The key factor that distinguishes PMC speakers from the herd is an ATL. This stands for ‘advanced transmission line’ and refers to a bass loading technique that is uncommon, though by no means unique. Much more complex than the almost ubiquitous port loading, the efficacy of TL loading might still be a topic of fierce debate in some quarters, but a folded line does create a very stiff and solid structure.
Because it uses a relatively small (140mm) bass/mid driver, the £1,525 GB1i still manages to accommodate a 2.4-metre line, terminated by a large port near the floor, within the confines of a very compact floorstanding enclosure. Obviously, low-frequency power handling won’t match that available with a larger driver, but a small driver has advantages at the top end of its working range and can use a smaller diameter line.
Viewed from the front, this is an unusually slim speaker, so a chunky and neatly shaped black-painted MDF plinth is used to extend the lateral footprint to ensure good stability and also provide secure spike accommodation. All bar the plinth is finished all over in cherry, oak or maple real-wood veneers.
The main driver uses a cast frame and a 95mm-diameter doped, flared paper cone, while the tweeter, co-developed with Norwegian driver specialist SEAS, has a 28mm Solonex soft fabric dome. A high-quality crossover network is fed via twin terminal pairs, permitting bi-wiring or -amping options.
The GB1i performed respectably enough in the listening tests, though the reactions of panelists did somewhat vary – two actually gave it their highest marks, but the other two were clearly less convinced, so it’s virtually impossible to establish a consensus of views.
With hindsight and after further hands-on work, a little more wall renforcement might have been helpful, but that’s hardly surprising in view of the small main driver. And since the free space alignment is quite dry, moving the speakers a little closer to the wall is unlikely to create unwelcome thump or boom. Furthermore, what bass there is shows decent agility and tonal discrimination, which is more than one can say for several others in this Blind-listening Group Test.
The overall tonal balance was considered generally acceptable by all, with a slightly laid-back character that will tend to favour higher listening levels. The GB1i has an engaging and communicative sound quality and is notably free from boxy effects, with fine focus and spacious imaging.
The overall character does somewhat emphasise the midband, yet this is arguably quite acceptable because it delivers superior reproduction of voices and speech, with fine expression and subtlety, alongside minimal coloration.
The key to getting best results from the GB1i probably lies in experimenting with siting, in order to achieve the best possible bass alignment under the specific listening room conditions. Get it right and results can be very impressive, especially from something so small and discreet, with fine imaging, low coloration, superior coherence and good musical communication skills.
LIKE: Lovely voice reproduction; fine overall agility and well judged balance
DISLIKE: Bass could be smoother and speaker needs careful positioning
WE SAY: A very neat and petite package that needs careful placement
DIMENSIONS: (WxHxD) 155x870x234mm
• 28mm Solonex soft- dome tweeter
• Advanced transmission line bass loading
• Separate MDF plinth
• Twin terminal pairs
DISTRIBUTOR: PMC Ltd.
TELEPHONE: 08704 441045
Want the latest issue of Hi-Fi Choice? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!