Bag End InfraSub-18 Pro, PMM-8 Monitors Review

Jun 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Joe Hannigan

TURNKEY, TIME-ALIGNED SYSTEM OFFERS STELLAR, FULL-RANGE SOUND

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POWER TO SPARE/ROOM TO WORK
After a quick setup, the system came together flawlessly, with nothing more than minimal tweaking and physical adjustment for best listening angles and height. Starting with the default settings for the InfraSub-18 and the PMM-8s, I was up and running almost as quickly as I got them out of their boxes. The PMM-8s provided a rock-solid mono dead-center image right from the start, and stereo imaging was superb. At times, it felt like the normal L/R boundaries were pushed beyond the physical limits of the boxes themselves; a very nice experience. I haven’t listened to true Time-Aligned devices in quite a while (anyone remember the UREIs?), and my experience with the PMM-8s was quite startling—in a very good way. As some passages got louder, the soundstage seemed to expand right along with it.

Response time was impressively fast for percussive instruments, while string and wind instruments were creamy and smooth. Imaging for piano, guitar and even flute was stable and vivid. From solo jazz and classical vocalists to pipe organs to full orchestral mixes, the system never sagged or sounded clipped. With the extended range of the InfraSub-18 (and seemingly endless bass), I found nothing to complain about, except for perhaps a little exaggeration in the low mids on certain male voice-over recordings (which could have been the listening space itself). Most importantly, low-end response was smooth and effortless; never any hot spots or uneven results.

This past fall and winter season had me working on a wide range of projects, including live jazz mixes for NPR broadcasts, radio production voice-overs, full concert choir productions for DVD soundtracks, pipe organ recitals from the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and several CD remixing and mastering projects.

Having the luxury of a few months to really work with this system, there was time to compare production mixes with my other setups, including a pair of Lipinski L-505s (with its own InfraSub-12) and another listening-room system with Focal M8s and a consumer/generic sub. Many times, the PMM-8s surprised me with a little extra definition here, a little more detail on the reverbs there, and a wide, diffuse soundstage for live recording mixes. They more than held their own against my tried-and-true everyday-use power tools, proving to be a vital “second listen” for many critical mixes.

THE LOW DOWN
Mixing and mastering engineers require accurate, transportable mixes that don’t change depending on the format or delivery systems. Playback systems can’t lie, and they can’t crap out when pushed hard. For soundtracks, broadcasts, general mixing, final mastering and more, the InfraSub-18 and PMM-8s is one complete package that delivers clean, clear, non-fatiguing results.

I don’t work without a subwoofer. The point isn’t to rattle the walls, but just to know what’s going on down there. Far too many professional recordings still contain thumps and footfalls, buses going by and even the occasional subway rumble. Having spent a large part of this past decade successfully mixing with the InfraSub-12, I found that the InfraSub-18 (paired with the PMM-8s) delivers more of the same: reliable, accurate extended bass response matched with a superb pair of near-field speakers.

What was most impressive was how quickly this system sets up and sounds fantastic before any tweaking. If you’ve never worked with a true Time-Aligned™ system, this seamless pairing is worth a listen. The cost is comparable to most other similarly sized and powered systems, and if you’re considering investing a system upgrade, the extra features make the InfraSub-18 and PMM-8s a serious consideration.


Joe Hannigan is owner and chief engineer of Delaware-based Weston Sound.

Click on the Product Summary page to view the InfraSub-18 Pro product page.

Click on the Product Summary page to view the InfraSub-18 Pro product page.






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