Review: PMC FB-1 Speaker
I've been living with these for about a month now and they seem to be broken in. First, as you may know these are from Professional Monitor Company in England who is now partnered with Bryston and attempting to break into the home audiophile market.
The FB1 is a very attractive speaker with cherry veneer in a graceful, tall, slender design. Since they have a large front port, placement to the rear does not seem to be an issue. In fact, placement does not seem critical at all. I have tried them in many different positions with the same results, but more on this later.
The first thing you will notice when listening for the first time is the bass. It is simply stunning for a speaker this size. The bass goes low and remains clean and very detailed. There is a smooth transition through the mid-range and then onto the treble which is extremely detailed.
I would have preferred PMC used a soft dome tweeter but that would not have been keeping with their design philosophy in the professional monitor area. As it is the metal dome tweeter has no evidence of harshness or ringing but it cannot be defined as sweet. It is very realistic.
The overall sound is rather forward and dynamic but after many continuous hours of listening, I cannot say fatiguing in the least. I especially like the way piano and violin sounds but this is one of the very few speakers I've ever heard reproduce the cello so distinctly. Both Loreena McKennit and Vanessa Mae have several cuts with cello and the FB1 is able to separate it out of the background with ease.
On Mae's "Storm", a somewhat complicated recording, there are several very fast bass tracks which could rival any hard rock. The PMC FB1s are just magnificent at keeping perfect time while reproducing all the bass, cello, violin and everything else thrown in. I have listened at very low levels and then cranked them up as far as I could stand and just sat back in awe. The FB1s take everything you can throw at them.
During the past week I picked up a pair of Muse 150 monoblock amps and they had a major impact on the PMCs. The imaging immediately opened up and I was able to move the speakers further apart, to the extremes of my room while actually improving the soundstage and increasing it's depth. The 150's also seem to have imposed some warmth to the PMCs and listening to Diana Krall with them I was struck by a bit of emotion in her voice I had not heard before.
I did have some early problems with the FB1s on my second floor, (carpet over wood) but was finally able to correct (and significantly improve!) the sound by placing a square of marble on the carpet with Vibrapod #3 on top of that and finally the FB1s -without spikes of course..
Some of you will no doubt find the FB1s too much but if you're looking for dynamic realism these are certainly worth hearing. I have heard almost all the bigger B&W line, M&K, and Paradigm and found them to be dry and un-involving (for me). The PMC FB1s on the other hand seem a tad more emotional while maintaining that realism.
Muse 3 Preamp
Muse 150 Monoblock Amps
Muse 8 / 296 CD/DAC
Swan Diva 5.1