Sugg. Retail: $3200 (CDN) pr
Size: 41″H x 7 7/8″W x 12″D
Distributor: Bryston Ltd.,
677 Neal Drive, Peterborough,
Ont. K9J 7Y4 (800)632-8217
(Reprinted from the Winter/Spring 2000 Audio Ideas Guide)
PMC is primarily a professional speaker maker, who also distribute Bryston products in Britain to both pro and consumer markets. In turn, Bryston handles PMC products in North America in both markets. Quite a few post production studios have recently installed Bryston/PMC surround monitoring systems, and the list of films and TV programs monitored through these systems steadily grows.
Though quite a few consumers have caught on to the excellence of these monitors (including contributing editor Jim Hayward) the consumer side has been a secondary concern, all but the smallest models having a look that is primarily professional. That changes with the FB1, though the name is still professional in style, standing for “Floor Box 1″. It’s an extension of the TB1 (”Tiny Box 1″) nearfield studio monitor, with the same drivers.
These are two in number, a doped paper-cone bass/midrange and a ferrofluid-cooled aluminum dome tweeter. Crossover is at 3 kHz, with 12-dB/octave slopes, and the bass loading is a transmission line that vents at lower front on the baffle. The FB1 can be bi-wired or bi-amped, and a Bryston Powerpac amplifier (either 60 or 120 watts, or both for bi-amping) can be screw mounted to the rear panel. The FB1 has a nominal sensitivity of 90-dB/watt, and will play as loud as 110 dB/metre, so neither deaf audio engineers nor volume freak audiophiles can blow them up. Even if the mixing engineer can’t hear them, the FB1s provided for review looked wonderful in a lovely light cherry veneer finish (at left), with light oak, walnut, black ash and rosewood also available.
The FB1 demonstrates a very smooth response, with a slight bit of respectable reticence (this is a British speaker, after all!) in the midrange. Actually, like its smaller nearfield sibling, it appears to be voiced for closer proximity and smaller rooms. Transmission lines tend to roll off more slowly and provide better driver control than reflex systems, the 3-metre one here folded within the cabinet. The Pink Noise Sweep (PNS) shows it to be down 5 dB at 40 Hz, and 8 dB at 30, with appreciable response right down to 20 Hz. The deep bass can be augmented by placement near boundaries without worry about boominess.
In the quasi-anechoic curve, the FB1 is very linear through midrange and treble, this also seen in the axial curves beneath, with controlled dispersion combined with a minimum of driver lobing. These are excellent measurements, and typical of PMC models we’ve reviewed in the past.
Looking at impedance and electrical phase, we see both well under control, the highest value of the former just over 30 ohms at 2.5 kHz, with the single bass peak about 24 ohms near 65 Hz. The lowest impedance is in the mid bass area, about 7 ohms. Electrical phase shifts are +40 degrees and -45 degrees in the crossover region, but the lack of lobing seen in the axial frequency responses suggests very accurate acoustic coherence. The FB1 should be an easy load for any amplifier, Bryston or otherwise.
It’s certainly easy to listen to, with a lively, dynamic, and neutral midrange, and good punch in the bass region. Room placement with care can yield very extended deep bass because the transmission line rolls off so gently. In the upper octves, the FB1 is very sweet, with quick transients and a very natural treble. With just a little extra around 10 kHz, it offers a nice bit of spice on cymbals and string overtones. I did feel the FB1 pays some small penalty in midrange smoothness and articulation by being a two-way design, a fact of its derivation from a smaller speaker, and this feeling is underlined by previous experience with PMC’s superb midrange dome (see the IB1s review). However, the way to get over this is to continue listening, and appreciate the fact that the FB1 will play very loud, and remain clean and uncompressed doing so. It may not be quite as efficient as the Klipsch RF-3, but it does have the same kind of dynamic capability.
Imaging is a particular strength of all PMC models, and it is certainly excellent here. The FB1 excels in both width and depth of soundstage, though an anti-diffraction device such as our Imagers could improve it further. There’s quite a lot of baffle, especially vertically. This speaker is a true professional monitor, and unlike a lot of these, a very good loudspeaker. And with its impeccable finish and strong performance, it comes in as one of the best values for audiophiles in the $3000 price range.