Sugg. Retail: $899 CDN pr
Size 36″H x 6 1/2″W x 14 1/4″D
Manufacturer: PSB Loudspeakers Division
Lenbrook Industries, 633 Granite Court
Pickering, Ont. L1W 3K1
(905) 831-6555 FAX (905) 831-6936
(Reprinted from the Winter/Spring 2000 Audio Ideas Guide)
PSB has just introduced its Image series of speakers that promise “high-impact performance with a low impact on your lifestyle and on your budget”, according to their brochure. There are 10 models in the group, including a subwoofer and two centre channels. The 4T is pretty close to the middle of the group, a tower model that uses a pair of polypropylene coned 5″ woofer/mid drivers and a 1 1/2″ aluminum dome tweeter that is ferrofluid damped in a front-ported reflex enclosure. The design is a quasi-3 way, the lower woofer operated full range, while the upper rolls off below 500 Hz, crossing over to the tweeter at 2200 Hz. There are dual ports on the front baffle.
These speakers look elegant in an understated manner, with feet that flare out from the cabinet bottom sides and a narrow front view in a cabinet with a small footprint. The finish is black woodgrain vinyl or a dark cherry. Gold-plated plastic-nut 5-way binding posts are at bottom rear.
These days I’m routinely surprised at the measurements I see from new loudspeakers, especially Canadian ones, but the PSB Image 4T really demonstrates how well our country’s designers, to wit, Paul Barton, have nailed down the art of speaker engineering. The 4T in the Pink Noise Sweep (PNS) and Summed Axial Response (SAR) at top is, with the exception of a little bass warmth, +/-1 dB across most of the audio range. Most unusually, this can also be said of the quasi-anechoic curve below, with exemplary smoothness through the midrange and treble. It is no surprise, then, that the axial curves at bottom are so close together, with very good control of off-axis radiation at 60 degrees. This ensures that the speaker will sound the same everywhere in the room, but will not create side-wall reflections that muddy imaging.
Bass extends smoothly to 40 Hz, rolling off below, but down only 6 dB at 30, so placement can ensure excellent deep bass, though possibly at the expense of increasing the moderate hump around 100 Hz. Overall, the frequency response of the Image 4T is very impressive, even without consideration of its modest price.
Looking at impedance and electrical phase, we see good control, too, with the highest value in the crossover region being about 17 ohms, and the lowest just under 4 at 200 Hz. The bass twin peaks are 9 and 12 ohms at 35 and 75 ohms, respectively. A little amplifier current is in order, but the 4T shouldn’t require a lot of watts, with a rated sensitivity of 91 dB.
You don’t have to say much about measurements like these, but in such cases less is more, and aside from a slight forwardness around 3 kHz, I’d predict exceptional neutrality from the 4T. And that’s pretty much what we heard in listening. There was very good detail in the mids and highs, female voice clear and natural, with a little extra articulation.
What particularly struck me about the quite sensitive 4T was its dynamic capability. This speaker will really boogie, playing loud in any kind of music with powerful bass down to 40 Hz, with a little below, and a seeming refusal to break up in the upper octaves, percussion always clean and undistorted.
Imaging was also excellent, a very natural lateral spread heard, with good depth for this price range. These slim towers exhibit very low diffraction, and have well controlled dispersion, so they provide an excellent stereo soundstage. The word for the Image 4T is “balanced”. This is a design which combines accuracy, dynamics, and imaging with low distortion and good bass reach. And after you’ve bought the pair of PSBs, you’ll still have money left over for one of their new subwoofers, which may well be the subject of another review. I’ll rank this speaker right up there with the Paradigm Reference Studio 40 as one of the best buys among some great under-$1000 values in Canadian-made speakers.