Just done a demo. of PMC Twenty5.26 and Harbeth SHL5+ speakers

Just completed a demo. at a dealer of the new PMC Twenty5 .26 and Harbeth SHL5+, the electronics was the Devialet 440 Pro. dual mono. Not familiar with Devialet at all, but the dealer that I trust 100% said it was all that he had that was similar in both price and sound to the Naim set up I have.

Sat for about an hour switching between the PMC & Harbeth and it was the first time I listened to either speaker and the differance was quite wide between both. Harbeth was nice but I perferred the PMC by quite a wide margin and at a 50% cost difference should come as no surprise I guess. Wow, although the PMC only had about 200 hours on it I honestly thought it was simply a magnificent speaker. Top to bottom coherence, detail , a rock solid soundstage, better then my S400, great PRaT, deep and punchy - but still pretty tight and controlled bass. All the music I played was rock and acoustic rock, these speakers seemed to be made for rock music !

My only concern was perhaps too much bass ? Played U2 "with or without you" and the bass guitar lines was simply subterranean in scale and depth. I had never heard this deep & punchy bass in any set up of lesser or equivelant priced speakers (including my S400). Some say PMC speakers can take up to 6m to fully bed in, so will the bass get deeper and more of it ? Could be an issue if this is the case.

My only concern I have now is I have pretty much decided that I want them............ I could take my S400's to the shop and do a final demo. before I drop the cash. Has anyone listened to S400 and these PMC Twenty5 .26 and prefered the PMC ? Although I suspect the S400 will have the slight edge in tight and controlled bass being a closed box design, no speaker I have listened to thus far has tempted me as much to switch speakers. They appear to do everything better then the S400 in what I like and value in speakers.

Cheers, Peter

Original Post

Do you know if they had the Devialet SAM profile loaded for the PMC (if it has one yet) that would probably cause the extra bass extension you experienced.  I can't claim to have heard a 300DR or Devialet 440 and while they maybe in the same price range and I'd argue that they probably sound quite different.  I understand that the Devialet is more neutral than Naim, I sure someone will tell that I'm wrong .  

I personally wouldn't risk a speaker purchase without trying on my system unless I was thinking of changing all that as well.  I'm surprised the dealer hasn't offered a home demo, when I bought my S400's I had a series of speakers Revel, Proac, Living Voice and Devore which I was able to trial (this is in NZ so they should in Oz).  I would have most likely bought a different speaker had I not heard them in my environment with my equipment.  What is that you are looking for in a speaker?  I would have thought the Harbeth would have been a sideways move, different sound for sure but not a major step up from the S400, maybe that would come with the 40.2.

Cheers Simon. I'll ask on Monday re. the SAM profile. Australia is a bit different re. home demos. Most places in my experience are not very happy to lend out equipment for demo. However I'll ask as  the dealer seems like someone who I can build a rapport with , so I'll see how I go. Looking for more of the same as the S400, but with more detail, better mid range detail and intimacy, better/ deeper bass reach for rock music, better 3D imaging and soundstage if I can. My budget is at about the PMC Twenty5 .26 level, I looked into Dynaudo C2 (out of my budget) C1 (not enough bass slam/reach for my room), ProAc D48R (impossible to demo.even in store), Harbeth 40.2 (way out of my price range), B&W, Focal same (way out of my budget for the models I would like , 803, Sopora etc. level speaker), ATC has no dealer in my State. 

Also looked into the Vivid Audio B1, but it looked a bit hard to balance out correctly in rooms with the rear firing woofer and the price was above my budget too.

Peter,

You heard what you heard which, from your write up, sounds like an impressive pair of PMCs.

I own 20.24s and have heard 20.26s which were clearer, better in the mid range than mine and   I can only imagine the 25.26s to be even better. Not cheap though. Farnthorpes are selling a pair of the older model for £3k.

Ray

Yeah Ray, unfortunately we also pay an "Australia Tax" for anything that's nice or a luxury. Tyranny of distance and small population also guarantees this. PMC are OK in this regard, it's other brands that smack us hard for the privilege of quality hi fi.

I just missed out on their demo. pair of 20.26 by one week, very attractive price it was too. Oh well, I'll just have to wait and see if I can demo. either their 25.26 at home or bring my S400 to them for a demo.

Thanks for sharing your findings.

The home demo is definitely the best route here. Even if its with the dealer present and for a couple of hours. You're spending serious money so should get decent service.

Also worth asking the dealer to move the speakers around a little in their dem room, relatively small movements can emphasise or de-emphasise bass at the listening position.

