PSB Imagine X Speakers and SubSeries 350 Subwoofer Review

Introduction

The subject of this review is the PSB Imagine X speakers and SubSeries 350 subwoofer. The Imagine X is PSB’s value-based speaker line while the SubSeries 350 is their smallest 12″ subwoofer.

The Imagine X speakers have a 1″ ferrofluid cooled titanium dome tweeter motivated by a neodymium magnet. The woofer is a 5.25″ injection-molded polypropylene unit reinforced with a clay/ceramic compound and utilizes a rubber surround. The XB bookshelf uses a single woofer while the XC center has a pair of them configured in the fairly universal D’Appolito array (MTM arrangement). Both the XB and XC are rear ported and come finished with a black ash veneer. The XB measures 12″x6.75″x10.75″ (HWD) and weighs about 12 pounds. Its quote frequency response is 55-23kHZ. The dimensions on the XC are 6.75″x19″x11 (HWD) and it weighs almost 20 pounds. Quoted frequency response is 50-23kHZ.

The SubSeries 350 features a front firing 12″ polypropylene driver in a 15.5″ cube. It’s powered by a 300 watt Class D MOSFET amplifier with ‘smart bass’ limiting circuitry designed to prevent the woofer from being overdriven. The SubSeries 350 is finished in a high gloss black paint.


The PSB SubSeries 350 subwoofer

Ordering

PSB sells the Imagine line and most of the SubSeries products through dealers and distributors. I live in a moderately rural area so when I did a search on their website for locations close to me I wasn’t expecting much, but to my surprise there were 7 within 40 miles. In less bucolic areas you can expect the results will be even better so it should be easy to find a place to buy them. The company also sells some of its products through Amazon and do have a ‘shop online’ link where you can get the Alpha speakers along with their outdoor products, headphones and a soundbar.

The Imagine XB bookshelf speakers retail for $499 a pair while the XC center goes for $399. The SubSeries 350 is listed at $999. The speakers carry a 5 year warranty while the sub is warranted for 1 year.

Unboxing

Packaging was well thought out and protected everything on its journey from Canada down to me in the US of A. Speakers, center and subwoofer were packed in double-walled cardboard boxes and cradled by thick, custom fit hard styrofoam. Thankfully not the hard styrofoam that leaves a ton of statically charged, BB-sized flotsam clinging to every surface they touch – mercifully, PSB uses the expensive stuff – so I was happy because I hate cleaning up the other junk. Cabinet finishes were protected by a thin foam sheet and then the whole thing was sealed in a mylar bag. The initial presentation leaves you with the impression these folks have done this before.

Accessories for the SubSeries 350 consist of a fairly rudimentary quick start guide the size and shape of the documentation that comes with a DVD or blu-ray, a warranty sheet and safety instructions. For the Imagine X speakers (XB and XC) the DVD/blu-ray sized sheet contains warranty information instead. There’s also a product specification sheet for the entire Imagine X line and a basic quick start guide. PSB offers an 11 page owner’s manual for download from their website so more detailed documentation is available. I understand why they do that – you can always get the latest copy, and who doesn’t have internet access? – but the manual was last revised 9/2016 so including a printed copy doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. The XB and XC include 4 round, pinky nail sized clear rubber stick-on feet that you can use to prevent the cabinets from marring anything.

Impressions

Some of you may recall how I started in the world of audio reviews over 8 years ago; evaluating budget subwoofers. I noticed no one in the press really paid much attention to them, they’re an afterthought at best. Having read countless posts on a multitude of forums asking about inexpensive subs made me realize there was a huge market which wasn’t getting any attention and needed a voice. From that discovery a niche was born and I’ve been the advocate of low cost products ever since. During the ensuing years I have been fortunate and evaluated many different things, some of which were rather expensive, but despite what may be confused by some as me moving ‘up market’ I have never lost my connection to affordable products. In a manner of speaking, this PSB system is a return to my roots. Allow me to explain.

