PMC vs. Salk Sound Speakers. Which is better?

PMC speakers out of England have come on like a freight train in recent years including being awarded an Emmy for outstanding performance as speakers in mixing sound tracks for top motion pictures. Their high end home line of speakers always get good reviews but their prices seem very high compared to other speakers. Salk appears to make great speakers at much lower prices. For example, the Salk Veracity HT3 costs $6K and the PMC PB1i cost $14K. Has anyone compared these brands and which do you think is better?
Never heard salks but I seriously doubt a boutique brand like that is going to give pmc any real competition. I've owned a lot of speakers and pmc is at the very top of my list. Their i series is superb and worth every penny IMO.
Jaxwired wrote: "Never heard salks but..."

With all due respect, why comment if you have never heard them? It's very hard to compare these two manufacturers (even assuming that you have heard units from both companies) because PMC is a large company, primarily focused on products for professional audio. Home audio speakers are a side line for them.

Jim Salk has a tiny company and manufactures very unique and beautiful speakers with an special emphasis on customized products and cabinet work. While I don't own a pair but I have heard them many times and they are very special.
Salks are good speakers; I've heard one of the recent flagships. I think my Thiel CS3.7's are better, though. The Thiel's are within your range used and I'd recommend them if you have a very good front end and amp. If not, the Salks are more forgiving. Haven't heard the PCM's.
Exactly, how did you choose these two speakers as potential choices? I would love to hear an answer to that question.

My best advice, and truly the only advice is to do your research -- reviewers are pretty straight up, outside of Stereophile-- and then purchase what seems like your preference. This is America, so we have way too many choices. I could tell you that Zu Audio will satisfy your soul, but that is for you to decide. It did satisfy my soul and more.

Bottom line, ya gotta drop some money to find out for yourself
I checked out some photo's on the net of the crossover boards from Salk and PMC. The crossover board in the PMC PB1i is a stunning piece of work, very sophisticated with a generous amount of parts. Serious engineering. Looking at the crossover board in the Salk HT2-TL looks inferior to the PMC. Very skimpy with very little parts. Looks like a High School DIY project. Most speaker companies buy their drivers from Accuton, RAAL, ScanSpeak, Viva, Seas and SB Acoustics. The heart and engine in any damn good speaker is the crossover network.
Audiozen - seriously? This is a stunning piece of work?

Plenty of electrolytics, iron core inductors, and $.25 sand cast resistors. Those are not high end parts, and just because there's a lot of parts doesn't mean it's any more engineered ... in fact the inverse is often true. More parts are often an indicator that proper engineering wasn't done in the early parts of the design phase.

As a designer myself, there's no doubt in my mind the Salk is the better speaker ... and being less money is just icing on the cake.
Seriously, you're judging the quality of the crossovers based on the number of components? What does a "generous amount of parts" even mean?
Vapor1..your point is interesting...explain this..I have viewed many photo's over the years
on the net of crossover boards in many different speakers and one thing thats in common with the top speaker companies and models selling above $10K is that their boards are larger with a greater volume of parts and larger power supplies, and some have up to three large boards for the highs, mids and lows. Are you saying that these crossover designer/engineer's are designing larger boards that are not necessary and its nothing more than snake oil to convince the customer that spending a lot more money on high priced speakers is justified?

Perhaps you are confused in regards to number of parts and sound quality. Some of the world's most highly-regarded speakers have very few parts. Take Fried speakers, for example. Their designer, Bud Fried, used anywhere from 6-10 parts p/crossover and achieved miraculous results. Or take a pair of Spendor SP1/2s. Derek Hughes used 12 parts p/board and created one of the all-time classics. Yes, there are designers who use more parts and also get superb results, but to say that there is always a positive parts/sound correlation is simply not accurate.
You can't judge the quality of a crossover by the quantity of its components. Many times, simpler is better, and that simplicity is most likely driven by the choice of drivers in the speaker.
Haha, no I'm not saying anything is snake oil or that anything isn't necessary. What I'm saying is that smart designers use as few parts as necessary to do the job perfectly, and no more. I was also saying that the majority of the parts on that PMC board are very inexpensive (and often frowned upon) parts.

