PSB Is More Than Heavy Metal

Extruded aluminum enclosures and Imagine Series lineage are only part of what make the Imagine W1 and W3 on-wall speakers special. In addition to being voiced like the great-sounding Imagine Mini, they're also coordinated the way designer Paul Barton says surround speaker systems should be: with the center having twice the output of the left and right combined. So the W3 center ($1200/each) has a sensitivity rating of 89dB, versus the 86dB of the W1 ($600/each), and the 3dB difference enables the center to play twice as loud with the same power. Of course, in practice, you'll level them to have the same output, but your amp will have more headroom for the center at dynamically challenging moments. Elsewhere in the Imagine line, the Imagine Mini Center ($700/each) is now available to match the Imagine Mini satellite. All of the above are shipping October. PSB also announced CustomSound in-wall and in-ceiling speakers of which the most interesting is the C-SUR, whose angled baffle contains enough drivers to run both side- and back-surround channels. Shipping end of December. Also shown was the second-gen VISO 1 AP compact audio system, which eliminates the original VISO 1's dock in favor of AirPlay for $600. It ships first quarter of 2013. The original VISO 1 remains available.

SnowmaNick's picture

"...and the 3dB difference enables the center to play twice as loud with the same power."

Doubling the power gives you a 3db increase in headroom, and a speaker with a 3db higher sensitivity would require half as much power to get to the same db, but to be "twice as loud" requires a 10db increase.

Further, if you combine the left and right speakers output that should result in a higher sensitivity. Combined, with identical signal and power to each, you would see a 3-6db increase depending on the speakers relative location to each other and the frequency. Assuming 3db is pretty safe, so in order for the center to have "twice the output of the left and right combined" the center would need 13 db more headroom, either in regards to sensitivity or through prodigal amounts of amplification. Assuming the voice coil could effectively take the amount of power it would need to gain 13db's (about 20 times the power/watts going to the left and right.

I see the point about the speaker maybe having the same sensitivity of the left and right combined, but I think you may have misstated in regards to the math and loudness.


Mark Fleischmann's picture
PSB offered this comment: "what Paul was referring to about the center being 3dB louder was the center speaker section of the W3 soundbar as compared to the right and left sides."