The FR30s in Music Room 2
Sometimes, despite our worst fears, life shines its happy light on us. And we should be thankful for those times that it does. Making the decision to swap the IRSV room with that of the FR30 was frightening to me. Both speakers were working great in their environments. The thought they could each benefit from the move was only a guess. What if I was wrong? What if I had to put everything back? And if put back would it (could it) be at least as good? Taking a leap of faith is frightening to most of us especially when we're moving from something that works to (hopefully) working better. What's the old saying? If it ain't broke don't fix it. But, fix it we did and now we had to live with the changes. First, the IRSV. As previously mentioned in yesterday's post, the IRSV really benefitted from the move. We did well! Bolstered by the improvements we enjoyed with the new home for the IRSV, I made the decision there would be no turning back now, a decision that brings to mind yet another of those old sayings: in for a penny in for a pound. We wouldn't be reversing course. It was time to tackle the FR30 in Music Room 2. One observation I will share with you before I jump in. Speakers are like friends. One needs to get to know them before really feeling close. The FR30 are no different. I have had to spend time with these beauties to get a feel for what they want and what they give in return. For example, the FR30 are very appreciative of diffusers on the front wall behind them (the IRS likes them too but not quite as much). Also, the FR30 want some sidewall help (where the IRSV don't). I placed one of our DAAD diffuser towers on each side wall in MR2 and the improvements in coherence and tonality were remarkable. Here's a picture showing both DAAD diffusers, one on each sidewall just after the Vicoustic panels closest to the listener. (the speakers's designer, Chris Brunhaver sits on the left side while PS engineer, math whiz, and geek programmer, Carl Solway gets his first listen) Aside from those two observations, setup is relatively easy. Like most speakers, the FR30 like being away from the front wall. What's interesting is that (unlike the IRS) they still image remarkably well even with only a foot or two of breathing room behind them. They, like the IRS, prefer to be pointed straight ahead and then toed in slightly. Here's a picture where you can see the cool coasters under the feet we supply to make moving the speakers easy and the 3 diffusers on the far wall. The big amps are the prototypes for the BHK 600s (which are...breathtakingly good) and for the sharp eyed observer wondering what the little white boxes sitting on the amps are, they are custom control boxes allowing us to measure every amp parameter and adjust bias, etc. After an easy hour of moving them around (using the aforementioned coasters under the spiked feet), I was suddenly and unexpectedly flabbergasted by the FR30's soundstage width. Playing an oldie but a goodie, James Taylor's Gaia, the image extended from wall to wall and beyond. The IRS had never managed that and even in MR3 it still cannot. I then switched tracks to Jamie Woon and Skin. This amazing track has always been a stunner but now with the FR30's greater resolution (than the IRSV), I was shaking my head at hearing for the first time precisely how Woon's voice had been electronically augmented and mixed. Wow. Next, I switched to Octave Record's release of Foxfeather's the Nature of Things and their track Too damned small. This piece should have the slam and excitement that reaches into your guts and on the FR30s in MR3 it did not. It was good, just not amazing as it was when I heard it in person. Now, on the FR30 in its new home, it smacks you in the chest and raises the hairs on your neck—your foot taps instantly. I guess I could go on. The drum track on Octave's The Audiophile's Reference disc begs to be turned up beyond sane levels. On the FR30 Michele's drums are right there in the room with you—almost frighteningly so. On Reference Recording's spectacular Organ Sensation with young Felix Hell, track 15, Allegro needs to be cranked up to 70 on the BHK (where we normally listen at 40 to 45). Holy crap! The room shakes when he hits the pedals and any questions you might have had concerning the FR30's ability to move the room with its woofers go out the window. You feel it in your gut, your pants flap, and you cannot help that shit-eating grin on your face. Downsides? MR2 still has some serious frequency-specific low-end suckouts that the IRS was able to somewhat overwhelm and the FR30 less so. Pete Belasco's Deeper misses a few notes while others move your seat as they should. MR2 also has a 50Hz slap echo that when the IRSV was in the room didn't matter much, but now the smaller FR30 struggles with (this we fixed in MR3 with special absorbers that we will add to MR2). In the end, I have found my new reference. The FR30 has been elevated to the new reference standard for PS and the venerable IRSV has taken an honorary role as hell yes! It's a great ride and fun! The greater resolution and musicality of the FR30 vs. the IRSV is a real ear-opener, something I didn't think would happen. I could not be happier.
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