Of all of the products I get to review and play with, I’d have to say that component loudspeakers are my favorite product to evaluate. The choice of which loudspeakers we use has more effect on the overall sound of our systems than any other component. And I listen to a lot of different types, brands, sizes, and configurations. I listen to really basic systems at bargain prices, all the way up to ultra high-end systems costing as much as a nice used car.
Regular readers of my columns will remember that I don’t believe there is “one true sound” for everyone, and your choice of speakers is greatly influenced by your own personal taste and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, by the same token, a really good set of speakers will please almost everyone, because a really good system can accurately reproduce any kind of music at a wide range of volume levels. Many people believe that only speaker systems with very flat response curves sound good and that is simply not true. The actual response curve we hear is affected by the listening environment, reflections, speaker placement, and dozens of other factors.
One of the most popular and competitive price ranges for a high quality set of component speakers is between $400 and $500, with
a dozen or so good brands vying for your consideration. And as luck would have it, a brand new 3-way component system from Precision Power just showed up here at the lab, and it’s priced right around 450 bucks (US).
The all new PC3.65C 3-way component system has been over two years in the making, and is the brainchild of Grizz Archer, Precision Power’s Loudspeaker Engineer and Product and Marketing Director. The system is comprised of a 6.5” driver, a 2.5” midrange, and a 0.8” aluminum inverted dome tweeter, and a special crossover that can be used in either a 2-way or 3-way configuration with just the push of a button.
In the Details
The PC3.65C system incorporates some fairly unusual features for a mid priced set of components. All of the drivers employ fully encapsulated neodymium magnet motor assemblies, and high-tech materials and techniques abound.
The 6.5” woofer looks quite radical in its design, incorporating a neodymium motor, and a large copper plated solid aluminum phase plug, almost 2” in diameter, protruding out of the center of the cone. Obviously, the woofer uses a large 2” voice coil, which is about twice the diameter of a more conventional driver. It’s wound on a reinforced aluminum former, all in the interest of improved heat dissipation and greater reliability. The midbass drivers cone is Kevlar reinforced pressed paper, with an open cell foam material laminated on the backside to reduce cone resonance and decrease distortion. A single Conex spider provides coil centering and suspends the lower section of the cone. The basket of the midbass driver also received special attention. Constructed of fiberglass reinforced nylon, the basket has a very low resonance frequency to prevent basket “ringing”, and also to withstand the daily rigors of the harsh automotive environment. A full coverage, stamped steel mesh grille is included.
The diminutive 2.5” midrange driver might seem like it’s too small to make a difference, but fear not, it has been cleverly designed with a ridiculous amount of excursion for such a tiny driver. In fact, this little midrange has similar excursion to a 4” driver, and at only 1 3/8” deep, it’s small enough
to mount in many A-pillars or dash locations. Utilizing a black anodized aluminum cone and an inverted rubber surround, the midrange driver includes a stamped steel mesh grille, and a copper plated motor cover.
The PC3.65C tweeter has an inverted, textured, copper anodized aluminum dome and is driven with a 20mm coil. According to Grizz, the texturing process resulted in a smoother sounding tweeter without the usual “brittle” sound of a metal dome. To make sure the tweeters go the distance, Ferrofluid cooling was implemented for high power handling. The tweeter includes a matching mesh stamped steel grille.
The same attention to detail and clever design ideas went into the PC3.65C crossover networks. The crossover filters are all 12dB per octave or “second order” Butterworth alignments, so the system can maintain phase coherency, and the usual gadgets like phase switches and tweeter level shifting were omitted completely in the interest of simplicity and clarity. Each crossover network measures about 7” x 4.5” x 1.5” and has
a lightly tinted Lexan top. The sides of the crossover housing are made of perforated steel mesh, for proper component cooling. Inside, you’ll find the usual complement of air and iron core inductors with heavy gauge copper windings, as well as both mylar and electrolytic capacitors. Another clever feature of the crossover network is its ability to be configured as a 2-way or 3-way system with the press of a single switch. A light bulb is provided to dissipate excess power to the tweeter, and a polyswitch protection device is also present to protect delicate voice coils from being overdriven. The wire terminals will accommodate 10 gauge cables, but the system comes with much lighter 18 gauge wire that tends to get cut off if the set screws are over-tightened.
Read on for Results
As usual, I connected the system in my listening room, and set the volume to a moderately low level, and let it play for about 12 hours. The next day, I sat down to do my critical listening, and see just how good the latest Precision Power offering was.I have about 20-30 songs that I have heard so many times that I have every note, and nuance memorized. I began with a few old standards that I have literally heard thousands of times. As it turned out, I was in for something of a treat.
Jennifer Warnes – Famous Blue Raincoat. This track begins with an expertly played saxophone, and there are lots of details and subtleties from the piano, guitar and bass. When the vocal begins, her voice is very full and rich sounding, and does not blend into the musical notes being played. A good system reveals all this detail and the PC3.65C system did really well, with a smooth pleasant and well balanced sound. While it may not have quite as flat a response as some systems, the net effect was a very good sounding, and easy to listen to system. The sound is not as dry and clinical as some high end systems, and has a good sense of “life” and energy that a lot of flat sounding systems lack.
Robbie Robertson – Somewhere Down the Crazy River. Opening with an almost eerie combination of strings and horns, the song quickly develops a very distinct rhythm with a real sense of space and “air” surrounding the entire band. If you listen closely, you can hear drum heads ringing, and you can sense motion. Intelligibility was exceptional, and all the detail in the recording was there for anyone that cares to listen. Again, I was really impressed with the PC3.65C’s overall ability to recreate the recording. I have listened to some name brand bookshelf speakers that didn’t work as well as this car audio system.
I spent a lot of time listening to the Precision Power system, and the more I listened, I continued to be impressed. Timbre and tonal accuracy was generally good, and power handling was also more than adequate even for really enthusiastic listening. During my extended listening session, I only noticed a few times where I thought the upper midrange was perhaps a tiny bit hard sounding, but never to the point of being brittle or strident. Throughout the session I had to keep reminding myself that it was not a set of $800 home speakers.
When you listen to a really wide range of musical types, it’s always nice to find a speaker system that simply sounds good no matter what you play. So, I went through selections of classical, jazz, metal, R&B, country, hard rock, hip hop, and even some bluegrass with nary a problem. Everything I played sounded good, even at drastically different volume levels. I also spent some time listening to the system off-axis, because it was specifically designed to have the mid-tweet in the dash or pillar locations, which would obviously place them well off-axis. In the suggested locations, the results were very respectable, and produced the expected softening of the upper registers, but still and all quite linear in the overall response. You have to give props to a product that was designed to actually sound better in a car than on a demo board.
The Precision Power PC3.65C system will appeal to anyone who really enjoys listening to music. It’s one of those pleasant systems that you simply can listen to all day, and it never gets fatiguing or boring. Designed to both work properly and be easier to install in the automotive environment, I give props to the designers and to the folks that voiced the system.