An interesting choice of speakers to audition - pretty much at the extremes of 'flavour' - one being laid back in a  jazz delicacy kind of way, the other more dynamic in a lets party kind of way. Perhaps, as you preferred the PMC, it would be worth trying some other speakers similar in character, now knowing which end of the scale you prefer.

Home dem if you can though

Hungryhalibut posted:

It's a lot to spend. I'd insist on a home demonstration. Big speakers with deep bass can be a real challenge and it would be most unfortunate if you bought them, took them home, and found that they were a disaster. 

Couldn't agree more with you, HH. My very recent experience with 300DR and the ProAc K6s shows just how wrong it can all go between dealer demo room and the home setting. The combination of the two in my lounge was a total disaster, more bloated, booming bass than ectoplasm in a Ghostbusters movie!! If I'd purchased on the basis of the dealer demo I'd now be almost suicidal. Fortunately the replacement of the 300 by 250DR brought about a miraculous transformation (and saved me money into the bargain!). Home demo an absolute must!

Tim

I also agree with Tim and HH.. the other thing to note is that  for much musical information and enjoyment you don't need extended bass, as your brain interpolates.. the AES have got some interesting research papers on this. However if you need to significantly feel the bass  and are into large scale pipe organ music, EDM  or heavy dub then you will need to bite the bullet but be prepared for significant room treatments...

I'll go to the dealer next week and see how I go. If the home demo. is off the cards, how do PMC in general go in regards to close listening distances. Mine is about 8 ft to the S400's, but I could stretch that to 9ft if I have to. I am a bit more restricted in both speaker width apart, about 7ft max. measured between the speaker tweeter to tweeter.

It will be in a room 16ft x 29ft but speakers firing from the short wall and in the left half section of the room all open plan as this is all my wife will allow : (  

crackie posted:

Yeah Ray, unfortunately we also pay an "Australia Tax" for anything that's nice or a luxury. Tyranny of distance and small population also guarantees this. PMC are OK in this regard, it's other brands that smack us hard for the privilege of quality hi fi.

I just missed out on their demo. pair of 20.26 by one week, very attractive price it was too. Oh well, I'll just have to wait and see if I can demo. either their 25.26 at home or bring my S400 to them for a demo.

Peter,

We have something called VAT too which was originally touted as a luxury tax. It's just about applied to every purchase and service now though. At least you have a decent cricket team and good weather. I am convinced our damp and dreary winters are the reason why staying inside playing music is so appealing in the UK.

Ray

If you can't persuade the dealer to let you have a home demo, even just for an hour or two as SunbeamGLS suggested, then take your speakers, and your amp if the dealer doesn't have one unless you plan to change to the Devialet some time, so you know how the speakers behave with your amp. Even though not as good as hearing at home, at least by comparison of the two speakers on your amp and thinking about how different your own sound (or not) compared to at home, you will get some idea of now the PMCs might sound at home.

I really love the higher level PMCs, but as the top of the 25 range they are indeed likely to be great as you have found, and your room is large enough to do them justice. PMCs really do do good bass, especially with a good amp.

What a coincidence as I also played the track "With or without you" from U2 when i was comparing the NACA5 to the Chord Epic several days ago. It is one of my favourite tracks from U2. Although not familiar with the particular PMC model you have auditioned, it is not much of a surprise you preferred the PMCs by a large margin as they will be more efficient in bringing out the bass and electric guitar riffs. The bass of the Harbeth SHL5+ is softer and not as punchy or tight as the PMCs, in general. Electric guitars will also have more energy on the PMC, basically more spotlit. 

In my setup, U2 sounded better when the NACA5 was used with the SHL5+ on 282/250DR/Hicap Dr. Not sure if the Devialet 440 sounds like the Naim or if it is a good match with the Harbeth. The Harbeths will sound soft with most amps though the Naim's hard-charging character matches the Harbeth pretty well. Having said that, with U2 i have little doubts the PMC will be a better choice.

Sorry, just to clarify the dealer has Audio Research, Plinius, Rega Isis and Devialet. He reckoned the Devialet was the closest match to my 252/300 that he had in store. Had to go with what he had at the time.

Good news is I can borrow the PMC over Easter. I'll pick them up this Thursday, and will have a good listen over 4 days. Fingers crossed they work in my room with my gear. 

Excellent - it's funny how 'no home demo is possible' changes to borrow them for four days....

Do beware of what you said in your first post about wanting them anyway. Try to avoid swapping between the two sets of speakers. Just use the PMCs for about three days, then put the Ovators back and just use them. That should reveal which you prefer. And don't be wowed by deep impressive bass and hifi nonsense - see which speakers disappear in the room and pull you into the music - that's very likely the pair you want. 

