PSB Debuts Flagship Tower, Center Channel Speaker

PSB Speaker’s two new Imagine speakers will soon represent the company’s top-end models.
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PSB Speaker’s two new Imagine speakers will soon represent the company’s top-end models. T3 ($3,749 each) is a five-way floor-standing speaker featuring three woofers in a transitional array. C3 ($1,999 each) is a true three-way designed center channel especially engineered to complement the T3 to create a perfectly matched surround sound system.

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PSB’s T3 and C3 will be available in late November in choice of premium high gloss black or high gloss cherry finishes.

In what PSB is calling its most significant introduction in seven years, the Imagine T3 shows off PSB’s latest thinking in advanced loudspeaker design. Always aware that the room has a large effect on the sound of any loudspeaker, PSB made sure that the T3 interfaces smoothly and predictably with the listening room, giving clean well integrated bass response and pinpoint imaging. The perfect proportion of sound power, combined with extremely even frequency response and uniform off-axis response, creates a massive, dynamic and precisely detailed sound field, the company says.

According to PSB, its new drivers combine advanced engineering with new technology to reduce distortion and respond more faithfully to musical transients. This is accomplished in two ways. First, a copper cap over the pole piece of the motor structure affects a reduction of third harmonic distortion, and second a symmetrical drive design creates a more uniform magnetic field in the motor (driver) coil, which makes the cone motion more linear by reducing second harmonic distortion, especially at high volume levels where the cone motion is greatest. The woofers and midrange utilize polymer coated felted fiberglass cones mated to a high temperature fiberglass voice coil. Rubber surrounds and a highly rigid non-resonant die cast aluminum alloy chassis provide precision alignment of all speaker components for high performance and excellent reliability. Combined with amplitude-perfect acoustic Linkwitz-Riley 4th order crossovers, these advanced drivers provide the lowest distortion and highest power handling of any PSB speaker ever.

Three seven-inch woofers are arranged in PSB’s five-way transitional array, where all three woofers combine to produce the longest wavelengths of sound in the lowest frequencies. At higher musical frequencies woofers are strategically attenuated until only the woofer adjacent to the midrange is active, creating a perfect transition with uniform off-axis response. The position of each woofer, and the exact crossover slope, has been carefully optimized to reduce first acoustic reflections, also known as “floor bounce.” These early reflections are responsible for response irregularities and exist for all speakers unless compensated for as in the Imagine T3.

Other advantages to using multiple woofers include a more efficient transfer of energy into the air compared to a single larger woofer, and the varying positions also tend to excite a broader spectrum of room resonances preventing the ‘one note bass boom’ that often occurs with powerful full range speakers. Smaller cones with large motors also result in higher sensitivity and more accurate piston motion of the cone for faster transient response and lower distortion.

Tall slender enclosures like the Imagine T3 are aesthetically pleasing and place the more directional tweeter right at ear level for best imaging. However, tall narrow enclosures when used as bass chambers tend to have a serious “pipe resonance” that can ruin bass transients and performance. PSB addresses this issue by using individually tuned chambers for each woofer. The dividers for these chambers also add significant structural rigidity to the cabinet, suppressing resonances still further. Since each chamber has its own rear firing tuning port, the user can further fine-tune the in-room response with the supplied port plugs. These work by reducing overall acoustic output in the lowest frequencies which can be beneficial in smaller rooms or when the speaker must be placed close to the wall behind. Additionally, the bottom woofer can be disconnected from the amp and shorted using the provided shorting link, thus creating a “bass trap” or damper to further suppress room resonances.

The PSB Imagine T3 includes a one-piece aluminum plinth with adjustable spikes, ideal for use on carpeted floors to gain stability and give a clean mechanical interface with the floor structure; even with uneven floors. Isolation pucks with carefully engineered rubber dampers are also included for hardwood floors to prevent damage and create a perfect interface. Five-way, gold binding posts provide multiple input terminals that allow for bi-amping and tri-amping if desired, along with the unique ability to use one woofer as a bass trap to tame room resonances and adjust the bass to perform perfectly in a wider range of room sizes and shapes.

The majority of musical information is reproduced in the midrange between 200Hz and 2000Hz and contains most of the musical information related to pitch and timbre of instruments and voice, and just happens to be our ears most sensitive range. The Imagine T3 uses a specially developed 5.75-inch midrange driver and tunes and isolates it in its own sealed chamber. The result is a lifelike presence that is palpable. The 5.25-inch size has a nearly perfect combination of low distortion, high output capability and ideal dispersion over the desired frequency range, allowing it to integrate smoothly with the woofers and tweeter.

The Imagine T3 is using a hand-selected version of PSB’s titanium dome tweeter. This 1-inch dome features a neodymium magnet, high temperature voice coil and Ferrofluid cooling, allowing it to keep pace with the high power handling of the rest of the speaker. Several years spent perfecting the manufacturing process has resulted in a tweeter with smoother response and lower distortion compared with other well-known tweeter designs, the company says. An integrated “phase plug” is designed to extend high frequency response while also creating an “air spring” that damps the metal dome’s “oil can” resonance. Although this resonance is beyond the audible range, if not well suppressed it can have knock on effects in the audible range. Excellent power handling allows PSB to ideally place the crossover point at 1,800Hz that enhances the dispersion and integration with the midrange driver.

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Home theater enthusiasts can create a matched surround sound system by combining Imagine T3 for left and right speaker positions, and the Imagine C3 as the center channel speaker. Other Imagine models, including specialized surround speakers in stand mount, wall mount, in-wall and in-ceiling options complete the surround experience. The Imagine C3 is true 3-way transitional design that uses the same driver technology as the Imagine T3. The C3 includes two of the 7-inch woofers, both active at lower frequencies and with different low pass filter frequencies to maintain proper power response, and the same tweeter as the Imagine T3. The specially developed midrange driver is unique to the Imagine C3 and is responsible for the excellent voice articulation of this speaker. The enclosure is rear ported and includes a tuning plug to adjust bass output for different placement options.

Like all PSB Speakers, final voicing is performed by founder and chief designer, Paul Barton, at Canada’s National Research Council.

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