When PMC announced the cor amplifier at the 2017 Munich show, you could have knocked me down with a ball peen hammer. Why on earth would a loudspeaker company that distributes two ranges of electronics want to go to the trouble of making an amplifier? The cor reflects the ambition of PMC to enter the marketplace and make an instant impact in the sector. Being purists PMC’s designers didn’t want to make another amplifier just for the sake of having one to sell; they wanted to make something that was at least as good as the loudspeakers they have been producing for over thirty years, which is a pretty big ask.
Those designers more than rose to the challenge. The notionally conventional 2x95W integrated amplifier has a timeless aesthetic that at once looks modern, yet also harks back to classic Armstrong electronics of the 1970s and even the classic fluted plinth that once used to feature on every Linn Sondek LP12 turntable.
The most unusual feature of cor, however, is its tone controls. They allow fine changes in bass and treble output in much the same way as Quad’s much vaunted tilt controls, but add in the fact that they are motorised for remote operation and you can see that things might get difficult. They are based on the sliders used in professional mixing desks using the best parts that are available in order that sound quality is not compromised by their existence; even then there is a bypass switch should you wish to avoid such things. It’s rather nice that tiny LEDs change colour when you shift one of the sliders for tone or balance, white for centred, red for adjusted.
PMC has long been inclined to offer end users a degree of tone control, so that their fact range of speakers have adjustable bass and treble output in order to provide a degree of room matching. But cor goes a lot further, the remote nature meaning you can tweak for specific recordings from the comfort of your Naugahyde recliner or beanbag. Balance control is also provided with a slider and there are mute and mono buttons for those that need them. Mute is actually more useful than usual because the volume control moves quite slowly if you use the remote and it’s a lot quicker to hit mute if the phone rings or a loud recording follows a quiet one. I do like the fine steps that the volume offers however, and most motorised controls are coarser than this one. The handset looks like something PMC may have borrowed from long term ally Bryston; it’s aluminium and has plenty of buttons none of which are given visual priority except perhaps mute itself.