Aspen FR30 review

July 24, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

To say we’re proud and excited about the aspen FR30s would be an understatement.

Now that shipping of the first batch has begun we’re again taking orders for the next two groups.

For those who have yet to read anything other than my ramblings about the speaker, HiFi News just released the online version of the review of the FR30s (which also graced the front cover of the magazine).

The review, written by Andrew Everard included measurement by Paul Miller.

“Having read about the development of these speakers literally for years, in various online postings, I was both keen to hear them and also filled with a little trepidation that they’d not live up to expectation. I needn’t have worried: it only took a few tracks to realise that 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, making some much pricier speakers seem just a little bit silly.”

If you’d like to read the entire review, here’s the link.

Enjoy!

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49 comments on “Aspen FR30 review”

  1. Ooops. Does this mean that a decent subwoofer is a must when full-range is the basic requirement for a buying decision? Or what is wrong with these measurements?

    1. The speaker is -6 dB at 24 Hz, which is among the lowest he’s measured for a passive loudspeaker.

      The dip and peak in the bass is an artifact of his measurement and is present in his other speaker measurements. The response smoothly tapers down.

      Also, I think that any full range speaker can still benefit from subwoofers. The more lf sources and locations there are, the more smooth the in-room response and the more density of room modes.

      However, you’ll get bass response flat in room to 20-25 hz with an FR30 and very high output down there.

      1. Many thanks, Chris, for this clarification! That’s the problem with these kind of measurements published by audio magazines: they rarely disclose the measurement methods and their limitations. Nor do they reveal their reference (ideal) concerning their methods used. No wonder that there is so much confusion about the value of measurements and their interpretation (correlation with sound quality)! I am looking forward seeing soon some impressive subwoofer designs from your side!

      2. I love that you chose multiple 8″ long throw woofers Chris. My experience with speakers that have 8″ woofers have been always positive. Winslow Burhoe used them exclusively in his EPI speakers back in the 70’s. Speakers I still enjoy listening to today.

      3. The low end response is exceptional for a passive speaker Chris. And it was accomplished while not trading off any of the other areas the speakers are exceptional in which is very important.

        1. Thanks! Well, the biggest trade-off is size. These are pretty large speakers but if you want reasonable efficiency and good deep bass extension, it pushes you into rather large speakers.

          1. Agreed Chris. They are large but they are also narrow and deep so they occupy space that we don’t use anyways and that is above the speakers and behind the speakers. If you have mini-monitors you have to pull them out away from the front wall further and there is a lot of unused space behind them and they can easily be knocked over by accident even if using very heavy speaker stands which is a must at additional cost. And yes they are heavy but weight doesn’t occupy space.

            1. Actually now that I thought it over we could be using the space above the speakers for example to view a picture on the wall or a tall plant that tall speakers could block. 🙂

      4. Hi Chris. Congratulations. From a past “lunch with Paul” it seems you’re a pro spike for speakers. Is the 30 base a combo? Spike/isolation. Is it too big of a can of worms to explain the spike/isolation debate? Thanks.

        1. Well, the speakers have spikes but you can remove the tip of the spike and there is a flat plastic disc that can be used on hard floors (so as not to scratch them as much but also being able to position the speaker).

          If you want to use isolation feet, you can definitely add them aftermarket. The base of the speaker is threaded for M8 screws and you could use something form the guys at Isocoustics or elsewhere in on there.

  2. hi-fi news – “Outstanding Product”

    Well Paul, that says it all.
    You must be proud as punch…fit to burst!
    The distortion figures are brilliant!
    These sorts of reviews will take the wind out of the sails of those who complain
    about price, design, size, etc. but ultimately the number of FR30 sales from
    reviews alone will be the proof of how great these floorstanders are.
    It’s the best when you don’t have to prove nuthin’ to nobody
    …(yes I know that’s a double negative) 😉

    Compare the ‘aspen FR30’ floorstanders with the price of
    other loudspeakers that are on par with their performance.

