PMC Fenestria Event: Audio by di Tomasso

On July 5th, Gary di Tomasso bravely competed with the Toronto Jazz Festival by hosting an event to highlight PMC's all-new flagship speaker, the Fenestria. If it’s a call between live vs reproduced music, live music always wins hands down, but thankfully the Jazz Festival is not a one-day event, so decided to drive 1.5 hrs in Toronto's ever maddening traffic to attend this by-invitation-only PMC event.

Thankfully I did, the PMC Fenestria did not disappoint.

I arrived at a clubhouse like building in the outskirts of Toronto and walked into a huge room almost 20x30’ room with a vaulted ceiling. I thought to myself, what a tough challenge it will be to fill up the space with sound - and we shall see……... 

PMC needs no introduction. They have a long lineage in the professional audio industry, and often serving as recording studio monitors. Their list of clients is long and includes names such as Prince, Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett, and Tori Amos to name a few. 

I first spotted the PMC Fenestria duirng the 2019 Montreal Audiofest, and they quickly became my favorite speaker of the Montreal show. At CAD$ 90,000, the Fenestria weight in at 176 lbs. The cabinet of the speaker comes in separate pieces which means two people of normal stature can easily assemble them, or transport them using a small station wagon. 

Each speaker houses 6 driver units. The Tweeter is a 19.5mm, SONOMEX™ soft-dome, ferro-fluid-cooled driver with 36mm wide surround, neodymium magnet, micro custom chassis, silicone Aureole™ isolation mount. The midrange driver is, of course, PMC’s famous 75mm soft dome which has the reputation of having one of the fullest and sweetest mid-range in the industry. It is housed in their own module or “nest” made from a billet of solid aluminum. The “nest” has a specially designed integral suspension mount which almost decouples it from the rest of the cabinet. The result, according to PMC, is stable, pin-sharp imaging which will appear not to originate from the Fenestria. 

There are 4 low-frequency drivers: 6.5” transverse-weave, carbon fiber, multicellular-core piston driver, arrayed in PMC’s ATL (Advanced Transmission Line) bass loading technology.

The wooden side panels of the Fenestra are called “Planar Wings”, and they are actually decoupled from the cabinet by use of suspension mounts. The Planar wings act as tuned mass dampers to eliminate unwanted cabinet resonance. 

The speakers were initially driven by a single amplifier simply called the “Lumin Amp”. The Lumin has a small footprint, just about the same size as shoe box, and looks almost like one of the Lumin DACs. The $ 17,000 dollar amp delivers 160W into 8 ohms, and supposedly 320W into 4 ohms which is what the PMC’s sensitivity is rated at. 

The sound was pleasing to the ears but beyond that, there was very little dynamics to speak off. The temptation is to crank the volume higher, but volume has nothing to do with dynamics. You can have very high volume but a very low dynamic range which makes the music sound flat and lifeless. Unfortunately, that was the sound which was coming through the PMCs while driven by the Lumin Amp. Separate they can be fantastic equipment on their own, but the 86 dB sensitive Fenestria proved to be too big a challenge for the Lumin Amp. It needed an amplifier with a lot more juice to fill this big room with sound.

Thankfully, a pair of Bryston 7BSST² was hiding behind the backdrop and by popular demand, Gary finally hooked them up. By God’s grace, (or should we say by Bryston’s 900W into 4 ohms), the PMC Fenestria came alive! Bass texture and dynamism came to the fore together with the crowd’s cheers. Music filled the room with enough contrast and liveliness to drawn everyone’s attention. It goes to show that the Fenestria need lots of power, and they are made ready for it. The speakers have 3 sets of inputs, which means if you want you can drive them with 3 sets of monoblocks if you have an electronic crossover. If you are thinking of buying the Fenestria, make sure you feed them with 5-600Watts or above, they really need big power in order to sing.

The sound of the Fenestria carries the hallmark of PMC’s transmission line bass notes, they are not chest pounding or in your face, they are tuneful, voluptuous and full-bodied. Think of the sound of low frequency coming out of a Double Bass, rather than a kick drum.

Human voice, is what the Fenestria will steal your heart on, that said, Rebecca Pidgeon can only steal my heart only so many times, and this must have been the 345,123 times I’ve heard her voice at shows and events, so may I kindly suggest something more refreshing such as Angelique Kidjo, Kari Bermnes, or even Lady Gaga for the next event?

The PMC Fenestria are not “Hi-Fi” sounding speakers, they are not ear-catching nor do they put forth bells and whistles to attract your attention. I would equate them as the Jaguar sedans of High-End Audio, they are conservative, exquisite, refined, steady and smooth sounding. You can listen to the PMCs for hundreds of hours and you will not grow tired of them. Their strong points are the sweet and full-bodied mid-range, combined with bass notes filled with natural harmonic decays.

Thank you to Gary di Tomasso, of Audio by di Tomasso and PMC for putting together such a wonderful event. If I didn't have a pair of very large speakers already, the PMC sits pretty close to the top on my list of strong contenders.

by Richard H. Mak, Analog Editor