Active PMC v ATC : The Best Things… Part II

My own personal experience of 25.23 not i version is that they are very easy to position and as you have pointed out they are surprisingly compact for such a big sounding speaker. My room layout meant that I had to have them pretty much against a wall and distance between them was somewhere between 1.7 and 2 m. Even with these constraints they sounded good. The i version is better according to most reviews, active well they appear to be good as well. For me although the ATC sounded good in a dealer demo I knew that they were just a tad too big to fit into my constrained room. You may well have more flexibility. Enjoy your day listening at the North West Audio Show.


I got a pair of active PMC Twenty5 23i’s last week after having a demo at the dealers. They are hooked up to my Atom HE and I love them. They sound just as good in my medium’ish sized room as they did at the dealers.

I’ve been all round the houses trying to decide what to replace my old set up with but with some help from you guys on here I ended up with a really good, compact, one box system that I’m really happy with. Thanks to all who contributed.

I can’t really compare the 23’s with anything because I’ve not heard any other speakers in the same price range but I like them so much I may never need to upgrade them. I love the whole system, it looks great, it sounds great and now I can get down to listening and enjoying music. No more intrusive upgrade thoughts for me (at least for a while ?NSC 222 and PSU😀)


Nice :+1:
Be reassured, you’ve picked a great pair of speakers.
Think you might have auditioned several comparable speakers and still picked those PMC’s, that good :blush:



Something else in the house, to try.

This time, small print says “PMC” .

Another photo snap, this time from the listening position.

Current situation, with low evening sun illuminating things.

Best wishes


Morning ratrat I know it’s still early days but curious to hear how your auditioning is going with the 23i’s, I know you will post your findings just very interested to get your first impressions :wink:

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Hi @silverback
Hello again and always happy to share thoughts and ideas…

Have been enjoying the 23i’s at home - as passive - since the weekend.
It’s maybe just my OCD. Thought it best to get to know these speakers as passive first.
That’s going well. As suggested above, they are a very different presentation compared to ATC speakers. Maybe missing the ATC mids a bit. So we ( me and my best mate, my wife) are making that adjustment too. But other things these PMC’s do well instead.

Next step, is to convert over to active, which takes maybe 5-10 minutes each speakers, to swap out the passive cross over and back panel, for active modules. Yes, will obviously share more in time.

Any particular reason for asking ?
In the meantime - can say with certainty - already decided to go active direction, one way or another.

Best wishes

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Many thanks for the reply, totally understand using the 23’s in passive mode first to acclimatise makes sense.
The reason for asking, unfortunately I have tinnitus comes from the best part of my life working in heavy industry, generally I can live with it but my audiologist suggested that I limit the frequent high level listening sessions, which makes sense, unfortunately my 26’s seem similar to the ATC 40’s in that they like a bit up them , so to speak, to bring them to life.
Hence my interest in the 23’s, voices seem to cause me the most issues, guessing that part of my range is very sensitive to distortion or that how it seems, so really looking for something that works at lower levels plus the occasional mad blast, in a controlled way of cause :wink:.
Hence the curiosity of your findings so far, hope that makes sense and looking forward to your further updates, cheers.

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First, sorry to read about all that.

But something positive, to share straight away…
We’ve already identified one thing we really like about these 23i’s (both passive and active)…

They play really well at lower listening levels…
When listening with my best mate (my wife) which we do a lot, most nights. From choice, we tend to listen at mostly lower volumes. Without getting overly technical, they are able to articulate music nicely at lower levels, which we really like.

Funny, but earlier shared progress with Tony @BasicallySound - by email - this is what was said in reply. Copy below…

Hi Tony
Can report I’ve persisted to the point where the passive version ( of PMC 23i ) sounds sweet again.

One thing that has impressed us is low level listening. Maybe 7 o clock on the SN3 volume dial. This speaker seems to articulate music much better as lower volumes. When we listen together, it’s usually lower like this.

For me, I’d be up at 9, 9:30 or even occasionally 10 o clock
It’s very a nice speaker

And she (mrs ratrat) prefers this compact floorstander.
Think the aesthetics really work in our room ( for her )

I’m definitely missing the ATC mids. But other things work well on this PMC
I’m going to make the change to active modules maybe soon


Hope all that helps.


Thanks for your reply, I’m happy that I’ve reached the age I have in one piece, cat and 9 lives comes to mind but that’s a different story :joy:
My tinnitus just makes tweeking and upgrades sometimes a challenge, I still play my music loud but tend to wander around in the kitchen popping back into the lounge for a quick burst :joy:.
Joking aside appreciate your reply and the good news regarding the performance of the 23’s, looking at your volume levels I think we are pretty similar.
One thing that has surprised me I do like to listen a lower level from time to time and find it really relaxing just struggle to hear some of the detail but generally the track I choose tends to determine the replay level, in fact just had a very quick blast of Usher (I have very varied music tastes) not too loud kept it at 9 o clock ish.
As you mentioned aesthetics my wife seemed to view the 23’s very favourably not so much the 40’s, think the metal grills and the extra width of the cabinet doesn’t help.
Many thanks again for taking the time to reply much appreciated, cheers.
Looking forward to more upcoming posts of your journey :+1:.


