When PMC unveiled the Cor amplifier at the 2017 Munich show, I was utterly taken aback. Why would a loudspeaker company already offering two ranges of electronics venture into the realm of making an amplifier? The Cor, however, embodies PMC's determination to step into the market and make a swift impact. Despite being purists, PMC's designers didn't create another amplifier merely for the sake of selling one; they aimed to produce something on par with the quality of the loudspeakers they've been crafting for over three decades—a formidable challenge.
Those designers not only met but exceeded the challenge. The ostensibly conventional 2x95W integrated amplifier boasts a timeless aesthetic that exudes modernity while also nodding to the classic Armstrong electronics of the 1970s and even the iconic fluted plinth that once adorned every Linn Sondek LP12 turntable
However, the most intriguing feature of the Cor is its tone controls. These controls permit subtle adjustments in bass and treble output, akin to Quad's well-regarded tilt controls, but with the added feature of being motorized for remote operation. They draw inspiration from the sliders found in professional mixing desks and employ top-tier components to ensure sound quality remains uncompromised. Additionally, a bypass switch is available should you wish to avoid using them. It's a nice touch that the tiny LEDs change color as you adjust the tone or balance sliders—white for centered and red for adjusted.
PMC has long been inclined to offer users a degree of tone control, with their range of speakers allowing adjustable bass and treble output to suit different room acoustics. However, the cor takes this further; its remote control capability enables you to fine-tune for specific recordings from the comfort of your Naugahyde recliner or beanbag. Balance control is also provided via a slider, and there are mute and mono buttons for those who require them. Mute, in particular, is more useful than usual, as the remote's volume control adjusts quite slowly. Pressing mute is a quicker response when the phone rings or a loud track follows a quiet one. Nevertheless, I appreciate the fine volume adjustment steps, especially considering that most motorized controls are coarser. The remote control resembles something PMC might have borrowed from its long-term ally Bryston; it's made of aluminum and features numerous buttons, with none given visual prominence except, perhaps, the mute button itself.
Inputs consist of one pair of XLRs and four sets of RCAs, labeled with likely sources. While this works well for devices like CD players or radios, it might be less intuitive if your source isn't among those names; numbered inputs could have been more straightforward. Besides the volume-controlled inputs, there's a direct option on the RCAs that bypasses the volume control, typically used for AV processors. The inclusion of a 'pre-out' pair hints at the possibility of a cor power amp being in development.
With its bipolar Darlington output stage and relatively modest power output for its price (95 Watts into 8 Ohms), the cor seems to share some kinship with a popular range of amplifiers from Salisbury. The all-black finish might also imply a connection to classic Naim gear. However, the presence of tone controls counters this notion, and the sound profile is entirely different, rendering these similarities misleading.
Describing the cor's sonic signature is challenging due to its refined, subtle, and transparent nature. Nonetheless, one can confidently state that it offers an incredibly open and revealing sound. PMC has always emphasized good dispersion in their speakers, and when paired with an amplifier sharing the same ethos, the result is a genuinely holographic auditory experience in terms of image scale and depth.
The review was written by Jason Kennedy for the Hi-Fi+ portal and revised by MGY Hi-Fi experts. Learn more about the PMC cor integrated amplifier - PMC cor