At this point in time in the world of high end audio, all recommendations and reviews have to be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism, IMO.
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I Have to say that PSB speakers are really well designed and those accolardes are truly deserved.In fact I prefers the synchrony 1 to Magico mini anyday;more coherence, more musical and certainly more affordables...
I have helped many friends with limited budget built their systems and with almost all of them ,centered around PSB speakers.
My only concern is that ,their quility might suffer after moving most of their productions to China.
PSB has proven time and time again, that the company can deliver a really well designed and well engineered product for a very reasonable price point, and with their latest series of products they have proven that they can deliver superb sound on many different price points!
The design of the PSB Synchrony proves how well engineered a product can be and still be priced at an affordable price point.
In terms of the Magico vs PSB comments, I think the Synchrony series is a much more interesting product in that it delivers a similar level of construction to the mighty Magico at a price point which most people can afford snd only Stereophile really focused on this product where many more reviewers should have jumped all over the product.
I am really curious to see what would happen if PSB applies this same advanced cabinet construction and pulls out all the stops with really expensive crossovers and wiring, which is the only area where the speaker could really be bettered.
I do think the Imagines are very good but not anywhere as exciting as what the Alphas offer for the price or the Synchrony series offers for that price, however, the Imagines when well set up offer a tremendous sound, big soundstage, and great low level detail.
11-16-09: TvadI considered that, and posted with the assumption we'd all be aware of that. But PSB has never been the audio press's golden boy in loudspeakers. That title gets passed around among Thiel, Vandersteen, Magnepan, Wilson, Magico, Usher, Sonus Faber, Martin Logan, etc. PSB is too mainstream, too conventional, too affordable.
Remember Siskel & Ebert? They seldom agreed, so when they did, chances are most people would like the film. I get the same feeling here. Anything that both Stereophile and TAS agree on so thoroughly and consistently (plus Soundstage and a host of other online pubs) *must* have something good going on. My personal experience bears that out. PSBs sound so good at their various price points you feel like they slipped you a ringer in the showroom.
And let's not forget, Stereophile is risking stirring up some high end speaker builders when they place a $5K mass-produced PSB right in there with about a dozen handbuilt $16K Class A Limited Extended LF picks.
So where it matters, picking the best at various price points, PSB rises to the top, from entry level up to the big dogs, and at rival publications.
Wes Phillips who has written for Stereophile in the past did a review on the T8. John Atkinson did one on another Tseries but both are years old, going back as far as 2003 on one, 2006 on the other.
Soundstage did one on the T6 more recently. Some offshore mag also did one on the T series towers in 2008 I think. I know I've read all of these, and a couple of them several times.
JA said in his Sync One review, matching with the power train would be key, and in his older one on the T series towers about the same thing.
Each review (and I've read only on the various towers) has applauded the result and the caveats though noteable, could apply to many other speakers too as to which amp, should drive them or could drive them best.
I couldn't help but pencil them in on my own short list as I'm considering making a change in that area myself.
I've not heard any to the best of my knowledge yet, and PSB is pretty busy I guess as I've sent along two emails in the past two weeks without a reply as to if or where I can check them out personally.
Prior to making a PSB buy, I do have to or will have to get to the drug store and order me up some "De-snobery" pills.... great audio gear HAS to cost a lot!! Or it's not great! Right? Isn't that the underlying, hushed implication?
Stereophile for sure has put pretty regularly, items into it's A class which don't have the soaring admission fees. A lot of these lower priced yet higher class sure get snapped up thereafter.... so much for the 'grains of salt doseing' with regard to reviews.
I don't see Mr. Barton's any different than Albert V's. Both men use modest materials to manufacturer great sounding, lower costing loudspeakers. Albert however does offer more upscale models.
Thankfully, I'm in the camp of it's what's up front, rather than the 'break the bank on speakers first' tribe. That said, I'll attempt to drop more than I should on squeakers when the time comes, as my pharmacy is always running out of the "ego no mo" tablets.... and they upset my stomach anyhow.
PSB speakers have always had good reviews starting with their stratus gold line. Lack of high-priced flagship has not hurt them. I own three pair and am impressed with the new line but chose a Platinum T-6 over the synchrony. Quality may suffer in the future if strict quality controls are not followed however.
