20 Years of PMC Loudspeaker Inspiration

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Peter Thomas at the 20th Anniversary Dinner

PMC was established 20 years ago out of the passion of BBC engineer Peter Thomas and FWO Bauch engineer Adrian Loader, who built their first full-range monitor in a garage, the ‘Big Box’ was born. Based on transmission-line technology, what became known as the BB5, was later to be sold to the BBC for use at Maida Vale, effectively handling the higher sound pressure levels required for pop and rock monitoring but with an ultra high resolution response.

Initially a project in their spare time, the development rapidly turned into a full-time business when PMC’s first factory was opened in Watford just one year later. With the smaller LB1 now on the market and the first pair of BB5 XBD Active monitors with PMC full electronics package already sold to the BBC, the company turned its attention to its first dedicated domestic floor-standing model the FB1.

In 1993, PMC became the exclusive distributor for Canadian company Bryston Electronics. These hand crafted state of the art electronics are designed for both the world’s leading professionals and consumers, producing the most accurate and reliable products available. Sharing PMC’s passion for quality of performance, value and reliability, Bryston offers a twenty-year warranty on all analogue designs.

From the outset impeccable quality control has been the hallmark of PMC and the ability to play at all levels, accurately and without strain. All PMC staff are trained to listen with the ear of a professional. No speaker leaves the building without having been listened to. Such is the importance of this process that Peter Thomas is confident that any speaker produced will sound just like the original reference.

Studio Heritage

PMC monitors are used in the world’s preeminent recording and mastering studios. Peter Thomas’ late business partner Adrian Loader, who passed away in 1998, made a significant impact when he broke into the prestigious Hollywood post-production facilities in Los Angeles with PMC products.

Since the BB5 was first installed in BBC Maida Vale and then Metropolis Mastering, it remains the world’s reference and is used by Prince, Stevie Wonder’s Wonderland Studio, Hospital HDTV Broadcast, and classical labels like Decca and Harmonia Mundi. Many of the biggest movie themes have been recorded using PMC and the company is one of the very few to have been awarded an Emmy® for its contribution to recording excellence.

All the company’s monitors, from the small DB1S+, to the flagship BB5 XBD-A, feature its unique Advanced Transmission Line (ATL™) technology. This provides a near identical, high resolution, wide bandwidth signal response across the entire product range.

Technology PMC’s Advanced Transmission Line (ATL™) is used throughout the PMC product range. Its enclosures have taken loudspeaker design to the highest level, with sophisticated cabinet construction, proprietary drive units and patented absorption materials bringing enormous benefits for professional and home users alike.

The reduction in distortion that results from the ATL design brings with it the characteristic transparent midrange that PMC is famous for and a fast, attacking bass with a higher sound level than is possible from a ported or sealed design of similar size.

All the components used in PMC loudspeakers reflect the careful attention to detail that is a hallmark of the company’s approach to manufacturing. Whether it is the capacitors and other electrical components used on the crossover circuits, the drive units themselves or the cabinets, each is measured, recorded and matched to ensure an absolutely identical performance from every loudspeaker.

In the unlikely event that spare parts are needed, PMC is able to recall the performance specification of every single component in every single loudspeaker it has ever made. This way an identical replacement part can be supplied to ensure there is no compromise in the performance of the repaired speaker.

Hi-Fi products

Not many houses can accommodate speakers that stand over 2m tall and weigh in excess of 70kg each, so hot on the heels of the BB5, Peter and Adrian developed the LB1 (little box), a far more obvious contender for the domestic hi-fi market.

The LB1 was the product that introduced PMC to hi-fi enthusiasts, with its public debut at the 1991 Penta Hi-Fi Show held at London’s Heathrow. With its compact cabinet, two-way design comprising a 110mm bass driver and 25mm tweeter, the LB1 enabled music lovers to experience all the benefits of PMC’s ATL technology in their homes for the first time.

The AB1 (average box) was introduced a year later, in June 1992, and featured a 200mm bass driver in a much larger cabinet for extended low frequency performance. In1999, the first purely domestic hi-fi model was introduced. The FB1 (floor box) was a two-way floorstanding speaker that featured a 175mm (6½ inch) bass driver and 25mm (1 inch) tweeter. Still with echoes of the styling of the company’s professional products it quickly established itself as firm favourite with critics and end users alike. The original FB1 and updated FB1+ models notched up a multitude of best buy, five star, gold and product of the year awards.

Bolstered by the success of the FB1, the company then developed what was then and still is its smallest model, the DB1 (dinky box). Its 140mm (5½ inch) drive unit and 1.5m transmission line length produced a depth of bass that suggested a much larger loudspeaker. Now hi-fi customers with smaller homes could benefit from the low colouration, low distortion, fast and accurate deep bass and high power handling of a PMC speaker. Two years on in February 2004, the diminutive floorstanding GB1 (ground box) was developed. This brought the deep bass of a 2.4m long transmission line in a cabinet that was only a touch over 6 inches wide.


Many months work on the design of a new tweeter with Scandinavian manufacturer SEAS resulted in the new Sonolex™ 27mm domed tweeter. With its custom dispersion plate it provided a vivid audio picture that could be enjoyed throughout the room. When coupled with new PMC designed bass drive units, with their increased cone stiffness, improved voice coils and a new doping process to generate a cleaner midrange and faster bass, the iseries set a new benchmark for speakers of the same size and price.