Salk doesn't use high-end parts either (although better than what's on that PMC board), but with a Salk you know you're getting a flat frequency response and proper phase tracking ... all with a crossover that's only as complex as it needs to be. That may or may not be the case with PMC. I've seen some PMC's that measure relatively poorly, and how it measures is a testimony of how well the crossover is engineered.
Power Supplies? In a speaker?

Vapor is correct, the number of parts is meaningless, in fact many excellent speakers have only one or two parts in their crossovers; some have none. Lots of parts can mean the use of correction networks to "fix" defects in drivers. Also, the use of electrolytic caps is something I avoid religiously in the gear I build, even in amplifier power supplies if I can.

Printed circuit boards look neater, but in most cases that means you are connecting the parts with aluminum wires, not the copper or silver usually used in point-to-point wiring. Copper and silver are far better conductors than aluminum.
Love my IB2i. They do everything extremely well, to my ears, and seamlessly. But I do think they're too pricey. That said, given how much I enjoy them, I don't regret the expense.
IMO: As far as quality of parts in Salk crossovers, he uses whatever it takes to satisfy his customers. If the customer desires different/better parts than his standard crossover he will accommodate them with anything they want, the sky's the limit. At some point he will tell them they're wasting their money though.
With regards to the original question you must hear them yourself - getting others opinions is only really of value getting ideas about what you should listen to and perhaps the best way to audition them.

But I am sitting here shaking my head at the quality of parts Vaopr1 said are used in PMC speakers - electrolytics - my god - in a $14k speaker. My new speakers cost $15k and they use Duelund Cast Copper capacitors - at $14k you would expect something a bit better. And yes you can tell the difference - I have heard comparisons of speakers where the only difference was Mundorf Silver In Oil and Duelund VSF Copper - The Duelund murdered the Mundorfs - but electrolytics - the mind boggles.

I have heard PMC's although not the model mentioned - they were average to my ears. I haven't had the pleasure of hearing Salk speakers but I know people whose ears I trust that have and they are fairly impressed.

However if you are considering $14k I would have a look at plenty of other speakers as well as the PMC. In that price bracket I like the Rockport Mira 2.