While working with the company to determine which speakers and subwoofer I was going to evaluate several permutations were suggested, all of which were really nice systems. These folks proved very accommodating and made it clear I could have basically anything in their product line. So what did I do? I went with something that could only be described as a value-based system. Why on earth would anyone with no restrictions opt for the setup I did? Reread the previous paragraph; my historical penchant was certainly part of it, but there was more than that. I wanted to see what PSB could create when cost was an overriding consideration. They sell some pricey speakers, and those get well deserved accolades for sure, but what can PSB build when there’s a strict budget? We’re going to find out together, and I do mean together.

Unlike every one of my previous reviews – where I had very detailed notes meticulously organized and collated before I even started composing the posted article – I’m doing this one mostly on the fly, creating entire sections as they happen. I guess you could call it real-time writing. I tend to be a bit OCD so this change of pace isn’t easy for me, but for some reason it felt like the right thing to do this time. Along with my love for reasonably priced products is my obsession for theme reviews, so I guess ‘shoot from the hip’ is the theme here. Not sure how this is going to work out, as I’ve never done it before, but here goes…

Paul Barton, the highly respected engineer behind all things PSB, is renown industry wide for his attention to detail (the PB in PSB are his initials, the S belongs to his wife Sue). He is a perfectionist, the type of person who doesn’t let anything escape his gaze, so instantly he and I are kindred spirits. Except on this review, where I’m doing the exact opposite. Speakers and subwoofers designed with excellence in mind tend to be expensive so I got to wondering what would happen when someone like Paul had to be very aware of price during the design phase? Not to say he doesn’t consider final cost with all their products, I’m certain he does, but can he find a way to adhere with the PSB sound quality ethos while still making them affordable to those who are very cost conscious? Regardless of price nobody gets a pass from me though, so if you think I’m not going to expect a lot from this system you’re wrong. PSB has quite the reputation to uphold so I’m certainly not going to give them a mulligan.

I’ve been fortunate and have worked directly with many industry luminaries over the years and Paul Barton is now among them. One thing I’ve picked up through those interactions is these folks have a true passion, an incontrovertible love of what they do. It’s infectious. You almost get the sense they would do this stuff for free. Paul proved extremely knowledgeable and could easily convey very technical concepts, something not everyone can do. We talked for over an hour and it could easily have been twice that long. While to some that may not seem germane in a product evaluation I would beg to differ. If I’m going to spend my hard earned cash on something I’d rather it be designed and engineered by a person who lives and breathes their craft. Paul struck me as just such a person. Remember the “spend my hard earned cash” part, it may come into play again.

The cabinets on most PSB speakers are beautiful to look at, with all manner of angles and contours leading to very appealing shapes. You can get them in several attractive veneers – such as dark cherry and walnut – along with high gloss paint in either black or white. Their construction is first rate and they feel very solid. The Imagine X cabinets are constructed and feel every bit as solid, but their shape and finish is likely where PSB had to make a price concession; they’re a simple rectangular box and come in black ash veneer only. They were still somehow able to make them look pleasing though.

{pictures courtesy of PSB}

The cabinets are neither tall nor wide, but they do have some depth. The front panel has a slight arch and appears to be made out of some type of composite. It has a very smooth finish and rigid feel. The grills are made from plastic and contour perfectly to the shape of the front panel without ever touching it. The very transparent fabric is stretched tightly over a honeycomb lattice frame. Top quality 5 way binding posts adorn the back panel.

While PSB may have saved some pennies on the cabinet they opted not to skimp on the drivers one bit. The Imagine X series uses the exact same tweeter that PSB has in their entire Imagine line, from the most to least expensive model. Considering the Imagine T3 Tower costs $7,500 and the highest priced speaker I’m listening to costs $400 that’s pretty impressive. There is a waveguide to help diminish first reflections and focus the sound directly at the listeners. It also contains the tweeter version of a phase plug, a small plastic oval embossed with the PSB logo across the center of the dome that sits a fraction of an inch from the driver membrane. According to Paul Barton it acts as a suspension system of sorts, dampening the driver’s motion and lowering distortion by minimizing the first breakup mode. When we spoke I specifically asked about its purpose and he had quite a bit to say, some of which was engineering-speak that I didn’t fully understand. One thing he did mention that definitely caught my attention was this particular tweeter has been used by PSB for about 12 years, a fact I found quite remarkable considering how quickly things change these days. Guess if you find something that works you stick with it.

