PMC Twenty.26 floorstanding loudspeakers

PMC Twenty.26

The rear panel accommodates no fewer than three terminal pairs (just as a three-way arguably should), fitted through a large and removable metal plate that accommodates the crossover network and components, and also acts as some form of heatsink. The speakers are supplied with the terminals linked by gold-plated rods, but these can be removed for bi-/tri-wiring or bi-/tri-amping.

When my reference PMC loudspeakers are installed in the listening room, I normally ‘float’ the speakers on Townsend Seismic Corners, and also use Vertex AQ links between the terminals. The same Seismic Corners aren’t practical with the Twenty.26, partly because they’re much lighter, but mainly because the rear of the loudspeaker’s plinth forms a semicircle and therefore lacks corners. However, it was possible to use the Vertex AQ links, and history suggests that these are often a rather effective indicator to the underlying qualities of a speaker system, as we shall see later.

I carried out my admittedly limited, but nonetheless useful portfolio of measurements, and as usual these proved an impressively accurate predictor of the loudspeaker’s overall character. The in-room far-field frequency response stayed within ±4dB from 60Hz up to above 20kHz, and within an even more impressive ±2dB from 900Hz up to 20kHz under similar conditions. One particularly distinctive trait is that the broad presence band (1.5kHz-5kHz) is notably restrained and laid back.

Under far-field in-room conditions, the sensitivity registers 87-88dB, which is slightly above the 86dB claimed by PMC. However, PMC’s eight-ohm load claim looks somewhat optimistic, as our measurements reveal that the impedance is actually close to four ohms between 100Hz and 200Hz – a decidedly power-hungry part of the audio spectrum. However, there is some compensation in a bass end that extends at full level right down to 20Hz. Indeed, under far-field in-room conditions, the sub-70Hz bass is arguably a little too strong, thanks in part to a c50Hz room mode, and in part to its 11ft transmission line being tuned to a very low 24Hz.

I spent a long time listening to the Twenty.26s – partly, I’m happy to admit, because they always sound unusually and exceptionally easy on the ears. Having them simply doing their thing in the listening room turned out to be hugely enjoyable, since they proved well able to communicate both speech and music with admirable quality and perspicacity, yet they never ever seemed to sound unpleasantly loud or aggressive. This is a difficult trick to pull off in reality, so much so that I can’t think of a speaker that manages it quite as effectively. I did spend a couple of brief hours with a pair of PMC fact.12s, and that time was sufficient to reveal the superiority of the more costly model, which has slightly sharper timing and more expressive dynamics. It’s also probably true that the fact.12s are slightly less forgiving than the Twenty.26s, but I guess that goes along with the same territory.

Arguably a more relevant point of comparison is my old pair of PMC OB1i loudspeakers. The OB1i is effectively the predecessor of the Twenty.26, as it’s a three-way transmission-line loaded floorstander of similar height. A major difference, however, is that it uses a 75mm dome midrange sourced from Vifa, as PMC’s own 50mm unit was still just a gleam in designer Peter Thomas’ eye when the original OB1i made its debut more than a decade earlier. Another significant difference is that the OB1i has a conventionally vertical rather than a backwards tilted enclosure, and it somehow also looks a little less fashionable and up to date, a rather more nebulous but nonetheless relevant observation.

The Twenty.26 is indeed an improvement over the OB1i, but the margin is perhaps not as big as one might anticipate. Indeed, when listening at modest levels some listeners actually preferred the earlier model, perhaps because it projects the upper midband a little more strongly. Where the Twenty.26 scores is in its superior overall smoothness, especially through the broad midband, which is certainly smoother, if also a little more restrained. Measurement tends to confirm this, showing that the OB1i is significantly less even (and indeed more forward) between 600Hz and 2kHz, and also rather stronger in the upper bass (80–180Hz).

The Twenty.26’s combination of a smooth and slightly laid back midband is certainly rather unusual, yet also proved decidedly seductive. This speaker shows absolutely no tendency to shout or become aggressive, yet it’s also invariably highly informative and full of detail. The result is a sound quality that remains easy on the ears even when playing music at relatively high levels, while still delivering plenty of explicit detail at more modest levels.

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