PMC Twenty5i 5.1 speaker system review

hccbestbuybadgev3PMC's Twenty5i series is for those who like the finer things in life, suggests Mark Craven

PMC is a brand with professional audio heritage, something that informs the general styling of its loudspeakers. Cast an eye on its SE series or flagship Fact Fenestria and neither would look out of place in a mixing suite. The Twenty5i range tested here is about as living room as the company gets, but still comes with the promise of studio-grade performance...

Outwardly, these speakers look very similar to their predecessors, the outgoing Twenty5 range that launched in 2016. Four years isn't much of a lifespan for a loudspeaker lineup, but PMC has felt an upgrade is warranted, brought about by a trio of new developments. Hence we now have the Twenty5i range.

And really these do look nigh-on identical. The Twenty5.26i floorstander, on front left and right duty in our 5.1 setup, has the same exact height, width and depth dimensions as the Twenty5.26, because it uses the same lean-back cabinet (for improved driver time alignment), albeit with a new White Silk finish option to join the more traditional (okay, more 'hi-fi') Walnut and Oak options.

There's also a Diamond Black version that adds a £500 premium to the £8,995 per-pair price.

Best Of Both Worlds
So what is new? Most obviously, there's an entirely fresh high-frequency driver. The Twenty5.26i – and all other models in the range, which includes two standmounts (the Twenty5.21i and Twenty5.22i), two other floorstanders (Twenty5.23i and Twenty5.24i) and the centre – have a 0.75in Sonomex tweeter, a new concoction in collaboration with driver specialist SEAS. Get close to the peekaboo grille and you can see it's placed within a 1.5in roll surround. This, says PMC, means the tweeter offers both the wide dispersion of a 0.75in driver and the lower response and higher SPL ability of a larger design. A fibre-glass 'high-frequency dispersion plate' is also used to further increase soundstage width.

This tweeter refinement has also resulted in a much lower reach, so on the Twenty5i two-way models a 1.7kHz crossover is implemented. On this three-way tower, however, the tweeter drops out of play at 4kHz, and in steps PMC's 2in soft dome mid-range driver, carried over from the previous generation.

Below this on the front baffle is a single 6.5in g-weave bass driver, again a continuation from the earlier range, with a crossover at 400Hz. This feeds into PMC's Advanced Transmission Line (ATL), the company's spin on transmission line bass-loading. This claims to control the energy from the woofer 'in a much more intelligent, efficient way than speaker designs based on ported or sealed boxes,' and uses a lengthy inner cavity (effectively 3.3m on this model) lined with acoustic material to absorb unwanted frequencies. The ATL terminates in PMC's distinctive front-facing Laminair vent.

There's only one new driver here, then, so the rest of the Twenty5i series' claimed performance boost comes from an entirely new crossover and vibration-reducing plinth stands.


The crossover uses 'military-grade' fibre-glass boards, connected via pure copper tracks, and – unusually – employs steep 24dB-per-octave filters at each crossover point. We're told extensive testing even includes altering the orientation of elements on the board.

The new stand for the Twenty5.26i is an engineering trickle-down from PMC's Fact Fenestria. Assembling it is a bit of a process, involving attaching anti-vibration plinths, then fitting the stainless-steel spikes (very sharp, so be careful) and damping discs that aim to decouple the speaker from the floor.

PMC doesn't sell bundled multichannel packages. Buyers instead are invited to pick and choose. With this in the back of my mind, I opted for a system with floorstanders both fore and aft. This might seem extravagant, but the price of the two-way Twenty5.24i tower (£5,495 per pair) is only around £2,000 more than the two-way Twenty5.22i standmount, so doesn't feel that significant considering the cost of the rest of the array.

Again an ATL speaker, the Twenty5.24i features the new tweeter, and a single 6.5in woofer. Two woofers are used on the centre model (the, £2,195), flanking the HF unit, but these are smaller 5.5in iterations.

Rounding out this array is PMC's Twenty5.sub (£3,995), which hasn't been changed since 2016. A tall, slim design with twin Laminair ATL ports for its dual 6.5in woofers, this is clearly descended from PMC's pro background, offering analogue XLR connections and digital inputs, with associated digital EQ.

None of these speakers are particularly sensitive (the Twenty5.26i is the worst offender with an 86dB rating), and as such should be partnered with amplification beyond the entry-level. But that's probably obvious.

Whatcha Gonna Do?
Having heard an earlier generation of PMC's Twenty series (the 2014-era range), I knew I could expect a sound performance majoring on musicality, nuance and transparency. So I began with Bad Boys For Life (UHD Blu-ray) to see how this setup coped with a soundtrack that's often more about aggression than articulation.

And it fared superbly well. In truth, there was a little recalibration necessary on my part, as I'm mostly used to hearing this mix on boisterous Atmos soundbars and home cinema-centric sub/sat arrays. Now I was watching Will Smith and Martin Lawrence shoot their way through an abandoned hotel lobby almost from a different perspective.

This 5.1 setup is able to extract the finest and faintest of details, and place them carefully, lovingly within its soundfield. As the scene builds towards its inevitable explosive finale, there are mice and birds occupying the deserted building that seem to be alive in the room around me. The quiet, creakiness of the location is really evoked, and the excellent dispersive characteristics of PMC's floorstanders, not to mention immaculate imaging, create the feeling of being put perfectly in the round.