The midrange itself is well executed. At times I thought the Mini sounded a trifle congested, but at others it seemed to have amazingly good instrumental separation. Eventually, I found that placing the Minis farther apart and a greater distance from the rear walls opened up the sound substantially, so that the Minis came much closer to the theoretical ideal of always sounding coherent.
Dynamically, the Mini is good but not great. Without a sub, it simply lacks the slam necessary to do power music full justice. And, as the volume picks up, the Mini doesn’t sound strained, but it doesn’t sound completely comfortable either. Adding the sub helps, but the Mini errs on the side of naturalness; achieving big impact on power music is not the speaker’s strong suit.
The final aspect of the Imagine Mini that I need to emphasize is the sense of sonic refinement it conveys. Some small speakers just sound coarse, sloppy or lacking in control, but the Mini isn’t like that at all. Instead, it sounds like a high-end speaker that was magically reduced in size, but that retained most of the subtle qualities that made it worth the extra money in the first place.
On Jack Johnson’s “Dreams Be Dreams” [On and On, UMVD], and listening to the Imagine Minis without the sub, the opening bass line was nicely balanced, with good depth and some of the sense of moving air that it has when heard on top line gear. This bass line was, however, not quite as crisp as it might have been.
On the same album, the cut “Gone” showed off the good imaging and center fill of the Imagine Mini pair, though the height of the presentation was reduced a bit. You need to make sure the stands you use place the tweeters at about ear level (which can mean a rather tall stand given the short stature of the Minis). This same sense of good stage width, along with excellent stage depth, was shown on The Low Anthem’s “Charlie Darwin” from Goodbye Charlie Darwin [Nonesuch].
Switching to Nora Jones’ “Light As a Feather” [The Fall, Blue Note], you can hear that Nora’s voice sounds clear, but lacks some upper harmonics. This midrange dip is subtle and something that you might not notice without hearing this track on other systems (or even better, hearing Nora live).
The Shelby Lynne track “I Cry Every Day” from Suit Yourself [Capitol], demonstrated the benefit of adding the SubSeries 1. Without the sub, the song’s bass line sounded too light and the track’s rhythmic drive was just not there. But add the sub, and you’ll find the track starts to jump and seems more solid and real. This track, and many others like it, shows that while the Minis are good, the Minis + subwoofer combo is even better.
PSB’s Imagine Mini/SubSeries 1 delivers a natural, low distortion sound that is beguilingly balanced. This is a system capable of revealing subtleties with the big boys, though it is probably not the ideal answer for aficionados of power music.
PSB Imagine Mini two-way stand-mount mini-monitor
Driver Complement: one 1” Titanium dome tweeter, one 4”clay/ceramic woofer Frequency Response: 55-23 kHz
Sensitivity: 85 dB (1 w input)
Impedance: 8 ohms
Dimensions (H x W x D): 9.25” x 5.75” x 8.375”
Weight: 6.5 lb.
Price: $760 - $830/pair, depending on finish
PSB SubSeries 1 Subwoofer
Driver Complement: 8” woofer
Frequency Response: 36-150 Hz +-3 dB
Amplifier Power: 110 Watts
Dimensions (H x W x D): 15.6” x 9.6” x 14.1”
Weight: 23.8 lb.
Price: $450 each
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