The 5 1/4″ woofer is no less accomplished. The cone is made from injection-molded polypropylene that’s been reinforced with a clay/ceramic compound. It has a dual-stack magnet assembly with an especially compliant rubber surround. It’s a muted yellow color that I found to be a refreshing change from the black material so prevalent. Like the tweeter, it too has a phase plug. In this case it works like a traditional phase plug, guiding sound waves toward the listener instead of allowing them to bounce around the face of the driver cone first. That helps lower audible distortion, never a bad thing.

The SubSeries 350 is tiny – a mere 15.5″ cube – and should have no problem disappearing into even the smallest room, an advantage for those who have to contend with WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor). It comes with high gloss black paint, the only finish available. There are deep rounded corners on the entire cabinet, while the front panel has a slight arc similar to what the speakers have. It comes across as a classy piece, the overall sense is one of elegance. It feels heavier and more robust than the size would suggest. The grill is inset and covers just the driver itself so you get a clear view of the nice paint job. The amplifier has both high and low level inputs and outputs, meaning it is equally well suited to a home theater system or a 2 channel rig where you need an external crossover. Controls are what you would expect to find; dials for Bass Level (gain), Phase and Crossover along with a toggle switch for off/on/auto power. There’s also a USB port for their RT100 wireless adapter. The whole thing sits on 4 large vibration absorbing feet.

{pictures courtesy of PSB}

I did find that the sub goes into standby a little too easily, like when watching sports (NBA and NFL in my case). On occasion I found it took a bit of a nudge to wake back up, and by that I mean I had to increase the volume some to bring it back to life. I ultimately left it in the On position for most of my evaluation. The amplifier runs cool, even when the sub is working hard, so leaving it on should not be a cause for concern.

Listening

What if I said the overall listening experience of the PSB Imagine X speakers could best be described using the words “no drama”, would you consider that a compliment or an insult? If you said “insult” you would be completely wrong! While on the surface that doesn’t exactly sound like glowing praise the neutral quality of these speakers was nothing short of astonishing. Everything was balanced and in proportion, whether the volume was cranked up or whisper soft. They don’t call attention to themselves, didn’t exclaim look at me! once. All they did was what they were supposed to do, exactly as they were supposed to do it. I don’t want to listen to speakers, I only want to hear them. That might seem to be an oxymoron but it’s not. Voices, instruments, background effects, whatever it is that’s what I want to hear. No coloration, nothing exaggerated. In the end, isn’t that the goal? Shouldn’t all speakers simply reproduce sound without embellishing? If you just want to get lost in the experience the PSB Imagine X are for you.

Typically I am not a fan of hard dome tweeters. To my ears they often sound jarring and harsh, without question not what I’m after. When I saw these tweeters were made from titanium I feared the worse. My uneasiness was somewhat tempered by the fact PSB’s top of the line speaker – the aforementioned $7,500 Imagine T3 Tower – uses the exact same tweeter. But still, it’s metal. Then I heard what they can do and almost instantly my concern was belied; these things are smooth and not the least bit forward or aggressive. I heard nothing shrill or abrasive, even when the volume was cranked. They remained calm, cool and collected throughout my entire time with them. It’s as though PSB took the best attributes of both hard and soft dome tweeters, melding them together and tossed aside the shortcomings of each.

Lest you think the tweeter stole the show, turns out the woofer is every bit as good. Both detailed and composed, it’s the perfect companion for the high frequency transducer. When you consider what I’m listening to is the entry level product in the PSB Imagine line that symbiotic nature becomes even more noteworthy. Complexity didn’t faze them in the least. They were virtually impervious, unaffected, shrugging off almost every obstacle. I can only imagine – no pun intended – what the ‘better’ PSB speakers are like, where the design emphasis is presumably more on performance than price. If this is what the company can do when the target audience are folks with a tight budget the results must be nothing short of stunning when cost is less of a factor.

