Las Vegas 2013: PTE is the real deal











I had an obligation to stop by PTE (Precision Transducer Engineering), given how taken Mal Kenny was with the room at RMAF. The Phoenix ($5,700/pair) are active, that is, they come with their own amplifiers built-in — you just need to plug-in the speakers and wire them up to a source (or preamp).

I’m not a fan of active speakers. There are too many parts, and therefore many things that could go wrong. Component swaps are also problematic. But mostly, they sound like ass. Now, I say that, sitting here in my office staring at an obvious counter-example, the truly excellent Audioengine A5+. This speaker is exactly what I was thinking about when I turned the corner and came into the PTE room at the Flamingo Hotel.

The Phoenix is a D’Appolito array design, that is, the mid-woofers bracket the tweeter in an over+under setup. This kind of arrangement does some things really well, things that generally include a beguiling sense of mid-range present-ness, and the dual-driver also tends to mean that neither has to work as hard to present the music — that is, there’s less distortion. Each cabinet weighs a surprising 75lbs in it’s 28″ high cabinet — stands are a must. I did say that they’re active, right? Think: three amps. And yes, it’s bi-amped. If that’s confusing to you, that’s fine; audio pal Mal Kenny explained it this way:

In technical terms: this is what happens when engineers write their own marketing material — you can’t hear anything over the sound of heads hitting desks.

Sensitivity and impedance are irrelevant; frequency response is a healthy 32Hz (-3dB) and flat all the way up past dog hearing. PTE says that the on-axis and off-axis response is pretty much identical all the way up to the crossover point.

  • Antelope Gold w/ Voltikus (w/ an old Philips CD player for a transport)
  • PTE MMMC-R phono preamp in a solid mahogany box ($1,600)
  • T+A 1230R preamp
  • Luxman 441 turntable with Soundsmith Hyperion cartridge

Okay, so here’s the deal — you want detail and musicality in a package that, while not precisely affordable is still on the low-end? You have to hear these things. I want my own pair. Yes, really. They’re scary-good. And if you take out the cost of an external amp, they suddenly start looking scary-sexy.

Oh, and hook me up with a Hyperion cartridge, too — I love finding SoundSmith fans, especially in places I’d least expect them.

Nice work, here! Another Best In Show contender.