Rja, very true. I just ordered a pair of Soundscape 8's from Jim, and was thinking of upgrading the capacitors in the tweeter position. Jim told me he thought it would be a waste of money to upgrade the other caps in the crossover (mids and woofers). And I had asked him to cost out Duelund VSF Copper vs. Mundorf Silver In Oil. We settled on the Mundorfs primarily due to cost as the Duelunds may be a little bit better in sound quality but not at three times the cost of the Mundorfs. Dennis Murphy is recognized as being an expert in crossover design and I believe his ethos is simpler is better(he designs the crossovers in the Salks). Having not heard any PMC's I can't comment on them vs. Salk.
As to why I would choose the Salk's, a number of things come into play. As Rja mentioned, the customizability of components and finishes is one reason. The fact that I am getting a well thought-of high end speaker at direct sale without a middle man (dealer) makes it much more a ffordable than comparable speakers. The type of bass system employed favors deep but tight bass in my room (two 8-inch woofers and 12 inch passive radiators per speaker) rather than a sealed box or ported speaker. The fact that my amplifier is 250 watts per channel and the sensitivity of the Salk's is 87db/watt( no inability to drive them here!). The driver choices are also a factor as the tweeter is a very highly respected ribbon (RAAL) and the midrange is perhaps one of the best in audio (Accuton ceramic).And Dennis Murphy's crossover simplicity appeals to me rather than a much more complicated pathway. Add to these factors that I heard the Salk's at a show and the sound spoke to me, and there you have it. The PMC could be better, I dont know, but due to the factors listed and the sound I heard, the choice of speakers was clear to me. Whenever someone asks "is this one or that one better?", it brings up a sticky issue. There will always be a better speaker than the one you or I have, but can you afford it and just how much better is it? Is a $100,000.00 dollar speaker ten times better than a $10,000.00 one? We all hear differently, have different ancillary components and different rooms, so my idea of better maybe be your idea of crap. Without having the two speakers in question available to do a side by side comparo in your home, with your equipment,I feel the question is moot.
Okay...I'll come clean as to why I really started this thread. Too see how many fools would reply that would be stupid enough to blow $14K on a pair of PMC PB1i speakers that is currently the most over priced speaker on the market. A rip off. I respect Vapor1's input as a designer and I'm well aware of low, mid, and high grade conponents that go into a speaker's crossover network. Dennis Murphy, the brilliant engineer crossover designer for Salk, has written an article on the Salk Audio blog called "Crossovers 101". A great read. Salk speaker's are not only #1 in the U.S. as the best and highest quality speaker for their price but are #1 in the world as well. There is no way in hell there exists any other speaker company on the planet that can even come close to the quality of Salk for the money. The remarkable options and upgrades that Jim Salk offer's is over the top. You would have to spend well over $30K to get the woodwork and cabinet quality of the Salks. Peter Thomas of PMC is an Audio politician and attracts Audiophile customer's that live in the Audiophile Matrix. The type that picks a product based on all the Hype in the media and the mags. The PMC PB1i has a forty pound wood cabinet that is hollow due to the vertical transmission line tunnel inside with a large single folded piece of absorbing foam. It has one dinky crossover board with cheap parts for a three way speaker and four drivers which brings it up to 57 pounds. For $14,0000?. Fool's gold. Hell, if your going to spend that much, buy the top model from Salk or the Acoustic Zen Crescendo which you can pick up at a discount. The Salk and Zen will blow the PMC out the window. And good luck trying to connect a pair of standard 12mm locking banana connectors to the PMC. They won't fit. Too big. The PMC's will not accept banana plug's larger than 4mm. Their binding posts are crap.
OK. Good One. You fooled me.
Well, at least you confessed to being a prick, so there's something honest about you. Good for you: now you're honestly a prick.
The whole hifi industry -- where $200K speakers are the new 100K speaker, and the landscape is littered with 1m/2m cable runs that each cost as much as good cars -- and in selecting a product to bash as overpriced, you choose a nice looking $14K pair of tower speakers??
Well I have owned the PMC IB1 & MB2 and after doing my own research,said ""NO WAY"" to their $peakers.
IB1 is $9999 and uses a $30 tweeter,$70 mid and a car audio woofer.The MB2 at $18,999 got you a basic ATC design mid and a cool woofer worth $300.And R&D time I am sure settles in here but when they wanted $900 for new MB2 grills(mdf & grill cloth)to replace my wraped ones........ I sold it all and will never look back.
If you can buy a used pair for 1/3 the cost,then your good.
02-08-10: Mclsound: My neighbour brought his PMC IB1's over this wknd for a true comparison of the MB2/IB1.... We both agreed that these speakers are some of the best we ever heard.

Your words. Not mine.
If that's true, then I can at least understand why you're upset. Charging $900 for basic replacement grilles is not what you'd expect from a company that took pride in its work, ownership of its products, and prioritized customer satisfaction & loyalty.

