty5.22i is the larger of the two standmounts in this PMC range and while this helps with sensitivity, a high 89dB for a transmission line, this speaker still needs an amplifier with decent gain to get it moving. I had a situation with the fact.12 Signature where a passive Townshend Allegri preamp and my ATC P2 power amp didn’t have enough gain but I rashly assumed that the much higher sensitivity on this model would make this a viable pairing. It got close but amps with more gain were better suited, I tried a few alternatives and found that of the more appropriately priced options the Leema Tucana II was pretty well spot on. I also tried a Bryston 4B3 power amp with the Allegri and a Silbatone JL-109 hybrid integrated and these were both excellent albeit a little bit pricey to be likely partners.
Don’t underestimate this PMC, it may be a medium size standmount but it’s extremely capable in all respects. The refinements that have been made to tweeter and crossover mean it is highly revealing and the high power handling that PMC feels is a necessity means it will play at serious level without losing its composure. But it doesn’t do this out of the box, in fact it took nearly two months to come on song. Not two months of daily use it has to be said, probably about half that, but it served to remind me that speaker run-in is not a myth. One thing that took a while to get used to is the smoothness of the presentation, in the past PMCs have had a brighter than average balance which gave them a strong sense of speed and immediacy. With the latest models, including the fact.12 Signature, this seems to have changed, they have become more sophisticated. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been using various PMCs for over a decade and have had some fabulous results with them, but the latest generation has clearly become more refined.
The twenty5.22i is incredibly revealing in a subtle and nuanced fashion, it lets you hear right into a deep and solid image with pretty much everything in the mix being clear and well defined, it makes other speakers at this price seem a bit crude by comparison. Timing is bang on the money but there is no emphasis on leading edges to draw you into this aspect of the music, it’s there and your body responds to it, but it’s presented in an effortlessly natural fashion that’s quite addictive. It makes the way that musicians interact and communicate with one another all the more clear, the Tord Gustavsen Trio is a great example, on the The Other Side the way that the bass and piano coalesce is magical in its intimacy and nuances. You wouldn’t have thought that a double bass could compete with a piano on this level but put players like these together and it does.
The back panel is laser etched stainless steel with PMC’s own rhodium plated copper terminals
These PMCs can also do bass, the tight, weighty kick drum of Deadmau5’s ‘Seeya’ is given full rein and you can hear a lot of the work that has gone into creating that sound without it getting in the way of the musical impact. David Thomas made some great albums without Pere Ubu in the late 90s and the live Meadville is the best of them, he uses various vocal effects and scratchy electronics to create a powerful atmosphere that this speaker proved very adept at projecting into the room. Vocals are particularly well served, often sounding better than expected, this was true with all manner of artists from Kurt Wagner in Lambchop, Is A Woman is still a great album, to Olivia Trummer and even the growler himself Tom Waits. Putting on Rain Dogs I was very impressed with how vivid the track ‘Gun Street Girl’ was, the ring of the metal percussion and the harmonics of the banjo all take a back seat behind Waits’ brilliant lyrics. Radiohead’s ‘Lucky’ also sounded pretty special, with the voice and guitars stealing the show thanks to the clarity afforded them here.
Out of interest I also tried a Rega Brio amplifier with the twenty5.22i, which is not tremendously powerful but proved equal to the task. Once more vocals stood out, with lots of texture in Ishmael Reed’s ‘Mo Ku Lana, Mo Jinde Loni’ (Bad Mouth, Conjure) and some lovely low rumble in the bass. The whole of what is quite a large ensemble remaining easy to follow and articulate behind the various leads. This amp produces a more upbeat, less relaxed sound that lacks the scale and low end power of bigger amps but does extract a very engaging result at sensible levels.
In all honesty I started off wondering whether PMC had decided to go for a Harbeth style BBC balance in this speaker, founder Pete Thomas is ex beeb after all, but with further listening it became clear that this is a high resolution loudspeaker with a cleaner, lower distortion sound than most. The two similarly priced speakers I put on after them sounded coloured by comparison and masked a lot of the fine detail that the PMCs revealed. This is very good news for anyone who wants to hear right into their favourite music and, equally important, be able to appreciate new music of any variety. Those after serious bass extension or headbanging volume will be better served by the largest of the twenty5i range but the rest of us will find an awful lot to like in this peach of a speaker.