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Review: PSB Image 1B ((TOP))

Setting up these speakers is a snap -- and that’s no surprise. Paul Barton pays strict attention to the dispersion characteristics of the speakers he designs. In my interview with him some months back, Barton stressed the importance of on-axis and off-axis response, as well as what’s called "sound power" (the way the speaker energizes the entire room). This all goes back to research done at the National Research Council of Canada, a place Barton has been a part of for some 25 years. As a result, the Image 2B is designed along these principles and possesses wide, even dispersion, making the speaker almost room-friendly. It’s not that setup and placement aren't critical -- they are. But you can optimize these speakers like any others. However, initial setup to get good sound was pretty easy. I placed the Images 2Bs about three feet from the side walls, about six feet from the front wall (which does decrease bass some; you can place them closer to the front wall if you want more bass). This leaves about a seven-foot spread between them. I toed them in just a tad. Sitting in the middle resulted in good center fill with strong image placement. Walking between, around, and behind the speakers showed no glaring tonal shifts or other such anomalies.

Review: PSB Image 1B

The overall balance of the Image 2B is neutral, with no obvious midrange or bass humps. Detail is good, and the Image 2B has the ability to throw a credible soundstage with good image specificity and reasonable depth of stage, something I’ll expand on below. It’s surprisingly quick- and nimble-sounding too.

For a test of imaging precision I like to play "Everest" from Ani DiFranco’s Up Up Up Up Up Up [Righteous Babe Records RBR-013-D]. It’s a unique and simple recording that places DiFranco's voice distinctly left, just shy of the left speaker and a little back. The Image 2B does a remarkably good job of positioning the voice. It is not as tightly focused as I've heard, and the sibilance is ever so slightly heightened, but the Image 2Bs do a remarkable job given the price. Sonic images don’t quite leap from the box the way they do with some speakers, and depth is apparent, but foreshortened a tad; however, you would likely have to pay considerably more to get something better in this regard and maintain all the strengths of the Image 2B.

System Configuration Our system consisted of a Denon AVR-5308CI A/V receiver mated to a Parasound HCA-2205AT five channel amplifier. Our Parasound amplifier has plenty of power and is well suited to drive low impedance speakers without a problem. The Denon unit and subwoofer were set up to crossover frequencies at 80 Hz, which also happens to be the recommended THX crossover frequency. This setting is low enough to prevent localization of the subwoofer while allowing well designed satellite speakers to operate within their designed frequency response. We found placing the SubSeries 6i subwoofer in the corner of the room produced the best bass response. Our Blu-ray video source was provided by a Sony PS3 capable of streaming movies with uncompressed multi-channel audio such as DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby True-HD. Our projector, a Mitsubishi HC5500 1080p LCD unit projected onto a 100-inch Stewart FireHawk. Walls were covered with Echo Buster sound absorption panels. This helps eliminate slap echo and significantly reduced the RT60 time in the room. As a result, secondary reflections, which often blur the sonic image are largely reduced or eliminated and a much more focused soundstage is possible.

Here is a scaled size comparison of these two speakers to give you an idea how their external dimensions compare: Comparison image of PSB Imagine X1T and PSB Imagine X2T Size and External Dimensions


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