Movies

By now most of you know I focus a lot of attention on voices when evaluating speakers, using it as one of my primary barometers, and that undoubtedly didn’t change for this review. However, I have a subwoofer to test – I would be remiss if I didn’t focus some attention on pushing that as well – so I had to expand my repertoire for this article. As it turned out, that challenge proved to be a non-challenge because fate lent an unexpected hand. Remember the theme ‘shoot from the hip’?

What follows is possibly the most eclectic selection of movies I have ever used for evaluation material, and it was largely by accident. They just seemed to fall into my lap, a bizarre mix consisting of something recent, one that’s very old and a sleeper most of you probably haven’t seen. There is a crusty old soundtrack, one consisting almost entirely of voices and a flick often used as a subwoofer torture test. You have contemporary and ancient special effects, along with absolutely no special effects. But how perfect is that? Virtually everything is present and accounted for so no matter what your preference is with regards to test material there’s almost certainly something in this mix that will speak to you.

Babes in Toyland (DVD)

Often referred to as March of the Wooden Soldiers, Babes in Toyland has been a Christmas staple since the mid-1930’s. I have been watching this movie during the holiday season since I was a very small child – along with Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life – and this year would be no exception. Since I just happen to be evaluating this PSB system in December what better way to test these speakers than with an almost 85 year old soundtrack from a timeless classic? The DVD version I have probably had the audio reworked at some point in the past 8+ decades but it’s still pretty rough compared to what we get today so I reasoned it might be a good test to see how the speakers handled less than ideal material. Besides, I know every line, sound and scene, having watched it innumerable times, so if there’s even a minor deviation I will pick it up for sure.

Babes in Toyland stars (Stan) Laurel and (Oliver) Hardy as Stanley Dum and Ollie Dee respectively, two forlorn workers in a toy factory. The workshop makes toys for Santa and it is a key time of the year for them. A mistake in an order taken from Santa by Stanley results in the factory making 100 wooden soldiers that are 6 foot tall, when instead it should have been 600 soldiers that are 1 foot tall. While that transposition of numbers ultimately leads to the pair being fired it proves pivotal in saving all of Toyland.

In most cases I lay down a multi-paragraph foundation about the movie I’m evaluating, hoping to create a visual imagine for you to use as I go through my assessment. Unfortunately I can’t do that this time as the movie is playing while I’m typing so I’m forced to stick with my concept of ‘live action’ writing. This is proving more difficult than I anticipated and I find myself jotting down impressions as I watch, not writing sections I can publish. However, I soon realize I’ve deviated from my theme and begin writing in earnest. You’ll have to pardon the seemingly random nature of what follows, I’m typing as fast as I can (which ain’t so fast, if I’m being honest)

In spite of knowing the movie inside and out I heard things from these PSB speakers I don’t remember ever hearing before. How is that even possible? Case in point is a slight squeak from a wheelbarrow’s steel wheel as Stanley Dum pushes a large wooden crate across the Toyland courtyard toward Silas Barnaby’s house. In the grand scheme of things that little detail is all but irrelevant, or so it would seem anyway, but it’s exactly the type of detail I find so amazing about these speakers. In the 1930’s, when this movie was made, every wheelbarrow had steel wheels and guaranteed all of them had that same annoying high-pitched squeak. In the movie it’s very quiet, and probably not a big deal for most, but when it’s there the scene becomes more authentic somehow. Inconsequential? Perhaps, but perhaps not as to me stuff like that is important. You don’t know what you’re missing until you know what you’re missing. Bottom line is I enjoyed Babes in Toyland immensely. PSB treated me to a refreshed version of a familiar old friend.

