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PMC prodigy1

PMC prodigy1

A phenomenon that affects the manufacture of pretty much anything more complicated than a sandwich is ‘creep.’ Over the time that a device is in production, both the price it is sold at and the specification it offers tends to increase over time. The recently departed Ford Fiesta entered the automotive sector weighing less than a ton and offering such niceties as a heater and left it 47 years later weighing over fifty percent more, fitted with gadgets that even the best sci-fi writers didn’t see coming, and costing more than the houses its ancestor was parked outside.

In the audio industry, creep is as omnipresent as it is anywhere else but it comes with extra wrinkles that aren’t necessarily applicable elsewhere. Ranges of products can increase in price and specification over time but the industry does not move up with them. This means that manufacturers can find themselves at a point where their ‘entry level’ product isn’t contesting the entry level it once was. When you compete with companies that sell products for less than you and then go on to offer entirely compelling reasons to stay with them as you upgrade, this is a significant issue.

Lineup creep

The PMC prodigy1 is PMC seeking to undo some of the creep in their own lineup. It is still made in the UK and is designed to include all the features that make a PMC a PMC but it enters the market costing over a grand less than the Twenty5 21i, which was the previous starting point. If the prodigy1 appeals, the speakers further up the range will embody the same characteristics, and keep you ‘team PMC’ until you own a pair of Fenestrias… and an unspecified level of personal debt to service as a result.

In order to be a PMC, the prodigy1 needs an ATL (Advanced Transmission Line) and its effective line length here is 6’3”. If you measure it with a tape measure, it is slightly shorter than 6’3”, but the damping and absorption add to that length. Regardless, that occupies a considerable amount of the cabinet’s internal volume. It displaces the crossover to a location roughly behind the tweeter as it requires the lower section of the cabinet to wind in a U-shaped profile before looping underneath and exiting under the driver at the front. The exit is via a simplified version of the company’s Laminair port designed to disperse better eddy currents that form as air departs the cabinet.

PMC prodigy1

PMC has turned to their other product lines for the drivers and selected two units that have not previously been partnered. The tweeter is a 27mm soft dome device used in the result6 active nearfield monitor. The unit has been tweaked for operation in a passive speaker to run a lower crossover of 1.7kHz. It hands over to a 130mm natural fibre cone with a long throw and inverted cap which has seen extensive use in the Ci range of on-wall speakers. As these models also use a transmission line, it has not needed substantial alteration for use in the prodigy models.

Where PMC has expanded a considerable amount of development time is in the crossover that ties these drivers together. Some early experiments with minimalist arrangements were wholly unsuccessful (and, going back to the idea of the prodigy1 being the essence of PMC, even if it had worked, it would have been at odds with other models) so the design team returned to the basic layout of the twenty5i series as the starting point for the prodigy crossover. The final result is a simplified version that accepts a 12dB per octave slope (by comparison, the Twenty5 21i has a 24dB per octave slope) and that uses components selected on a tighter budget to give as close a listening experience to the more expensive models. Connection to the outside world is via a single set of terminals that are bespoke to the prodigy models and that look and feel fairly smart.

Simplified cabinet

The cabinet is also simplified, and it is the part of the prodigy1 that is most visible different to the twenty5i models. Gone are the non-parallel edges of the more expensive range, resulting in a speaker that is flat sided all the way around. The overall construction is simplified internally too. A prodigy1 tips the scales at over a kilo less than the similarly sized twenty5 21i and this does mean that when you compare it to some rivals at this approximate price point; Q Acoustics’ Concept 30 being the one that springs to mind, the prodigy1 doesn’t feel as substantial when you heft it out of the box. Externally, the wood veneer of the more expensive models has been replaced with a black sheen effect.

This doesn’t tell the whole story though. To this set of eyes the flat sides of the prodigy1 give it rather less of a Frank Gehry quality than its more expensive brethren and make for a classically handsome bit of kit. While it is notionally less substantial, the manner in which it is constructed stills feels fastidious and it would be a stretch to call the PMC anything other than well made. Something that has been taken from the more expensive models is a pair of thin trim rings around the drivers. I’m not a huge fan of the Twenty5i models but here it adds just enough detail to avoid the speaker looking too austere. As standard, the PMC does not come with grilles. They are a £100 optional extra (and make use of magnetic trim tabs for neatness) but, as the tweeter is fitted with its own grille that both protects it and helps with dispersion, I suspect that most owners will do without.

PMC prodigy1

In keeping with the ideal of the prodigy1 being a true PMC, the quoted measurements are largely in keeping with the 21i. A frequency response of 50Hz-25kHz at +/- 3dB is achieved with an impedance of 6 ohms and 87.5dB/w sensitivity. These are not enormously trying measurements so I started testing using a Mission 778X integrated amp which is less than half the price of the PMC and disposes of 45 watts into 8 ohms. I’d been impressed at how the Mission performed with the company’s own 700 stand-mount which is fairly similar in price to the prodigy1 (albeit a little easier to drive) so it felt like a good place to start.

