We’ve got to admit we worried for PMC’s Twenty 23s.
Their hefty price tag seems mighty steep for such a compact two-way floorstander. Remember, similar money can buy larger, hugely capable alternatives such as ATC’s 3-way SCM 40s or the multiple Award-winning ProAc Response D18s.
Our doubts lasted right up to the point at which we started listening. Simply put, these PMCs are great.
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Before we start getting too effusive, let’s be clear that physics dictates that any speaker sporting a single, relatively small 14-cm mid/bass unit is always going to struggle to match larger rivals when it comes to volume levels and bass reach.
That said, the combination of a high quality doped-paper mid/bass driver and PMC’s transmission line-bass loading technique makes the Twenty 23s remarkably capable in both respects.
Their design might not immediately give away the premium price tag in the same way the Tannoy's Precision 6.4 do, and they might not be able to compete with the scale and power of the SVS Ultra Towers, but instead the Twenty 23s wow us by just being beautifully balanced.
In our 5.5m x 4.5m listening room, we never feel left wanting. The Twenty 23s are tonally even and mix refinement with attack as well as any rival we’ve heard.They’ll happily deliver the likes of The Stooges’ Search and Destroy with enthusiasm.
There’s plenty of bite to the leading edges of notes and a naturally hard-charging sense of rhythmic drive – yet move on to Adele’s Someone Like You and the 23s change down a gear effortlessly.
With vocal-based material such as this, the superb integration between the drive units comes into play, as does the PMCs’ wonderfully expressive midrange.
If there’s even the tiniest bit of emotion in a song, you can be sure that these speakers will dig it up.
This Adele song also shows just how well these speakers cope with less-than-perfect recordings.
They’re more than happy to reveal any shortcomings – just as they are capable of shining with excellent source material – but they’ll never overstate flaws.
These PMCs are far too well behaved for that. You can add a firm sense of control (without sounding controlling), convincing tonality and a high level of detail to the plus points too.
What's more, PMC is one of the few companies around that uses a transmission-line design to improve the bass performance of its speakers.
This takes the rear output of the mid/bass driver and forces it through a damped path within the cabinet.
As the sound passes through this path, most of the higher frequencies are absorbed, leaving just the lowest notes to exit the speaker low down on the front panel. This augments the forward output of the driver, increasing the speaker's bass power.
These aren’t tricky speakers to position, either: just give them a little breathing space, a touch of toe-in towards the listening position and they’ll set-up a large, well-focussed soundstage.
We think PMC is onto a winner here. Like other models in the company’s Twenty series they’re brilliantly balanced and undemanding yet, given a suitably talented system, they sound terrific.
Recommended? You bet.
Review updated 19.02.14