Revisiting this Post as there is another attribute worthy of note about these mini marvels i.e. the sensitivity. The P5s have a stellar sensitivity rating of 89db for not being a horn loaded speaker and for a driver that is only 5.25". I may be mistaken but i do not think there is any other speaker with this high a sensitivity rating with a 5.25" driver which is not horn loaded.Though not my favourite speakers under 20K as the title suggests (the mantle still belongs to the Boston Acoustics A26), i recently acquired a pair of PSB Alpha P5s for exactly that sum brand new and i was pleasantly surprised at what this diminutive pair could do.
In the changed landscape of increased prices with next to no bookshelves having a 6.5 inch driver available under the said budget, the PSB Alpha P5s do offer up a taste of hi fi sound at a budget with a very balanced presentation that cannot be faulted with. As one of my friends quite astutely observed, they sound like a smaller version of the KEF Q350s. And if the KEFs have proved to be anything, it would be the one size fits all universal favourite for those who've lent them a ear (to clarify, in my setup).
Another attribute worthy of note is the bass they produce. For roughly the size equivalent of a single Klipch RP600M and despite being much smaller than a single Wharfedale Evo 4.2 for the pair of the P5s, their bass quantity is anything but half of the aforementioned speakers, something i found rather remarkable. However, this does come at the expense of Port chuffing at loud volumes which can be heard distinctly near the speaker.
While remarkable, the bass simply does not dig as deep as a 6.5 incher such as my BA A26 or have the same quantity. And that added depth and quantity that a 6.5 inch driver makes, at least in speakers at this budget when compared to their smaller brethren, makes that stretch to get them worth all the hunger pangs one needs to endure.
If size is absolutely a concern, these fit the bill perfectly. However, to my mind and in my experience, you need to place them on stands to extract the maximum from these (they sounded terrible when placed on the center console, even after using acoustic foam risers) which entirely negates their size advantage compared to other bookshelves.
Build quality wise, they're pretty solid though the black wood finish on mine makes them look a bit too generic. Compared to the P5s, the Boston Acoustics A26 have much better perceived quality and presence owing to their gloss black finish though actual fit and finish are better on the P5s when viewed closely. The grills are another stand out being magnetic and made of metal which offers real protection compared to fabric ones.
So who are these speakers for then? For somebody who absolutely cannot make that stretch to the likes of the Mission QX2 or the Q Acoustics 3030i, does not intend to get a party started with these in a large room, does not intend to place them on stands and is pairing them with a subwoofer, it's a perfect fit.
At 28K which most online stores are selling it for, there are better options available in my experience.
And to my mind, sensitivity is an important point to consider while shopping entry level speakers since budget amps, such as the SMSL DA8S and the FX Audio D502 that i tried the P5s with, struggle to drive my lower sensitivity speakers such as the KEF Q350 and the Boston Acoustics A26.
While a number of manufacturers exaggerate their sensitivity figures, notably Klipsch insofar as the RP 600M is concerned (they are closer to 91db sensitivity as a comparison between my Quad S5s and the Klipsch RP600Ms by playing pink noise with the volume knob at the same level yielded the same decibel reading on my Umik-1. Since Hifinews had already done measurements on the Quad S5 and found its sensitivity to be 91db, I assume so is the RP600M based on the aforementioned test), PSB seems to be spot on with their specs.
Ergo, being 89db, the aforementioned budget Class D amps managed to drive the P5s to reasonably loud volumes whilst running out of steam with much bigger speakers with larger 6.5" drivers such as the KEF Q350 and BA A26.
Now, when someone on a tight budget factors in the amp into the price, suddenly the P5s do make a lot of sense. The entire budget of my bedroom setup was 20K for the PSB Alpha P5s+ 13K for the SMSL DA8S = 33K. However, for my budget pick i.e. the Boston Acoustics A26 which i purchased for approx 15K, one would need a Marantz PM6006 (27-30K) or at the very least, the PM5005 (21K-25K, but adding digital connectivity will again cost extra) which increases the cost substantially and may be the difference maker. Again, the BA A26 is no longer available so there aren't many options left below 20K, if any, for speakers with a driver larger than 5.25".
And to my mind, it'll be really difficult to extract more performance through any other combination of speaker and amp on this date at a price point of 30K.