As a result, the entire hi-fi product range, from the DB1 right through to the massive MB2 XBD benefited from the iseries treatment. Just like its predecessors, the iseries was awarded many five star reviews, best buy awards and product of the year accolades.


To mark 10 years since the launch of the original FB1, Peter Thomas reworked the crossover, to produce an even more transparent and refined midrange performance. Launched as the FB1i Signature in 2009, and soon to be joined by the TB2i Signature, this limited edition range was presented in a Rose Palissandre veneer and came with a personally signed certificate of authenticity from Peter and a new 10 year warranty.

The response to the FB1i and TB2i Signature models was so positive that the company decided to apply the Signature treatment to two other popular models, the PB1i and OB1i, which were introduced in this 20th anniversary year. Such is the company’s faith in its manufacturing process and quality control procedures that these two models saw the introduction of PMC’s new, class-leading 20 year warranty.

Pro Product Development

Having started out as the Professional Monitor Company, the recording industry has remained very close to the company’s heart, with new products and developments being introduced with regularity over the past 20 years.

To mark the passing of Peter’s founding partner, Adrian Loader, the company launched the AML1 active monitor in 1998. Fitted with Bryston designed electronics it quickly became accepted as one of the best compact active speakers available. With users as diverse as the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Stevie Wonder, the AML1 proved itself in many different situations.

The professional range expanded rapidly, with models to suit all situations. From the smallest DB1S+ right through to the flagship BB5 XDB-A with its 5200 watts of Bryston power amplification, active crossovers and a low frequency response down to 17Hz, PMC has the solution. International expansion

As a result of its ever-growing reputation, the company once again needed to expand its production facilities in 2001 and moved from the Welwyn Garden City location, into which it had moved in 1995, to its current Luton site. This doubled the size of the operation, enabling more throughput and a faster response time to customer orders.

2004 saw the company set up its own operation in the USA. Based in Orange County, California, PMC USA LLC was ideally placed to introduce the company’s products to the Los Angeles music industry. Studios such as The Village in LA and film industry giants like Lucasfilm, Paramount and Dolby Laboratories are within easy reach of and are served by the company’s US based staff.

Back in Europe, the flagship BBC Sounds One mobile studio was equipped with MB2 Active monitors, which regularly see action at the Glastonbury Festival and were the equipment of choice for the live broadcast of Live 8.

In Germany a trio of studio installs took place in 2004 and 2005, with the world famous Teldex facility in Berlin taking the BB5-A/MB2 5.1 system; and Emil Berliner Studios adopting the MB2 XBD-A. Proving that a properly designed monitor can cross all musical genres, leading electro pioneers Kraftwerk took delivery of an IB2S-A 5.1 surround system for use at the band’s Kling Klang studio in Düsseldorf.

PMC also undertook OEM production of Digidesign’s multimillion dollar active small monitor project along with the development of its own active amplifier and DSP technology, used in the DS-001, which features in the DB1S-A and TB2S-A compact monitors adopted by many broadcasters such as TSR and RSI, the Swiss state broadcasters, ORF Austria and the BBC.

Other notable product highlights are the introduction of the AML2, as a direct replacement for the original AML1 and the recently introduced IB2 XBDS-A, which offers many of the benefits of the BB5 XBD-A in a more compact form.

Pro Users

From classical musicians, through jazz, Asian music, pop, electro and rock, PMC is closely connected with the production of all styles of music. PMC can proudly boast that it is the only hi-fi loudspeaker manufacturer whose products are used by such a widely diverse selection of talent and large number of recording studios, that the music being listened to at home on PMC speakers has probably at some point been created using PMC monitors. For music lovers who want to hear the work of their favourite artists sounding the way it did in the studio, the philosophy of voicing all its speakers to sound the same means PMC really is the only choice.

Fact Series

18 years after the company was founded and 11 years after the first dedicated hi-fi speaker, the FB1, was launched the requirement was to develop speakers that represent the ultimate in luxury aesthetics with audiophile performance, to portray the essence of a recording accurately from within an elegant form. The result is fact®; a speaker whose lines are influenced by the works of great architects and designers and whose performance comes directly from PMC’s long standing professional heritage.

As part of the design brief, no single component in the fact series was to be shared with the company’s existing products, meaning the designers had a total free reign to produce the ultimate loudspeaker. The result was the launch of fact.8, a floorstanding speaker with twin 140mm (5½ inch) drivers and a 19mm (¾ inch) high resolution Sonomex™ tweeter with a 1.7m Advanced Transmission Line, concealed within a slim, elegant cabinet finished in a range of exotic veneers like Tiber Ebony and Graphite Poplar. The fact.3, stand mount speaker followed, cementing PMC’s credentials within the domestic hi-fi market.

Wafer and Wafer-art

With the advent of custom installation and the wired or, increasingly common, wireless home, with audio and video streamed around the living accommodation, the requirement for discrete loudspeakers has become very important. PMC responded with a product that didn’t compromise on the quality of sound reproduction but chose the difficult route of creating an in-wall and on-wall design that housed an ATL.

The wafer™ series is a fully functioning ATL design, with other innovative features such as PMC’s Twin Tweeter)Technology™, which allows a steerable image from the tweeters to tilt the sound in the direction of the listener.

To ensure domestic integration, the wafer series is also available with customisable wafer-art™front grilles that can be specified in a variety of colours, or with printed images from the PMC gallery - or with any image supplied by the customer.