With all due respect to the demands of movie soundtrack playback, I’ve long felt that well-done music recordings posed even stiffer demands. I think this because, quite frankly, it is in my experience a fairly rare thing to find movie soundtracks that have anything like the spatial coherency, textural and transient details, and tonal purity I routinely find in many music recordings. Granted, there are some great movie soundtracks out there, but they seem to be relatively few and far between. Happily, the Imagine T2 is well equipped no matter what you want to play. If you want to try a bombastic action film sound track, go right ahead; the T2 floorstanders offer plenty of dynamic muscle for most any sensibly-sized listening space you are apt to encounter (indeed, the T2 system will happily play at louder level than many enthusiasts would ever choose).
But, if you want to put on some material that is delicate, subtle, and rich in inner details (e.g., Mile Davis’ classic Kind of Blue), the Imagine T2 has got your needs well covered. This system as a whole, and the T2 floorstander in particular, has an uncanny knack for retrieving good measures of low-level detail without—and this is the key—sounding as if it is working hard to do so. Unlike some other detail-rich speaker systems that come to mind, then, the Imagine T2 system rig conveys plenty of sonic information while at the same time sounding for the most part relaxed and at ease with itself. In this respect, the T2 is strongly reminiscent of hearing natural sounds occurring out in the real world, or of hearing live music.
Another very pleasing aspect of the system is that, unlike some surround systems whose main, centre, and surround speaker elements lack bass output, the T2 towers are—for most intents and purposes—full-range transducers, while the Imagine C and Imagine Mini elements also have quite respectable mid-bass output. Now please do not misunderstand me; I am not saying I recommend using the T2 system without a sub (though in a pinch, you probably could). I am saying, though, that the system as a whole does such a good job of delivering near full-range performance that adding a powered subwoofer is more a matter of “desirable ‘icing’ on the sonic cake,” rather than a “make or break necessity.” My broader point is that the near full-range character of the system once again plays into the relaxed and unforced manner in which the T2 rig goes about its work. Where other systems plainly require subwoofers as a performance crutch, the T2 system uses its sub more like a finely made gentleman’s walking stick—that is, to add a bit of desirable low-end flash, dash, style, and panache (but not to keep the system from falling flat on its face).
Imaging and soundstaging from the T2 system is very good, though not necessarily the very best I have heard in this general price class (both the MartinLogan ElectroMotion ESL system and the Magnepan on-wall system provide extremely stiff competition in these areas). This is not to take anything away from the PSBs, but rather to observe that the T2 system does not leap into near-holographic realism quite as readily as the MartinLogan and Magnepan systems do.
However, one area where I suspect the T2 system is likely the reigning champion in its class involves overall smoothness and neutrality of frequency response. PSB’s Imagine-series speakers sound smooth with a capital “S” and they are extremely low in colouration. Admittedly, I have had the opportunity to see measurement charts captured by PSB in Canada’s NRC (National Research Council) acoustics labs, but my ears had already told me what the measurements confirmed; namely, that this system offers exceptional smooth and well-balanced frequency response. You can search long and hard, but I think you will be hard-pressed to find competitors that can beat the neutrality and accuracy of the T2 system at its price (or even well beyond its price). Mr. Barton undeniably has a real gift for getting the disparate elements of his speaker to “sing” with one uniform, coherent voice.
Another area where the T2 system proves well thought-out involves the evenness of its off-axis power response. Some systems, for example, sound nominally “flat” on axis, but one you get them in real world rooms it becomes painfully apparent that their off-axis response curves are all over the map (a flaw that manifests itself in the form of weird colourations that present themselves as a result of unforeseen room-coupling problems). But the T2s, because their power response is so smooth and well controlled, do a very good job of minimizing unpleasant and unwanted room interactions. Again, this speaks to the fundamental sophistication of Barton’s Imagine-series designs.