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PS Audio FR30 speakers

Chris Brunhaver

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...the aspen FR30 is every bit a sensational design and – to cut to the chase – nothing short of one of the high-end bargains of the moment... If you're in the market for speakers in this sector, listen to them – they're a bargain.

I'm always moderately fascinated at descriptions Hi-Fi Influencers come up with in order to justify whatever it is the consumer gets at MSRP. Attempting to parse word meanings often gets a reader more confused than when they started reading. Here, the presenter writes how the product is 'one of' a group of bargains (not sure how large the group is as he doesn't tell us). He twice states how it is a bargain, just to make sure we get his point. But then qualifies it all, letting readers know that the bargain is limited to 'the moment', whatever that might be. I guess tomorrow it might not be a bargain?

I think it is reasonable to ask the writer how it is a bargain? After all, it's a passive loudspeaker selling for twenty-eight thousand English pounds ('new car territory' as the writer writes it), so it's not like something you're going to find discounted in the scratch and dent bargain-bin at Crutchfield. The only explanation given is that a shopper can always spend a lot more for loudspeakers (the unstated implication being that a more expensive product having similar characteristics to the PS loudspeaker necessarily makes the PS loudspeaker good value at it's price point, by comparison. I'm not sure that 'good value at an already expensive price point' is a bargain, per se, but YMMV).

Paul brings it all back home when he states (in the manufacturer's blurb) that his goal was to "Get close to the magic I had experienced [when listening to Arnie's IRS Reference speakers in Harry Pearson's closet], but at prices more people could afford." How many more is it, Paul?

Actually, in the world of hi-fi, the cynic in me says that if an item actually does something that you can hear, it's ahead of the game, regardless of price. And nothing against the price of this PS loudspeaker; I'm sure it costs a lot to build something like this..., from a fit and finish standpoint it might not even be over-priced for what you get. What I'm asking, is that writers think about the words they are using, when coming up with advertisements reviews for this stuff. Given it's overuse, I suggest that all reviewers enact a unilateral ban on the word 'bargain'. At least for anything that costs over three figures, or possibly the low fours, tops.
Well, price is all relative for these kinds of things and "one man's ceiling is another man's floor". Our (PS Audio) marketing copy aside, Andrew from Hifi News apparently really liked the speaker and it's the probably the best review that we've had in company history. Our price is a bit higher in the UK because of shipping/import costs. The reverse is true of someone like Harbeth in the US market even more so. This is our most expensive product (with less expensive units to follow) so there will certainly be higher value quotient stuff if you don't need as much output or bass extension.

Considering how many hifi audio brands are out there (dozens of new ones at every audio show, it seems like), there aren't a ton of large, high output full range (credible 20-25 Hz in room) passive tower speakers. I think that, in this range, it would be things like the B&W 802 D4, Magico A5, Kef Blade Meta (for a bit more) the Revel Salon2 for a bit less. Focal Sopra 2 in the low $30's and $37k for a Wilson Sasha DAW, which sounds awesome but has about 6 dB less output and less extension in the bass. Any others come to top of mind?

I would guess when saying "of the moment" he means, at the time of publishing, because the product and pricing landscape is changing. There are also a lot of hifi speakers that are great but rather long in the tooth. The Revel Salon2 was released 15 years ago and is still a great bargain for what it is but it isn't "new".
 

Chris Brunhaver

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Very interesting when do you see 2 measurements very different, if we look at the rest of measurements from hifinews the speakers appears to be very well design
722psa.lab2.jpg

Here is my point, this youtuber measures his own FR30 and then got a very nice flat response, VEERY NICE FR IN-ROOM.
View attachment 218133
I was contacted by this guy from youtube and he had a few technical questions that I'll be speaking to him. He's not the owner of the speaker - we went to our distributor's place to audition them and measured the speaker with a MiniDSP umik-1 and REW at the listening position. it looks about 10 ft back from the speakers.

Other than some boundary interference stuff and typical mass mode/rooms effects in the 40-50 hz range (he's also using a subwoofer to help fill this in), you can see the good in-room bass extension down to around 20-25 Hz.

These pre production speakers (we made about 8 pair of) had a tweeter balance slightly hot and we've been binning the tweeters in production and making a few small production engineering tweaks to keep the unit quality as high as we can.
 

anmpr1

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Well, price is all relative for these kinds of things and "one man's ceiling is another man's floor".
My guess, and it is only a guess because I am not PS Audio's intended customer*, is that anyone who can seriously consider purchasing a twenty eight thousand English pound loudspeaker is not someone that most consumers would classify as a 'bargain shopper'. Especially when you consider how the purchaser might also be inclined to amplify his towers with brace of Bascom King Signatures, a suitable DAC, possible phono stage, and all the other stuff necessary to complete the total package. That music lover has now spent well over sixty thousand pounds, probably closer to one hundred thousand pounds. On a stereo.