Black Rain (blu-ray)

Michael Douglas plays Nick Conklin, a NYC detective with questionable ethics. Alright, why mince words; he’s a dirty cop who swiped some cash from a drug dealer and IAD (Internal Affairs Division) is about to take him down for it. While having lunch one day with his partner Charlie Vincent, played by Andy Garcia, they witness the Italian mob and Yakuza – essentially the Japanese mafia – eating together in the same restaurant. Before they figure out what’s going on an infiltrator approaches and kills all the Yakuza, stealing from them a mysterious box about the size of a brick. Nick and Charlie pursue the assailants through the streets of NY and eventually capture their leader, a man by the name of Sato. During his interrogation it becomes known he is wanted by the Japanese authorities so Nick and Charlie get assigned to escort Sato back to Japan. That’s when things get interesting.

The mysterious box held plates for counterfeiting US $100 dollar bills so instantly this becomes a high stakes game of international intrigue. While in Japan Nick and Charlie come face-to-face with a culture unknown to them, street rules they don’t understand. During one encounter of East meets West the differences are painfully obvious, ultimately becoming a pivotal turning point between their disparate cultures.

It’s late at night in a closed marketplace. The ground is wet, water is everywhere, left behind by vendors hosing down walkways trying to wash away the day’s filth. Darkness permeates, save for the sheen reflected from the puddles and the occasional street light. Nick and Charlie are heading to their hotel, strolling down the central walkway of the market, when out of nowhere Sato’s henchmen come riding up on the stereotypical Japanese motorcycle (in the US they’re often referred to as ‘crotch rockets’). No one else is around at this hour, it’s just the American cops and Japanese thugs now, so it becomes a cultural showdown.

The assailants surround the Americans – circling over and over – attempting to intimidate them, revving their engines and making all sorts of yipping and howling noises. There are exhaust notes, echoes bouncing off the buildings and Charlie yelling at the miscreants. It’s both menacing and stylistic at the same time, an odd mix to say the least, yet PSB found a way to tame all the bedlam. Every aspect of the soundtrack maintained its individuality, uniquely identifiable, yet all of it coalesced into a perfectly blended whole. It was really quite enjoyable for a scene this nuanced to reproduced so well.

Throughout the rest of the movie I found the same thing. Regardless of how chaotic the scene, the number of elements, how many voices, what nations they were from, everything I heard was crisp and clear. It was easy to discern footsteps, background sounds such as pistols being cocked, glass shards as they hit the ground, doors closing, voices in a distant hallway, labored breathing when people were running, it was all there.

Cloverfield (blu-ray)

Up until now the SubSeries 350 had little to do – what with the first 2 movies being mostly a workout for the speakers – so I decided it was high time to test the ‘smart bass’ limiter PSB touts, and what better way than with something that can be unforgiving? For a basshead Cloverfield starts off slowly, with little of consequence in the initial 20 minutes. By the 5th scene things begin to heat up and it is at this point where the first legitimate explosion occurs. It’s also when I started paying less attention to the speakers and concentrated more on the subwoofer.

A celebration party of 20-something’s gets interrupted when a horrific blast rips through NYC. Initially dismissed as an earthquake, it soon becomes apparent that it’s far worse. The scene opens with the party goers – along with every other tenant in the building – rushing up the stairs to get on the roof and see what’s happening. Within seconds a fireball erupts and the SubSeries 350 decided to make its presence known and let out a roar. That blast is short in duration, so I couldn’t tell much at this point, but what happens next was surely an indicator.

To escape projectiles from that explosion everyone hustles back down the stairs to the street, and that’s when you catch the first glimpse of the creature. He barrels out from around a building and knocks it over in the process, and it was here the SubSeries 350 got its first true workout. As the building collapses it starts with a low rumble, quickly increasing in strength as a debris cloud rockets toward everyone. The SS 350 kept pace, building momentum right along with it. The precision and lack of distortion was very much appreciated. While physics won’t allow a cabinet and driver this size to create prodigious amounts of bass, the output was pretty incredible nonetheless. Think Mighty Mouse. During all the commotion I could still make out every detail; individual screams, slamming doors, the undertones generated by crumbling buildings. All this was just a precursor though for my favorite test, scenes 8 & 9.

