PSB Synchrony Home Theater Speaker System

the listIn the 30 years of its existence, PSB Speakers has, by my count, introduced a new flagship line only three or four times. So the debut of the Canadian company's Synchrony line is an event of some moment - at least in the world of hi-fi, where PSB founder Paul Barton enjoys something akin to celebrity status. It's also an event up north, where he's well known as a speaker designer, re-searcher, and supporter of the excellent acoustics facilities of Canada's National Research Council, used extensively by PSB and others (such as Axiom, whose Epic 80/500 system is reviewed here).

PSB sent us the cream of its new line, which also includes several smaller models. The Synchrony One tower speaker and its fellows look quite conventional but embody enough new developments for the company to call this its most significant introduction in a decade. Barton's 3 years of developmental work is said to have yielded improvements in the back and front ends of all drivers, among them a new titanium dome tweeter and cones of a re-engineered laminate. Crossovers have been refined from previous designs, too, as have the cabinets, which feature curved aluminum and wood-laminate construction that is both rigid and more manufacturing-efficient than anything PSB has done in the past. All three Synchronys we received were handsomely finished in dark cherry; black ash is also available.

Setup Despite the Synchrony Ones' promise of substantial bass extension and oomph, PSB also included its HD10, a subwoofer of the voguish subcompact breed. This went in my well-established sub position (left of the left-front speaker), and the other PSBs in similarly well-proven locations. I set all five to "large" (full-range), leaving the HD10 as a strictly LFE-channel supplement, and located the towers flanking my 52-inch Samsung LCD, with the center on a low stand and the surrounds on high side-wall shelves. The Synchrony S surround is a double two-way design pitched as a "tri-mode" capable of dipole, bipole, or monopole radiation, depending on how you connect it. For dipole response, I cross-jumpered its dual inputs.

Setting up a new speaker system usually entails a good bit of pushing and pulling the main pair to and from the front wall for the most balanced bass, so I felt fortunate when the Ones sounded excellently even and extended right where I plopped them, about 30 inches from the wall. They sounded almost as good 40 inches out, too, and 20 as well. No, they weren't completely impervious to placement, but they were substantially less touchy than most other towers. And it's by design: Each of the three woofers has a separate subenclosure and port, all with different dimensions to the floor and ceiling, as well as independent crossover characteristics. This is said to help mitigate floor-bounce interference and thus improve real-world in-room response and integration.