PMC celebrates its 20th anniversary with launch of new twenty speaker range

PMC yesterday celebrated its 20th anniversary with a bash at London's British Music Experience, and to mark the occasion it has an all-new range of speakers – the appropriately-named 'twenty' series.

With radio presenter Richard Allinson and music from The Tin Sprits, featuring XTC guitarist Dave Gregory and with guest performances by Marillion vocalist Steve 'h' Hogarth (above left, with Gregory right) and guitarist Steve Rothery, the celebrations featured a look back over the company's history, tributes from leading producers and mastering engineers, and even some rare sound recordings from Allinson's Record Producers radio series taking us behind the scenes of famous albums.

Clean-sheet thinking

But the main event was saved for the morning after the night before; the launch of the all-new speaker range.

PMC co-founder, designer and boss Peter Thomas (right) was on hand to talk about the thinking behind the speakers, which are an entirely 'clean-sheet' design.

In fact, as PMC product manager Keith Tonge explained, the only components carried over from other PMC models are the fixings for the bass drivers.

Thomas says of the twenty series that 'Starting with a blank sheet of paper and the brief to produce a new range that can do justice to the reputation that the iSeries has gained since it was introduced was a tough challenge.

'Our team has worked very hard to produce the four new models and I am extremely pleased with the results.'

He adds 'I am particularly happy with the developments we have made in our Advanced Transmission Line technology and the incredible bass performance that this has enabled us to produce from the modestly sized twenty.21 model. Music lovers are going to be very pleased with the results from this and all the models in the range.'

PMC's slant on speaker design

The new range comprises four models ranging from the £1375/pr twenty.21 standmounters, and going up to the £3100/pr twenty.24 floorstanders. All the speakers feature a 'lean back' cabinet design, with the front and rear panels angled at five degrees from the vertical to avoid resonances and create some time alignment of the drive units.

A new 27mm soft dome Sonolex tweeter is used in all the models, with a resonance chamber enabling the crossover point between it and the mid/bass driver to be lowered to just 1.8kHz, while a dispersion grille over the tweeter aids the creation of a precise soundstage even when the listener is off-axis.

The mid/bass units – 14cm in the twenty.21 and twenty.23, 17cm in the larger twenty.22 standmounter and the range-topping twenty.24 floorstander - are also of a new design, developed from the fact series bass units and using a hand-doped natural fibre cone.

As in other PMC speakers, the bass unit is loaded with the company's Advanced Transmission Line, all four models now having front vents for the ATL system, and using improved foams within to tune the sound.

Hand-built, hand-matched

The crossovers in the speakers are hand-built and hand-matched on a military-grade glass-fibre circuitboard, using beefed-up copper tracks for current handling, and gold through-plating to enable the optimal positioning of components.

The gold-plated binding posts, like 99.9% of the speaker made in Britain, are bolted directly to the crossover board.

The cabinets are made from 18mm high-density fibreboard, with extensive bracing to stiffen them further. Tonge explains that one of the principal areas of bracing is the top-plate of the enclosure, which is the 'first point of impact' for bass frequencies within the transmission line.

The speakers are finished in a choice of oak, walnut or amarone real wood veneers or – at a premium – in high-gloss Diamond Black. Rare-earth magnets are used to create invisible fixings for the grilles, and while the floorstanding models come complete with matching plinths, decoupled from the cabinets using cork and rubber, optional stands are available for the standmount models.

These use twin columns, with the same five degrees slant as the cabinets, and have metal/rubber/metal top-plates and baseplates for better damping. The front column of the stands can be filled with loading material, while the rear one provides a cable-management channel.

The four models in the range are:

twenty.21: 32.5cm tall, 87dB/W/m sensitivity, frequency response 50Hz-25kHz, £1375/pr

twenty.22: 41cm tall, 90dB/W/m sensitivity, frequency response 40Hz-25kHz, £1825/pr

twenty.23: 94.3cm tall (with spikes), 87dB/W/m sensitivity, frequency response 29Hz-25kHz, £2095/pr

twenty.24: 105.3cm tall (with spikes), 90dB/W/m sensitivity, 28Hz-25kHz frequency response, £3100/pr.

The optional stands are £295/pr, and the Diamond Black finish adds 8% to the price of the smaller two models, and 10% to that of the larger ones.

All the twenty speakers are available immediately, should be in shops within the next week or two, and to complete the anniversary theme all come with a 20-year warranty.

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Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.