Interview – PMC Speakers Product Specialist: Ruairi O’Flaherty

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1560769_613857081996213_1508913205_nPMC Speakers are in a class of their own. Widely regarded as one of the most high-end speakers on the market, they’ve been gaining serious traction over the last few years, and have ended up in the studios of some major music engineers. I even bought a pair myself! Of particular interest to bedroom producers would be their line of two two speakers, pictured above. Of course, quality comes at a price, and those boxes aren’t cheap. At the recent NAMM show, I got the chance to not only sit and listen to their massive speakers, which sounded pristine, but also talk to them about the company.

Hi Raurii! Thanks for being willing to talk to me about PMC and its products. We’re bug fans, and some of me have already bought a pair, so I’m looking forward to learning more about it. Can I start off by asking what your job is at the company?

Yeah. I’m a product specialist for PMC. I do installs and demos with a lot of our bigger systems for some of our clients like Timberland, Capitol Records, Dr Luke, LA Reid and Trent Reznor.

Can you tell me about PMC’s  history?

Sure. The company is 20 years old, and was set up by Peter Thomas and Adrian Loader. Peter was working with the BBC, and they were looking for new monitors for their studios but they couldn’t find one that had the resolution they wanted, or that could go loud enough to fill the big rooms they had. Peter had been working on some speaker designs, and they ended up prototyping something that the BBC demoed and loved. That was the BB5 model, which is still one of our flagship products. The problem was that Peter couldn’t work for the BBC and sell them his speakers at the same time. So he chose to leave and start PMC. From there, he expanded the range, and it’s been a steady growth for us. We’ve just bought new headquarters in the UK, So there’s a lot going on right now.

Being that’s its a 20-year old company, has the technology that PMC has used for it’s speaker line over the years changed at all?

We’ve always had the same design goals. On the professional side, you want a speaker that translates well and can take the kinds of levels that some of our clients need. Someone like Timbaland likes to work loud, and he needs to be able to do that all day on monitors that have the resolution he needs for mixing. The new Justin Timberlake album that he produced was mixed on using PMC speakers.

Our newest product range the “two two” series use very advanced technology that wasn’t around 20 years ago. We’re using class D amplifiers,. We also use PMC developed DSP cross-overs. That didn’t happen 20 years ago, since everything was analog then. Also, the driver technology is always improving. We’ve used laser imaging for the design of our latest range, which wasn’t available in the past. So yes, we’re always looking ay new technology.

PMC’s tagline is “Ultimate Monitoring”. In layman’s terms, can you tell me about the technology that gives your speakers the kind of quality that they have? Is this reflected in their high prices?

In terms of what goes into making our speakers, there’s no one thing that makes them good. A key part is the use of our Transmission Lines. We have something called the ATL (Advanced Transmission Line), which is a completely unique way to build a speaker. There’s no other mainstream speaker manufacturer that uses them. It’s also difficult to implement, since it requires special drivers, amplifiers and an understanding of technology, which we have. We’ve worked very hard on our cabinets too. All of our drivers are made by PMC or are specialty made for us. We’re not using off the shelf drivers. Our amplifiers are PMC Active, which are top of the line, and our passive crossovers are built by hand with expensive components. There’s no easy way to do it. Everything from component matching the left and right speakers to using good cables are all important.

Jimmy Douglas, who mixed Justin Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience”, commented about PMCs and said that he could push them to very loud levels, and not have to worry about the sound distorting. What is it about your speakers that makes that possible?

It’s a combination of things. You need amps that can deliver that kind of power, and drivers that can take it and remain linear, and not have huge level distortion. For example, movie scores are very dynamic, and composers need speakers that have a full range and can go very low. We have many movie scoring engineers as clients, like Thomas Newman, who scored Wall-E and Finding Nemo. Also, when you work with people like Timbaland or Jay Z’s team, who used PMC’s for “Magna Carter Holy Grail“, you need to be able to go loud and still trust what you’re hearing. All of our components work together for that.

Can you tell me about how PMC speakers work within the context of a room, seeing as many bedroom producers work in untreated environments. Does the technology in your speakers address things like the coloration caused by a bad room?

A big problem with a lot of speakers is how they sound when you’re off-axis. It’s relatively easy to make a speaker that has a flat frequency-response when you’re standing in front of it. But as you go off axis, the characteristics of the tweeter and woofer drivers change. Making a speaker that works well off-axis is very important. In a typical room that has resonance, we’re not hearing the direct sound of the speaker coming to our ears. We’re hearing the reflected sound that bounces of the walls, floor and ceiling. That reflected sound is always going to be off-axis, even if you’re sitting in front of the speakers. So getting the off-axis performance of a speaker to work well allows it to work in practical situations. It’s also good that the producer, who might be sitting to the side of the speakers, or a band that’s been in the back of the room can hear a representation of the mix.

How do you feel that PMC speakers have fared commercially?

The company’s growing consistently, and like I said, we’re not competing with mass-marketing manufacturers. We have an enviable roster of high-end users in every genre. People use our speakers in post-production, the gaming industry, as well as for mixing and mastering. Our biggest sales force is our clients. People go to their rooms and hear our speakers, and then they call us. So things are going well. The “two two” range are our entry level range, and they’ve been a huge success.

I’ve noticed that PMCs means of marketing aren’t very in-your-face. Are you going to continue letting word-of-mouth be the major means marketing for PMC?

We’re always looking to connect with new customers, and we’re always evolving our promotions. By nature, we believe in letting the speakers speak for themselves. There’s no point in us telling you that they’re great. You have to hear them, and if possible, hear them in your own room to know that they’re great.

Anything specific things happening with you guys this year?

The biggest news we have right now is about our new flagship studio monitor code-named “4×10“. It’s an extraordinary speaker with game-changing resolution. We’re currently doing our first installations of it.

Sounds awesome! Thanks for filling me in on the company and it’s products. We’ll encourage people to check out PMC’s website and Facebook to learn more about you.

SamInterview – PMC Speakers Product Specialist: Ruairi O’Flaherty

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