UK-based PMC is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, marking three decades of ‘Best of British’ loudspeaker design and manufacture for both the international professional music production and audiophile markets. From a modest start as two men in a garage to 30 years of the biggest movie soundtracks and albums in the world, the Professional Monitor Company Limited, had a remarkable trajectory grounded on a common devotion for transmission line designs and a fundamental belief in fidelity.
Peter Thomas at Tape London studios.
Peter Thomas, PMC founder and owner, says, “When I started the company with my friend and colleague, Adrian Loader, I had no idea that our audio knowledge and passion for music would one day end up with our small company designing and building universally respected loudspeakers for audiophiles and for some of the biggest artists, producers and audio facilities in the world.”
PMC was established in 1991 by Peter, then a BBC engineer, and FWO Bauch engineer Adrian, in response to requirements from the BBC for a monitor speaker that could handle the high sound levels required for pop and rock monitoring, but with ultra-high resolution. The pair created their first loudspeaker, the ‘Big Box,’ in Peter’s garage and accompanying electronics in Adrian’s garage. Once refined and renamed the BB5, it was installed into BBC Maida Vale Studios and so started the journey of discovery and invention to perfect the art of loudspeaker design that continues today.
Shortly after the introduction of the BB5 and formation of PMC, Peter and Adrian launched their first domestic loudspeaker, the LB1 (for Little Box 1), a compact passive design that explored to the full the concept of what the company would describe therein as Advanced Transmission Line technology. To power the two-way design, PMC licensed the amplifier electronics from Quad, which was then successfully selling its 500 series amplifiers to studios and broadcasters all over Europe.
In three decades, PMC has managed to build an enviable reputation also in the home audio and custom installation sectors, with products that bring studio quality audio reproduction into the home. It is this bringing together of the professional and domestic audio worlds that makes PMC the speaker of choice of many discerning professionals, audio and music enthusiasts.
Peter Thomas explains why this dual market approach is such an advantage for PMC: “In terms of music reproduction, there shouldn’t be a distinction between a loudspeaker designed for studio use and one for domestic use – the speaker is either reproducing the music correctly or it isn’t.
“The guiding principle for our R&D team is that the same ultra-high-resolution loudspeaker can be used throughout the entire recording and playback process – from studio to home. The work we do developing new studio speakers directly benefits our hi-fi product development and conversely, some of the discoveries we make when creating a new range of hi-fi loudspeakers find their way into our pro models. This means that domestic users can experience their music sounding the same as it did in the studio and exactly as the artist intended.”
PMC’s core technologies, shared between pro and domestic, include the Advanced Transmission Line, or ATL, bass loading, the aerodynamically designed Laminair vent, dome midrange drivers and tweeter dispersion grilles. Supporting PMC’s designs is also Volt Loudspeakers, the British company founded by David Lyth, whose patented Radial Technology woofers and midranges power its studio monitors, offering consistent performance and excellent build quality. Volt builds those drivers exclusively for PMC and according to PMC’s own specifications. The midrange dome used in the professional monitors and the SE series hi-fi speakers is PMC’s own design, which has been built in-house at PMC’s production facility since it was first introduced.
Many innovations are also to be found in the many products that bear the PMC name and which have been the recipients of countless awards and accolades. These include the powerful QB1 monitors that have pride of place in studios like Capitol in LA and 301 in Sydney, and the recently launched fact fenestria and twenty5i series hi-fi speakers, and the high-performance Ci Series that are ideal for so many markets including studios and home theaters.
In recent years, PMC has also been leading the field in the burgeoning immersive audio market by partnering with Dolby. This has resulted in its loudspeakers being installed in Dolby Atmos music mixing rooms around the world and becoming the reference for Atmos music mixing. In addition, PMC has also engineered Atmos mixes for artists such as Miles Davis and Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band and built its own Atmos enabled mix facilities in Nashville, New York and Los Angeles. Its speakers were also chosen by the Rolling Stones for the Atmos presentation at the band’s ‘Unzipped’ exhibition.
In the 30 years since the company was founded, its workforce has gone from just two to 60 around the world. With its head office in Biggleswade, UK and satellite offices in Los Angeles, Nashville and New York and two manufacturing plants in the UK, PMC can service its global customer base with efficiency and ease.
Peter Thomas sums up his feelings about the last 30 years, “Celebrating a 30th anniversary is a major milestone for any company, and we know that we couldn’t have done any of this without the help of our staff and customers. Their support and dedication have enabled us to build a highly respected global brand. For that we are extremely grateful and would like to say a massive and heartfelt thank you as we look forward to the next chapter in the PMC story.” Audio Xpress