Here we find 4 of the hapless party goers walking in downtown Manhattan, heading toward midtown hoping to rescue an injured friend. Out of nowhere the monster appears in front of them, and almost immediately the US Military shows up behind and opens fire. Now they’re caught in the middle. I love these 2 scenes because they’re diverse. Voices, munitions, far off sounds, thunderous rumbles, it’s all here. The battle between good and evil gets intense quickly but this PSB system remained unperturbed. As munitions whistled overhead you could clearly hear them go from one side of the room to the other. The high pitched howl from the beast perfectly contrasted its thundering footsteps. Explosions, machine gun fire, the sound of spent cartridges hitting the ground, everything seemed effortless.

Music

While I did watch plenty of TV and movies it was music that got the lion’s share of the attention. For those of you familiar with my tendencies that should tell you something right off the bat. Music is a lifelong passion of mine so if I find speakers able to produce depth and imagery that lives up to my lofty standards I will spend a lot of time listening to songs. And I did. I could have probably published this eval a week or two earlier had I not been sucked down the music rabbit hole, but where’s the fun in that? I write these articles because I want to, not because I have to, so getting sidetracked by something I enjoy is not a bad thing as far as I’m concerned.

So Cold, Breaking Benjamin (Streaming)

I have mixed feelings about this band; either I like their songs or I dislike them, there doesn’t seem to be anything in between for me. Of the ones I’ve heard there was never any “that’s pretty good” or “not too bad”, it’s always I enjoy them or I don’t. So Cold is in the like category, a definite keeper for me. It’s also a good mix to use for an evaluation because it has low passages, energetic sections and wide swings in the vocals. You get a lot of different stuff here.

The opening few seconds were particularly telling for me. First there is a lone guitar playing a lazy intro, the drums and a second guitar join in quick succession and almost immediately the tempo picks up and things get aggressive. Then just as quickly it slows right back down. Layers, and boy did PSB get this right. As each instrument came on line it was instantly united with the others, yet each remained distinct. Blended but unique, how Breaking Benjamin intended it to be I’m sure.

As So Cold continues so does the up and down intensity, but now added into the mix are vocals and they too have a varied cadence. There’s a lot of diversity and changes here but the Imagine X speakers shrugged it off and treated me to a splendid rendition of my favorite tune from this band. I listened perhaps half a dozen times, some with the volume low while others were pretty unrestrained. No matter how quiet or loud these speakers held together, almost as though they were saying “go for it, I got your back”.

Free Bird (live), Lynyrd Skynyrd (CD)

“Free bird!”. If you go to rock concerts invariably someone will shout out those two words between songs. It doesn’t matter who the band is, or even if that’s their style of music, it’s almost bound to happen. That’s been a tradition of sorts for many years. Why? Free Bird is an iconic song, an anthem, pretty much defining a generation. Besides that, it’s what every live song should be; raucous, powerful and catchy. What’s not to like?

Clocking in at more than 13 minutes long this isn’t a casual listen, but for me it’s always time well spent. While my love is of music in general it is the live form that’s a full-fledged addiction. A bad year for me – like 2018 was – means I only got to see 18 bands (in 2016 I saw more than double that amount). So what happens then when you combine an affection (affliction?) for music with arguably the best live rock song played through a set of speakers with amazing clarity? One very happy writer is what happens.

Lynyrd Skynyrd was typically a 7 piece band featuring vocals, 3 guitars, bass, drums and piano. Some of the more notable members were Allen Collins, Gary Rossington and the late Steve Gaines and Ronnie Van Zant. When they played live there was a lot of sound coming from so many people, another reason I picked this one.

Free Bird starts out slowly, with everyone playing but all very subdued. I was paying particular attention to what the piano sounded like because that’s actually a tough instrument for a set of speakers to get right. Or it should have been anyway, but the Imagine X offered up every key with the sharp and precise sound you know a piano to have. I gave extra attention to the guitar slide as well because its rise and fall sound is very distinctive. As with the piano the slide was spot on, its unmistakable sound reproduced brilliantly.

Around the 6 minute mark the tempo picks up and for the next 7+ minutes the band explodes into their trademark all-out jam. This is the part of Free Bird everyone came to hear, myself included. It’s little more than controlled chaos frankly, yet the Imagine X speakers soothed the savage beast to the point that everything almost seemed under control. I’m not talking neutered – what I heard was every bit as rowdy as it should have been – but PSB somehow managed to keep things composed while still retaining the frenetic pace that simply must be there for this song to work. Of course a set of bookshelf speakers will always fall short of the output and weight one gets at a live concert, but that’s to be expected. No matter, it was all delightfully entertaining.

1812 Overture, Tchaikovsky (SACD)

The songs I have written about thus far have all been fun for me – and not necessarily easy for an audio system to get right – but they don’t represent a true challenge, a ‘stretch goal’ in management speak. What I need to find is something complex, difficult, overwhelming even. So what comes to mind? An orchestral piece is frequently demanding, preferably something from one of the original masters. It must have a plethora of instruments to create a large soundstage, subtleties to test control and overtones to add texture. That all sounds good, but what song do I actually choose?

I started thumbing through my collection to find a suitably difficult arrangement. Bach? Nah, not for this evaluation. Mozart? Could work, but not feeling it. Rachmaninoff? Now we’re getting someplace. I might use a composition from his catalog, but let’s keep going and see if I can unearth a bigger hurdle. Tchaikovsky possibly? Bingo! And what better than the 1812 Overture?

Tchaikovsky had a tendency to create busy songs with considerable drama and flair. The 1812 Overture, perhaps his best known work, was no exception. There are numerous changes in tempo and pace with this piece. It’s very theatrical in nature, one might even call it bombastic. How could I pass up on that? Of course I don’t have an original recording from Pyotr himself – who died in the late 1800’s – but I do have a collection of his music as done by the famed Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. My SACD (Super Audio CD) disc is from Telarc, long known for their engineering prowess, so the source material is about as good as it gets.

Since most permutations of the 1812 Overture are at least 15 minutes long I won’t bore you with a play-by-play of each section, but I will give you an indication of how PSB did overall. Forced to use a single word to describe what I heard it would be “vivid”. Merriam Webster defines “vivid” as ‘producing a strong or clear impression on the senses and distinct mental images’. I honestly couldn’t describe it any better. The horns were well defined, the violins rich and powerful, the choral passages sounded lively and dynamic while the tympani’s had a nice kick and a definite presence. The SubSeries 350 was a bit taken aback by the canon blasts but in spite of the onslaught this little guy steadfastly endured, resolute to the end. Whether the passages were high or low intensity didn’t really matter, it never made a bad sound. Unfazed by the daunting task of creating such an iconic piece, this entire PSB system more than held its own.

Conclusion

The last thing I need are more speakers but I may have to buy these, they’re that good. I’m a huge proponent of the KISS principle; Keep It Simple Stupid. I have no compelling desire to make an audio system my life’s work, a seemingly odd statement considering I do product evaluations. That’s one of the primary reasons why I want things to be straightforward and uncomplicated however, I am constantly swapping gear in and out so there is a convincing argument for things that just work. I want to position, tune once and then enjoy. Repeat after me; position, tune, enjoy. That’s it, 3 easy steps. I don’t want to tweak, fiddle, adjust, alter and modify ad nauseam. I relish the simplicity of things done right and the PSB Imagine X speakers and SubSeries 350 subwoofer were the embodiment of my philosophy. I literally put in no effort to make them work. I did my 3 steps and then spent the next month with a goofy smile on my face. For me that’s priceless, enjoyment without breaking a sweat. Nirvana, plain and simple. I might give Paul Barton another call and see if he will sell these to me. I still have his phone number after all.

Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com