The driver array on this model consists of a 27mm dome tweeter that PMC co-engineered with driver specialist SEAS and a 50mm dome midrange from the same source. The big driver change in the twenty5 series is the mid/bass or in this case bass driver where PMC have moved away from coated paper to a woven glass fibre material they are calling g-weave; there is a distinct aversion to capital letters at the company’s Biggleswade offices it seems. The reason for the change in materials is the extra stiffness it brings, which as mentioned above allows it greater excursion and thus greater power handling.
As with most transmission lines, sensitivity on paper is lower than average; this one gives you 86dB for your first watt if you are a metre away, and is specced as an eight-ohm nominal load. So it needs a bit of current, but as PMC has shown with its new Core integrated amplifier, not a huge amount of Watts. Core is a 90 Watt design but you can bet that it can shift a reasonable amount of current when required. I used the ATC P1 150W power amp that forms a reference point in my system as well as one of AVM’s all in one amplifier/CD/streamer/tuners that PMC is distributing in the UK: that being the CS 8.2, a 500W Class D design with a rather different character to the ATC.
With the AVM at the helm, coupled with the rather fabulous combination of Rega RP10 turntable with an Audio Technica ART1000 moving coil cartridge and Tom Evans Groove+ SRX MkII phono stage, things got very entertaining indeed. The already impressive dynamics of Chasing the Dragon’s España with the National Symphony Orchestra recording reached a new high when the full heft of the kettle drums kicked in and I leapt for the volume control, which may have crept a little high by that stage. But this is a speaker that is so effortless and clean that you are very much inclined to wind up the wick, especially with great recordings. Yet at the same time it becomes apparent that nearly all the music I played was well recorded, the engineers may have used a bit more compression on some, but this speaker doesn’t let that get in the way of the music in the way that some can. There are two schools of thought on what a good sound systems should do; one camp expects certain recordings to sound vastly superior to all the others to the extent that many of the others become unlistenable. Alternately there’s the view that a system should make all of your music sound good and encourage you to listen to it. I imagine that you will have guessed that the second option is the one I prefer. It’s partly because the first approach usually achieves its goal without too much concern for tonal accuracy. It’s very easy to make a system that emphasises certain parts of the spectrum and thus benefits certain recordings, but much harder to deliver detail, dynamics, and bandwidth in the context of a linear response. This is the combination of the two that PMC aims for and, in my experience, gets it right more often than most.
Oh... and timing, that most crucial and elusive of qualities. The twenty5.26 is supremely coherent and this means that the music it reproduces is easier to understand and enjoy because your brain isn’t having to make any effort to hear through time smear. It’s arguably the most important aspect of sound reproduction, as your ear/brain can easily accommodate variations in tonal balance and limitations of bandwidth (that’s why you can recognise people on the phone), but when the timing is wrong so is the music. I was recently reviewing Kraftwerk’s latest revision of their preferred works [3D: The Catalogue, Parlophone] and was able to enjoy not only a soundstage that stretched out to both side walls and the ceiling with low level detail right down to the quietest sounds, but also the musical appeal of a band that often leaves me cold. I put this down to the coherence of this loudspeaker, which is undoubtedly in the first league.
This PMC is very nicely balanced, too. It has excellent bass extension and power, clear, clean highs, and an effortlessly revealing midband. Put all these together and you have an unusually low-coloration loudspeaker, one whose evenness doesn’t initially strike you as being all that revealing because there are no little peaks in the upper mid to add that ‘transparent’ sound. But a few familiar tracks lets you hear that the degree of resolution on offer is remarkable. I use PMC Fact.8s as a reference and they have a shade more transparency but are less extended in the bass, and after a few comparisons I started to think that an upgrade might be in order.