If you'd included this valuable context in the opening post, then this thread might have gone down so much better.
If the grills of my IB2i were to become warped (I assume that's what Mclsound meant by "wraped"), PMC will replace them free of charge for the next 18 years. That's how long I have remaining on the original 20-year warranty, which is transferable. I'd call that a company that prizes customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Jim Salk even send a free replacement grill to a second owner. Many times, Jim offers free of charge sevice like speakers re-inspection, veneer buffed to a second owner if they are willing to pay for shipping. How is that for a service. This kind of stuff being mention by Salk owner all tge time on audiocircle/Salk thread.
First of all,as I said""at 1/3 the cost they are a great speaker" and 3-4yrs ago I still had lots to learn about the inner industries manufacturing politics.I recently watched a gentleman order some IB2's and all said and done,they were the better part of $15,000 all in.I said that he should wait for a little bit but it was already done. 3 weeks later a used pair of one year old came available(20yr warranty) for $7500...But I personally have learned my lesson.
The grills were off of your USA distribution demos(1yr old) and were left in the box I guess and Maurice told me to buy them myself.I called PMC in England and they said it was going to be $199 pounds each + shipping+taxes for each grill.This grill was 2 pieces of 1/4" mdf glued together with grill cloth and a PMC logo...I sold those $20,000 MB2's for $8000.
A friend of mine went into a Toronto dealer and demoed the PB1i and OB1i and was looking at a cash deal on the OB1i.They said ""for CASH with taxes all in....$7700""He fell on the floor saying $7700 for a 6.5" Morel woofer was a joke and later found a used pair for $2800.
AGAIN,great sound if you can get them for 1/3 the cost.
I see they have a new pair of ""SE"" versions with stands...I wonder what they run a pair with the stands.
However,I highly recomend McCaulogh(??) audio In Winnipeg Manitoba if you are looking to buy new as he is a fair man to deal with I was told by local Winnipegers.
As much I like the sound of the IB2i, I agree that they are a poor value proposition at retail prices. Of course, the same can be said of most of high-end audio.
The bottom line..when you buy a PMC your buying a Ford Focus with a nice paint job. Again, anyone who spends $14K on the PMC PB1i with a 40 pound wood cabinet, four low priced drivers and one crossover board with low priced parts should get a lobotomy. When you buy a Salk, your buying a Rolls Royce for the price of a Chevy. Salk gives you the option to customize the crossover network to your liking by upgrading the capacitors. Certain caps in crossovers can produce a warm, laid back speaker or a very neutral, forward sounding speaker, so you can contour the type of sound that fits your personal preference. Jim Salk and Dennis Murphy will consult with you and recommend the caps that fit your tastes. Thats as good as it gets. Their house crossovers are still damn good producing outstanding sound quality but you get the upgrade option to take it to the very limit.
Audiozen, as a confessed troll, you have no credibility.
He's definitely an over-the-top Salk fanboy.
Whether he's a shill or not, I don't know, but I have never heard any Salk speakers so can't comment on them, PMC is another matter.

I have owned three pairs, and bought all either used or at "sale" prices and think they sound fantastic. I have auditioned several other brands that have a great reputation that might have better so called drivers/crossovers that I didn't like nearly as well.

So, I guess at the end of the day, it's all about what sounds good to your ears, marketing and opinions not withstanding.
I heard several Salk speakers at the 2010 Akfest and was disappointed. The midrange was very prominent which created a glassy/murky sound. Never heard a PMC speaker in person. Jim Salk might be a great guy but over the top customer service can't justify buying (IMO) a poor sounding speaker.
Glassy?...Murky?...boy, theres nothing worse than a murky speaker. Just goes to show that Audio Shows are not the proper venue to listen to speakers due to set up challenges and poor room acoustics. I listened to the Salk HT2-TL with a Parasound Halo JC2 Preamp and the Halo A21 amp in January at a friends home. He bought the system in early December. He switched out the fuses in the amp with HiFi Tuning fuses. Sound is mind blowing. Also, the ongoing wave of dozens of Salk owners on Audiogon in all the threads are the happiest speaker owners you will ever come across, as well as many owners on other blogs and threads on the net all over the country. Salk has a cult following that is huge. Word of mouth is the most honest and accurate method to judge audio gear. Also, the RAAL
70-10 tweeter in the Salk costs $389.00. Thats nothing to sneeze at.
Bose has an even bigger following than Salk. What's your point?

Fuses? Please! What tiny shred of credibility you may have had just "blew."

And Salk uses the 70-20XR OEM tweeter, not the 70-10D.