PSB (along with Pardigm, Energy et. al.) is a big beneficiary of Canda's National Research Council, which finances R&D; because of the government's largesse, the Canadian manufacturers can sell great products at much lower cost. If our government re-directed to the audio industry a fraction of the money they're pissing away on Chrysler or Citicorp, we'd still have a competitive industry.
I agree that the Syncrony is an outstanding speaker and a very good value; I feel the same about the Paradigm Signature. I like that the PSBs are unfussy about electronics; they sound great with just about anything they're connected to. If the Syncrony has any flaw, it's that it errs on the side of extreme neutrality. All things considered, I could live happily with these; I doubt I'd find a $15k speaker which is that much better.
"If the Syncrony has any flaw, it's that it errs on the side of extreme neutrality. "
I can't regard "neutrality" as a flaw. And yes, I agree the Synchronies sounded most neutral when I heard them, which was a major aspect of their good sound at their price point.
I neutral sounding speaker may not sound best in every system out there, but that indicates a flaw elsewhere most likely, not in the speaker itself.
Mapman & Jaybo
Should squeakers be entirely without character always?
Personally, I see that going either way. With a great front end or even a very good one, as transparent and unbiased as a squeaeker can be should be a pretty good thing, all in all.
I can't help but feel I'm in for some disappointment in comparing them to my current refs.... BUT... with any luck in the next few weeks I'll see.
If however the system needs something to ease things up, or provide a more resolute and stark perspective, having some which deter from 'zero gravity' could well be a very good thing. It's all a mixture anyhow. Right?
AS I've been perusing and considering a change with my own squeaker system, I'm being more than cautious as to which way to go from here.
I've seen some slam dunk bargains here and there, but on ones whose 'perspective' on the event seems on paper at least not to suit some needs & desires.
IMO... acquiring the right speaker is more formidable a proposition than it would appear when you think it all out... driveability, room dimensions, esthetic, presentation, size, price, and color.
I did find a PSB dealer which has the Sync Ones on display about an hour & a half away. they sell Dyn Audio too. No Platinum series though.
Dynaudio and PSB are both lines that I could live with (I've lived with a pair of Dynaudio monitors for about 3 years now and still always enjoy them when I listen).
I would not equate neutrality with lack of character. The PSBs had as much character as anything I have listened to in recent years. The "toe tapping" factor was as high as I have heard, perhaps even greater than what I heard with Magico and mbl, though I liked those very much as well. Those also happen to cost 5-6 times as much I believe so I consider the PSBs to be a fantastic bargain.
The "character" of the PSBs (Synchrony floorstanders)was more like the OHM Walsh floorstanders in my system than the Dynaudio monitors. I did not discern a major difference however. The Dynaudios do bass very well for a small monitor but perhaps not as robustly as the PSBs. The Dyns may also be just a bit "tighter" and hotter sounding in my system whereas the PSBs had flow to the nth degree. The PSBs were being sourced from a Cambridge 840c player and my own Linn turntable. Pre-amp was an ARC sp-17 and the amp was a good sized Rogue tube amp, so the electronics feeding them were quite good but neither inexpensive nor the nth degree in cost. Nevertheless, the sound was in the same league as the best I have heard, though certainly not identical. PErsonal preference and fit to room and the rest of the system more than anything else would be the
prime factors in deciding which way to go (also budget of course). But the PSBs left me believing that they are most competitive with some of the best systems out there at much higher cost, if they turn out to be your cup of tea.
There were also a pair of large Maggie 20.1s also at significantly higher cost to compare to. I preferred listening to the PSBs and found I did not want to stop listening, always a good sign! I did listen to some classical music for comparison as well, but my focus was on more popular, swinging music that particular day. Steely Dan sounded really good on those PSBs!
I also have a pair of tiny Triangle Titus monitors in my second system. These may be one of the best values new or used in all audio. They also have that "don't want to stop listening" factor, but their sound is totally different from the PSBs. The little Triangles are perhaps still one of the fastest and most transparent and detailed speakers I have heard. They have convinced me to let go of both very well regarded speakers by B&W and Magnepan that I 've had in my system in past years. They are Stereophile class B rated and their only flaw I hear is that they do not do the lowest octave of bass. They definitley offer an alternate sound to the likes of PSB I would say. WHich is better? Who know. They are both very very good, but much different at least in the systems I have heard them in. YMMV.