Not sure someone playing in that ballpark has the word 'bargain' on his short list of shopping priorities, but I'll admit that the word might have different denotations to different folks. Pace the reviewer's description, his is not my definition, but if the word simply means something capable in both form and function (at whatever the given price point) then the reviewer has it covered. Twice.

*Speaking of bargains within the context of PS Audio..., many years ago I owned the PS LCC/phono stage combo preamp. Unlike their new stuff, build quality and outward appearance was not what anyone would call top tier, being more associated with DIY Dynaco fit and finish. However, given their price point, and what was available to consumers when they walked through the doors of their local 'high end' boutique back then, I think most people would have agreed that Paul and Stan's little black boxes represented something of an authentic bargain.
 

DSJR

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In the UK, you could always buy a pair of Kudos Titan 808's and a stack of Naim gear (even for the passive version) with the promise of better sound by going active up the range of amps, adding several hundred quid a tier to the Fraim display rack... You'd soon be up to a hundred grand or more ;)
 

anmpr1

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In the UK, you could always buy a pair of Kudos Titan 808's and a stack of Naim gear (even for the passive version) with the promise of better sound by going active up the range of amps, adding several hundred quid a tier to the Fraim display rack... You'd soon be up to a hundred grand or more ;)

Once you get beyond a certain price point, 'value for your dollar' becomes meaningless. Other factors dominate. And they are not always equivalent factors, or factors that even have anything to do with the 'performance' of what you are buying. How does this thing make you 'feel'? That's usually what is being sold.

Perhaps a stretched analogy: for 'cheap' twist and turn fun, a Caterham will get you GT3 levels of excitement. But in order to enjoy the 'bargain' it represents, you have to give up other stuff a hot rod 911 gives you (really, that you pay for--Porsche never gives it away).

Like cars, with loudspeakers, they are all going to sound (drive) different, so you do get something unique for your dollar among the brands. Certainly loudspeakers are unlike other types of hi-fi gear, where 'differences' are mostly imaginary (psychological), or cosmetic (aesthetic).
 

FrantzM

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Hi

I admit my bias against PS Audio. They are a HEA brand. Too many falsities from the HEA and PS Audio in particular. Now let's consider the speaker and its price. If it offers better performance than those at similar prices that were measured here (none) or combinations say a Kii3 + BXT, Revel Salon 2, Genelec 8361 + W371A + GLM or Neuman KH 420 + Neuman Subwoofer + MA-1 or if we need to stay in passive territory the Revel Salon 2, Th Revel 328Be. To repeat, it the FR30 is at the same level of performance or above those , this is great, welcomed and a first for PS Audio and they should be lauded. They should stand proud ... Else...
I don't know what would be the logistics to have these reviewed by Amir but to me that would be the validation. Not the "reviews" from the HEA press... Nope. No galaxy-wide soundstage or "organic" sound or smooth massed string... No "I had to use the Blotaplik T-32 OTL amplifier and the Kodiata Research AC Power Cord to extract the best from these wondrous speakers". There are objective metrics and those are the determinant to good sound. Those are what I want to see...

Peace
 

Absolute

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I don't trust simple measurements and I certainly don't trust the response between 5-10 khz from non-reference calibrated mics. There's like 2 dB span in that area with my umik-1 depending on if I use the CSS calibration file or minidsp's and the other umik-1 I have is off by another couple of dB on top of that around 10 kHz.

Unless it's measured controlled with a known reference and method, the measurements should be considered highly questionable.

I don't know if somebody has heard about it, but there's this robot that measures stuff perfectly. If anybody knows somebody with such a robot, please buy these speakers and send it to them.

Congratulations for the excellent review @Chris Brunhaver :)
A very likeable character you are indeed, glad you're here.
 

MakeMineVinyl

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I don't trust simple measurements and I certainly don't trust the response between 5-10 khz from non-reference calibrated mics. There's like 2 dB span in that area with my umik-1 depending on if I use the CSS calibration file or minidsp's and the other umik-1 I have is off by another couple of dB on top of that around 10 kHz.
The REW graph seems a bit too good to be true in the range above 1kHz considering the response errors measured by HiFi News on axis. I guess we'll have to see, but color me skeptical. The response errors of my UMK-1 are not all that bad compared to my Bruel & Kjaer reference mic.
 