I think the whole “ATCs really need to be played at high volume” thing is a bit misleading. I myself have been accused of saying just that on this forum and foolishly misunderstanding just what is and isn’t practical in most U.K. listening rooms. Actually my experience is that ATC speakers are absolutely fine and indeed enjoyable for low level listening, particularly the active models, but turn up the volume of, say, a piano recital to something like a realistic level and that spine tingling presence of an actual instrument manifests.

With their focus on neutrality, I think ATC voice their speakers to sound realistic at realistic levels and the way human hearing works means means that at lower levels there will be some loss of lower and higher frequencies and therefore of a degree of realism. A piano playing quietly should not sound the same as a recording of a piano played loudly but reproduced at low volume, at least in my opinion.



Thanks for sharing that thought

TBH, not really making much of that quirk or characteristic.
It’s just the way ATC 40’s appear to me. Still like them.

In the same way that the PMC 23i’s are a little bass heavy. But that’s okay too.
Everything has its own character

That’s a fair point. Well made.
Also, when chatted about this same aspect - back at the dealers - we talked about the closed box design. How a quieter presentation - at low level - this is a feature of a sealed cabinet. A ported cabinet or a TL design does things differently, etc.

Still think ATC speakers are brilliant and it wouldn’t put me off buying, not by itself.
But this aspect or character of the passive 40’s is noted as a real thing.
For the active 40’s it was less of a issue.
The active 20 towers, we trialed at home, even less so.

Part of the joy of exploring options - which a good dealer enables - is getting to know how different options work.
With speakers, any judgement is always relative. One speaker relative to another.

Best wishes


I agree, I think there is sometimes a confusion regarding the ATCs with people saying they don’t perform optimally at low volume, my finding is they perform superbly at high volume which isn’t the same thing as not playing well at low volumes. I had the PMC Twenty5 23s for a few years, great speakers, neat design and play everything well, not particularly sensitive to positioning, I moved to the ATC40As because I wanted more depth/volume, hard to describe. Currently I’m demoing the ATC50ASLs and the guy who installed asked my initial impression, I felt when played louder they still retained clarity and it was possible to have a conversation.
Keep up the review updates @ratrat great read.


I have owned PMC Twenty5 23, Twenty5 26, Twenty5 23i, Twenty5 26i, ATC SCM40 and ATCSCM40A.
IMHO you need to crank up ATC speakers up to get the best of them. They do not perform as well as PMC at low volume. The ATC passives sound very good with ATC electronics. If you are looking for a speaker that impresses yourself and friends, then ATC is the brand to go for. If however, you just like listening to music, without suffering from fatigue, then PMC is your brand. :blush:


Really appreciate that extensive experience with all those speakers. And with those two brands being considered here. So, your contribution is important.

One quick thought. :thinking:
The only caveat to that idea, might be…

Have you yet heard PMC Twenty5 23i as active ?
Just wondering, if new information might cause anyone to maybe re-evaluate.


p.s. fatigue works both ways. Wondering if the (pmc ) bass is too much and missing the (atc) mids.

I’ve always thought of the PMC’s as being more fashionable and visually impressive, the ATCs are bit boring in comparison, until you listen. I could happily live with both brands, great selection of speakers.


I have not heard the new PMC active range. The reason being, I currently own Twenty5 26i. You are probably aware, that the active range only currently covers the two way Twenty5 range. If, PMC do release a 3 way active module, then I will compare against my Naim 350’s.
What you also have to take into account that when comparing ATC and PMC, is that it is not like for like. Transmission sound is different to a sealed cabinet. No one can say categorically that ATC or PMC is the best speaker for everyone. Just make your own mind up, no matter what other people write. :blush:


Sure, wondered if you might have heard at an event or a show.

Roger all those good points :+1:

I was invited to one at local dealers recently, but until 3 way option becomes available, then no point. :blush:


Personally, I prefer the ATC passives to the actives. However, I was using a ATC CDA2 and P1 with the 40 passives. :blush:

Thx again sharing your experiences. At this moment I’m also considering a speaker change considering the PMC 20 series offering an easy way to step up from passive to active.

Important for me is also the SQ at low level as I include the smart TV within my audio system. So your experiences on low level listening are surely welcome.

Alternative for me (but only in a passive speaker setup) for PMC are Zingali speakers (Italian brand, horn equipped). They are often presented/demoed with Naim, Exposure or Cyrus equipment. Some more expensive than PMC, but very good discount seems possible.

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