Bookshelf Speakers

Update: PSB Alpha PS1 Bookshelf Speakers

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UPDATE about the PSB Alpha PS1 Speakers

Late last year, PSB announced they would be releasing a super compact powered subwoofer. This new sub was designed to go along with PSB's incredible little PSB Alpha PS1 ($299.00) desktop speakers that I reviewed in July 2013. So I promptly requested a review sample as I wanted to write this quick follow-up to my earlier review.

PSB ALPHA PS1 SPECIFICATIONS

  • Design: Powered Subwoofer; Sealed Enclosure
  • Woofer: 5-1/4" Polypropylene Cone with Elliptical Surround
  • MFR: 39 Hz - 150 Hz
  • Amplifier: Class D 50W RMS, 100W Peak
  • High Gloss MDF Cabinet with ABS front fascia
  • Rear mounted Volume Control, Variable Crossover and 0/180 Phase Switch
  • Stereo RCA Inputs
  • Weight: 6.05 Pounds
  • Dimensions: 6.4" H x 6.4" W x 7.9" D
  • MSRP: $249 or $499 USD for the Complete Alpha 1-100 Package
  • PSB Speakers
  • SECRETS Tags: PSB, Speakers, Bookshelf Speakers, Audio

This tiny sub is dubbed the SubSeries 100 and sells for $249 on its own or as the Alpha 1-100, a complete 2.1 system comprising the Alpha PS1's and the SubSeries 100 for $499, this represents a savings of $50 over purchasing them separately.

The SubSeries 100 is the smallest and most compact powered sub I have yet reviewed. It is a sealed unit with a 5-1/4" main driver in high gloss MDF cabinet with ABS front fascia. It is powered by a 100 watt peak output Class D amplifier that is surprisingly full-featured with stereo RCA inputs, a variable crossover control, a level control, a phase inversion switch and a USB power port. There is no power switch: its default operation is via an auto-sensing feature. The cabinet is around a 6-1/2" cube that weighs a very modest 6 pounds.

It comes with a power cord and a one-page instruction "manual". This sheet basically shows the recommended settings when pairing the SubSeries 100 with the Alpha PS1's. Not included is the mono interconnect cable you will need to connect the sub with your satellite speakers. I think PSB should throw in an interconnect with this product especially when you consider that most people would expect "plug and play" capabilities with this super compact system. (PSB does include the interconnect cable when purchased as the Alpha 1-100 system.)

I soon had everything hooked up and experimented at first with placing the sub on the floor under my desk. I didn't like what I heard as the bass was disconnected from the whole. So I wound up placing the sub behind my left computer monitor and this turned out to be an ideal position for the SubSeries 100. Its small size affords excellent placement flexibility.

One major strong suit with the Alpha PS1's would be their great sound staging ability. Adding the SubSeries 100 into the mix only served to further enhance this property. This is true with most quality subwoofers in my experience. The stage enhancement was evident on the John Mayer "Paradise Valley" CD where the added bass extension improved the ambience retrieval, widening the stage even further.

The apparent bass extension was down to around 40 Hz and I could feel the bass in my bones and chest a little bit on "I will be Found". Bass extension and low distortion were plusses here but the bass from the SubSeries 100 tended to be a bit riper than my tastes.

For kick drum, I listened to the "Changed the Locks" track on the Lucinda Williams Live CD. This song opens with a brief drum solo that didn't have nearly the slam and impact I am accustomed to on my big system but the pacing was exhilarating and the drums were satisfyingly deep considering this is a modest desktop system. The driving bass lines during this song are key to the musical experience and this little sub backed the track vastly better than the no-sub option.

All in all, the SubSeries 100 improved the entire musical presentation and took the experience to even higher levels of enjoyment. I did find the system's limits when I was messing around with the Nine Inch Nails "Hesitation Marks" CD. But when dialed back to a responsible (and still pretty loud) level, the bass was taught and precise. I felt in my chest and bones again.

I wanted to try a movie with the system and so I pulled out my Blu-ray of "Riddick". While the SubSeries 100 was not going to blow the doors off, it nevertheless acquitted itself handily and I had a jolly good time with this movie.

The SubSeries 100 is a substantial upgrade to the Alpha PS1 system. It offers clean, tight and precise bass down to about 40 Hz that expands the system's soundstaging properties. Together, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. So I would recommend getting this sub with your PS1's if you have the cash to pay the little extra. Or you might try the satellites first and upgrade to the sub later. But why wait when you can start out with an optimal system at a discount from the start? I know one thing for sure. I have the best sound system of anybody in my office. That is for sure!