First things first, the prodigy1 is very much a PMC when it comes to setup. This is not a plonk and play device and needed a little fettling on the supplied stands which PMC has worked with Custom Design to produce a recommended set rather than building them in house. Once you have a level of toe in that has the convergence point a metre or so behind your head, the speaker starts to show what it can do. Without this, the stereo image is somewhat diffuse and doesn’t meet in the middle.

With this done, the PMC begins to deliver a performance that is both entirely in keeping with the asking price and that has strong elements of the company house sound to it. This is instantly noticeable in the bass response which delivers the sort of extension that I’ve come to expect from the company. This has always been about more than out and out impact; indeed, compared to something like a KEF LS50 Meta, the prodigy1 doesn’t have anything like the same low end shove. What it does instead is effortlessly fill in from the lower midrange down. The bass in Emilíana Torrini’s Gun [Rough Trade] has a presence and weight that really brings it to life.


This underpins the rest of the frequency response which is no less convincing. Torrini is the focus of your attention, her tone and breathing all recreated in a way that helps the suspension of disbelief. The handover between the two drivers is seamless and, considering how much work that the tweeter is doing, the top end is a well judged balance of detail, energy and refinement. It’s possible to play the entertaining but gruesomely mastered Performance & Cocktails by the Stereophonics [V2] and not find yourself backing the volume off which is a hallmark of civility. For all of PMC’s professional heritage, their more recent domestic models have been usefully benign and the lower entry price of the prodigy1 has not affected this.

Even so, it becomes clear that the PMC has more to offer than the Mission can extract from it. Good though the 778X is, it doesn’t exert the grip over the prodigy1 that it really needs to shine. Substituting NAD’s retro styled but entirely modern C3050, which is much the same price as the PMC yields some immediate benefits. There isn’t more bass than there was before but there is a control and definition to the low end that helps the PMC sound more tangible than it did on the end of the 778X. The NAD really serves to highlight the benefits of the Laminair port which gives the PMC models a speed and articulation that they didn’t always possess before. The complex and deep bass on Board’s of Canada’s Telephasic Workshop [Warp] are delivered as a series of tight ‘thuds’ rather than the longer ‘whoomph’ noise associated with air audibly leaving a port. This combination of the NAD’s greater grip and this decent air management makes for an impressive performance from a small box.

PMC prodigy1

There is still more to be had from the PMC too. Connecting up an AVID Accent integrated amp (which is technically less powerful than the NAD but features the sort of current delivery you might normally associate with an electric welder) and the prodigy1 responds to the extra grip and the AVID’s unburstable sense of scale and drive very positively indeed. What is already a detailed performance gains further nuance and subtlety which is stitched into the performance without becoming the sole focus of your attention. This isn’t a necessarily a simple shot in the arm for a system of affordable electronics but it certainly has the scope to handle some further upgrades once it is in your system.

Plain good fun

Beyond absolute technical accomplishment, the PMC also manages to be plain and simple good fun. Listening to the hugely entertaining The Breaks by Jules Buckley, the Heritage Orchestra and Ghost Note [Decca] on the PMC is a genuine pleasure. The absolutely sensational performance of Rated X is something that absolutely flies along, demonstrating the fleetness of foot that the PMC shows with smaller scale recordings. At the same time, it manages to really convey the feeling of a mass of musicians working together and operating as a group. This is helped by the soundstage effortlessly extending beyond the speakers themselves and creating a space that feels large enough to have an orchestra perform in. Really lean on the prodigy1 and it will harden up and start to sound strained but you need to be mechanically unsympathetic to achieve this.

What results is unquestionably a PMC in terms of how it behaves and sounds and, given the saving that the prodigy1 represents over the 21i, that is a considerable achievement. You can choose it knowing that it exhibits qualities that are refined and honed but never significantly changed in the more expensive models so it performs the role of being a ‘first rung’ on the ladder with considerable panache. To see the prodigy1 as something you will dispense with in order to savour more concentrated doses of PMC is to do it a disservice though. At the asking price, there is no shortage of extremely talented rivals, some of which might look smarter or offer more exciting technology and materials in their construction. The principles of the prodigy1 are good enough though that it more than holds its own against anything I’ve tested at this level. PMC has fought back against creep and it has done so very convincingly indeed.

Technical specifications

  • Type: Two-way stand-mount Advanced Transmission Line loudspeakers
  • Drivers: PMC 27mm soft dome tweeter, PMC 133mm natural fibre long-throw bass driver
  • Effective ATL™ Length: 1.91m
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz–25kHz (-3dB)
  • Sensitivity: 87.5dB SPL 1w/1m
  • Impedance: 6Ω
  • Peak SPL: 123dB SPL
  • Crossover frequency: 1.7kHz
  • Directivity (vertical/horizontal): 80°
  • Dimensions (H×W×D): 32 × 16.5 × 23.7cm
  • Weight:4.5kg
  • Price: £1,250 per pair/$1,699 per pair
  • Grilles: £99/$139


Professional Monitor Company Ltd


+44(0)1767 686300

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