Precision Tranducer Engineering‘s (PTE) high output (790 watts in total, with 400 watts of Class A/B on tap), bi-amped reference monitor goes by the name Phoenix. A ballsy name in some ways as it evokes the fiery rebirth of a mythical creature – a giant winged bird – and in my mind, the associated expectation that it will, well… be kickass. I had visited this room last year with Mal Kenney, and left the writing to him because he had heard the voice of God through the Studer R2R that PTE boss Mark Thoke was using to channel the spirit of Tom Waits through. This year the set-up was slightly different, but no less impressive, and I say that because powered speakers are making real inroads in my brain over the last year after initially meeting with indifference.
The rest of the gear was a bit of a mish-mash, with what I wrote in my notes as “an older T+A pre-amplifier, and Philips CD player.” Regardless, the sound the Phoenix were putting out was impressive. And perhaps, this was part of the plan: throwing a bit of everything at the monitors to prove they are capable regardless of source. Nonetheless, deep, controlled bass notes, from either the analog source, the CD, or a music server were the order of the day, with a real effortlessness to the sound, and non-fatiguing upper frequencies. Some powered loudspeakers seem to tip toward studio-monitor treble glaze in my experience, Which is great for mastering accuracy, but less so for real musical enjoyment, and playback. YMMV. There was real punch, snap, and incredibly fast attack on the leading edges of notes, with a believable sense of space, and decay/shimmer which I listen for from cymbals/high hats, and especially sustained piano notes.
The sound was fun, impressive, musically enveloping, and put a smile on my face. I think Phoenix is a wise naming choice for this speaker, as it seems poised to fly on the wave of the next generation of powered monitors.