    1. I haven’t heard the FR30, so I have nothing to say about their quality. I must say, though, that the Outstanding Product ranking by HFN/RR doesn’t seem very meaningful. Of the 28 new speakers they reviewed in the past year, 75% of them got the Outstanding Product imprimatur; many of them costing significantly less than the FR30.

      1. scottsol,
        Some others may well cost less than the aspen FR30’s but do they perform as well?
        Everything is built to a price.
        An “outstanding” two-way standmount loudspeaker is not going to be able to do what an “outstanding” floorstander can.
        Present the list & we can go through them loudspeaker by loudspeaker & discuss them individually if you like.
        The “outstanding” from HFN/RR may not seem very meaningful to you & that’s fair enough.
        However, an “outstanding” from HFN/RR will seem meaningful to others…it may even be enough to put the aspen FR30’s on someone’s shortlist ✌

      2. Note the reviewer called them a bargain at their higher price. The FR30 are successfully taking on much higher priced speakers in the opinion of the reviewer. An important point.

        1. Of course, but my comment was strictly about the Outstanding Product label, not the review as a whole . Truth be told, however, when you read a number of HFN/RR reviews they seem to be a bit too reminiscent of what Julian Hirsch was doing in Stereo Review fifty years ago. His summations were usually the equivalent of, “I must say, of all the speakers I have reviewed, this is certainly one of them.”

          None of the above has anything to do with how good the FR30 may be.

  3. Excellent revew. It confirms what we already knew. These are good-looking, great sounding speakers, competing with many more expensive speakers out there. Articulate, high energy sound with weight and focus, and other qualities we expect to hear in high-end speakers. They certainly would be on my shortlist if I needed new speakers. Their size, separate treble from bass module, and sound philosophy is similar to the excellent speakers I already own and love. Appearancewise, the FR30s have a cleaner, more modern look than my current speakers, and would go great in the house of my dreams!

    What I wish the reviewer would have shared with us is what his source and amplification gear and cables were, what his room was like, and how he positioned the speakers. Also, it would be nice to know what his personal reference speakers are and how the FR30 sound signature compares to his own speakers and those of other specific similarly priced and more expensive speakers that he has reviewed.

  4. Wonderful review Paul, Congratulations and cheers to everyone at PS Audio. I’m sure they are among the best sounding speaker’s in the world regardless of price.

    1. We all know how a great minimonitor speaker can sound. Where it fails is in its ability to sound effortless and powerful without high distortion when it’s pushed hard. When building a floor standing speaker you want to get that effortless and powerful sound while keeping intact all that we love about our smaller speakers. That’s easily said than done.

  5. Off topic a bit here, I put my Toyota car speaker’s fader to the front speakers only shutting off the two rear speakers. The default is set for four speaker sound. Now can someone tell me why I’m enjoying my car system as much as I am? The sound is romantic and detailed. Two speaker sound rules in all applications in my opinion. I cannot move my cars built in speakers but in a sense I repositioned them by transferring all the sound to the front like I listen to in my home speakers. Paul is right when saying speaker positioning is the most important upgrade you can make to any sound system.

    1. Listening to car speakers is like listening in an anechoic chamber. Pretty dry. Multiple speakers are just confusing to the senses. I have fond memories of the sound of standard tube car radios with single speakers playing only monophonic AM sound. There was a mid-range warmth and believability to it.

      1. I agree. Running four speakers in a non surround sound set up ruins the soundstage. Even in the car. Not to mention the strain it puts on the amplifier if running parallel. Some people stack two of the same speakers on each side for example Advent speakers and are said to get good results but to have two running in front and two behind you collapses the soundstage.

      2. I had four high quality loudspeakers in my last car (two in the front doors & two
        in the back side panels) & the sound was incredibly clean, precise & immersive.
        Everyone who heard the rig was impressed by the set-up & so was I.

        You’re never going to get the same soundstage that you get at home,
        in your car, mainly because of the positioning of the front loudspeakers 😉

      3. A car has a lot of glass but also a lot of absorbent material as well. Car speakers are chosen, manufactured, or made to fit the specific car they are in. This isn’t done with home audio. It’s up to us to decide what speakers will work best in our rooms.

