PMC DB1i 5.1 review

OK, it might have a traditional look about it, but PMCs DB1i package is a small and perfectly formed piece of greatness Tested at £4675.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

If you want a physically small but sonically brilliant surround package, and don’t mind spending this kind of money, buy the DB1i 5.1 with confidence


  • +

    Impressive combination of dynamics, detail and cohesive sound field

  • +

    subwoofer integrates brilliantly with the rest of the package


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    Not the last word in stylish modernity

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Only a person who equates size with quality is likely to be disappointed by PMC's DB1i 5.1.

This is a small package meant for small to medium-sized rooms, and in such an environment we haven't seen anything at this price that's likely to do the job better.

The use of two pairs of DB1is standmounts is a great start. In stereo form they're excellent little monitors that deliver a pleasing amount of detail in a natural and convincing manner. Despite measuring just 29cm high, they manage to offer decent bass weight and overall solidity, too.

Much of the credit for this goes to PMC's clever bass-loading technique. It's an evolved form of a transmission line, where the rearward output of the large driver is absorbed to a point where just the lowest frequencies remain.

Plenty of low-end heft
These frequencies exit from a rear-mounted vent to augment the mid/bass's output to deliver a deeper, more powerful bass than would otherwise be the case. Listen to the DB1is, and it's surprising just how much low-end heft these small speakers have.

The centre speaker is effectively a single DB1i tweaked to work on its side. Aside from the offset tweeter and repositioned badge, it looks identical. The advantage of using such closely matched speakers is an utterly seamless and cohesive soundstage.

The good news continues with the impressive insight into the dense fight scenes of Blood: The Last Vampire.

It combines a decent amount of bite with the right level of refinement in the treble.

Subwoofer integrates brilliantly
Once properly warmed up, the PMC package gets things spot-on tonally. It's helped massively by the TLE1 subwoofer, which integrates brilliantly. It's rare to find a sub that matches its satellites in terms of speed and agility, but the TLE1 does just that.

Downsides? Well, the surround speakers are all standmounters, so you'll have to factor in the price of sturdy supports.

These are traditional-looking speakers, so there's none of the glitz of style packages. Your four grand buys great sound, and great sound only.

Provided you partner this PMC package with quality electronics – at least a grand and a half on the partnering amplifier – you'll get a stunning performance.

Don't let the size fool you. The DB1i 5.1 package may be small, but they're mighty with it.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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