I demo'd the Twenty.26 a while ago now and thought it was a fantastic speaker. However, once I got them home they were way to much for the room and had to be returned. My room was much smaller than yours but the listening distance and 16ft short room width room was similar. Firing 26 down the short room width may be pushing it... firing down the long length would be better chance of success, try to persuade wife a new room layout may be required, perhaps she is open to bribery? 

Hungryhalibut posted:

Excellent - it's funny how 'no home demo is possible' changes to borrow them for four days....

Do beware of what you said in your first post about wanting them anyway. Try to avoid swapping between the two sets of speakers. Just use the PMCs for about three days, then put the Ovators back and just use them. That should reveal which you prefer. And don't be wowed by deep impressive bass and hifi nonsense - see which speakers disappear in the room and pull you into the music - that's very likely the pair you want. 

Very good advice. Don't let an A/B itch tempt you not to follow it....

Halloween Man posted:

I demo'd the Twenty.26 a while ago now and thought it was a fantastic speaker. However, once I got them home they were way to much for the room and had to be returned. My room was much smaller than yours but the listening distance and 16ft short room width room was similar. Firing 26 down the short room width may be pushing it... firing down the long length would be better chance of success, try to persuade wife a new room layout may be required, perhaps she is open to bribery? 

It really depends on the room. I have often found the reverse to be true....

Michael_B. posted:
Halloween Man posted:

I demo'd the Twenty.26 a while ago now and thought it was a fantastic speaker. However, once I got them home they were way to much for the room and had to be returned. My room was much smaller than yours but the listening distance and 16ft short room width room was similar. Firing 26 down the short room width may be pushing it... firing down the long length would be better chance of success, try to persuade wife a new room layout may be required, perhaps she is open to bribery? 

It really depends on the room. I have often found the reverse to be true....

Yes, as bass is effectively omnidirectional it radiates both down and across the room from wherever each speaker is placed, so in either case it depends just where the speakers and listening position are sited and on the room size and shape - and as always some playing around with those may be necessary when installing new speakers.

Innocent Bystander posted:
Michael_B. posted:
Halloween Man posted:

I demo'd the Twenty.26 a while ago now and thought it was a fantastic speaker. However, once I got them home they were way to much for the room and had to be returned. My room was much smaller than yours but the listening distance and 16ft short room width room was similar. Firing 26 down the short room width may be pushing it... firing down the long length would be better chance of success, try to persuade wife a new room layout may be required, perhaps she is open to bribery? 

It really depends on the room. I have often found the reverse to be true....

Yes, as bass is effectively omnidirectional it radiates both down and across the room from wherever each speaker is placed, so in either case it depends just where the speakers and listening position are sited and on the room size and shape - and as always some playing around with those may be necessary when installing new speakers.

Firing down the longest length of the room will give the speakers and listening position more space and therefore may avoid placing these in areas where low frequency levels are high such as front and back wall perimeters.

MM, hard to say. I had a pair of the old SHL5, and TBH I thought the S400 are similar in the midrange. New SHL5+ is a bit differant. I would say it has a bit better bass (deeper and tighter to me) the rest is very similar to the old version. Hard to really say though, different room, electronics etc. set up to mine at the dealer. 

The Harbeth  is a quality speaker for sure, I just thought the PMC was better on the day with the music I like. 

I have recently found that bass and room interaction can be a tricky problem to fix. I have a pair of motive sx1's on home demo and I love most of what they do but sometimes the bass can be too prominent in my room. I really like them and the bass can sound great on well recorded albums but it may depend on what you like to listen to and if the bass is too overpowering to spoil the fun. If I had a larger room they would have been purchased by now. Make sure you spend some time experimenting with positioning (speakers that is)! 

Set up and playing these PMC speakers now. The tweeter is above ear hight in my listening seat, the mid range unit is at about ear height. The S400 BMR is just about spot on ear height. To do a fair comparison, is this OK for the PMC ? The manual is not real clear on speaker hight recommendations IRT the tweeter. The tweeter appears to be very forgiving yet detailed enough for me so far in the test. Should I drop the height of the front screw spikes to move the front speaker angle or will this mess with the back rake time aligment of all three speaker units in the speaker design  ?

Also do PMC speakers benefit much from toe in ? I have got them toed in so they cross about a foot in front of my seat.

Not looking good for the PMC. Splashy treble on quite a few less than stellar recordings. Could be the Chord Odyssey 2 that I am using, moved the toe in and it has helped a bit. From firing right at me to any a few degrees of toe in now. 

Very explicit speaker in my room & my gear, much more than the S400. Vocals appear much better though.