Don't get me wrong here. I was present at one of Jim's first public appearances with his first 2-way at an event in Iowa. Gorgeous looks and sound. His stuff can run with most anything out there. There's no doubt that Jim offers a great value for the audiophile. And his finishes are really top notch.
My PMC Fb1i Signatures sound great. Considered Salk at the time, but the engineering behind the PMC's - a correctly designed transmission line enclosure - was obvioulsy beyond Salk's capabilities, which seem to be focused more on parts quality and lovely boxes.
Beyond Salk's capabilities? Baloney!! Jim Salk is a recording engineer and Dennis Murphy is an electrical engineer designer of crossover networks for many years. Salk speakers are also transmission line designs fine tuned
to exact mathematical standards by long time transmission line experts Paul Kittinger and Martin King. Paul is in partnership with another speaker company, Philharmonic Audio. You were saying?...
You are correct..I just spoke to Jim Salk and he is using the 70-20 ribbon with a modified core. My eyes tricked me. Regarding Bose..are you kidding me? Bose speakers are not high end. Make good radios. Amar Bose filed a lawsuit in 1968 in a New York court against High Fidelity Magazine for a very bad review of the original 901 speaker which was a piece of crap. No copper voice coil over a coil form. Just a long hollow aluminum tube connected to each driver that acted as a capacitor for the driver. Now thats cheap!! Bose is not, and never has been a high end speaker in the Audiophile world. Not unless your stupid and gullible. Bose is for housewives. And your not aware of the major performance differences switching out fuses in amps and preamps? That is common knowledge among Audiophiles for years.
Audiozen, audiophiles also claim all kinds of advantages to: putting speaker wires on lifters; adding baubles to their racks to deal with "resonances"; 3' of power cable between the 30' of romex in their walls and their amps. Common knowledge, so to speak. Common knowledge with no basis in any kind of objective metric. It's common knowledge that Bigfoot is real too.

If you're here to praise Salk's stuff, fine. But spare the mumbo-jumbo about fuses turning an amp or preamp from blah into something positively amazing. This is a speaker forum after all.

A cult following does not define a good speaker. I used Bose as an example of that since their customer base is much larger, and probably as loyal, as Jim's. Bose's fan base proves that you don't have to make great sounding speakers if you have adequate marketing prowess. Salk's following proves that a good product will garner a long list of customers.

The issue with your view is I don't think you have had many people over to actually hear stuff - I have - nor have you gone to others places to hear different stuff - I have.

It varies enormously what people think is a 'better' sound and system synergies cause widely varying effects. On my speakers for example my reference DAC sounds very dynamic, detailed and, for me, real sounding - so much so some hate it - describing the detail it reveals like ultraviolence - it's like watching clockwork orange and they don't like it. In other systems its very smooth and a bit boring - the exact opposite.

It is quite possible some prefer PMC to Salk - its just the way Hi Fi is - if you don't like it - get over it - because its rampant in this hobby.

I am very perturbed about the use of electrolytics in such an expensive speaker - but people listen to the sound - the parts used are simply what is used to give the sound - if they like it what difference does it make?

You need to listen to more stuff with others - a LOT more stuff IMHO.

I've followed many-a-thread here over the years and this one may be the most pointless of all.
"I've followed many-a-thread here over the years and this one may be the most pointless of all."

My opinion; whatever floats your boat. If you like PMC, great, I have no problem with that. If you like Salk, that's fine too. What's the problem here? No need to start hating on each other.
I got to agree with Vapor1 here and also Dodgealum. I don't post much here anymore because the questions never get answered but comes down to a lot of wienie wagging.

Parts do make a difference and they don't have to be laid out in a neat order. Look inside a TRL Dude preamp. Wires all over the place. Circuit boards can also go bad over time do to heat, not sure how much heat in speakers but in repairing old tube gear I see many circuit boards damaged beyond repair. I wonder why a $14K speaker uses cheap parts? More expensive resistors don't cost that much more or even better caps but I see so many high end manufacturers of components using cheap parts (resistors, caps, volume control). That is why most people are spending so much on having upgraded parts installed.

