Power Sound Audio MTM-210T Speakers Reviewed
By: Bob Barrett,
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Made in the U.S.A. That's not a statement you will find on many speaker boxes these days. It seems almost every company outside of a few mega-dollar brands have moved production to China but not Power Sound Audio (PSA). PSA began building subwoofers a little over five years ago in Mineral Ridge, Ohio, and selling the products Internet-direct to consumers...and they still do today. Since the company's inception, co-owners Tom Vodhanel and Jim Farina have been steadily perfecting their craft while building a reputation for delivering high value accompanied by exceptional customer service. If you email or call PSA with a question, it will likely be Tom or Jim who answers.
More recently, PSA has been expanding its product line beyond subwoofers to include an assortment of home theater speakers. This review is focused on the most recent addition to the line, the MTM-210T tower loudspeaker ($999.99 each). According to PSA, the primary design goal for the MTM-210T is, like all of PSA's speakers and subwoofers, to "be faithful to the original recording." More specifically, Tom also said that their goals include "high efficiency, extension deep enough to integrate with any quality sub, accuracy both on- and off-axis, and affordability." To see for myself how well PSA did in achieving those goals, I evaluated the MTM-210T in 2.0-, 2.2-, and 5.2-channel configurations.
Since potential customers will likely consider purchasing the MTM-210T tower loudspeakers as part of a full home theater setup, Tom Vodhanel recommended the company also send me an MTM-210C center channel ($799.99), two MT-110 bookshelf speakers ($625 each) for surround service, and two S1500 subwoofers ($999.99 each). This enabled me to experience the new tower speakers as part of a full, dedicated 5.2-channel PSA home theater system. I should mention that, while I requested the bookshelf speakers for surround duty, PSA also makes a dedicated surround speaker (MT-110SR) for wall mounting that's based on the MT-110 bookshelf driver configuration. Tom suggested that performance is nearly identical and opting for the bookshelf speakers thankfully allowed me to avoid drilling holes in my walls. While all of the speakers above can be purchased individually, package discounts are also available through the speaker system builder options on the company's website. The package price for the speaker system I reviewed (excluding subwoofers) is $3,799.
Any reviewer will tell you that one of the most exciting parts of the job is unboxing a new product for evaluation. It reminds me a bit of those Christmas mornings growing up in Upstate New York, but of course without the wrapping paper, the decorated tree, or fresh snow outside. It's that anticipation of opening up something new and first putting your eyes on it that is so much fun. As I opened the sturdy PSA cartons and removed the new tower speakers, several things struck me right away. First, these speakers are big! With dimensions of 50 inches by 11 inches by 16 inches, they are even larger than my reference Aerial Acoustic 7T speakers. Second, tipping the scale at 84 pounds each, these are surprisingly heavy for speakers at their price point. However, with a sensitivity rating of 98 dB and a nominal impedance of eight ohms, the MTM-210Ts should be light on their feet when it comes to reproducing dynamic soundtracks.
Third, the driver complement includes a one-inch titanium compression driver combined with a cast aluminum exponential horn driver for the upper frequencies, flanked both above and below by 10-inch high-efficiency drivers providing the bass. These speakers come with a textured matte-black finish that is definitely unique. The special mix that's applied is a formula that PSA perfected over time to achieve the current aesthetic. I've not seen another consumer speaker with this finish. It reminds me more of a professional audio speaker. An advantage of the finish is that it reflects less light than any other finish I've seen, which should be a big plus for the home theater purists among us that work to achieve a near black environment. The towers have radiused edges and corners, as does the entire speaker line, so there are no sharp edges. Visually the towers are the traditional box shape with parallel sides and a flat top surface. After the last several years of experimenting with various curved cabinet designs, a number of manufacturers are returning to the more traditional shape. The speaker grilles are large enough to cover the speaker complement but leave the textured finish on the front face exposed below the drivers. There is only one set of gold-plated binding posts on the rear of the towers, so there are no options for biwiring or biamping the PSA speakers.
After attaching the footers to the speaker bottoms with a standard Phillips screwdriver, I started with the towers in the same spots where my reference tower speakers are normally positioned. While listening to a familiar test track I like to use, I made minor adjustments to the toe-in and distance from the front wall until I was satisfied that I had optimized the imaging accuracy and soundstage width. I ended up with the speakers angled toward the listening position about 15 to 20 degrees, seven feet apart, and the baffles about 58 inches from the rear wall.
I placed the center channel and bookshelf speakers on heavy stands, and I located the two subs near the front corners of the room where my reference subs normally reside. Since both the PSA and my reference subs are sealed designs, I expected the PSA to perform in much the same manner as far as its interaction with the room, and that turned out to be the case. After making the usual connections to my reference electronics using a loom of Wireworld Silver Eclipse 7 cabling, I manually adjusted the settings of both subs according to PSA's included instructions. Since these subs don't have dedicated room correction calibration software included, I utilized the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction software on my Marantz AV8801 preamp/processor to calibrate the subs and other five channels for my room.
For 2.2-channel listening, I went into the bass management settings on my Classé CP-800 preamplifier to redirect low frequencies below 80 Hz on the MTM-210Ts to the subs. The Classé's remote conveniently allows me to rapidly switch back and forth between 2.0- and 2.2-channel configurations so that I can do a fair sonic comparison. After playing music through the system for over a week to break in the speakers, I was ready to start some critical listening.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...