Interesting following this thread.. I have experience with Harbeth C7es3 and PMC twenty5 speakers. In my listening environment and equipment the PMCs had a good tightish deep bass and good mid range, with reasonable dynamics. However to my ears the treble was poor, with apparent  grit or distortion on some albums, notably classical music and the most extreme with choral. On rock and pop this seemed to sometimes translate to added 'bite' or 'excitement' but at the loss of resolution and with added sibilance.

The Harbeths on the other hand were sublime in the treble and mids... choral music, strings, saxophone, voice all played wonderfully with no added grit or sibalence and with wonderful resolution, however the lower mids and bass was soft and lacked good definition, it was often hard to follow bass lines without concentrating.. dynamics also felt sat upon compared to what I like.

in the end I opted for neither speaker long term.

Simon

Right. Sorted the NACA5 out and it seems the PMC is drawing ahead now. More engaging than before, I'll give some examples while it's still fresh.

1. Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here. The start really did sound like a 1950's radio was locked inside the right speaker and playing. Not "somewhere over there" like in the S400. Vocals locked in much more centre stage as opposed to  "somewhere in the middle" like the S400.

2. Roy Orbison on Mystery Girl, you could clearly make out a legend in the twighlight of his career e.g. his voice sounded the like the age he was. But boy did he still have it...... emotion and the legendary vocal range was still very much there.

3. Johnny Cash with Joe Strummer in Redempition Song, again full of emotion & pain, for the first time I could clearly make out  2 acoustic guitars. Not a song that sounded like it had only 1 spread over the mix as in the S400.

4. AC/DC Who Made Who. Full of angry guitars and vocals. Almost scary real.

Again on Highway To Hell, angry and even more raw - in an appropriate way of course.

Still trying to catch out the Transmission Line bass, not done it yet. It's low, tight and certainly not "one note" like I have heard it sometimes described. Perhaps the S400 has a touch cleaner and defined lower bass / midrange bass punch. Not much in it though.

 I can crank the volume up and they remain composed and unfazed with this. A surprise as being ever so slightly on the explicit side I was half expecting them to fall apart a little bit with a bit of stick on the volume, not so.

Again with the toe in, I had way too much and it was unpleasant. 

At lower volume levels these are at least as good as the S400, perhaps even a touch better. The soundstage remains solid and does not collapse like in lesser speakers. 

Negatives ? Only one so far, a bit explicit or very accurate , which ever suits the "flavour" of them and how they were voiced by PMC.  I have not tried the magnetic grill yet, as they are still fresh sealed in factory plastic and I do not want to tear them open and possibly upset the store. So this may yet  tame the slightly explicitly nature I hear. Apart from some songs that I still have to play and if they really fall over, I think these are a winner.

edit: just read Simon in Suffolk post. Yes, I get the sibilance you are referring to. It goes away a bit with less toe in, I'll have to dig out some more crappy 80's recordings and see if it's still there after a few more days run in. Although they said they had about 100 hours on them already. The sibilance was quite obvious on Men at Work Downunder, Lou Gramm Midnight Blue.

 

Cheers, Peter

Just make sure that you take plenty of time before deciding. Some of the things you mention appear to be those initially impressive Hifi imaging artefacts that can ultimately become irritating. Is it a good thing that the radio appears to be locked in the speaker, rather than being something over there? I suspect it may not be. 

I really don't like testing speakers, though I've found that it's the sad songs that can tell them apart, rather than impressive stuff, if that makes sense. June Tabor's 'the band played waltzing matilda' from Airs and Graces, or Richard Thompson's 'the woods of Darney' from You? Me? Us? are two tracks I've used in the past.

After a hard day's work, when you sit down to listen with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, you don't want impressive, you want enjoyable. 

All that said, the PMCs may wipe the floor with the Ovators, which I've not heard, other than playing background music at the Hifi shop. I very much enjoyed my time with twenty.23s though. 

Crackie, I've found that the 20.23's seem to work best firing straight ahead without any toe in. As well, I felt that the 20.23's needed longer than suggested 100 hours before they properly come on song. This might not translate to the 25.26's of course but it's something to bear in mind I suppose.

Of course, you're listening to a system so the tweeter may be revealling stuff generated elsewhere, may be running in or may be it will always be like that in that system.

I always run my 20.26s with the grilles on, but that's only because I don't like the look of them without. The grille doesn't seem to have any noticable downsides.

If you're using NACA5 don't underestimate what SL can do to make the treble much more detailed and open whist not bringing any nasty edges.

Called it a day, your can get "over" any system I suppose if you are concentrating too much and you end up just hearing radio quality music after a while, the brain just gets over it all. Will try a few of your tips. Thank you all for chiming in with ideas, as I never would have thought of taking the housing plug off the S400 end of the speaker cable in order to connect to the PMC. Always assumed it was hard soldered in place.

I will try again tomorrow, fresh.

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