A few weeks ago I took a trip to do some fun listening at a local audio shop in Dallas (Audio Concepts). They sell a wide array of high end speakers. Their traditional introductory speaker line is the Paradigms. They recently unloaded almost all their Paradigm stock and started carrying PSB speakers. They claim that the PSB offers a better sound for the price. I started off hearing their Alpha B1s, which sounded small and unresolving. I than heard some Rega RS1s, which were a step back in quality and sound. They than played a $1000/pair speaker, then PSB Imagine B. I was instantly drawn in and fell in love with the PSB sound. It had a wonderful sound stage that was real and detailed. I did not fall in love with the $1k price-tag. I went home a changed man seeking that type of audio fidelity and clarity. I bought a pair of Energy RC-10s seeking to obtain that sound. I spent $300 vs $1k.
In my room the RC-10 did not sound anything like the Imagine B. So I decided to bring the RC-10 to Audio Concepts for a comparison. They bring me into a sealed rectangular room. They have the speakers positioned 4 feet from the back and side wall. They are slightly toed in and I am sitting 8 feet back from the speakers. The speakers were driven by a NAD CD player and amplifier.
The Energy's were played first. They instantly created a huge sound stage that played low and confident. The highs were very detailed and impressive. They did not roll off and sounded full (in a good way). Imaging was also wonderful. These audio shop typically are negative with speakers that are brought in for comparisons. The employee listened, paused and had nothing but compliments for the RC-10s. He said he is surprised that a speaker so small plays so big. He was also pleased with the imaging and the "resolving" sound.
We listened to several different songs, including Greg Brown (album: Further In) and some Diana Kroll. When the Imagine Bs were connected, I instantly noticed that they were more neutral. They also had a bit less detail in the high frequencies. I will say that the PSBs did a great job with female vocals. The female vocals had a little more character and emotion.
Overall I would say the RC-10 was the winner. Even the Audio Concepts employee was very impressed with the RC-10. I told him I paid $599. He said that they would give any speaker a run for their money in that price range and category.
He had not one bad thing to say about the RC-10s. He said he could not justify me spending another $400 to get the PSB Imagine Bs.