New York, NY--While sales for invisible, architectural audio continue to grow around the world, interest in boutique, two-channel loudspeakers remains high. This was again proven at New York's Waldorf Towers yesterday where I was treated to a sneak peek of PSB's new Imagine Line. Company founder and chief designer Paul Barton gave me the behind-the-scene look at the line he believes will set a new standard for "affordable high-end" when it debuts at CEDIA 08 this September.
The Imagine development process marries creativity and the precise acoustic engineering that has made Canada-based PSB an audiophile go-to for 35 years. Barton showed me the Imagine's initial concept sketches that resembled the free-form pages of an artist's sketch book. The subsequent 3D renderings and CAD files transformed the concepts into tangible models. The following prototypes married the organic forms and textures with engineering blueprints. Barton then showed me footage of the cabinet manufacturing and production at their facility in China, which he lauds for its computer-controlled precision and hand-assembly. A live demonstration of the Imagine B and T--Tchaikosvsky's Violin Concerto--rounded out our meeting. Whereas some towers turn classical music into collapsing walls of sound, on the Imagine the Concerto was at once nimble and powerful with an immersive soundstage and subtlety.
The Imagine development process marries creativity and the precise acoustic engineering.
The heart and soul of the Imagine, according to Barton, is "value and craftsmanship" with no compromise of fidelity. All four Imagine models share a common driver with a 5.25-inch woofer and a wide-band, titanium-dome one-inch tweeter. The Imagine T is a three-driver, two-and-a-half-way tower full-range floor-standing design, and Imagine B two-way stand/bookshelf-mount are intended primarily for front-channels and stereo playback. The Imagine C is a dual-woofer, two-way center-channel speaker, and the Imagine S is a dual-two-way, selectable dipole/bipole/dual-channel monopole surround. The fluid surface of the Imagine is an ever-changing aspect ratio; compound-curved on every vertical face, the seven-layer MDF enclosure is acoustically inert. The baffles were designed for high-frequency response and calculated horizontal dispersion, the company says. The woofers are injection-molded diaphragms of ceramic-filled polypropylene.
Barton, who is a classical violinist himself, explained that his research in the sonically isolated chambers of the The Nation Research Council of Canada offered an important dimension to the Imagine's development.
The Toronto-area company expects the new line to catch immediate traction with the same demographic that made its Synchrony speaker, launched last year, a hot seller around the world.
The Imagine T will sell for $2,000 per pair; the Imagine B is $1,000 per pair; the Imagine C is $800 each; and the Imagine S will ship for $1,200 per pair.