The PMC Prodigy Line is relatively new, released last year in May, but the technology that makes it such a compelling speaker is far from new. Working its way from their flagship speaker, the Fenestria, their transmission line design (ATL) is present here in the Prodigy 5. The Prodigy 5 will cost you $2799.00 (U.S.) for the pair. The Prodigy line is the entry point for PMCs home audio line. While some concessions need to be made to get a speaker to a price point, sound isn’t one of them. The Prodigy is an aesthetically simple speaker, using a rectangular cabinet and satin black finish. There are touches of higher-end speakers seen as well, such as the small outriggers with adjustable spikes. So let’s get into the sound.
I set these up in two different ways, first out in my front room with an Arylic A50+ integrated amplifier. then later in my reference system in the listening room. I wanted to see how well they would perform in a larger, non-treated multi-use room as well as in a dedicated listening space. Despite their size, they can fill a large room like my front room with vaulted ceilings and an open concept into the dining room with sound. And not just sound but good sound. Their weight, which is quite low, made them easy to position and move around to try different spots out. They do have enough bracing and internal damping to not let their lighter weight become an issue. Some light speakers can vibrate or have audible cabinet resonances at higher volumes.
I had a load of fun playing the Prodigy 5s with the Arylic A50+. It has EQ adjustment as well as a bass boost which you don’t really need with the Prodigy 5, but that wasn’t going to stop me from seeing how crazy the low end could get. I can tell you, in almost any case I recommend at least a single sub in your hifi. Outside of a handful of larger speakers, you just won’t get all that low-end punch without a sub. Well, I am here to tell you that you may not need a sub with the Prodigy 5. It can absolutely deliver bass and in quantities that will surprise anyone listening. The best part is, that it is not muddy boomy bass, it’s clean, tight bass. The transmission line works its magic to make you think there has to be a sub, there is no way it’s all coming from that relatively small woofer below the tweeter. And sure it is technically coming from the port it takes that energy and mechanically amplifies it, but the ultimate source is the 133mm woofer. I had to play one of my favorite bassy tracks, Northend Nightlife by Headphone Activist. These speakers were shaking the walls. I am not sure I have had this much fun listening to a speaker in some time.
After a week or so of playing in the in the front room, I moved the Prodigys into my main listening space and hooked them up to the McIntosh MC250. The MC250 is a very warm solid-state amp, perhaps one of the warmest I have heard, and the Prodigy 5 is a very warm speaker. It was a noticeable tonal difference to my Sonus Faber. Much more mid and low forward. Nothing that a little treble boost can’t bring out of them, but something to be aware of if you are using tubes or a warmer amp/preamp. I also tried them with my Nakamichi PA-5 Stasis which is a brighter amp and the balance was more what I liked. The Nakamichi brought back the top end and brightened them up a bit. I am not sure you could make these speakers fatiguing if you tried, so if you want a thin, bright tinny sound, they probably aren’t for you. However, if you are like most people who want clear lush mids with a tight bass foundation and just enough highs to give you some airyness, then you would likely be quite happy with the Prodigy 5. If you don’t EQ in your bass they won’t overpower themselves, though they can if you boost it too much. When listening pure direct, the tone was a little on the warm side of balanced. These are not a perfectly flat, balanced speaker, at least in my room, and I am okay with that. Perfectly flat is boring, if every speaker was perfectly flat there would be no reason to buy one over another. It comes down to what sound you like.
When it comes to positioning, they are fairly forgiving having a front port that also has guides to direct the sound waves. You will likely find though they can get boomy if you set them to far into a corner. However, having them close to the back wall didn’t hinder them. But too close to to side walls and you will notice a muddying of the sound. In the front room, I had them but inches from the back wall, though several feet from the sides. In my music room, they were about 1.5 feet from the side and 2 feet from the back with a couple of degrees of toe in and this gave me the best sound in that space. I like that they can perform well against a wall as in many mixed-use rooms that is the most practical positioning. These speakers make quite nice theater speakers as well so if you need them to pull double duty they will happily.
I sort of already got into this but the sound is, in a word, fun. They can be absolute bass monsters for you bass heads, yet they have no problem being a tame detailed critical listening speaker. The Prodigy 5 offers you a versatile listening experience that you can tailor to your mood. I listened to as per usual, a quite wide variety of music to see how they handled different genres.
First up is an all-time favorite, Tchaicovsky’s 1812 Overture, played by the Philidelphia Orchestra with Eugene Ormandy. I have this on both CD and vinyl. This time I listened to the CD through the wonderful Rotel CD-11 Tribute. And when hooked up to the Nakamichi, man was it a detailed and crisp experience. Cymbal crashes were bright and sharp, and during the crescendo, the speed of the horns and snares were reproduced accurately and with excitement. There was plenty of space for the instruments to not feel overlapped, and imaging is as good as it can be with this particular recording. You really get to know the differences when you have over half a dozen different versions of the same piece, as well as having heard it live. Also on the CD is Romeo & Juliet, which I had just seen live with the Cleveland Orchestra last month. The reproduction from the Prodigy 5 was certainly not lacking. The trumpets in both pieces were very natural sounding and lively, as were the strings. I will say the canon recordings in this version do lack, but that is no fault of the speaker and they can only work with source material.
