Psb Synchrony One (£3500)

A genuinely impressive performance from the big Canadian

If you haven’t heard of PSB before it’s not because the company is a young one – it was established as long ago as 1972, when founder Paul Barton was still at high school. But PSB’s products, well respected in its native Canada and elsewhere in North America, are only now coming to our attention in the UK, with the Armour Group (responsible for NAD and many other brands) having been appointed UK distributor.
   As an emissary, the Synchrony One is impressive even given that it is the most expensive speaker in this test. Almost as tall as the Pioneer but broader, it also features five drivers but in a three-way configuration: a 25mm titanium dome tweeter, 102mm cone midrange and no fewer than three 165mm bass drivers (effective diameter about 153mm) positioned at the top, middle and bottom of the cabinet. The front baffle and rear panels are of extruded, black anodised aluminium and engage with curved plywood side panels to form a rigid cabinet structure. Just two finishes – black ash or dark cherry veneer – are available for the top and side panels.
   Cabinet stiffness is further enhanced, and any possibility of internal organ pipe resonance removed, by twin dividers which form three isolated chambers within, one per woofer. Each woofer is reflex loaded via a rear-firing port and these can either be left open or sealed off with supplied hard rubber bungs. For both the testing and listening, all the bungs were removed. Bi-wiring or bi-amping is enabled by the fitment of a split crossover and two pairs of terminals.

It quickly became apparent in the listening that the Synchrony One is the only speaker in this group which – because of its neutrality and transparency – would cut it as a professional monitor.
   Enjoying music over the Synchrony Ones is like having an RSS feed to a favourite web site: as soon as anything significant happens, you are informed. With some speakers such neutrality can be a burden, bleeding the music of vitality and interest, but not here: like the best raconteurs, the PSB is entertaining as well as informative.
   It thrived on all four of the test pieces. For the Widor clarinet item my notes say ‘Drama!’ and note the big acoustic and soaring rendition of the clarinet, with natural breath sounds and a heightened sense of air passing through the instrument.

Excellent separation, crisp dynamics and clean treble burnished the Davenport, and there wasn’t a smidgen of speaker-induced bloom added to Alison Krauss’s voice.
   With ‘Double Trouble’ the PSB Synchrony One delivered the most convincingly live sound of this month’s test group, with unfettered dynamics and Clapton’s vocal really cutting through.