As far as the two speakers, I have heard both in different systems. Cannot say that I prefer either. I don't judge a speaker until I can hear it in my system with my gear. I know the sound of my system and room. Only then can I judge what I prefer. Too many times people hear something and say that they did not like the sound. Not sure how they come to that conclusion. For example in the past I heard Dodgealum's system. I brought over a preamp that I designed and I thought his system sounded completely different with my preamp. He has moved on to a different preamp since then and my preamp design is significantly better now also. I can tell you that most if not all of you have a preamp that does what my preamp does. The Salks won't sound murky or glassy. I have also heard manufacturers use components at shows that I wouldn't use with their speakers. I wonder all the time, do they think this sounds good? Why would they use that gear with those speakers? And last, the price of a component means nothing. It comes down to the sound in your system and what you prefer. And to me the only way to tell is to get them in your system.

Happy Listening.
Bigkidz..the price of a component means nothing? What a stupid statement. I have a metal lunch box I converted into an integrated amplifier with a five inch speaker on the side and a internal transistor radio amp that I can sell you for $10K. Because it sounds great! Hell, when I buy a speaker, amp or preamp I make damn sure I look under the hood to know what I'm getting for the price. Not to just buy a product blindly at a high price because its a politically correct audio component. In the real world of costs, The PMC PB1i speaker should sell for $3K, not $14K. but since PMC has made a commercial name for itself in the Pro recording world, they want you to pay for the name first, and ignore the very low cost to make the PB1i speaker. Is their a better British speaker at a lower price that is superior to PMC? You betchum!! Proac!! Their killer stand mount monitor, The Response D, is only 26" high but weighs a very heavy 55 pounds, with better drivers
and crossover, and it will play all the way down to 25Hz. Cost is only $6K. Or the very large Proac floor model, the D40-R, that is 47" high, weighs 88 pounds, and will play down to 20Hz. No need for a subwoofer. Cost is $12K, $2K less than the PMC.
Cmon Audiozen...your not going to stop there are you.I am sure Jim appreciates all your doing here for him???
I may dissagree with PMC pricing but they have good SQ.
I think Bigkidz hit the nail on the head. Whether you like PMC or Salk, it's possible to make either one sound good or bad by using ancillary equipment not suited to them. And it's just as possible for a $15,000.00 preamp and $25,000.00 amp to make a speaker sound bad (or good) as it is for a $1500.00 preamp and $2000.00 amp to make a speaker sound good or bad. Depends on the implementation of the components and if there's something about them that doesn't suit the speaker (or vice versa).One example: if you have an impedance mismatch between the output impedance of the preamp and the input impedance of the amp, then it's likely whatever speaker you are listening to them through isn't going to sound good. Interconects and speaker cables also provide plenty of opportunity to make or break how any speaker sounds. Either the Salk or the PMC (or any speaker) could sound very good in one system and sound like crap in another. Rooms and placement are another way to showcase your speakers or destroy what they're capable of. So when someone says this brand of speaker is great but that one is crap, what kind of system and room are they listening to them with/in?
In my opinion Salk's new Silks are atleast $1500-$2000 over priced. So I guess he is starting to charge for his company name as well.
Never heard Salk but have been a avid PMC user for 3+ years. As good as the PMCs are they are seriously overpriced. My model is the OB1i, a nice 3 way floor stander that IMHO represents the best value, if possible, in the I series. When I purchased them the list price 3 years ago was $7500. They now list for $8500. About 2 years ago PMC introduced a step up model from the ob1i, the pb1i. It consists of exactly the same drivers and cabinet design but with a extra woofer and more height to house the double woofer array. I was interested in a listen but stopped dead in my tracks when learning this new model lists for 5 thousand more than the ob1i! This is for 1 extra driver and a little extra cabinet. The overall benefit of the extra driver is a more bass but for 5k. I ended up buying 2 used JL Audio Fathom f110 subs and a Bryston 10B sub crossover to augment the ob1is for less than 4 thousand. The bass is now light years ahead of the pb1i and a lot less cash.

So after this long rant in a nutshell PMC sound great but they have to reign in prices. I am not saying switch production overseas but at least make the factory more efficient. As a side note the materials and assembly quality while very good in not great.