SubSeries 5i Subwoofer highlights:
Let me list several of the key sonic qualities that define the Image T6 surround system.
Neutral Tonal Balance, Both On- and Off-Axis: The Image T6 system offers unusually smooth, accurate tonal balance—balance that holds up very well even when you listen from a position well to the left or right of the central “sweet spot.” In practical terms, the speaker’s well-balanced off-axis response enables it to produce wide, deep surround soundstages that work not just for one listener, but also for a group.
As systems in this general price class go, the Image models in general (and the T6 in particular) are very impressive in their neutrality—freed from apparent response dips or peaks or any kind of signature coloration. Interestingly, this makes the system a bit of a sonic chameleon, in the sense that it seems to have no color of its own, but rather shifts its sonic persona to reflect whatever tonal characteristics the music or soundtrack happens to require.
Midrange seems exceptionally neutral and natural. When my colleague Dr. Robert E. Greene reviewed the Image T6 floorstanders for our sister magazine, The Absolute Sound, he commented that the speaker’s midrange (at about 1.5 kHz and 4kHz) seemed just a touch too forward, but I did not observe this at all. In The Perfect Vision listening room, the system’s middle frequencies seemed very clear and well balanced. Highs, too, were pleasingly extended and similarly smooth and if anything they were slightly less forward sounding than in some competing systems I’ve heard.
The T6 towers, C5 Centre, and S5 surrounds all make useful bass, though for obvious reasons the T6 towers offer the greatest extension—all the way down into the mid-30 Hz region. The T6’s bass is full and powerful, never anemic or constricted, though some might find it just slightly too loosely damped.
The SubSeries 5i adds a good measure of low-end power and clout, though it doesn’t really add an awful lot of bass extension beyond what the T6 towers can already do. Thus, the sub's main contribution lies in the area of added low-frequency dynamic headroom. One criticism I would offer, however, is that the SubSeries 5i is, in a textural sense, somewhat less taut sounding than the T6 is. For this reason, bass aficionados might want to step up to PSB’s slightly more expensive but also more capable SubSeries 6i subwoofer—a combination that PSB also recommends.
Exceptionally Clean, Smooth Handling of Textures and Details: One quality that impressed me from the outset about the sound of the Image T6 system was its uncannily clean, clear, smooth handling of low-level details. Some systems seem to “telegraph” sonic details by presenting them as if under a piercingly bright spotlight that draws your attention in an unnatural way. Happily, the Image system is not like that at all. On the contrary, it can at first seem almost disarmingly self-effacing, so that you might initially wonder if the system is perhaps overly subdued or reticent in its presentation. But that concern will be dispelled the moment you first put on material that’s rich in well-recorded details. Then, you’ll find the Image system suddenly transforms into a vivid (though never unnaturally or garishly colorful) communicator of the first rank. In its own almost unassuming way, this system offers wonderfully natural and unforced clarity that is, to my way of thinking, one of its greatest strengths.
The Image T6 midrange driver is a thing of beauty, capable of excellent resolution and subtlety. Similarly, PSB’s titanium dome tweeter is very clean and extended, without the sometimes excessively “sparkling” or “harmonics overheated” sounds that certain aluminum dome tweeters seem to impose. While some might argue that the Image’s titanium dome tweeter is very subtly different in voicing from the clay/ceramic-filled polypropylene midrange driver, I would say those difference are in fact vanishingly small relative to the somewhat more coarse discontinuities some speakers in this price range exhibit. More so than any system I’ve heard at its price point, the Image T6 package does a good job of closing in on the ideal of sound that seems “cut from whole cloth.”
This system offers far better reproduction of delicate sonic details and textural nuances than most competitors in its price class. That said, though, be aware that if you’re willing to step up to the next higher price class (think in terms of spending $1000 to $1500 more for the entire system) you’ll be able to find systems that can handle subtleties even more effectively (one example would be PSB’s own Imagine system).