        1. If you ever get a chance to listen to a factory Toyota Corolla LE stereo with the front speakers on only, no rear speakers and all controls set to flat you will hear a very uncolored highly detailed soundstage. Voices sounding very natural. Warm bass and an amazing midrange. Highs are also uncolored and detailed. They use full range midrange/tweeter speakers at the top corner of the door next to the outdoor side mirrors in their own enclosures and subwoofers at the bottom of the doors. Basically a two way subwoofer satellite system.

  6. “capable of devastating slam and impact” they said…
    … Reminds me of a girl I once knew.
    Fantastic review Paul, well done team!!!

  7. Congratulations Paul. I have had mine a week now,still tweaking placement. WOW! I can hardly keep myself out of the basement . I want to hear ‘the new’ in all my music. I can heartily recommend these to anyone. Thank you Paul.

      1. Not at all FR. I had a pair of Carvers Amazing loudspeakers. Which at the time I purchased them,1987-1988, they were to me way better than what I had previously. Then life got in the way and I was not able to actively pursue the hobby until I retired a few years ago. It has been very educational AND entertaining to read all the posts and watch Paul’s videos explaining the arcana of higher end audio. Thank you all.

      1. Home Entertainment Show in Denver perhaps? How many pairs sold to date? News on the upcoming model that sits below the FR30’s? Also, release date for the BHK 600’s?
        Thx Paul! Congrats to you and Team PSAudio!

  8. Hifi News’ granting of the “outstanding product” verdict might be inflationary as some say, but the description of the speakers’ positive characteristics covers the important topics, not so much the technical ones and cliches we read all the time.

    Great review, congratulations!

  9. Yes, congratulations to Paul and the team, rewarding to have your hard work recognised.

    More generally, I love reviews and will read every one I can find for a piece of equipment I am interested in. It’s a good starting point and can highlight things I’ve not thought of. My question, does anything get a bad review these days? They may not all be outstanding but generally they’re at least good. Everything is so positive, it just makes me question. Any group of products must have its bottom 10%. Do they never even make the review stage.
    In the automobile world a number of drivers will test a car and then offer their opinion or arrive at a consensus view which I feel would have a greater validity than an individual review. It could be useful if more hi-fi reviewing adopted this approach.
    Any bad reviews, I’d love to see them. Please post links below.

  10. Congratulation to Paul, Chris and the entire FR30 team at PS Audio. I have a subscription to HFN&RR which is published in England. In spite of some of the comments above I consider it to be the gold standard in audio journalism. It is the original audio/music magazine started in 1952 or there about. Its reviewers are well known and widely respected. In England PS Audio still uses dealers to sell their products. I imagine this review will lead to increase sales of the FR30 in England. Once again, congratulations!

  11. Just finished watching the French Grand Prix. Watching all of these magnificent machines flying around a very difficult racecourse at incredible speeds with immense amount of power and incredible tactile handling took many years of design improvement by learning from prior errors as well as new technologies. In the end, it’s all about what I (as well as many others) call “Breeding”.

    The high-end audio industry is not very different from Formula One’s race to the finish line (The Goal). It took a lot of your teams blood sweat and tears to come up with a speaker system that many years from now may very well be called one of the Great Speakers in the History of Audio. Only time will tell.

    I applaud the PS Audio team and is fearless leader for having the intestinal fortitude to arrive at this historic moment .

    PS Audio has come a long way since the introduction of the P-300 which drew my attention to your company many years ago.

    A giant ‘thank you’ to Paul for having the vision to see into the future. You have made PS Audio into a giant in your industry and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

  12. I must add my sincere congrats to Paul and the team. To get a review this good at your first speaker is beyond outstanding. Some manufactures take years to evolve to this level – I know it’s been “50 years in the planning”! I suspect PS audio had done all the measurments, all the trial listening, all the comparisons at the price and were supremely confident of the product. And it shows. The best engineers find elegant solutions which work. The FR30 is one.

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