So speakers set up and running and putting all the damage aside (I will be getting replacements eventually). I Had them connected up and powered on the 250dr and let it warm up for a couple hours. I don't see any point talking about the damage any more. The following is for original Twenty.23 owners so we can understand how things have changed.
The stabilisers on the 25.23s might not look as nice as the black plinths but they are solid and easier to work with when it comes to leveling them out thanks to the spike nuts. No seperate washers and bolts anymore and no reversable spikes with a rounded hardwood friendly end either. Instead, PMC provide a set of small penny sized spike shoes. Nice touch. Word of warning, the stabilisers are fresh from the machine cutter and as such are fairly sharp. Unlikley you'll hurt yourlsef but I wouldn't want one slipping through the palm of my hand with those edges. I didn't use the supplied shoes since I favor using the dense Krypton shoes with the silicone ring (it is flush to stop lateral movement but provides no cushioning). I actually start of with Linn Skeet (I have a set from way back when I had Keilidhs) since these are coated with something that makes them slide effortless on wood floors without damage and it is easy to guide the spike in without being able to see what your are doing. Once all the listening to find the best position is done, I swap these out for the Kryptons whch don't budge a micron once mass is applied. Here you can see the PMC suplied chips, next to good ol' Skeet and the Kryptons.
left to right: PMC chips, Linn Skeet, Krypton spike shoes
We've all seen the pictures but the reality is a bit differnt. Battered and damaged speakers aside, the dimensions only differ by a couple centimeters. A couple shorter and one wider than the 20.23s. It seems to give them a very different visual character. They are still elegant but visually sturdier so they don't have that immediate impact the tall and very thin 20.23s do, being a bit more conventionally proportioned as the 25.23s are. Still thin and elegant but 1cm wider makes them look a bit more substantial. I cannot confirm until I get my replacement pair but the quality of the vaneer was incredible. I don't know whether it was luck of the draw or PMC are choosing better samples for the Twenty5 range but I got a beautiful pair in Amarone with a rich pattern that had a light bairly grained section merging to rich red section that centered on an almost black knot in the tree. Just incredibly beautiful and tragic that they are damaged. Absolutely gorgeous. I hope the replacements are as nice.
With a completely non run-in pair of 25.23s my expectations were not that high yet. The older 20.23s took a fair bit of time and the first weeks weeks needed grilles on to tame them a bit and certainly don't deliver the sound you expect on day one. I can't say what the 25.23s will sound like run in yet but even fresh out of the box, wow!
Starting with The Meters, Cabbage Alley to keep it mellow and easy and these old, but well mastered, recordings came alive with a groove to the baselines that was tangible. It was like the difference from adding the SCDR all over again. Every bass note played with such clarity that they seemed to live in the room more than before and the soundstage was instantly noticeably larger than the 20.23 (which are known for their huge for their huge soundstage already). Like someone told the bass guitarist to take 3 steps forward and jam. Next onto The Smiths, the Very Best of (limited edition Japanese double set) and the focus more onto that lucious and precise holographic soundstage making me feel uncomfortable to be so close to Morrissey. Everywhere I went in the room, I could not escape the fact he was just there. I needed to get back to the groove with The Meters again on Rejuvination. Clearly it wasn't a fluke. The low end was hitting hard but clean and grooving. The 25.23s sound like a larger speaker than the 20.23s but a good margin. No longer does there feel like a tradeoff in bass response for the size of the speaker. Finally I turned to something mastered in the modern era and put on Prince, N.E.W.S. One of his more obsure experimental efforts that is uncharitably derided by critics. But if there is a better instrumental jazz funk fusion jamscape I've yet to hear it. This really let the 25.23s work out with a fantastic dynamic range and diverse set of instruments. It was nothing short of amazing. So far I had mainly heard what they have over the 20.23s in terms of low end response and clarity, and soundstaging. Here they had a stunning realism with upper mids where the same thing happened. Performer grew a foot taller and took another step into the room over the predecessor. This album really made the 25.23s seem not so much big for their size so much as sounding simply like large speaker that is much taller and wider. The 20.23s project things a foot or so beyond their location. The 25.23s seem to stretch this out to about 3 feet beyond their edges.
They present a similar signature to the 20.23s but by no means the same signature. I now think it would not be correct to assume that if 20.23s work in your room than 25.23s automatically would. The low end roll off seems much steeper that the older 23s and this has the effect of going much lower with a serious punch. Something I have mentioned on other posts that I lost when I DRed the 250. It is back and more aggressive than before and much cleaner and detailed too. It turns out the 250.2 might have a bit of a low frequency bump by virtue of the fact it is not as wide range as the 250DR which can be more linear. A side effect of this is that is speakers start to roll off sooner, that added low frequency definition the 250DR delivers can be lost and a perceived bass punch with it. But anyone who feels the 20.23s already provide the limit of how much bass they are comfortable with might want to be careful. The 25.23s can really kick ass in the low end - just remember it is very clear bass and can reveal a lot more of what is in the mix.
I've gone through a few system transitions in my time and heard countless others. The 25.23s, non run-in as they were, still managed to deliver a wow factor that I have not felt since I first heard Klout triamped active Linn Kabers back in the 90s. At the time, I thought that was a revelation in clarity and musical joy. The 25.23s have that kind of magic. When I took a 13 year break from hi fi and suddenly fitted 5 new Naim boxes in a rack with 20.23s, you'd think that would have been a wow moment, and it was, but not like when I heard active Kabers the first time. Whether the 25.23s are just a particular good match in my system or memory has fogged how good things really were 20 years ago I cannot say.
Couple other points:
- The 25.23s do not make the 20.23s sound broken. I could go back to them if I had to and I am sure I would get used to the sound again. In fact, I can imagine scenarios where 20.23s may be preferable if the room is very small (mine isn't) and the 25.23s could be too much speaker where a 20.23 would do nicely. Of course, there are 25.22 and 25.21 available too but unless standmounds are of similar size and dimensions to Briks, I find standmounts don't give the solidity and scale. On the other hand, the 25 range seems to have a fair leap forward in mid range clarity a 20.23 cannot match.
- While the 25.23s do not have any of the obvious deficiencies a brand new pair of 20.23s do, the grilles are still required to tame the top end a bit for now. I fully expect them to improve over the next couple months. WIth the 20.23s, it was enough to want to put of serious listening for a while. With the 25.23s, they have enough charms to groove on day one.
- If they sound this good fresh out of a box compaired to well run in 20.23s, imagine what they will be like in several weeks.