>> The little Triangles are perhaps still one of the fastest and most transparent and detailed speakers I have heard. They have convinced me to let go of both very well regarded speakers by B&W and Magnepan that I 've had in my system in past years. They are Stereophile class B rated and their only flaw I hear is that they do not do the lowest octave of bass. They definitley offer an alternate sound to the likes of PSB I would say. WHich is better? Who know. They are both very very good, but much different at least in the systems I have heard them in. YMMV. <<
Exactly... as I alluded to in my post... another perspective on the sound.
I feel my largest issue personally, is my dred of going to monitors instead of floor stander (near full range) speakers. I've been pointed towards some reportedly great ones from Joseph Audio, and JM Reynaud. After speaking with Daedalus too, his RMa's seem justifiable as well, primarily because I can't swing the Ulyssyes on the budget.
JMR has my attention though. If the Grand Vennas weren't so tall, I'd give them a try even though I'd be losing some bass I'm pretty sure..
For smaller rooms and more nearfield listening, I tend to like floorstanders with monitor-like physical driver configurations (drivers closer to each other) but in a well constructed floorstanding cabinet (as opposed to stands).
In larger rooms and for listening from a distance, floorstanders with drivers more separated vertically can work just as well.
Either scenario lends itself well to a better listener perspective for best soundstage, imaging and overall coherency.
The thing to avoid IMHO is listening nearfield to floorstanders with greater vertical separation between drivers covering different frequency ranges.
its more popular today to build loudspeakers to the sensibilities of a generation of 'aging' ears, then to build speakers that just 'play back'. they're nowhere near as much fun for an intial listen, but if you like 'all kinds of music', the one's that aspire to be fair with all frequencies (within their range) always win in the long haul. Its no coincidence that they also are generally easier to set up, to listen to for long periods, and not as fussy about 'tubes vs ss', speaker wire, and anything else thats upstream. that doesnt mean you won't hear differences...but you won't be in tears trying to match components either. PSB has hit paydirt with this line, and the cliche that you could spend many times more and get less is true here. There are a few others of course, but who would have ever thought these canadians would give the world a speaker that can pretty much run with' anything, 'against' anything with any record, or cd, you can throw at it. No speaker is for everyone(and I dig lots of speakers that are different from the psb for a variety of quirky reasons), but its pretty hard to find fault here, and compared to their price its beyond a good value.
Im willing to admit easily, Ive not heard near the number of different speakers yourself or many heere likely have but noticing differences in the way the sound itself is conveyed isnt too hard to do.
I was hasty in selecting the word character without further defining it though I feel it is quite different from the term, colored or coloration. IMHO character points to how the overall presentation is depicted, and colored/coloration indicates tones or notes of the instruments are changed from what they should have or could have been, during the original recital. As when a B flat becomes a B, or a B is then a B sharp.
Consequently, Ive always felt coloration is not something one would want in a fine loudspeaker. Character however, might be. In as much as panels have one sort of personality or nature, and cone units have quite another disposition, though neither may be colored. All however then possess their own character.
Neutrality in my view should mean none of the bandwidth is promoted over any other portion of it by either addition or subtraction.
Transparency to me, says the sound is unadulterated or unchanged from its natural origins.
Certainly both terms being evidenced amount to the amalgamation of a better reproduction system.
For my uses neutrality of a loudspeaker weighs on more than a few parameters than its upstream compliment . And neutrality becomes about as subjective as is the term transparency. Yet Ill give more credence to a transparent speaker over a neutral one.
The character or spirit , if you will, of any speaker system then can be further defined by the sum of its parts, and of course, its voice and preview upon the sonic presentation. One system can be forceful and impacting, while another can be more reclined and well heeled. One more up front and intimate a perspective, and another a distant viewpoint in terms of the sound stage geography. . Even the type of materials used in the drivers & crossovers affect how the leading edges of notes are sometimes presented, by sharpening or rounding them up or off. However all of these systems can be uncolored if the tones being reproduced remain accurate and untainted.
