PSB Synchrony T600 Loudspeaker Review


Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $7,999/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Open, detailed sound
Powerful bass
Excellent build quality
Minus
Somewhat pricey
Matching Synchrony center speaker not yet available

THE VERDICT
With Canadian speaker maker PSB's 50th anniversary on the horizon, the company's new flagship Synchrony T600 tower is cause for celebration.

PSB Speakers was founded by Paul Barton in 1972. While the brand has long been part of the Canada- based Lenbrook Group, which also includes NAD and Bluesound, Barton began as and remains PSB's chief designer, cook, bottle washer, and one of the most respected speaker authorities in the industry. His work, including the new Synchrony T600 under review here, has long made use of the Canadian National Research Council's (NRC) audio testing facilities, including its anechoic chamber.

Description
The new Synchrony T600 looks more closely related to the discontinued PSB Imagine T3 than to the original Synchrony One flagship (also discontinued), a model first released in 2007. It shares the Imagine T3's cabinet configuration and driver layout, but otherwise appears to be a major redesign.

PSB calls the Synchrony T600 a "transitional" three-way speaker. Starting at the bottom, its three 6.5-inch, carbon fiber cone woofers are each separately enclosed and rear-ported. Two plugs are included with each tower to block any two of its ports, though I didn't use them. The transitional aspect of the designation comes from each woofer having a different high-pass filter frequency: all three operate at the lowest frequencies, but only the top one is still functioning at the point where the midrange takes over.

The woofers (and the midrange driver) employ rigid, cast (not stamped) baskets. Their magnets are a combination of ceramic and neodymium. The latter is the most powerful known magnetic metal, but due to its cost and relative rarity (neodymium is mined mostly in China), it's little used in loud- speakers apart from tweeters where the magnets can be small.

The 5.5-inch midrange driver also employs a carbon fiber cone and crosses over to a 1-inch, titanium dome tweeter, the latter a refinement of similar tweeters used in other PSB designs. The midrange-to-tweeter crossover is at 2.2kHz (4th order, Linkwitz-Riley) and the bass-to-midrange crossover is at 450Hz (third-order, Butterworth). The T600's specified sensitivity is 91dB, its minimum impedance 4 ohms, and its frequency response rated at 24Hz to 23kHz +/-3dB.

The three pair of rear binding posts come with suitable jumpers for single-wire, bi-wire, or tri-wire (or -amp) operation. I used single-wire and single-amp throughout. But if you choose a bi- or tri-amp setup, make absolutely certain you're using the correct jumpers (or no jumpers at all in tri-amp mode)!

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The T600's solidly built enclosure is MDF with aluminum reinforcement of the front baffle.
It also comes with four (per side) vibration-absorbing feet that sit slightly outboard of the cabinet. These are sourced from IsoAcoustics (the GAIA II) and cost $300 for a set of four if purchased separately. I didn't attempt to confirm their effectiveness, which would require listening with the feet on and off, then rinse and repeat, with the time needed for each change- over rendering any audio-change observations dubious at best. I'm skeptical of pricey tweaks, but it's always possible there might be something to this one.

The T600 is...um...squarely rectangular, without the curved cabinets of the earlier Synchrony and Imagine lines and is available in a piano gloss black or satin walnut finish. The speakers come with magnetically attached grilles that I didn't use. As with all current PSB speakers, the Synchronys were designed and engineered in Canada but manufactured (like most speakers these days) in China under close supervision of on-site PSB personnel, including Paul Barton himself.

FedEx did a serious number on the thin, single-layer, external cardboard boxes that my review samples arrived in, but fortunately there was no meaningful damage to the speakers themselves. According to PSB, the T600's boxes will get an upgrade going forward, so buyers who purchase the speakers direct over the internet likely won't experience shipping- related woes.

Setup
I set up the T600s in my room about 9 feet apart, roughly 4 feet out from the back wall, and angled in at the primary listening seat. As with other recent PSB designs, the T600's tweeter is positioned below the midrange to correct for the way the crossover network directs the acoustic radiation pattern of a tweeter-midrange array. But my listening seat is several inches higher than normal, so to adjust for this I tilted the Synchronys back by a few degrees.

I used a Denon AVR-X6700H receiver reviewed recently in Sound & Vision to drive the Synchrony T600s. Having listened with this AVR daily for at least six months, I'm intimately familiar with its sound quality. I also briefly experimented with using the Denon as a preamp driving separate amplifiers (models priced higher than the Denon AVR by itself) that did sound a bit different, but not arguably better, when used at anything short of headbanger levels (my listening occasionally reached peaks at or below 100dB, C-weighted, at the primary seat).

As I've mentioned in previous reviews, my room is very large and provides no significant deep bass support. It also generates annoying modal peaks between 100 and 200Hz at the listening position. The only method I've found to correct these issues without significantly rearranging the room (not possible in my situation where the speakers must support a projection screen) is by using bass EQ of some sort.

In the past I've used the graphic EQ offered by both the Denon AVR and my Marantz AV8805 preamp-processor. But graphic EQ is a little clunky and lacks the flexible settings that parametric EQ provides (parametric EQ is rare in AVRs). While graphic EQ (with a little help from the Bass control) helped with the T600's performance in my room as it has with other speakers in the past, for this review I elected to lean on the Denon's Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room EQ to address the bass issues.

COMPANY INFO
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COMMENTS
prerich45's picture

I'm so glad to see the test bench back at Sound and Vision. Thomas does and excellent job at reviewing and proceeds to give us some in house measurements that gives us a ideal of what's going on in his room. Bravo!

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