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PMC twotwo.6 active standmount loudspeaker

PMC twotwo.6 active standmount loudspeaker

Strange name for a loudspeaker twotwo.6. But it has a logic of sorts: it has a two-way design that can be used in two ways, and it has a six inch main driver (well almost). The dual usage comes from its pro origins, the tweeter is placed close to one edge of the cabinet so that when the speaker is laid on its side the treble dispersion characteristic does not change. Laying the speaker on a shelf will of course affect its overall dispersion because you are providing a reflective surface at right angles to the drivers, but having the tweeter on one side keeps it away from the surface and gets it as high as possible relative to the main driver.

This is an active speaker with built in amplification that can be hooked up with both digital and analogue signals via balanced and RCA phono connections (analogue that is, digital can only go in via AES3). As audio preamplifiers do not have variable digital outputs the analogue route is the way to go. The presence of a digital input is, however, a sign that there is more to this speaker than a crossover and amplifiers on the back. For a start it has a DAC to cope with that digital input, and more importantly it has DSP (digital signal processing) that can be used to tailor the speaker’s response to suit the room, with variable high and low frequency shelving: a tilting of the response up or down. You can also change the bass slope to suit operation with a subwoofer, as (wait for it) two twotwo Subs are available.

, PMC twotwo.6 active standmount loudspeaker

Even if you leave all that alone and just tweak the level to suit your system, the DSP provides the crossover prior to power amplifiers for each drive unit. With 50 Watts for the tweeter and 150 Watts for the woofer, it has plenty of power on hand. It is slightly controversial that this is Class D power because this technology has yet to be wholly accepted by the high end audio fraternity. But the efficiency of both cost and power requirements means that it is the likely future of domestic audio at all but the extreme end of the scale.

As ever with a PMC the twotwo.6 uses advanced transmission line loading rather than a reflex port or infinite baffle cabinet. So the black lozenge shape on the front is a grille covered vent for a labyrinthine tunnel that folds its way around to the back of the bass driver and manages, with the aid of cunning damping, to deliver only low frequencies that are in phase with the bass driver.

There are some clear similarities between this speaker and the twenty.22 standmount in PMC’s domestic audio range. They have the same main driver and similar cabinet volumes, the tweeter is also the same except for magnet type. The twotwo has a neodymium magnet and the twenty a ferrite. While the former is generally considered the better material, in this instance it was selected for its smaller size. The domestic model comes in a slope style veneered cabinet, and the pro, a very dark blue paint finish. Even if you factor in the cost of digital crossover and amplification this makes the twotwo.6 look quite expensive next to its rather more attractive cousin at the £2,000 plus premium you have to pay. But active operation has advantages that passive systems cannot compete with in terms of power and control, thus they should have lower distortion at a given level and (theoretically) the ability to deliver higher volume levels to boot.


The twotwo.6 is the middle model in a range of three, it’s just over 40cm tall and weighs a manageable 8.4kg, a figure that reveals just how little Class D amplifiers with switched mode power supplies weigh. The mid/bass has a six and a half inch doped paper cone that crosses over to the soft dome tweeter at a low 1.8kHz. The lower this figure the closer the dispersion character of each driver at crossover, something that is key to the resolving powers of PMC designs.

The twotwo.6 is a fast and precise loudspeaker that produces a lot of low-level detail without sounding forward; in fact, it’s extremely even handed. These are qualities that I have come to expect of PMC speakers, they have better bass control than most of the competition, which makes for tighter and more musically engaging sound. They also have very wide and even dispersion, which in practice means that you get a consistent sound both in different places in the room and in different rooms.

, PMC twotwo.6 active standmount loudspeaker

Hooked up to a decent source and preamplifier with single ended cabling, the twotwo.6 brings out the tension in pieces like Felix Laband’s ‘Whistling In Tongues’ [Dark Days Exit, Compost]. This is a slow burning track that needs a quiet speaker to get right. And I am not referring to quiet as in low volume, but quiet as a sound with minimum overhang. Notes should be audible right to the end of their reverb tails, as they say, and then they should stop. With bass notes this is all the more necessary – and tricky –  because the cabinet usually joins in as the note fades. The cabinet doesn’t ‘join in’ here, since things start and stop when they should do, and you get clear differences between notes as a result of that ‘dead’ cabinet. Which all sounds very dry, but when applied to slowly a building tension that is drawn out until you are fit to burst, you are offered a pretty intense experience.

If you are familiar with Class AB amps – as most of us are – then Class D can sound slightly dry; it’s a subtle thing, but then so is music. You do get used to it quite quickly though, especially when you start noticing how big the differences between recordings have become. This speaker digs right down into the mix and does what the pros want by revealing precisely what’s going on at the lowest levels. But it also has a flow and expansiveness in its presentation that makes the emotional content of the music equally clear, and in many cases more so. It makes reviewing new music rather easier than more relaxed systems because the control exerted by direct connection between amplifier and drive unit means there is less blurring of information and it’s easier to hear what’s going on. In truth, you hear something far closer to what was heard by the producer and artist(s) in the studio than you do with passive speakers, especially since active speakers are pretty much ubiquitous in pro circles, even if not all studios have PMCs.


This degree of transparency might be a little analytical for some, the flagrant use of compression by producers is rather more apparent than with passive speakers. The version of ‘Hey Joe’ on Miami Pop [Jimi Hendrix, Sony Music] is obviously limited, which is what you expect of a live recording of this vintage but would perhaps prefer to ignore. Fortunately it does not stop the ferocious intensity of the playing blowing your mind (once again) nor dilute the genius of the man. The counterpoint is that good recordings sound absolutely blinding, the size and atmosphere of room on Doug MacLeod’s Exactly Like This [Reference Recordings] is immediately obvious. You get the warmth of the high resolution recording and the depth of tone in voices and instruments pretty well exactly as they were recorded. You get an easier sound with a twenty.22 and a good amplifier, but you don’t get the resolution on offer with this active design.

, PMC twotwo.6 active standmount loudspeaker

I tried a couple of ancillary products with these PMCs, a power conditioner and a subwoofer. Both proved to be beneficial, increasing the transparency still further when the bass duties were removed from the PMCs and left to the sub, and refining the mid and treble in the case of the conditioner. So contrary to the idea that active operation limits upgradeability there are plenty of things you can do to make these speakers potentially even better.

I used the twotwo.6 with both passive and active preamplifiers and got engrossing results with each. I tried some of the tweaks available through the DSP, but being a purist, stuck with maximum flatness of response for the most part. At the end of the day, this is a very fine loudspeaker, those interested in hearing more precisely how their favourite music was made will find them addictive. Those that just want to be carried away by the message being communicated by the music will be equally happy, this is because the clarity they bring to the occasion makes the nuances of emotional and artistic expression that much easier to appreciate.

Technical Specifications

Type: 2-way, two-driver stand-mount active monitor with transmission line enclosure

Driver complement: One 27mm soft dome tweeter, one 170mm natural fibre mid-bass driver

Frequency response: 40Hz – 25kHz

Crossover frequency: 1.8kHz

Inputs: Low-level input via RCA jack, low-level input via XLR jack, digital input via AES/EBU on XLR jack

Low frequency extension: not specified

Amplifier power: 200W RMS

Controls: Variable driver response, crossover & EQ settings

Dimensions (H×W×D): 406 × 194 × 364mm

Weight: 8.4kg/each

Finish: Blackblue paint.

Price: £4,194/pair

Manufacturer: Professional Monitor Co

Tel: +44 (0)870 4441044

URL: pmc-speakers.com


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