Next up is The Legend of Johnny Cash (CD), which is a wonderful album, with I think Cash’s best songs. Among that list is his cover of Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt”. The emotion captured is quite powerful. Also captured is all the texture and detail of Cash’s low voice. It is not often that a cover is better than the original, but I think Johnny Cash has a better tone for the lyrics of the song. It’s not so much that he did it better, but rather he is a better fit for the song. The Prodigy 5s present the song with a wide stage, separating the guitars to the sides and Johnny right in the middle of them. Another great song on this album is “Man in Black”. I love the lush midrange, Johnny Cash has such a rich voice, and the Prodigys do it great justice.
I picked up Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III on vinyl recently, so of course I had to play it. Hip Hop is a blast to listen to on these speakers. Lil Wayne’s beats, especially as in “A Milli” took full advantage of the bass on tap with the Prodigy 5. The bass doesn’t muddy up the mids. It is honestly hard to tell this is a 2-way speaker. It acts much more like a three-way. As I mentioned you think there should be a woofer in there somewhere handling the bass notes. The Prodigy 5 is fast enough to keep up with faster bass-heavy beats as well. I was curious how quick songs would sound with a transmission line speaker since one would think it would take longer for the sound to come from the ports than the driver itself. There is no audible phase issues nor does the bass seem to be lagging behind. I suspect the tuned length of the transmission line is what contributes to this. My favorite song on this album is “Shoot Me Down”, the guitar solo in it just gets me every time. The bass line and snare drum fill the background, while slowly building to the guitar solo. Just on the left, there is a light tambourine adding some sparkle to the top, as well as some light cymbals. It is a dramatic track, that leads straight into “Lollipop” which completely changes the tempo. The Prodigy 5 delivers the punch you really need to enjoy “Lollipop”. Speration on this track is good as the vocals and backup vocals pan left and right giving a good sense of dimension.
After listening in different environments, with different power amps, sources, and genres, I can confidently say the Prodigy 5 is a do-it-all speaker. I think you can certainly EQ in too much bass and lose detail or get too boomy, but the speakers are not inherently boomy. They are certainly mid-forward, so if you already have a warm amp you may find adding a touch of treble will balance the sound. I had more fun showing these speakers to friends and family than most others. They are something anyone can enjoy, they aren’t pretentious, they are forgiving. You don’t need a 10K system to get everything out of them. The thing is though, you can grow with these for quite some time before you may get the itch to upgrade.
Fit And Finish
The overall appearance of the speakers is nice. They are not flashy, nor are they boring. They have a sense of class, with a satin black finish and simple chrome highlights. The diver hardware is all hidden and there are no visible mounts for the optional grills. The Ports and outriggers while plastic do not look cheap and you may not know without touching them they are plastic as the finish is quite smooth. The Binding posts on the back are also nice for this price point. They accept all the usual suspects, spades, banana plugs, and bare wire. The spikes are decently substantial for the speaker and the spike cups are a nice addition and fit extremely well with the spikes. I wish they were a little larger in diameter to not sink into higher pile carpet, but this is easily solved with any small disc you can find, it’s certainly not a deal breaker and only really a small preference. The spikes and spike cups are both made of metal though and have a quality finish.
Pros & Cons
- Great value
- big sound
- bass and more bass
- easy to position
- good form factor
- It comes in any color as long as it is black
- really nothing else at this price point
- Marantz SR7009 Pre Amp
- Mcintosh MC250 Power Amp
- Nakamichi PA-5 stasis
- SVS SB1000 Pro
- Rotel CD-11 Tribute
- Fiio M9
- Audioquest Power and Interconnects
- Prosper Cables Custom Speaker Cables
- Audio-Technica LP-7
- Ortofon Quintet Blue
For the price, I don’t think you can go wrong if you are looking for a do-it-all-all, versatile smaller floor stander. It is genuinely the most fun speaker I have had in for review for some time. They thump, they have detail, and they have a rich midrange. I would love to own these for my front room. They are great to sit on my couch with a friend and listen together. They have a wide sweet spot making them great for sharing with others. They can also fit nearly anywhere in your house and not look out of place, as they have a small footprint for the sound they put out. They take up half the floor space as my Sonus Fabers, and sound good up against a wall. If your listening space pulls double duty as a shared living space, the Prodigy isn’t going take up a ton of room and stand out. It would be nice if they came in white to add an option for matching decor, but the satin black finish looks classy. The simple chrome ring around the drivers adds a bit of sparkle to the look without going over the top. I also like the more premium addition of the outrigger-style feet with spikes and spike cups. While the outriggers are plastic, they are quite rigid and the speaker is fairly light so no worry about them not being up to the job. The simple branding doesn’t take away from the look of the speaker while letting anyone know what they are looking at. When I consider things I would like to see at a given price point, other than color options, I can’t really think of anything. if you are in the market for a new pair of speakers and you want something fun and can do anything and have a budget of around 2500-3000 for the pair, these need to be on your list to audition. I know it’s cliché for reviewers to say “I didn’t want to send these back” but the Prodigy 5s really will be missed. All that said, if you are looking for a bookshelf there is a smaller Prodigy 1. While I have not had them in for extended review I have heard them and they are also a fun little speaker that will certainly bring as much joy for those with a smaller space.
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U.S. Distributor: Playback Distribution
Playback Distribution provided Hifi Chicken with a Pair of Prodigy 5s for this review. PMC, Playback Distribution nor any affiliate paid in full or part in exchange for this review.