PSB has been one of Canada's more respected loudspeaker companies for the past thirty-some years, which puts them in pretty lofty company, along with Mirage, Paradigm, Energy and others. PSB's lead engineer and virtual namesake, Paul Barton, is out with a new line of speakers called the Imagine Series. Of note is one of the more incredible pair of $1,000 bookshelf loudspeakers (stands extra) we've seen or heard in awhile. They are called the PSB Imagine B loudspeakers.
• Read more reviews of bookshelf loudspeakers.
To the untrained eye, these speakers look pretty slick, but upon closer study, the astute speaker buyer will notice the incredible number of complex cuts and curved cabinet moves. While nearly every loudspeaker is made in China these days, with PSB's products no exception, these speakers have some of the sexiest furniture-grade cabinets you will see at any price. Neatly sloped tops, curved sides and a thick front baffle only start to describe the way these speakers look. Hand-matched veneers put furniture pieces costing ten times the price to shame. Look to the "cathedral" effect on the wood grain, as each veneer is matched for each side of the speakers. The wife will not object if you show her this level of craftsmanship and sell these speakers more as art than audio because that is really their draw, but worry not - they also sound really good.
Powered by NAD Master Series electronics (the electronics partner of PSB from the parent company Lenbrook), the PSB Imagine B loudspeakers actually beam with musical energy. Expect to hear side imaging as good as you might expect from a $28,000 pair of Wilson WATT Puppy version 8 loudspeakers. They are that good. The highs are analytical, but not notably harsh. They don't have the smoothness of a comparable Paradigm speaker, but are ever so slightly able to resolve a bit more detail. The bass from these tiny tots is notably good and, for small rooms, you could skip a subwoofer. For bigger rooms, you will want to wait until September, when PSB will announce a matching subwoofer designed to take you to the depths of musical energy.
• The cabinet design is second to none in its price category. It is not over-hyping the issue to suggest these speakers are furniture grade.
• The imaging is really impressive on these speakers. I could see a
music server or an Apple Mac Pro running into a Krell KID-PapaDoc or a
Benchmark DAC1 Pre and a tube amp, absolutely lighting up these
speakers for a modern-day audiophile system on a budget (that won't
sound like a budget system).
• The modern look of these speakers are
well-suited to match today's best 1080p flat HDTVs, even if they are
away from the walls. The sleek lines of the speakers makes them look
more like what you would expect from skyscrapers in Hong Kong than from
• The PSB Imagine
B's limited range at $1,000 will leave those looking for low-lows
wanting a full floor-standing loudspeaker for the same investment. If
you want the audiophile advantages and the bass (yes, you can have your
cake and eat it, too), you will want a subwoofer for your speaker
• The high end is ever so slightly etched. Personally, I
liked it, but it is worth noting when comparing these to lofty
speakers. You will note that we compared these $1,000 bookshelf
speakers to $28,000 Wilson Audio speakers above.
speakers are an audiophile's dream at a price that the average man can
afford but, more importantly, they have the good looks and the slick
design to transcend mere audiophile customers' needs. Put PSB's Imagine
B bookshelf speakers on installation at one of SoHo's trendiest art
galleries and they would look at home. Put one in the hands of a top
interior designer and he or she would immediately see that this is no
mass market Bose product. This speaker is something special. Find a
dealer and audition one sooner than later if you are in the market for
a hot pair of $1,000 bookshelf speakers.