In today's market, we are spoiled. If we have a problem, a solution can be found quickly on the Internet. If a product doesn't meet our satisfaction, there are plenty of replacement options. However, over 30 years ago that wasn't the case for Paul Barton. As a violinist and engineer, Barton discovered that even the best speakers of the day failed to produce a musically accurate recorded playback. Therefore, he set out to create a loud-speaker to bear his initials that was musically transparent, dynamically honest and truer to the original sound.
Starting his Canadian speaker company proved to be no small feat. A lot of work and study went into designing each speaker product that would wear the company's PSB badge. With support from his wife, Sue (the "S" in PSB), Paul Barton continued on a path to excellence. PSB speakers have been recognized as sonic marvels, bestowed with numerous engineering awards for design innovations. PSB's secret has been avoiding exotic materials or technological breakthroughs, unlike many other companies. Instead, the methodical, long-term, rigorous study program incorporated in their research and development breeds a refined interaction between loud-speaker, listener and room acoustics.
Today, PSB offers a broad range of speakers for movie and music applications in four distinct product lines, ranging from high-end and costly
to compact and inexpensive. The company manufactures a speaker system for nearly every budget and application without sacrificing quality. In the middle of the road is the PSB Image Series with performance close to the high-end models at competitively moderate pricing.
The Image Series is comprised of eight models of speakers. These include three tower speakers (T45, T55 and T65), two bookshelf models (B15 and B25), two center channel speakers (C40 and C60), and a bipole surround speaker (S50). Any of the current line of PSB SubSonic subwoofers can be integrated into an Image Series speaker configuration to match the room size and budget. I tested a pair of T55 tower speakers, a pair of S50 surround speakers and a C60 center channel. A corresponding PSB SubSonic 6i subwoofer was added to enhance the performance characteristics of this reasonably priced ensemble. I played sounded clear with realistic sound effects. No matter what came next, the Image Series were always up for the challenge. Performance this good is only sweetened by the affordable price.
The exterior of the Image Series is attractive without being overassertive. Two appealing wood grain finishes are available: Maple with light gray grilles and Black Ash with black grilles. The smaller S50 surrounds are only available in black or white textured vinyl veneer to better blend in with the surroundings. Beneath the surface, you'll find redesigned proprietary drivers that have replaced the previous vacuum-formed cone design. These new drivers feature a metalized injection- molded polypropylene woofer that has the advantage of a higher consistency during the manufacturing process for a more uniform performance across the frequency spectrum. PSB also touts a smoother high-end response and enhanced overall performance from refinements found in the new tweeter phase plugs and superior crossovers.
A critical, often understated element to a successful speaker design is proper baffling. The Image Series uses a uniquely molded curved baffle, engineered to provide strength and rigidity to reduce unwanted colorations and reverberation. This is readily apparent in the solid overall construction found in the T55s. Each tower speaker enclosure is home to a one-inch Ferrofluid-cooled aluminum dome tweeter mounted on the baffle above a pair of 6.5-inch woofers for a 2.5-way configuration with a smooth response and a strong bass impact. Similar in design but with a horizontal arrangement, the C60 contains the same one-inch Image tweeter flanked by two 6.5-inch drivers. Each of the S50 surrounds has two identical baffles positioned at a 45-degree angle, each with a single 5.25-inch driver and a one-inch Image tweeter. This diffused sound- field disperses surround sounds across the rear plane while maintaining the ability to play directional effects.Read more about the T55 on Page 2.