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YSC

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The REW graph seems a bit too good to be true in the range above 1kHz considering the response errors measured by HiFi News on axis. I guess we'll have to see, but color me skeptical. The response errors of my UMK-1 are not all that bad compared to my Bruel & Kjaer reference mic.
yea, with on axis measurement in the highs peaks that severely colour me skeptical also for in room to magically becomes perfectly flat without room EQ tools, but if those tools are used most not too broken speaker can sound brilliant at MLP which is kind of meaningless
 

HammerSandwich

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I don't trust simple measurements...
Yes, it's easy to read too much into a single graph.

HFN posted their measurements of the Perlisten S4B today, and they provide an interesting comparison to Erin's NFS data. The peaks >5kHz match relatively well - as we might hope from gating, despite mic differences - but HFN shows additional peaks <2kHz.

Make your own judgment, folks, but I'd like more data before condemning the PS speaker. When do we expect the NWAA results?

Edit: Oh - after all of the "bargain" discussion, HFN's S4B review contains a gem:
The £7200 S4b auditioned here isn't exactly 'affordable'...
at 1/4 the FR30's UK price. It's important to remember that "review" generally means "one guy's opinion."
 

charbong

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Not sure someone playing in that ballpark has the word 'bargain' on his short list of shopping priorities, but I'll admit that the word might have different denotations to different folks.

You have to have a ton of money not to be interested in a bargain. Rich people can be quite frugal also. But I think the use of the word "bargain" is meant to convey "value" and everyone, even the richest, are interested in value/dollar.
 

MattHooper

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Any measurement of the Kudos ‘Titans’?
Keith

Kudos speakers tend to measure pretty wonky, especially peaky upper frequencies to give some forwardness and excitement to the sound. They are
very much a "design by ear" company. (They use measurements I'm sure, but ultimately tailor the sound to their goal).

In the last few years they put out some active designs which IIRC can be processed to sound more neutral.

(I actually enjoy Kudos speakers. Not sure I'd want to live with them though).
 

Absolute

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Yes, it's easy to read too much into a single graph.

HFN posted their measurements of the Perlisten S4B today, and they provide an interesting comparison to Erin's NFS data. The peaks >5kHz match relatively well - as we might hope from gating, despite mic differences - but HFN shows additional peaks <2kHz.

Make your own judgment, folks, but I'd like more data before condemning the PS speaker. When do we expect the NWAA results?

Edit: Oh - after all of the "bargain" discussion, HFN's S4B review contains a gem:

at 1/4 the FR30's UK price. It's important to remember that "review" generally means "one guy's opinion."
Erin's data looks nicer due to scaling. Here's a comparison between HifiNews and Amir with the JBL 4309;

222jbl.lab1.jpg


index.php
 

verdun

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Chris are you interested in hearing a comment re FR30s from the Melbourne Show, bearing in mind subjective comment gets trashed here (in fact so does PSAudio)?
Assumption: you wouldn't have had the time to plough through all the show posts. Cheers
 

Geert

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Chris himself already posted a link to a thread about that show months ago. And nothing got thrashed.

One pair of those early sets of speakers is in the hands of our distributors in australia and they showed them at a recent trade show (different than the one from the youtube review that you linked). It sounds like though, even though the room was quite small, they were more successful in setting them up this time and getting a great sound.

Unfortunately, this forum requires you to register to read more than a page or two, but it's pretty fast and easy. It's been fun to rear the comments from people.
https://www.stereonet.com/forums/topic/544706-2022-hi-fi-av-show-melbourne-impressions/
 

Cars-N-Cans

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Chris himself already posted a link to a thread about that show months ago. And nothing got thrashed.
Chris are you interested in hearing a comment re FR30s from the Melbourne Show, bearing in mind subjective comment gets trashed here (in fact so does PSAudio)?
Assumption: you wouldn't have had the time to plough through all the show posts. Cheers
The YT Channel Mad Audio did a review of them, along with some sound clips. Even though the clips say nothing of the imaging, the tonality sounds fairly neutral with nothing other than the aforementioned room mode jumping out at me, and the in-room response looks quite reasonable. If they deliver that plus good imaging then they are indeed a good speaker. He did note that they have a somewhat narrow but deep soundstage, which with the rear tweeter is to be expected. Also of note is the demo was done by a PS Audio distributor, and there is at least some "treatment" done in the form of CD racks behind the rear tweeters to act as de-facto diffusors for the rear tweeters. I would assume there is no EQ, but that doesn't rule out something being done behind the scenes in roon or something to flatten them out. Still, if they could make a smaller pair that had a flat response down to about 50-60 Hz for several thousand dollars, I would consider them. But, Paul being Paul the small ones will probably just be $10k less than the big ones. But who knows.

 
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Spkrdctr

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I'm waiting for the FR 1 speakers that sell for $2000 a pair. I figure in 2027 they should be available. :)
 
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