A ribbon, a mylar , cloth, alloy, or even a metal tweeter can reproduce the same tones if properly designed, but somehow I can most often discern which is which, eventually if not immediately. Some tweeters regardless the type just sound better to me, as in the Esotar DynAudio produces.
Of course, if one considers any change whatsoever is accomplished to the original tones themselves by the speaker system, as colorations, your point is as valid in that context.
I pray Ive made my use of the word character transparent, and hope it wasnt used inappropriately.
Ill take your word on the business of we arent there yet too. For my money, if and when that day comes, Id bet it will be quite the thing. Until then I feel outside the requirements for power speakers demand, their voice or character is what equates to a better fit for one system over another if there is to be any interjection of life into the presentation, and why I attribute character as a viable component for picking one loudspeaker system over another as your primary units.
To me, the soundstage proximity to the LP is as important a thing as is the articulation. Currently, Im about spitting distance from the stage and would prefer a second row or third row seat, yet retain the impact and thrust of the music. This factor too contributes to a perception of a speakers personality.
Jim wrote: Of course, if one considers any change whatsoever is accomplished to the original tones themselves by the speaker system, as colorations, your point is as valid in that context.OK. You have characterized (!) my position correctly. I don't agree with your definitions but, based on them, I can agree with your conclusions.
If gear was priced according to time & materials rather than to performance the prices would plunge a goodly amount on many high end components . with the possible exception of loudspeakers using handmade hard wood cabinets . And very slow builders.
Tell me there's 4K worth of materials in an 8K cable... or production costs equate to 40 to 50% of the selling price.
Another member pointed out to me about the items in a mod someone was/is selling which amounted to a couple hundred or less... the mod costs >$1K. $700 - $900 labor?
Folks like Paul Barton and a few others haven't quite lost touch with reality yet... or have another perspective on doing business by lowering production costs perhaps.
I also get that time and energy required for R&D, which equates to the very first unit (s) actual cost being quite fantastic, especially if an entirely different direction was taken instead of massaging previous designs about.
Given the diminishing returns of performance vs. price as you step up the audio/video ladder, it's always seemed to me the bulk of the buying public and perhaps just above that should be the targeted audience. many do just that. Too many other's contend to appeal to upper air demographics only.... like Wilson, Magico, etc. I get the impression these artisans are simply out of touch. It follows though if you make it you name the price for it too.
At any length, congrats to those entities which continue to provide overachieving goods to the public that are stable, lasting, and affordable more often than not.
A litle late on this post...
PSB speakers do get very nice reviews, but did not have a chance to hear them yet. Although I leave in a big city in Canada, it is not easy to find them.
Just recently, I decided to upgrade my speakers, which are 12 years old (B&W 603 series II). They did a great job, but I need something better.....B&W have a special place in my heart -(but a very far from the place in my budget).
Wanted to buy used Nautilus 802s, which you could find for about 5000. But, I could buy brand new PSB T8s or Paradigm S8 for about the same or less.
I have CAP 151 and SACD Marantz 8260. It does a decent job.
Any thoughts out there on: Used Nautilus 802 vs. PSB T8 or Paradigm S8?
Sasha, now that's an interesting question. I have N803's that I love, but have been thinking about upgrading to N802's. Would love to hear comparisons with the PSB and Paradigm, although perhaps that's best asked as a separate thread. I do need to get out and hear these so I can make my own judgements though. Over the past 4 mths I've listened to many higher end models: B&W 802D, Dyn C4, Vienna "Musik", Sonus Faber Elipsa, Wilson Sophia2, NOLA Micro Grand, Magnepan 3.6 and 20.1, Devore Gibbon Nine, Focal Electra 1027 (or 37?). Differences all, and not a perfect one in the bunch, but several I could easily live with. But I think it would make sense to do a reality check with better "bargain" speakers like the PSB and Paradigm.
Despite glowing reviews, I never much cared for PSB's, especially as their price point grew. For just a few more bucks I much prefered others. I originaly thought the little Alpha's were quite good for the money, but the impedance was too tough on many of the little amps and recievers that would most probably fit in the same budget, so in the end they didn't make for that great a deal after all.