Hands On: PSB Imagine Mini Bookshelf Speakers
PSB's Imagine Mini bookshelf speakers rock as hard as dedicated two-channel loudspeakers two or three times their size.
At first glance, it’s hard to imagine how much quality audio these Minis can put forth. But once you start listening, that answer becomes crystal clear - the Imagine Minis rock as hard as dedicated two-channel loudspeakers two or three times their size.
With dimensions of 5.75 x 9.25 x 8.3 inches, the Minis can be plugged into various listening setups. Each contains a 1-inch titanium dome tweeter with ferrofluid neodymium magnet, plus a 4-inch clay/ceramic-filled polypropelene cone woofer with rubber surround. When you remove the grille, the industrial build quality is evident, down to small details like the PSB Speakers brand badge in front of the tweeter.
PSB measures sensitivity at 87dB and on-axis frequency response of 55 Hz to 23 kHz. The 6.5-pound speakers come in black ash, dark cherry, walnut wood veneer, gloss black or gloss white finishes to meet a variety of interior designs.
The Minis provide a couple of options for connecting speaker wire to the terminals situated beneath the cabinet, which is yet another design detail that makes them appealing. Depending on where the speakers are placed, you can either thread wire horizontally through the holes that access the terminals, or you can connect directly from below.
I tested the speakers in a couple of setups. In the first, hooked up to Anthem gear, I used generic 12-gauge bare wire. When I switched to electronics from NAD , I connected the Minis with heftier-sheathed QED cables terminated with banana plugs.
I’ll admit that the 325-watt Anthem Statement P5 amplifier and D2v pre/pro perhaps overwhelmed the Minis. Listening to CDs, vinyl and computer-based music files, the Minis sounded good, but not great - almost too smooth. The soundstage was wide and they imaged well, but they weren’t quite as crisp and vibrant as I’d heard during a previous demo.
Then again, you’ll not likely be installing a pair of Minis with an amp and pre/pro that combine for more than $12K. So I was really looking forward to hearing them with the 110-watt NAD T 757 A/V receiver and NAD C 565BEE CD player. This setup was more of the Goldilocks-like just right fit. The sound was more detailed, lively and open as I listened to various CD s and MP3 tracks through the 565BEE .
With the system pretty well cranked up, Jack Johnson’s “You and Your Heart” really came to life through the Minis with its driving guitar strums to open his To the Sea album. Meanwhile, the PSBs perfectly captured the intimate concert hall settings on live recordings Unplugged by 10,000 Maniacs and Slip, Stitch and Pass by Phish. Again, the imaging was spot on to create a realistic music experience from these tiny speakers, and their depth and dynamics shined through the NAD gear. Hearing Maniacs’ singer Natalie Merchant’s piercing vocals beautifully rendered via the Minis just makes me wonder why more audio companies don’t use her songs in demos.
At $760 per pair, this is about the only place clients might bat an eye - and that’s only if they perceive to be paying a lot for small bookshelf speakers. They won’t think twice after you demo them.
With their versatility and uniqueness, combined with rock-solid performance, the Minis are sure to develop a nice following in the audiophile world. The top end is clean, and midrange very detailed. PSB has a sound reputation, and including these can only enhance your audio line.
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Arlen Schweiger is managing editor of CE Pro, Commercial Integrator and Security Sales & Integration magazines. Arlen contributes installation features, business profiles, manufacturer news and product reviews. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Arlen at ASchweiger@ehpub.com
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