PSB image 5.1 review

With both movie material and music, the PSB Image 5.1 speaker system delivers an appealing sound that's easy on the ear. It's warm and rich, without being brash or grating. Much of this comes from the mid-range strengths of the T5 and B5s, which ensures soundtracks come across as full-bodied, rather than simply a mix of highs and lows.

Avatar on Blu-ray offers demo-worthy audio, so that's what we started with, and the PSB Image 5.1 sound system is more than a match for the impressive visuals. James Horner's somewhat irritating score swells across the front soundstage, while the Screenwriting 101 dialogue comes across crisp and clean in the middle of the mix. The C5 centre may present a bit of an installation problem in some smaller systems, but its performance merits it.

As with the more costly PSB Imagine lineup, it's perhaps the tweeters that grab your attention most here. These techtastic titanium domes spit out high-frequency effects (so important in movie mixes) with speed and relish.

When Sully and Grace land on Pandora and explore the wildlife, the buzzing of the forest insects is insistent and tactile. The same applies to when the Na'vi attack their invaders' helicopters with bows and arrows.

With the same tweeters lurking in the bookshelf speakers, surround sound effects are delicious, too, and the B5s certainly have enough weight to ensure front-to-back pans don't fizzle out.

The enveloping nature of the PSB Image 5.1 system is aided by the subwoofer. It underpins the whole array with a tangible low-end presence and goes surprisingly deep. It could, however, be a little tighter in its delivery.

With just the front left and rights in use with stereo music, the lack of real low frequency punch in the T5s becomes more apparent. We'd never not use our subwoofer, though, and suspect even dedicated hi-fi heads will still think the T5s more than adequate, thanks to the richness of the overall sound.

The tweeters that excelled so well with the ambient sounds on Cameron's Pandora do the same for the intricate hi-hats on Megadeth's Rust In Peace.

Then, with the AVR switched to Full Channel Stereo mode (our preferred weapon of choice with two-channel tunes), all six cabinets come to life to create musical mayhem, and keep their poise even with the volume raised to neighbour-bothering levels.

System with a smile

For the money, it's hard to find much fault with PSB's new entry-level speaker array.

Yes, the subwoofer could be a touch more agile and the towers don't plumb the depths, but the design, build quality and overall performance easily put a smile on our faces.

Anyone ready to step up from a sub/sat system to floorstanders should track a set down and have a demo.

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