The AML2’s performance is enhanced by the onboard amplification that includes 100 watts RMS for the bass driver and 80 watts for the tweeter. This Bryston-designed, Class A/B bipolar output amplifier delivers the dBs with a smooth, precise audio character — with plenty of juice to make these puppies play loud.
The AML2 is equipped with top-mounted controls including EQ and level, and on/off cleverly hidden under a hinged panel. The adjustable crossover and adjustable EQ allow for custom tailoring of the AML2 to fit the room with high- and low-frequency cuts and boost to compensate for room interaction, boundary placement etc.
One characteristic you immediately notice with the AML2’s is how smooth the treble is. Having auditioned numerous powered speakers that project an edgy, ragged upper-mid/low treble, the AML2s deliver a natural, uncolored, and importantly, no harshness as you crank up the volume.
The adjustable crossover augments the primary crossover with a -3 dB roil-off at bass frequencies of 90 Hz, 50, Hz or 30 Hz. The low-frequency tilt offers further bass tailoring with boost or cut (-3 dB, +1.5 dB or +3.0 dB) centered at 500 Hz. The high frequency tilt allows high-frequency EQ of -5 dB, -2.5 dB or +2.5 dB from 1.6 kHz to 20 kHz.
All the onboard controls can be bypassed. I found the EQ perfectly suited for tweaking the speakers for placement of minor room correction. Most of the time though, I left them in their flat position except when placing them near my console right against the wall, which I would enable the -3 dB mode in the LF tilt.
In keeping with its pro recording-focused features, the AML2 has only balanced XLR speaker connections; no RCA or TRS connectors are used. The power cord slot and on/off switch are on the back.
Specs include a 33 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response (no tolerance given), 111 dB maximum SPL. Crossover frequency is 1.4 kHz. The analog amp delivers 100 watts (woofer) and 80 watts of the tweeter at .09 percent distortion. Slew rate is 60V/uS
Cabinet-wise the AML2 is made from composite material that make it very inert and audibly impervious to cabinet resonance and sonic coloration. Each speaker measures 15.75 inches tall, 7.87 inches wide and 14 inches deep. They are a 35 pounds each. Not too heavy to move around for variations in usage, especially if you are setting up several in a 5.1 or 7.1 system
The cabinet has mounting inserts so it can be secured to PMC’s custom-104 pipe stands or anchored to the ceiling or walls with special mounts. Its size makes it especially versatile.
I located the PMC AML2’s next to my Trident (now ORAM) 16-T analog console, and also set them in the middle of my room to see how they performed without boundary reinforcement. Sources included analog tape, DSD and high-res PCM from my recorder workhorse, the TASCAM DVRA-1000HD, and a Macbook Pro recording setup. I even played some audiophile LPs through it via a Pass Labs XP-25 discrete phono preamp — just to get a sense of its versatility.
Most of the audition time was spent with the PMC’s in proximity to the console on Apollo monitor stands at at ear level and eight inches from the wall.
All connections made to the PMC were linked via Alpha-Core solid-silver XLR cables. I also thought that the $10,000-per-pair AML2s deserved a nice power cord, so they were plugged in to the AC via ESP Music Cord Pro cords, which were plugged into an ESP reference power strip. The ESPs are very resistant to any AC line noise and hash.
Through the PMC's, I played various kinds of music I have recorded, including acoustic guitar, jazz guitars, percussion, and organ tunes, courtesy my Nord Electro 3’s Hammond B3 mode. I also pumped a lot of 24-bit pre-recorded music through the AML2s from SACDs, DVD-As and high-res downloads from ITrax and HD Tracks music download services.
The PMC manual mentions at least a 20-hour break-in period for the AML2’s, but since my pair was a well-used company demo tandem, I immediately began compiling my listening impressions.
One characteristic you immediately notice with the AML2’s is how smooth the treble is. Having auditioned numerous powered speakers that project an edgy, ragged upper-mid/low treble, the AML2s deliver a natural, uncolored, and importantly, no harshness as you crank up the volume. The combination of a low-crossover frequency, the use of an excellent Class A/B amp section and PMC’s carefully selected tweeter contribute to upper-end detail that is dead on. From violins to piccolos, energetic pop percussion, and the metallic decay of jazz drum cymbals, the top-end was never strained.
And we must not forget that this pin-point accuracy enhances the layering that takes place in its two channel presentation. The PMC’s have great front-to-back depth and left-to-right/right-to-left audible width. You can clearly pick out subtle audible detail in the mix — without the sound becoming buried or blurred. Quite impressive.
The cabinet design and construction also is key to its clean midrange sound — with no unwanted resonances or unflattering color to the sound. A well recorded SACD from Tom Jung’s 1990s string of DSD jazz recordings revealed exquisite piano tones with precise transients and rounded overtones, just like a well-recorded Steinway D should sound.
A 24/96 Martin D35 acoustic guitar PCM recording that I did with a pair of Audix SCX-25 microphones and a True P2 discrete mic preamp sounded extraordinarily open through the AML2s — with the crisp strums and string detail that is nicely separated. These speakers have not once ounce of treble coloration.
The bass side of AML2’s performances is equally as impressive — especially for a small speaker. With the adjustable crossover and EQ controls bypassed, bass drums, electric and acoustic bass recording were showcased with an amply loud, but tight, fast bass.
MP: Despite being very happy for 10 years with the results of the AML1, we still found ways to improve; revised cabinet structure, new amplifier mounting mechanism, changes in the design of the amplifier and the components that were used, revised ATL™ with additional damping for even less distortion, different cosmetics but still very recognizable as a PMC speaker!
EAN: What are the design elements of the AML Series that allow them to relay audio, especially when playing 24-bit PCM or DSD, that is about as accurate as I have ever heard from a professional speaker.
Another important benefit of this approach is that the air pressure inside the cabinet, loading the bass driver, is maintained. This helps to control the driver over a wide frequency range and significantly reduces LF distortion. Consequently, the upper bass and midrange detail is not masked by harmonic distortion and the result is PMC’s characteristically transparent midrange, fast, attacking bass and outstanding clarity.
A further advantage is greater bass extension and loudness than a ported or sealed design of a similar size, even if similar drivers were used. Moreover, the very consistent bass driver loading brings the welcome benefit that the frequency response remains consistent regardless of listening level, and analytical auditioning can be conducted without the need for high replay volumes to achieve optimal bass response – a unique and very valuable characteristic.
EAN: If an end user wants more bass below 35 Hz (cinema effects in a surround setup perhaps), which PMC subwoofer do you recommend?
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