When PSB founder Paul Barton released his flagship Synchrony series loudspeakers several years back, they were almost immediately hailed as one of the performance benchmarks in their price class. More importantly, though, they came to represent one of high-end audio’s acknowledged “points of diminishing returns,” because they set the performance bar sufficiently high that—for most listeners, at any rate—it would have been prohibitively expensive to try and find something better. Not surprisingly, the Synchrony speakers became a target both for competitors’ products and for PSB’s own lower-cost speaker systems to aim at. But they also came to serve as a technology roadmap—one that set forth a development path for new generations of PSB speakers.
In the years since, Barton has been hard at work migrating technologies and design concepts drawn from the Synchrony range and applying them in lower cost PSB speaker lines. First came PSB’s mid-level Imagine speakers, which were in a sense “Synchrony juniors” and now come the third-tier Image series speakers, which if anything show an even greater level of influence from the Synchrony wellspring. The result, it seems, is an ever-unfolding group of PSB speaker families whose performance per dollar just keeps getting better over time.
For this review, we decided to evaluate a 5.1-channel system based on the Image T6 floorstanders, which are the top models in the new Image range. The rest of the system consists of an Image C5 Centre speaker, a pair of Image S5 bipole surround speakers, and a SubSeries 5i subwoofer. The total price of the system is a very manageable $2922. At the risk of getting ahead of myself, let me tell you up front that I’ve never heard anything at this price point that could equal this new Image rig.
Consider this system if: you love natural, neutral, uncolored sound that gets out of the way and lets the music and/or movie soundtracks do the talking. While channeling more than a little bit of the overall feel and vibe of PSB’s much more expensive Synchrony and Imagine models, the Image system is a benchmark for value. I’ve not heard anything in its price range to equal it.
Look further if: you crave those “Nth” degrees of transparency, detail, and dynamic expressive that only higher-end systems can deliver. But please don’t misunderstand; the Image system is very, very good in all three areas (better than it has any right to be for the money). It’s just that if you want to climb even further up the performance ladder you should be aware that there are other systems that can take you there—for a price.
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced surround speaker systems)
PSB Image T6 Tower, Image C5 Centre, and Image S5 Surround highlights: